Joining the conversation : toward a synthetic approach to media formation among Christian homeschool students
Brian Jacob Barry
My local ministry context is a theologically conservative Anglican congregation, in which a substantial proportion of youth and children are or have been enrolled in home-based education. I designed and ran a pilot workshop for high-school students in home-based education, with a goal of offering training in boundaries, skills, and habits that allow for positive interaction with popular electronic media. A study of the biblical motif of sojourners and exiles provides a theological framework against which different models of Church and Culture are compared. It is found that Christians, as sojourners and exiles, embrace an alternative identity as the People of God, yet function as bona fide participants in their broader cultures, through which the missio dei is advanced. A robust eschatology prepares the Christian to navigate the inherent tensions and difficulties. A study of many efforts at formation around media identify three strategic categories into which these efforts fit, namely cultural abstinence, cultural conversation, and faith-formative practices performed within the Christian community. An eight-week media workshop was designed as a synthesis of these different practices, with focus on a Media Rule of Life, five skills of cultural conversation, and five corresponding spiritual practices. From the results of this pilot course, recommendations are made for development of future media formation approaches.