How would you respond if a parishioner asked, “So what do you really mean by faith formation?”
I asked myself that question this week as I worked toward launching our new training program for congregational leaders: DO WHAT MATTERS! Faith Formation for a New Age. If we’re going to invite leaders to do what matters in their faith formation efforts, we need to be clear about what faith formation is, yes?
Problem is ‘faith formation’ has become a catch-all term that can mean just about anything a church or Christian community does—from the parish picnic, to Bingo nite, to team sports in the gym, to Sunday worship. It’s all faith formation, right?
Well, potentially yes, but there are some criteria that our programs and activities ought to meet in order to fall under the faith formation umbrella.
In a single line we could say faith formation is: equipping people to live as disciples of Jesus.
In his latest book, Generations Together, John Roberto reaffirms a traditional, but very rich notion that faith formation informs, forms, and transforms the person—whether child, youth, or adult—into a robust, vital, and life-giving Christian faith that is holistic: a way of the head, the heart, and the hands.
And faith formation does the very same for the Christian community as it immerses people into the particular practices and particular way of life that identifies them as followers of Jesus.
Roberto goes on to say, “While expressed in many different ways, faith formation seeks to help people:
- Grow in their relationship with God for the whole of life
- Live as disciples of Jesus at home, at work, in the community, and in the world
- Develop an understanding of the Bible and their faith tradition
- Deepen their spiritual life and practices
- Engage in service and mission to the world
- Participate in the life and ministries of their faith community”
So, faith formation may indeed occur at the parish picnic or on the gym floor, but it has little to do with eating hot dogs or sinking baskets, and whole lot to do with forming disciples. Much more on this when you join us for DO WHAT MATTERS! Coming to a city near you!
– Leif Kehrwald