Vision and Practices of Lifelong Faith Formation
A Self-Directed Course
In this self-directed course you will learn more about the vision and practices of lifelong faith formation, and how to create a plan for lifelong faith formation in your church. You will receive a weekly notice via email (February through April) to guide you in learning more about lifelong faith formation. Each week there will be a short article and activity to help you apply the vision and practices to your church. There will also be videos and resources online to assist you.
In Lifelong Faith: Formation for All Ages and Generations I propose seven elements that I believe are essential for developing lifelong faith formation in the next decade and beyond—to transform faith formation in your church. These are elements that every church can contextualize and customize to their size, location, and diversity of their people. Using these elements to build lifelong faith formation requires committed leadership and a willingness to tap into the gifts and talents and energy of the whole faith community. Over ten sessions we will explore the seven elements and how to apply them to your church in subsequent articles.
If you have questions or need assistance, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Session 1. Lifelong Faith Formation in Your Church:
Three Reflection Activities
The first session and article (see below) provide three activities to help you reflect on and analyze lifelong faith formation in your church. You can do these three activities alone. However, I would recommend that you gather a team of people (e.g., church staff, faith formation leaders) to complete the three activities and to analyze what they tell you about the current state of lifelong faith formation in your church. These activities will provide a snapshot of lifelong faith formation in your church and what you can build on and what needs development.
Activity 1: Characteristics of Lifelong Faith Formation
Activity 1 uses the seven elements of lifelong faith formation to create a series of characteristics of lifelong faith formation. Use this tool to explore the importance of each characteristic in the life of your church and how well each characteristic is present in your church today.
Activity 2. Investment in Faith Formation
Imagine a pie representing 100% of your church’s investment in faith formation: people, time, energy, resources, money, and programming. What would the percentages look like for children, adolescents, young adults, midlife adults, mature adults, older adults, the whole family, and all ages together?
Activity 3. Lifelong Faith Formation Profile
Develop a profile of your church’s current faith formation programs, activities, experiences, and events – at church, at home, online, and in other settings (in your community, at a retreat center, on mission trips, etc.) – for each stage of life. Incorporate intergenerational experiences and events, family programs and activities, and age group programming.
Download the article in Word and PDF and feel free to make copies for your team and other leaders.
Session 2. Goals for Maturing in Faith for a Lifetime
Session 2 explores goals for maturing in faith and engages you in creating a vision of faith maturing for your church.
In the Session 2 article, I propose ten goals for maturing in faith that can guide the development of faith formation at each stage of life so that you can direct your attention to helping people grow in faith and discipleship. Guided by the ten goals we can ask what we need to do to help faith and discipleship flourish in the lives of people from childhood through older adulthood.
Use the article as your guide to help you identify and/or create goals for maturing in faith for a lifetime and how you can use these goals to develop faith formation with all ages and generations.
Session 3. Introduction to Lifelong Faith Formation
The mission of making disciples and forming faith for a lifetime can seem over-whelming. Leaders want to make lifelong faith formation a reality. They want to nurture, sustain, and deepen the Christian faith for a lifetime. What if we could identify the essential elements that make lifelong faith formation work—key elements that could guide decision-making and planning in every single church?
In my book, Lifelong Faith: Formation for All Ages and Generations, I present seven elements for developing lifelong faith formation.
Chapter 1 in the book introduces lifelong faith formation. You have already been working on developing goals for maturing in faith. The next sessions we will explore each practice and provide ideas for applying that practice to developing lifelong faith formation in your church.
Session 4. The New Context of Faith Formation
It is not an overstatement to claim that the context of faith formation has changed more dramatically in the past 10 years than the prior 50 years. We now live in a world in which everyone has felt the impact of the pandemic and its disruption to their lives and to the world.
Religious congregations have not been exempt. Many of the challenges they face today were highlighted and even accelerated by the pandemic. The decline in active engagement in church life and Sunday worship is especially worrisome to church leaders because it is so obvious today. However, the trend to lower levels of church participation and/or disaffiliation from institutional religion began in the early years of the 2000s. Now the trend is visible.
Here are five “big picture” features of the new context of faith formation which are clearly visible today and having an impact on every church’s ability to transmit faith and nurture faith growth with all ages. (Review Chapter One in Lifelong Faith: Formation for All Ages and Generations for commentary on the changing context in Session 3.)
Activity 1. New Context Features
In addition to the five features of the new context, what would you name as features of the new context in your faith community – features that you see having an impact on faith formation in your context?
Activity 2. Seasons of Life Profile
Develop a profile of people in each of the six seasons of life: life tasks and life situations. Use the worksheet in the article as a guide to this activity.