Since 2010 we have advanced in our understanding and practice of lifelong faith formation in congregations. This essay builds on the developments since 2010 and presents ten principles and practices that can inform congregations as they create, sustain, and expand lifelong faith formation. The ten principles include the following:
- Lifelong faith formation is a lifetime journey with Christ, in Christ, and to Christ.
- Lifelong faith formation promotes maturity in faith through the ages and stages of life.
- Lifelong faith formation addresses the diverse spiritual and religious lives, engagements, and practices of children, adolescents, adults, and families.
- Lifelong faith formation thrives in a vital and vibrant faith forming Christian community.
- Lifelong formation is holistic—integrating three primary faith forming environments: the church community, the family, and life stages
- Lifelong faith formation creates networks that address the life tasks, spiritual and religious needs, and interests of families and all ages by offering a variety of content, programs, activities, and resources in multiple settings, aided by the use of digital platforms, media, and methods.
- Lifelong faith formation guides individuals and families in discerning their spiritual and religious journeys and life stage needs, and giving people an active role in shaping their own personal trajectories of faith growth.
- Lifelong faith formation includes missional outreach to the spiritual-religious needs and journeys of the “spiritual but not religious” and the “unaffiliated,” and creating pathways to experience the Christian faith, encounter Jesus Christ, and embrace the Good News.
- Lifelong faith formation incorporates digital methods and media to enhance and expand the ways people of all ages grow in faith.
- Lifelong faith formation involves new leadership roles including learning architect, digital designer, and curator.
The Guide for Developing Lifelong Faith Formation assists a church in creating a lifelong faith formation plan with intergenerational, family, and children-youth-adult faith forming programming, guided by the ten principles of lifelong faith formation. The goal is to integrate all of these elements into one plan for lifelong faith formation. The end product is a plan for lifelong faith formation in your church that can shape faith formation planning over the next three years. A lifelong plan is both a vision for the future and a practical guide with lots of ideas and strategies. It is also an opportunity to bring together the leadership of a church to contribute their ideas, offer their feedback, create partnerships in offering programming, and assist with implementation and promotion.
- Form a lifelong faith formation team or task force to create and implement the plan for lifelong faith formation.
- Create a statement of the purpose and goals of lifelong faith formation.
- Develop a profile of lifelong faith formation from children through older adults.
- Assess how effectively the church is forming faith through church life, life stage faith formation, family faith formation, and intergenerational faith formation.
- Analyze the profile and assessment to identify strengths and areas for development in lifelong faith formation.
- Develop a model of lifelong faith formation as a way to structure lifelong faith formation—integrating all of the elements of faith formation: intergenerational, family, life stage, and missional—into a whole.
- Listen to the life situations, needs, and spiritual-religious journeys of people in your community, especially target audiences for new initiatives.
- Design faith formation programming using a network approach.
- Develop a plan to personalize faith formation.
- Build an infrastructure to support lifelong faith formation.
The Tools for Developing Lifelong Faith Formation provide all of the reproducible materials (handouts, assessment tools, worksheets) for using the design process in the Guide for Developing Lifelong Faith Formation. There are PDF and Word (customizable) versions available for your use.
- Design Tool #1. Purposes and Goals for Lifelong Faith Formation
- Design Tool #2. Lifelong Faith Formation Profile
- Design Tool #3. Lifelong Faith Formation Assessment Tool
- Design Tool #4. Models of Lifelong Faith Formation
- Design Tool #5. Research Guide and Surveys: Adult, Youth, and Family
- Design Tool #6. Designing Faith Formation Programming
- Design Tool #7. Generating Program Ideas
- Design Tool #8. Ideas for Intergenerational Programming
- Design Tool #9. Ideas for Family Programming
- Design Tool #10. Ideas for Life Stage Faith Formation
- Design Tool #11. Personalizing Faith Formation
- Design Tool #12. Curating Resources Faith Formation
- Design Tool #13. Evaluating Faith Formation