Faith Formation is not merely a trendy new way to refer to Christian education or Sunday school.
“We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.” Richard Rohr, theologian and author
Raising our awareness of God’s loving presence in our lives is at the heart of Faith Formation.
It involves practices that are individual and communal, and is a lifelong pursuit.
Our Center for Faith Formation is dedicated to helping equip congregations to nurture this awareness.
Defining “Faith Formation”
Faith Formation is not a ministry reserved only for children and youth.
It is not simply “new” terminology for Christian education and Sunday school.
At Confirmation, one is not fully “formed” in faith. so you don’t graduate from Faith Formation.
Instead, as we pay attention to the ways God is acting in our lives daily,
we deepen our relationship with God in Christ Jesus, and with others.
As 21st Century disciples of Jesus, its is even more imperative that we remain attentive to God’s active presence in our lives, since we live in a predominantly post-Christendom culture. Less Americans claim “Christianity” as their faith tradition than at any point in our history, so strengthening our relationship with God, allows us to share more confidently and openly our beliefs in words and actions. We receive the invitation to be God’s children, and are equipped in our own faith formative practices, to be sent out to serve in the manner of Jesus.
Practices that include, but are not limited to: Prayer & Conversations with God Worship Reading, Exploring & Discussing God’s Word Sharing Christ-like Service as we Strive for Justice Giving Generously Engaging in these practices, helps us strengthen our relationship with God, our fellow Christians, and our neighbors. We live more confidently into our role as children of God and ultimately as disciples of Jesus, putting these practices at the heart of Faith Formation.
Faith Formation therefore, is a life-long process.
It is at times personal and at others times, communal.
It spurs us to take more notice to the ways Jesus is actively showing up in our daily lives.
While this activity can take place anytime and anywhere, how do we as congregations
foster opportunities for all ages to engage in faith formation practices? + Offer worshipful experiences that happen in addition to Sunday mornings + Invite all ages to participate in outdoor ministry experiences (camp) + Invite all ages to serve together in service-learning venues + Create opportunities for “faith-focused” conversations at congregational meals + Find ways to invite/include your neighbors in congregational events + Host cross-generational or intergenerational Christian ed opportunities or retreats
So Faith Formation could take the form of walking a prayer labyrinth, or it could be a group of friends discussing a Christian book they’ve read over coffee at a local coffeeshop. It could include visiting an online social media devotional to prompt prayer and conversation with God, or dinner-church on a Wednesday night at a local church or pub. Faith Formation could be as simple as attending Sunday morning worship, or breaking bread creekside on a retreat with families. It might be daily prayer every morning while walking, or delivering left-over bread from the local bakery to the homeless shelter every night after work.
There are countless ways we can help the people of God we encounter, enter into more daily practices that deepen their faith, and their relationship with God and others.
Our Center for Faith Formation at the Lower Susquehanna Synod, has an abundance of resources to help you with specific ideas for creating or connecting your members to a variety of faith formation experiences.
Resources for “Faith Formation”
Our Center for Faith Formation at the Lower Susquehanna Synod houses a Resource Center, laid out in a cafe-style, filled with books, videos, and other content available for you to explore weekdays from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM, or by appointment. You can pull a book off the shelf and sit down for some casual reading, or load a DVD into our computer and watch it on our flat-screen monitor. Bring along some volunteers or teachers, and review a VBS kit, or try out an interactive game or prayer resource. All while you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, and chat with our knowledgeable resource team. We can also mail/ship resources to congregations upon request.
We offer VBS previews on an annual basis at the Resource Center, and our team will consult with your pastor, Christian education team, or volunteers, either in-house or at your congregation site. However, along with our physical space, we offer a variety of digital options, including our entire inventory of resource listings in an online catalog, and a various web links which can be found here on our website.
For example, to learn more about the Faith Practices listed in bold in our “About Faith Formation” section above, scriptural support and studies related to the practices, and how these practices can be used in a congregational setting, visit: https://www.elca.org/Resources/Faith-Practices