by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
I recently attended a symposium called “Lifelong Faith Formation.” If I had been expecting a ten-step recipe for how to revitalize congregational faith formation, perhaps I would have been disappointed. When we recognize that a certain aspect of church ministry could be improved, it is a temptation to look for a quick fix. There was no “one size fits all” program for lifelong faith formation offered at this gathering.
I experienced something far more useful (and perhaps fruitful!) for our congregations. We were invited to list cultural challenges that affect our ability to do faith formation the same way we have done it in the past. We then discussed positive lifelong faith formation trends that we have heard about or experienced in our own church contexts. We learned a lot from each other and grew more hopeful. We reviewed some cutting-edge research on faith formation. Then we drew up a model for lifelong faith formation in our own context. It was useful and inspiring work.
Instead of a particular faith formation program or curriculum, we learned how to create our own process that addresses both cultural challenges and life-giving trends when it comes to faith formation for all generations and also for intergenerational learning and growing. Some of us recognized language similar to that of the Kansas Leadership Center. It was an example of creating steps toward adaptive change.
In the new year, I would be happy to walk your congregation or your faith formation volunteers through a similar process. Contact me and we’ll address this question together: How will you create, sustain, and grow lifelong faith formation within your congregation? May God bless our efforts!