Jesus gave us a mission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)
The goal of nurturing Christian faith across the generations and equipping people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ has guided Christian Churches for 2000 years. In the twenty-first century, faith formation involves intentionally planning a journey of lifelong discipleship. It is a process of experiencing, learning and practising the Christian faith as we seek to follow Jesus in today’s world.
We are learning at Grow Ministries that it is about relationships, not programs and it’s a lifelong journey that encompasses all age groups and provides experiences and learning for the whole community (intergenerational). It also seeks to support the needs, interests and spiritual growth of every age group.
How can we support people with their Christian journey?
John Roberto, Grow Ministries mentor and friend shares in many of his books eight faith formation processes that can provide focus and a way forward for the congregations of today. We have recently worked through these processes with our Grow Coaching Clusters and it is exciting to see these congregations moving forward in intentional ways to encourage the faith formation of their community.
These eight faith-forming processes – involve the knowledge and practices of the Christian faith – facilitate faith growth and make a significant difference in the lives of children, youth, adults, and families. They are central to Christian lifelong faith formation and provide a foundation and framework for promoting growth in faith and discipleship (John Roberto, The Seasons of Adult Faith Formation).
Caring Relationships – Growing in faith and discipleship through caring relationships across generations and with peers in a life-giving spiritual community of faith, hope and love—in the congregation and family.
Celebrating rituals and milestones – Growing in faith and discipleship by celebrating rituals, and milestones that provide a way to experience God’s love through significant moments in one’s life journey and faith journey.
Celebrating the liturgical seasons – Growing in faith and discipleship by experiencing the feasts and seasons of the church year as they tell the story of faith through the year in an organic and natural sequence of faith learning.
Learning the Christian tradition and applying it to life – Growing in faith and discipleship by learning the content of the tradition (Trinity, Jesus, church beliefs, morality and ethics), reflecting upon that content, integrating it into one’s faith life, applying it to life today, and living its meaning in the world
Praying, devotions and spiritual formation – Growing in faith and discipleship through personal and communal prayer, and being formed by the spiritual disciplines.
Reading the Bible – Growing in faith and discipleship by encountering God in the Bible and by studying and interpreting the Bible—its message, its meaning, and its application to life today.
Serving and justice – Growing in faith and discipleship by living the Christian mission in the world—engaging in service to those in need, care for God’s creation, and action and advocacy for justice.
Worshipping God – Growing in faith and discipleship by worshipping God with the community of faith—praising God; giving that’s for God’s creative and redemptive work in the world; bringing our human joys and sorrows to God; experiencing God’s living presence through Scripture, preaching and Holy Communion; and being sent forth on mission.
These are not stand alone, but instead each one needs to be woven in and through the whole DNA of the congregation.
These eight processes need to be supported by a congregational culture that experiences God’s living presence in community, at worship, through study, and in service; makes faith central, emphasises prayer, focuses on discipleship, emphasises scripture, makes mission central, demonstrates hospitality, creates community, promotes uplifting worship, fosters ethical responsibility and promotes to service to those in need.
Let’s be honest, I don’t know about you but reading that list makes me tired, but we are given these words of hope by Jesus himself…’and remember, I am with you always to the end of the age. His promise is that he will be with us, we don’t do it alone and if we want to see our people grow and be transformed in their faith, it is vital that we press forward as he commissioned us to do.
Grow Ministries is here to help and if you stay in touch we will work through practical ways to do this. It’s a journey and our destination is eternal life. What have you got to lose?