Although Christian education no longer seems to be the “buzzword” we use to describe learning about the Bible or to describe religious education taking place, there are few who do not understand this term. It is still used to describe courses in seminaries and most likely a recognized term to the majority of adults sitting in the pew every week. In most ministry settings today, we tend to avoid using this once fashionable phrase.
In holding up faith formation as lifelong, we guard against the grave mistake that sturdy faith is something you acquire in Sunday school, youth group, or confirmation class and then simply possess from there forward. That’s the error of an elite, professionalized model where Christian education is about imparting the correct, church-sanctioned knowledge. It’s an error that most readers of this blog avoid.
Recently I attended a faith formation conference. In one of the workshops some very real concerns in the church today were being discussed. The concerns were about the assumptions we tend to make about the people who come through the doors of the church each week. It was decided that we tend to think everyone speaks the language of our denomination or is actively engaged in a committed spiritual life when in many cases this is not true. During the workshop examples of some actual questions ministry leaders have been asked were given. For example, "Can you tell me why some of the numbers are big and some are small in the Bible?", "Where do I find the New Testament.", and my personal favorite, "I'm thinking of coming to church. Do I need a reservation?"
In the liturgical Christian tradition to which I belong, faith formation activities tied to seasons are becoming more and more important. Commitment to a year-long program seems daunting; a 4–6 week commitment is much more manageable. Easter falls in the final week of its allowed range this year, which means we have a substantial “Season after the Epiphany.” Why not take advantage of the extra time and create a fun, thematic activity for your congregation, class, or small group? Since the feast itself falls on a Monday, you still have the whole week to get organized and launch!
The Learning Exchange Blog is written by our team of Curators: