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.
I remember now with fondness what was, at the time, a depressing February day during my childhood. I was at scout camp, and I was working with friends on the fire-building requirement for Camping Merit Badge. There was snow on the ground, and everything our chapped fingers touched was cold and damp. We were allowed five matches to set our would-be fires going. If unsuccessful, we had to wait for the next campout to try the test again.
Do you want to get the biggest bang for your ministry buck? Consider hospitality as your next major ministry initiative. In a recent survey of innovative faith formation leaders, hospitality was identified as the most powerful characteristic that helps to sustain and grow an innovative ministry, intergenerational ministry in this case.
Vibrant, healthy, lifelong faith formation in our congregation is the goal. Isn’t it? It seems it would be easy to provide programs, Bible studies, and resources for Christian education for all ages in our congregations. Then one day we ask someone to volunteer their time to do it. This person finds out that not only is the budget shrinking to buy materials, but that people aren’t coming. They plan, publicize, and hope for the best. After a few months, they may find themselves feeling alone, getting slightly burned out, and developing a very negative feeling about faith formation happening at all. Those negative feelings begin to grow like cancer and begin to seep into other parts of their life as well. Where do they turn? Who can they talk to? Discouragement comes easily. How can we give support and help them?
The Learning Exchange Blog is written by our team of Curators: