About Faith Formation
Faith formation is an on-going process of the Holy Spirit. In baptism we are splashed with promise and covered with grace. Our sins died on the cross of Jesus Christ and we are freed to “walk in the newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4) Jesus promises to be with us always throughout our journey of faith. Each day we start anew from the cross of Jesus Christ and leave footprints that help others see the love of God in Christ Jesus.
While serving as the Executive Director of The Youth & Family Institute (now called Vibrant Faith Ministries www.vibrantfaith.org ), Dr. Hardel and Dr. David Anderson continued to share that “the Holy Spirit shapes faith through personal, trusted relationships, often, but not always, in our own homes. The home is the primary place and the family is the primary relationship in which the Holy Spirit shapes faith.
The latest research on faith formation continues to affirm the importance of parents in shaping the faith and values of their children. There is not a time in a young person’s life between birth and age 18 that a parent isn’t the most important person in faith formation. That does not mean that youth always understand that or affirm it, nor does it mean that parents understand it and practice regular spiritual disciplines.
Over the past few decades, most Christian congregations have focused primarily on the congregation being the primary place for faith formation (Sunday school, vacation Bible school, and confirmation). Most work in faith formation in children and youth was done without the primary and most important relationships: parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents, brothers, sisters, friends, and other adult faith mentors. These important assets in faith formation were replaced by congregation programs and thus Christian education was mainly cerebral and not experiential. Faith was taught and was always a noun. But faith is an ongoing process of the Holy Spirit—it is a verb—faithing.
The articles and resources in this section of the website and, actually, throughout all the sections of FaithWellMT all are designed focus on the home as the primary place and the family as the primary relationships for the Holy Spirit to shape faith. The role of the congregation is to strength families (of all types) to nurture faith in the home, live well in Christ, and pass on the faith. However, the Holy Spirit forms faith through several relational areas: family, congregation, community, culture, and even creation (see the diagram of the conceptual model for faith formation in the 21st century)
In her book, Grounded: Finding God in the Word, A Spiritual Revolution, Diana Butler Bass affirms the home as the training ground for spiritual and ethical habits that youth take out into the adult world. Through Scripture, research and theology eight essential processes have been identified in forming faith:
- Caring relationships
- Celebrating liturgical seasons
- Learning Christian traditions and applying them to life
- Praying, devotions, and spiritual formation
- Reading the Bible
- Serving and working for justice
- Worshipping God
- Celebrating Rituals and Milestones
For more information on the importance of the family & home and the role of the congregation in faith formation you might read Passing On The Faith by Dr. Dick Hardel and Dr. Mert Strommen.
Circled By Grace: A Journey With Children Into God’s Story
This resource was written to be helpful in faith formation with children in both the home and also congregations and Christian schools. The 160 pages are filled with faith formation activities and actions that the Holy Spirit uses to strengthen the relationships of the adults and children and to shape faith. With many new songs, action litanies, dramas, and activities parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, and other caregiving adults will journey through God’s story of grace within the circle of the church year to grow in faith together with the children in their lives and learn that they are in God’s story of love and mercy. They are circled by grace.
Purchase this excellent resource for $23.95 and receive the digital PDF file to use whenever you choose and/or to print out.
FaithTalk with Children
FaithTalk With Children provides parents, grandparents and other adult faith mentors to wonder about God’s presence in their lives and begin faith discussion. There are 24 share cards in each of four categories: Memories; Growing Together; Actions & Feelings; and Wondering. They are designed as a discipleship-training tool to help families follow Deuteronomy 6:6,7:
“Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart,. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when your rise.”
New Edition for Teens Through Sr. Adults
FaithTalk Conversations is a new edition of faith-sharing cards for families or any small group to begin to engage in meaningful conversations of God’s presence and faithfulness in their lives. It is designed with 192 faith-sharing cards from four categories: Caring Conversations; Devotions; Service; Rituals & Traditions. It comes with a strong, long-lasting canvas carrying pouch like FaithTalk With Children so that you can use these at home or away from home as families travel, on vacation, at family reunions, for wedding gifts, or for any small group to grow in telling the stories of God’s faithfulness and presence in one’s life. The colors of each card match the colors of the Four Key Coloring and Activity Books for children, which are listed below.
Four Key Coloring & Activity Books
To help parents, grandparents, godparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and other care-giving adults practice the Four Keys for Nurturing Faith in the Home. While working at The Youth & Family Institute, Dr. David Anderson developed the concept and theological foundation for the Four Keys for Nurturing Faith in the home. I, then, worked with another friend and artist, Heather Hultgren, to develop a coloring and activity book for each of the Four Keys:
- Caring Conversation (Talking about Faith)
- Family Devotions
- Family Service
- Rituals and Traditions
Each of the books is designed not only for children to color and do the activities, but especially, for parents and other faith mentors to have discussions with the child about the topic of each page. Presently we have only the Family Service and Rituals & Traditions available in printed, booklet form. You can find them on this website in our store for $2.00 each or 10 for $10.00. After the booklets are sold out they would be put on the website in a form that a congregation can print as many as they need for a set fee as presently the Caring Conversations and Family Devotions are available.
We encourage congregations to make these resources for nurturing faith in the home available for families of their faith community, parents of their school children, and parents of their pre-school.
The worship planning teams of congregations may want to use the coloring and activity pages to be placed in their Worship Bags for children in worship, cross-generational events, Sunday school, family retreats, or other faith formation activities.
For more information concerning the use of the Four Key Coloring & Activity Books, contact Dr. Dick Hardel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Placemat Bible Study