New Faith Forming Ecosystem Part 5: Missional Faith Formation

by | Apr 14, 2015 | faith formation, Featured, ministry

This series on the new faith forming ecosystem is developed from John Roberto’s new book, “Reimagining Faith Formation for the 21st Century,” available from LifelongFaith.com.  You can find part 1 (overview) here, part 2 (intergenerational relationships) here, part 3 (family) here, and part 4 (age-specific faith formation) here.

The new faith forming ecosystem incorporates a missional emphasis by focusing on the spiritual and religious needs of the “unchurched” and “de-churched”—those who are spiritual but not religious or unaffiliated and uninterested in religion.

First, missional faith formation expands and extends the church’s presence through outreach, connection, relationship building, and engagement with people where they live—moving faith formation out into the community. This involves developing targeted approaches and strategies designed around the particular needs and life situations of the unchurched and dechurched. These approaches and strategies need to be contextual—built around the congregation, community, and the needs of people.

RT @VibrantFaith: Missional faith formation must be designed around the particular needs of the unchurched in your context. Click To Tweet

For example:

  • Develop community settings for church ministries and faith formation by celebrating weekly worship in a community center, offering courses and workshops in a school or community center or coffee shop, and more.
  • Open church events and programs to the whole community such as Vacation Bible School.
  • Create a vibrant and inviting website and an active Facebook page to connect with people.
  • Connect with people’s life issues and situations by offering career mentoring, job referrals, parenting courses, life skills courses, and more.
  • Connect with people during transitions and milestone moments such as marriage, birth of a baby, graduations, funerals, and more.
  • Develop high quality, relationship-building events designed to draw people from the wider community into relationships with people from your church such as social events, concerts, service projects, and children’s programs.
  • Organize small groups on a variety of themes from life-centered to faith-centered that meet in a variety of locations (homes, coffee shops, community centers), for example: life situation groups (moms, dads), interest or activity groups, discipleship groups, spiritual sharing groups, Bible study groups, theology study groups, service groups, prayer or spiritual disciplines groups, support groups, and study-action groups.
  • Sponsor community-wide service days and service projects that are open to everyone.
  • Create digital initiatives that reach everyone such as conducting parenting webinars that are offered online.

Second, missional faith formation provides pathways for people to consider or reconsider the Christian faith, to encounter Jesus and the good news, and to live as disciples in a supportive faith community. Missional faith formation guides people as they move from discovery to exploration to commitment. The catechumenal process provides one example of a pathway with its ritual stages and formational content—participation in the life of the faith community, education in Scripture and the Christian tradition, apprenticeship in the Christian life, intimate connection with the liturgy and rituals of the church, moral formation, development of a life of prayer, and engagement in actions of justice and service. Programs like The Alpha Course cover the basics of Christianity in a multi-session course in a supportive small group environment. These types of programs and processes provide pathways for people to grow toward a life of discipleship and lifelong faith.

Dive deeply into each area the ecosystem as part of Vibrant Faith University. 

Read part 6: Digitally-enabled faith formation.

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