Just What is Faith Formation?

Imagine parishioner asked, “So what is faith formation? What do you mean by that?” How would you answer?

I asked myself that question this week as I worked toward launching a training program. If we’re going to invite leaders to do what matters in their faith building efforts, we need a clear definition.

The problem is that ‘faith formation’ has become a catch-all term. I can cov just about anything a church or Christian community does from the parish picnic to Sunday worship. It’s all faith formation, right?

Well, potentially yes, but there are some criteria that our programs and activities ought to meet in order to fall under that umbrella.

Faith Formation is: equipping people to live as disciples of Jesus.

In his latest book, Generations Together, John Roberto reaffirms a traditional, but very rich notion that faith formation informs, forms, and transforms the person. Transformation of child, youth, or adult into a robust, vital, and life-giving Christian faith that is holistic. This formation should offer a way to the head, the heart, and the hands.

And it does the very same for the Christian community as it immerses people into the particular practices and particular way of life that identifies them as followers of Jesus.

Faith Formation seeks to help people:

  • Grow in their relationship with God for the whole of life
  • Live as disciples of Jesus at home, at work, in the community, and in the world
  • Develop an understanding of the Bible and their faith tradition
  • Deepen their spiritual life and practices
  • Engage in service and mission to the world
  • Participate in the life and ministries of their faith community”

So, it may indeed occur at the parish picnic or on the gym floor. But it has little to do with eating hot dogs or sinking baskets, and whole lot to do with forming disciples.

If you’re interested in learning more about fostering deeper spiritual conversation and connection, you might enjoy our faith formation resources.


Leif Kehrwald,– Leif Kehrwald

Rick Lawrence is Executive Director of Vibrant Faith—he created the new curriculum Following JesusHe’s editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible and author of 40 books, including The Suicide Solution,The Jesus-Centered Life and Jesus-Centered Daily. He hosts the podcast Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus.


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