In case you missed it, earlier this week Syd Hielema wrote a guest post over on the Synod Network page that may have set off a blip on your faith formation radar. He ends the post with this:
In June, we will have the privilege of introducing our new ministry to the delegates at synod, and our message will be simple: “As the Lord invites us to be transformed by his grace so that we become salt and light that seeks to bless the longings in his broken world, we at FFM (Faith Formation Ministries) commit to encourage you in strengthening your faith formation work in any way that we can.”
One might say that our longing at FFM is to “sturdify” congregational longings.
New ministry? And seriously, another acronym? And what's a congregational longing?
Yes, a new ministry. Yes, another acronym. And, yes, great question...one that we are here to help your congregation explore.
The CRC has a long history of supporting congregations and ministry leaders as they have sought to foster faith development and discipleship with children, teens, young adults, and adults. Since the late 1960's, the majority of this work was done via a publishing and "teacher training" model wherein an official CRC agency (like Faith Alive) developed, sold, and supported curricula, bible studies, and other print "plug and play" type ministry resources. Home Missions has also played an important role in this venture, especially when it comes to adult discipleship efforts. Add to that the work of the synodically-created Faith Formation Committee, a group who recently wrapped up over half a decade of connecting with churches and developing a new approach to welcoming children to the Lord's Supper. Not to mention the numerous other initiatives from the agencies, specialized ministries, and other denominationally related entities (Dynamic Youth Ministries and Friendship come to mind). It's clear the CRC has long valued faith formation and the thousands of paid and unpaid ministry leaders who work alongside our families, children, teens, and adults.
However, Synod 2013 brought with it the end of Faith Alive as an agency and of the Faith Formation Committee's work, leaving a void when it comes to supporting the needs of congregations and ministry leaders in the areas of faith formation. Realizing this, a small scale experiment (led by Syd Hielema, a member of the Faith Formation Committee) was launched to workshop what the "next steps" for faith formation support in the CRC might be. As the denomination identified faith formation as one of the Five Streams and a Collaborative Work Group began to explore faith formation efforts in various CRC-related entities, the need for a more permanent solution and catalyst for these conversations became evident.
So...for the past year and half, Syd Hielema has been hard at work assembling a core team, talking with congregations and their leaders, and developing what has become the CRC's new Faith Formation Ministries (of which I'm glad to play a part). In June we'll be rolling out a new website that will serve as a hub of conversation and resources for faith formation ministry leaders and families. That site will be increasingly connected to what's going on here at The Network as we hope to take advantage of the opportunities for resource sharing and conversation hosting that The Network offers.
So what does this mean for Faith Formation on The Network? Our plan here on the Faith Formation channel is to highlight discipleship and faith formation discussions taking place on various Network pages (think Youth Ministry, Sunday School, Small Groups, etc.) and beyond, as well as share new content such as stories, articles, and videos that touch on the thousands of ways God has and is forming our faith.
We hope you'll join us in the conversation! If you have topics, ideas, or resources you'd like to share or articles you'd like to see re-posted, feel free to post them here and be sure to subscribe to our feed by clicking the 'subscribe' button on the banner above.
We hope to have new content rolling out starting in the first week of June, so stay tuned!