It's always interesting to watch people track with the conversation when I explain just how this whole Faith Formation Ministries thing came to be. I usually start off with a comment about how the CRCNA has actually been "encouraging and equipping" (as our mission/mandate states) congregational faith formation leaders for decades by providing curricula and other resources, along with teacher and leader training through the CRC publishing house, Faith Alive Christian Resources.
For years Faith Alive editors and writers served as a sort of denominational think-tank for faith formation, especially in terms of faith development in children and teenagers. In addition to the work of Faith Alive, for six years the denomination was blessed by the work of the Faith Formation Committee, who shepherded many a conversation about children and the Lord's Supper. Of course, both Faith Alive and the Faith Formation Committee concluded their service to churches in 2013, leaving many children's ministry leaders, youth ministry leaders, adult bible study leaders, education committees, and elders without a denominational conversation partner on how to best nurture of the faith of kids, teenagers, and young adults.
So out of the post-Faith Alive, post-Faith Formation Committee emerged our group, Faith Formation Ministries. And just what have we been up to? In the past year or so we've
- assembled what we call our four-person "support team" and have begun the process of building a regional ministry, bringing on four regional catalyzers to connect with local congregations in West Michigan, Iowa, Ontario, and British Columbia
- developed a draft mission statement and outline for what it is we hope to do
- worked with congregations across the denomination to develop the Welcoming Children to the Lord's Supper toolkit and user guide (both of which are amazing free resources for your church)
- launched a cohort of churches on a year-long experiment to explore how Bob and Laura Keeley's "Building Blocks of Faith" framework might be used by congregations
- supported the development of the Canadian Youth Ministry Pilot Project
- collaborated with Youth Unlimited to bring together a diverse group of 25 influential voices in CRC youth ministry for a retreat that resulted in the development and signing of the Chicago Covenant
- launched a work-in-progress website, Facebook page, twitter account, and Faith Formation Matters, our bi-weekly e-newsletter to help people get to know and connect with us
- hosted workshops for leaders (lay and ordained, paid and volunteer) across the denomination
- had hundreds of conversations with people across the CRC to listen and learn about the longings of churches when it comes to faith formation, discipleship, and the desire to pass on faith to the next generation.
Not bad for a few months huh?
We'd love to hear from you about what your impressions have been of our work. Have you had to chance to interact with us on one of these projects? We'd love to hear about your experience. Haven't had a chance yet or have questions about our work? We'd love to hear from you as well! Suggestions on things to work on, churches to work with, or other plans for the future? Let us know! We'll be talking about what some of our plans for 2016 next week but we'd still love to hear from you.
You can comment below or drop us a line at [email protected]. Thank you all for your prayers and interactions during our first few months!