What if all the faith formation activities in your church were built on a common foundation--a direction and a set of goals that would help all the people in your community, from the youngest to the oldest, grow in faith together?
The Building Blocks of Faith can provide that foundation. They can help churches organize their planning and implementation so that all programs and activities--Sunday morning worship, children’s ministry, youth group, Bible studies, fellowship and outreach activities, and even committee meetings--become intentional and effective opportunities for faith formation. The Building Blocks can also provide a framework for families and individuals to grow in their faith.
Mary Blydorp from Water Street CRC in Ontario tells about their congregation's experience in creating a faith formation framework from the Building Blocks:
- As Water Street Church became familiar with the work of Faith Formation Ministries, we asked Lesli van Milligen, one of the FFM regional catalyzers, to join us at a fall ministry kick-off event and share about nurturing faith in children and youth. Lesli helped us better understand the process of developing and nurturing faith within our congregation.
- The Education/Discipleship Ministry Team served as the link between Lesli and the congregation. This team first read the book Shaped by God, edited by Robert J. Keeley, a compilation of 12 essays by various experts on faith formation. Once we had this foundation, Lesli helped us envision how to incorporate the Building Blocks of Faith into existing ministries without adding yet another program to what was already happening within the church.
- One aspect of the Building Blocks of Faith that we really appreciated is that it can be integrated piece by piece into existing ministries. It is not a “whole new program” to learn, but a perspective which shapes the life of our congregation and different groups which we have. Ongoing learning will allow for it to grow continuously, enveloping not only all ministries, but also the informal times of coffee socials and community suppers.
Here are some examples Mary gave of how the Building Blocks got incorporated into life at Water Street:
Young children were eager to push the dish cart around, so we invited them to help clear up during our coffee time after the service. This allowed them to feel that they belong and have a role to play within the church. When the deacons needed extra hands with the offering, we called on children and youth to help.
One of our members built an actual set of blocks, which were placed at the front of our sanctuary. Each ministry was invited to decorate a block, and they became a wonderful visual reminder of how we work together in belonging, in knowing and understanding, in having hope, and in being called and equipped.
A sermon series further highlighted the richness of the Building Blocks framework. These sermons helped the concept of the Building Blocks of Faith to become more familiar to our congregation.
A staff person was hired in part to serve as catalyzer for growing the understanding and integration of the Building Blocks of Faith into the life of Water Street Church.
With our coach’s encouragement and our new staff person’s gifts, Water Street Church joined FFM’s Family Faith Formation cohort. A group of five of us met regularly to discuss and learn. The book Families at the Center of Faith Formation, edited by John Roberto, served as a springboard for these discussions, and we began to understand that our focus should be on building relationships rather than on programs.
Some new initiatives came directly out of being part of this cohort. A few “Kids-in-Worship” spaces were set up. These consist of “kid-friendly” tables and chairs with activities related to the sermon or liturgical themes. The emphasis is on children belonging. Visiting families have been grateful for these spaces, as children are not always comfortable going to an unfamiliar nursery or church school program. They have also been a huge blessing during COVID as these other ministries are not available due to restrictions. We also bought various children’s story Bibles which were placed in the sanctuary for children to look at during the service.
Interested in learning more about how the Building Blocks of Faith can enrich your church's faith formation efforts? If you're part of a Christian Reformed church, contact one of our regional catalyzers for conversation and coaching.