Q What is “faith formation”? For the past half year I keep hearing about a new Christian Reformed Church initiative called “Faith Formation Ministries.” What do I need to know about it?
A In our denomination we are in a season in which many congregations are realizing that cultivating more intentional discipleship and faith formation practices is central to their calling. We are called to be in churches that “smell like Jesus” (2 Cor. 2:15), in which a community is growing together to be more Christ-like to one another and to their surrounding community.
As the perceived need for this growth becomes stronger, we may realize that the tools we have for this growth are insufficient. For example, most folks enthusiastically and sincerely make vows at every baptism to encourage the child's faith. But often they lack the tools to carry out specific acts that back up this vow. Similarly, many folks are eager to have a stronger presence in the surrounding community but are not sure how to do that.
We at Faith Formation Ministries aim to be encouragers and equippers who walk alongside those longings and suggest specific tools to shift those longings into action. For example, literally hundreds of Christian Reformed congregations have reexamined (or are reexamining) their practices concerning inviting children to the Lord’s table. So this summer we released an online resource called Welcoming Children to the Lord’s Supper toolkit, which provides many resources for this discernment process. It does not advocate for any particular practice but provides tools to support the congregation in its own decision-making process. (For more on faith formation, visit crcna.org/faithformation.)