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Faith Formation Ministries Gains Momentum


Faith Formation Ministries (FFM) of the Christian Reformed Church is gaining momentum for its work just a year after the denomination’s Board of Trustees approved its curriculum proposal but said there was little money to fund it.

Within the past two months, Syd Hielema, team leader of FFM, has secured about $65,000 in funding from a foundation and other donors to continue the work of the ministry, including funding the updates to curriculum.

With that new funding, the ministry is going ahead with much of the program proposed a year ago, including a children’s ministry toolkit, developing curriculum guidelines for churches when they evaluate their curriculum options, and hiring a children’s ministry catalyzer. There will soon be reviews of current popular curricula.

What has not yet begun are the refreshing of the Dwell curriculum and the addition of a Dwell at Home piece to complement it. Budget for those projects is estimated at $143,000, with ongoing annual costs of $45,000 for the two.

Faith Formation Ministries was formed by Synod 2015 after Faith Alive (the curriculum publishing agency of the CRC) was dissolved in 2013. (Synod is the annual leadership meeting of the CRC.) The Faith Alive brand remains.

Hielema noted that FFM’s approach to ministry is different from Faith Alive. Rather than being programmatic, FFM’s approach sees faith formation as coming from home, through children’s programming like Sunday school, and from faith formation practices of entire congregations.

Hielema said in an interview with The Banner that significant emphasis is going to be on helping congregations equip parents. “We are discerning that traditional modes of exercising faith formation in the home are falling by the way.” As fewer families eat together, dinner devotions don’t happen. He said that in an age of expected parental perfectionism, parents feel inadequate to be spiritual leaders for their children.

Faith formation has traditionally happened through programs, such as Sunday school, GEMS, and Cadets. “I believe we are in a post programmatic context. We don’t cancel programs, but programs alone can’t do the job. We need . . . multiple places during the week where significant reminders of what it means to follow Jesus are part of our environment.” Hielema said it’s not about keeping curriculum alive but embedding curriculum as one part of a faith formation immersive environment.

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