The Exemplary Youth Ministry Study results indicate that churches seeking to develop an effective formation focus make three distinctive shifts.
They emphasize personal and community transformation understanding that, though programs are a necessary dimension of congregational life, they are a means toward an end and not the end itself. Christian formation is about turning believers into disciples of Jesus Christ, so that we are formed in Christ, both personally and as a community.
Which of your programs are doing that? How do you know? How could you shift your programs to focus on formation?
They emphasize a holistic head, heart and hand approach to formation. Information or knowledge alone will not support the kind of radical transformation we are seeking. Christian formation includes the goal of increasing our knowledge of Scripture, for example, but it is not limited to that. It is about whole-person learning. It is about knowing, being, and doing.
In what ministries are you helping young people be and do as well as know? How do you know?
They emphasize an integrated faith, understanding that Christian formation is not about accomplishing a series of tasks, nor does it happen only in the church building. It happens everywhere…at home, at school, at work, and throughout our lives. Growing together toward wholeness in Christ requires that we be “border crossers” when it comes to generational, class, gender, home/church, work/church, clergy/lay, and racial, cultural and ethnic boundaries.
What evidences of “border crossings” are you seeing at your church? Where can you develop another?
John Roberto is the Executive Director of LifelongFaith Associates, and was the Roman Catholic member of the original Exemplary Youth Ministry Study Leadership Team.
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