Here at Vibrant Faith we believe that relationships provide the foundation for faith growth. If we want people to grow into a lifelong relationship with God, then they need to be in relationship with each other. Ours is a communal faith. Relationships matter.

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But is that not all that matters. No. While relationships provide the traction for faith to stick, there are several factors involved in the faith-forming process:

  • Generations matter.
  • Age Groups matter.
  • Home / family matters.
  • Digital world matters.

We explore these factors in detail at our in-person workshops for congregational leaders, Do What Matters, but I’d like to offer a few thoughts on each in this blog series over the next few weeks.

Generations Matter

We seek to structure and organize faith formation in the congregation with these three characteristics:

  • Lifelong – faith formation is for everyone, for the whole of life. One never graduates. One is always being formed in faith.
  • Event-centered – the learning is rooted in the events of your church community.
  • Intergenerational – we learn in the same manner in which we live, in the same manner in which we worship.

To integrate these three characteristics, the faith formation effort in the congregation has to take concrete steps to shift from a child-centered, school-like model, to a whole community, intergenerational model.

Intergenerational faith formation offers a great opportunity for a parish or congregation to root catechesis in communal life, to nurture and model lifelong learning, to integrate catechesis with all aspects of parish life through event-centered learning, and to resource and support the home community to be all that it can be.

Some of the churches we work with at Vibrant Faith begin by sequencing six or seven key themes – one per year – that form the focus of faith formation for the whole community. These aren’t “fluff” themes, but rather key pieces of Christian content that all parishioners should be formed in such as seasons of the church year or liturgy.

The church then identifies six to ten topics to break open and learn about the chosen theme. Imagine a monthly intergenerational learning session for the whole church community designed cover the topics of this year’s theme. The topics are sequenced according to events of church life. That’s what we mean by event-centered learning.

Intergenerational Lesson Plans are available from a variety of sources, one of which is Vibrant Faith. Go here to download our complete set of intergenerational sessions. If your congregation is just getting started in this area, start with our free intergenerational session, which you can download here.

A great website to learn more is www.intergenerationalfaith.com. Be sure to read the case studies featured there. A congregation that has successfully made this shift is Reformation Lutheran in Milford DE. Their intergenerational faith formation program is called ReCreation. Check it out.

Does this mean the congregation should eliminate Sunday School and Youth Group altogether? No, as mentioned above, we also believe that age groups matter – which will be the topic of my next post.

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