Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century

Your commitment lasts two years.

Your learning lasts a lifetime.

Your impact lasts through the generations.

Announcing Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century – a new approach to developing leaders for faith formation. Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century will provide you with the knowledge and skills, practices and approaches, support and encouragement to embrace a new vision for faith formation and implement a comprehensive approach in your faith community that will engage all ages and generations in a lifelong process of growing as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century will immerse you into the new world of faith formation. You will develop the knowledge, skills, and practices for faith formation that. . . .

  • engages all generations—intergenerationally
  • nurtures family faith and equips parents to transmit faith at home
  • addresses the unique needs of age groups—children, youth, and adults
  • develops missional outreach to the unaffiliated and uninvolved, and
  • utilizes online communities and resources, and digitally-enabled strategies for faith formation

Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century will guide and support you in designing and implementing a comprehensive model of faith formation for all ages and generations especially suited to the needs of your faith community.

Scroll down to learn more and/or download the full curriculum

Download (PDF)

Important Dates

September 1, 2017
Course #1 begins – Cohort #6


January 1, 2017

Course #1 begins – Cohort #7


January 1, 2017

Course #1 begins – Cohort #1
Lower Susquehanna Synod Members Only

Truly effective lifelong faith formation in our communities is within reach

Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century is for leaders who care about the future of faith formation—whether you are a full time, part time, or a volunteer ministry leader.  You may be a pastor or Christian education director or faith formation coordinator or children, youth, and family minister or in any number of ministry leadership roles – if you want to guide your faith community in embracing a 21st century approach to faith formation then Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century is for you.

We have designed the Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century with needs of busy ministry leaders in mind. Enroll and you will enter into a two-year online experience with a learning community of 30 other Christian leaders. You will participate in six courses – one every four months – that includes three live, online presentations by experts in faith formation, individual online study and reading—two or three books per course, a one-on-one meeting with a VFU Learning Guide to assist you through the course, and a learning project that applies the course content and provides one element of your comprehensive plan for your faith community.

A new cohort starts every four months: January, May, September. Each cohort moves through the program together for two years.


Who is this for?

Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century is for you or the person in your congregation who:

  • Has primary responsibility for faith formation across generations
  • Has the ability to listen deeply to the faith formation needs of the community
  • Invites others into shared leadership
  • Thrives in the intersection of theological and practical ministry
  • Learns well through a combination of online interaction and real-world projects
How will I benefit?

The challenges of faith formation today are met through partnership:

  • We bring a deep understanding of the research and a unique perspective from working with countless congregations across the country.
  • You bring your own experience, your deep understanding of your congregation, and a desire to make a real difference today.
  • Together we will craft a plan for faith formation that will work in your context and aligns with current research.

You will learn how to translate the best research on religious transmission into approaches, practices, and resources for congregations and families that are specially designed for the challenges of religious transmission in the 21st century.

Your congregation will become equipped to be intentionally intergenerational in so that you can model twenty-first century approaches to intergenerational religious transmission, and equip and support families to engage in religious transmission at home and in daily life.

You will become prepared for the changing religious landscape of the twenty-first century by understanding the religious and spiritual diversity of the people in your faith community, and by identifying the need for adaptive changes in church life and faith formation to address this diversity.

You will be introduced to new faith formation models, approaches, tools, and resources that are tailored to the diverse religious and spiritual needs of people of all ages and generations in the congregation and community.

And you will be empowered to develop missional approaches that reach-out, build relationships, and engage people wherever they are—home, work, community—and use the new digital media resources and tools to connect with people.

How does it work?

You will enter a two-year, six course process with a cohort of up to 30 other Christian leaders. Each course lasts four months, and is designed with the needs of busy ministry leaders in mind. Throughout your time together, you will engage in theological inquiry, action research, academic study, and practical skills-building.

All required work is done online, most of which on your own time. In addition to a-synchronous, independent work, each course features three scheduled online live webinar learning sessions. Regional and/or local cohort participants can also gather with fellow students face-to-face.

On average, you will spend 2-3 hours per week engaged in your coursework.

A new “national” cohort starts every four months (January, May, and September) – meaning we will take students from anywhere in the country on a first come, first served basis.

How do I do this online?

The online learning platform for Certificate in Faith Formation for the 21st Century (CFF21) is CourseSites, a robust learning management system (LMS) powered by the latest and greatest technology from Blackboard, a leading LMS for colleges and universities. When you enroll in CFF21, you will receive simple instructions for creating your CourseSites account and logging in to your VFU courses. Navigation through each course is easy and intuitive. With the CourseSites app for mobile devices, you can do your coursework just about anywhere.

Each course follows a similar pattern:

  • Monthly webinars (recorded for those who cannot attend live) conducted by known experts in the field of faith formation.
  • Three related dynamic online learning sessions each month done on your own time developed by the staff at Vibrant Faith and anchored in the latest research and most effective strategic thinking.
  • Application activities in your local setting.
  • Two required books plus online resources such as articles or podcasts.
  • Access to an online platform for learning, conversation, support, and mentoring.
  • One-on-one and small group consultation facilitated by your cohort “guide” – a practitioner in the field and one who has experience and expertise to share.

Here is a list of the six courses:

Course 1: A Faith Forming Congregational Culture for the 21st Century
Course 2: Intergenerational Faith Formation
Course 3: Family Faith Formation
Course 4: Age-Group Faith Formation
Course 5: Missional Faith Formation
Course 6: Leading Faith Formation in the 21st Century

Download the “Full Curriculum” pdf (above) for full descriptions of each course.

Who are the instructors?

Each course has a teaching team of two or three instructors. Either Leif Kehrwald or John Roberto will be assisting with each course. In addition, the people listed here have agreed to join the VFU faculty.

Kathie Amidei – Pastoral Associate at St. Anthony on the Lake Parish, Pewaukee, WI; Author, Instructor (Ph.D. Leadership, Cardinal Stritch University)

(Rev) Von Clemans – Associate Pastor for Adult Education, Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC (D.Ed.Min., Educational Ministry, Columbia Theological Seminary)

Dave Csinos – Founder and President of Faith Forward, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Author, Instructor, Researcher (Ph.D. Theology, University of Toronto)

Leif Kehrwald – Vibrant Faith Partner for Training Services (MA Pastoral Ministry, Regis University)

(Rev) Matt Marino – Associate Rector of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, Houston, TX; Instructor (M.Div. Phoenix Seminary)

Jim Merhaut – Director of Coaching to Connect; Author, Trainer, Coach (MS Religious Education, Duquesne University)

(Rev) Kyle Matthew Oliver – Digital Missioner at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching, Virginia theological Seminary; Alexandria, VA; Instructor, Author (M.Div, Virginia Theological Seminary)

John Roberto – President, Lifelong Faith Associates (MA Religious Education, Fordham University)

Jolene Roehlkepartain – Founder and President of Ideas to Ink, Author, Educator; Minneapolis, MN (MBA, University of St. Thomas)

Janet Schaeffler, O.P. – Adult Education Consultant, Instructor, and Author; Detroit, MI (M.A. Religious Studies, Detroit-Mercy University)

Does this lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate?
As for credential, those who complete all six courses and the final project will receive a “digital badge” showing in great detail the work you have completed. The digital badge will be akin to a “Certificate of Completion” but since it is awarded online it will contain detailed information about all the coursework that has been completed. It will be a very helpful credential for the student who is pursuing a graduate degree and needs to demonstrate prior work accomplished.

What is the cost?
Tuition for CFF21 is $1000 per year, totaling $2000. You will make a deposit of $250 with your enrollment, and the remainder of the first year tuition will be invoiced to you.

How do I enroll?
CLICK HERE and you’ll be taken to the CFF21 registration page. Find and select the cohort you would like to join. Fill out the form. You will be required to make a $250 deposit on your first year tuition, which totals $1000. You will receive immediate confirmation of your enrollment, which will include any necessary you’ll need prior to the start of your first course. Within a few days you will also receive an invoice for the remainder of your first year tuition.

Course Details

Rolling Enrollment

Each course lasts four months. A new cohort starts each trimester (Jan, May, Sept). Each cohort moves through the program together for two years.

Jan-April  May-Aug Sept-Dec Jan-April May-Aug Sept-Dec 
Course 1Course 2Course 3Course 4Course 5Course 6
Course 1Course 2Course 3Course 4Course 5
Course 1Course 2Course 3Course 4
Course 1Course 2Course 3
Course 1Course 2
Course 1
Course #1. A Faith Forming Culture for the 21st Century
  • Exploring the vision of a new faith forming ecosystem: 1) intergenerational faith communities, 2) family faith formation, 3) age group and generational faith formation, 4) missional faith formation to the spiritual but not religious and the unaffiliated, and 5) online and digitally-enabled faith formation.
  • Exploring models and effective practices for online and digitally-enabled faith formation
  • Designing blended models of faith formation that incorporate physical settings and online settings ranging from fully online programming to gathered programming in physical settings that use online resources: 1) gathered program with online content, 2) gathered program and online content, 3) online and gathered, 4) mostly online, and 5) fully online
  • Designing a website platform for online faith formation
  • Becoming familiar with digital media methods and tools for faith formation
Course #2. Intergenerational Faith Formation
  • Envisioning the role of the intergenerational faith community– caring community, celebrating worship, learning, praying, and serving – in developing vibrant faith in people of all ages and generations
  • Exploring the theory, research, and principles of intergenerational faith formation; and applying practices and models for becoming intentionally intergenerational in a congregation
  • Designing intergenerational strategies, programs, activities for church life
Course #3. Family Faith Formation
  • Exploring the research on the importance of families in religious transmission and developing a vibrant faith
  • Designing approaches for equipping the congregation to nurture family faith practices at home and develop the faith life of parents and grandparents
  • Applying the research on family assets to strengthening family life
  • Designing approaches for developing the knowledge, skills, and confidence of parents (and grandparents) for parenting
Course #4: Faith Formation across the Life Span
  • Exploring the life stages of children, adolescents, young adults, middle adults, mature adults, and older adults
  • Identifying and applying effective practices and approaches for faith formation at each stage of life
  • Designing a faith formation plan (programs, activities, strategies) for specific life stages
Course #5. Missional Faith Formation
  • Exploring the research and profiles of those who are not engaged in faith communities—the unchurched and the churchless: the spiritual but not religious, the unaffiliated, the “dones.”
  • Designing missional faith formation approaches that expand and extend the church’s presence through outreach, connection, relationship building, and engagement with people where they live—moving faith formation out into the community.
  • Designing missional faith formation that provides pathways for people to consider or reconsider the Christian faith, to encounter Jesus and the Good News, and to live as disciples in a supportive faith community.
Course #6: Leading Lifelong Faith Formation
  • Exploring contemporary approaches for leadership in a changing world
  • Developing the inner life and soul of the Christian leader
  • Learning how to equipping leaders in the congregation for ministry
  • Learning how to lead change and implement innovative faith formation in a congregation

Meet the Coordinator

John Roberto is editor of the Lifelong Faith Journal, and coordinator for the Faith Formation 2020 Initiative. John  works with the Vibrant Faith team as project coordinator of the  21st Century Faith Formation certificate program. Through his own organization, LifelongFaith Associales, John provides consultation to churches and national organizations, teaches courses and conducts workshops in faith formation. He has authored books and program manuals in youth ministry, family ministry, and intergenerational faith formation. John lives with his wife, Linda, in Naugatuck, Connecticut.

John Roberto

John Roberto

President, Lifelong Faith Associates

Join us for Vibrant Faith University

A new vision of faith formation for the 21st century . . .
A new set of practices and approaches for faith formation with all ages and generations . . .
A new online leadership formation experience . . .
Find a CohortContact John Roberto with questions

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