Someone or some group will soon be reviewing and revising your congregation’s adult faith formation opportunities for the fall. Even if you use that language, what it usually becomes is planning for fall courses, forums, and retreats. It really becomes a list for the old Adult Christian Education offerings.
Wrong paradigm! Keep or adopt the language of faith formation or, better yet, Christian formation, to make it clear you are not endorsing just any religious formation. Work to promote the concept that everything we do in our congregations and in our daily life is part of our Christian formation. Worship is adult Christian/faith formation. So is a vestry or board meeting. So is a mission trip, a pot luck supper, or fixing a flat tire along the highway. All of our life experiences are part of Christian formation as we use these moments or any moment for caring conversation, devotions, service, and rituals and traditions. Yes, adult Christian formation is all about practicing the faith in and through a community of believers.
The critical ingredient is to have others walking alongside in one’s Christian formation, people who are mentors, sojourners, or, what I like to reference, prayer and action partners. A prayer and action partner is simply someone who says, “I hear your desire to do [this or that]; I pledge to pray for you as you do it, and I will check in with you later to see how your Christian formation was touched by it.”
Your governing board members can have or rotate prayer and action partners. At the end of the meeting, people can say what they want to do as a consequence of the meeting. The prayer and action partner chimes in and commits to pray for the other person and to check in with that person later for a bit of caring conversation (reflection). This can happen at Bible studies, too. At the end of a session or a course, people can say what they will do because of the discussion and learning that took place. Others step forward to walk alongside as a prayer and action partner. No matter what the occasion, people can enhance one another’s Christian formation with prayer, reflection, and accountability. This is the adult Christian formation that will make a difference and touch more lives.