As 2015 comes to an end, I thought it would be interesting to see what articles I either shared or bookmarked for further reading and study that related to the changing landscape of Christian formation in the Church. In the past I have written about trends and the future, with my five-part series, Christian Formation in a Changing Church getting a lot of traction from readers. What have others been writing about this year that informs where our focus could (or should) be in 2016? Where does our attention need to be focused? Check out some of these articles:
A new ministry structure experiment at Olivet United Church of Christ in Lino Lakes, MN was shared by Faith Formation Director Amber Espinoza on Vibrant Faith. It involves ending classroom-based Christian education, toys in the atrium (aka Narthex in Episcopal circles), the integration of children in worship, and family retreats.
The Confirmation Project is a five-denomination study that has taken place over the past few years looking at best practices of confirmation preparation in our churches. Here is their latest webinar, in which Lisa Kimball (Virginia Seminary) and Terri Elton (Luther Seminary) share their insights from the study. Basically, Confirmation is just one of many important aspects of youth formation. It is an opportunity to bring young people along into a life long journey of faith. And it’s important that once confirmed, the relationships continue post-confirmation and the community continues to support them in faith.
The importance of good liturgy. I read about this over and over again. Good liturgy for children, youth, and adults. Liturgy is what forms us and feeds us. There has also been plenty written about young adults (millennials and why they don’t come to church). Here’s one article that seemed to sum it up from me, “Dear Church,” posted on Patheos (a great website full of great articles you should sign up or bookmark for 2016). Another article that is connected to this theme is “Sunday Schooling our Kids Out of Church” by Tim Johnson.
Much of 2015 for me was focused on advocating for better gun control and safety in our country, as well as how churches can engage in this conversation. I believe the Church should have a voice in proclaiming these issues of justice for all. I edited a book (Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: Challenging the Epidemic of Gun Violence) and offered workshops on the topic. Ministry Matters (Cokesbury’s blog) offered this article, “How Should the Church Respond to Gun Violence?”
Lastly, the topic of faith at home and equipping parents to nurture Christian practices at home was of interest as more families are not regular in attending church anymore. (Once a month is now “regular.”) Between sports, school activities, work schedules, and just plain needing a break to sleep-in, parents really are the ones who are the foundation of passing on the faith to their children. Building Faith launched a section of their website designated to Home Practices. Well worth checking out as there are plenty of ideas to share and implement with families in your congregation.
What do you believe will be the top formation trends for 2016?