Jesus presented faith as a whole way of life. Education is just one piece in the complex puzzle of the lifelong journey of faith formation. Head knowledge has to be integrated with heart relationships and with hands on experiences.
Noted Catholic theologian Thomas Groome talks about the comprehensive demands of discipleship:
- Christian faith as a way of the head (inform) demands a discipleship of faith seeking understanding with personal conviction, sustained by study, reflecting, discerning, and deciding, all toward spiritual wisdom for life.
- Christian faith as a way of the heart (form) demands a discipleship of right relationships and right desires, community building, hospitality and inclusion, trust in God’s love, and prayer and worship.
- Christian faith as a way of the hands (transform) demands a discipleship of love, justice, peacemaking, simplicity, integrity, healing, and repentance.
These are not new ideas. In fact they are quite ancient. Down through the ages, the things that persons and communities tend to do when they are growing faith reflect this three-fold process of inform -> form -> transform. Specifically, faith-filled Christians . . .
Care for one another. They develop caring relationships that build a community of faith, hope, and love.
Remember and celebrate. They recall the key events of the life, death, resurrection of Jesus and early church members and celebrate those events through the year.
Ritualize important moments. They recognize their experiences of God’s love through sacraments and milestones that mark significant moments of one’s faith journey.
Read Scripture. They encounter the living God in the living Word of God. They connect their stories with the stories of the Bible.
Learn the tradition. They learn about what it means to be Christian, and what it means to engage that particular way of life.
Pray. They seek and explore the myriad ways to connect with the real, but unseen God. They deepen their spirituality as individuals, as families, as faith communities.
Serve. They engage in works of mercy and works of justice for the sake of others, particularly on behalf of those without a voice in society.
Worship. They gather regularly with the community of believers to praise God, to thank God, to encourage and replenish one another, and to go forth in mission.
These are the eight indicators of an authentic faith formation ecosystem.
(Today’s article is an excerpt from Leif Kehrwald and originally appeared on Vibrant Faith’s website. To learn more about Vibrant Faith, click here.)