faith formation involves studyOur lives are most productive and satisfying when how we live fits with what we believe.  Good lives are helped by clarity and confidence in what we believe.  Taking time for faith development by adults has been an area of weakness for the United Church for quite a while, and it is one we need to invest in quickly if we are going to succeed at discerning our call by God and living into that call.

Faith formation requires a blend of personal study, reflection, and practice along with participation in worship, study groups (whether ones where everyone is physically present or through electronic groups such as webinars and chat groups like Wondercafe2 and Facebook), and group actions in response to faith from community gardens to refugee support. Our real world experiences test, refine, and strengthen our beliefs.

This faith formation does not mean getting everyone to believe the same thing.  It does mean that each person knows what they believe and why they believe it.  It includes beliefs that are strongly held and beliefs that have uncertainty at this time.  Study groups should include people with a diversity of beliefs so that each person helps each other person be clear about what they actually believe and be ready to provide reasons for holding that belief.

A thorough stewardship campaign by St. Andrew’s, I believe, should include strong encouragement of the members to ask for specific opportunities to explore particular parts of what they believe, both in terms of topics and the method of delivery (sermons, one-event workshops, weekly study groups for set periods of time, blogs, in-house and other webinars, and so one).

Keeping our story alive feeds our social, emotional, and spiritual selves.  Faith stewardship feeds our minds and spirits and shapes how we live.

Read Jim’s next blog on Stewardship of Relationships