More implications for Adult Faith Formation

By Scott Hughes

That horrifying moment when you're looking for an adult, then realize you're an adult. So you look for an older adult, someone successfully adultier adult. -some ecards

In the last blog, we explored the first three of six practical considerations for shifting from a traditional model to a more experiential model of faith formation. Here are the last three points:

4. Adults increasingly express a desire for more interactivity. The church should offer options and events that allow people to express their creativity and to engage in mission and social justice activities as part of their faith formation. These activities should be seen as part of the faith formation of an adult disciple. (For example, seeing worship as an essential part of our formation, what interactive elements might be included in worship to engage adults at different seasons of their growth?)

5. This shift toward experiential faith formation should enable local churches to think smaller and wider. We need to offer more options and experiences for adults in small-group settings instead of offering big events designed for maximum attendance. With the rise of portable “smart” devices, adult faith formation plans should also incorporate digital platforms. Faith formation that is 24/7 should help adults connect formation experiences in their local church with their everyday life as disciples -whether at work, home, or leisure. Whether the incorporation of online platforms means links to articles or social media for online conversations, planning for adult formation must also include plans for adult learning that do not require attendance in a building.

6. A challenge with this shift in formation models will be connecting the particular needs of adults while also addressing the growth of the whole congregation. Intermediate-size groups, primarily designed for fun and fellowship, could be a beneficial and fairly informal way for adults throughout their seasons (as well as other generations) to share testimonies. Groups such as these also have the benefit of deepening congregational trust. Additionally, such gatherings become ways of learning the needs for and promoting new formation opportunities for adults as well as intergenerational learning opportunities.

Reflection Questions

  • How are missions or outreach events promoted? Are they promoted as opportunities for growth in discipleship?
  • How important are intermediate-size gatherings for your local church?

Optional activity

Plan one new group that focuses on a life transition for adults. How might there be an online component to the group?

Plan an intermediate-size gathering focusing on opportunities for adults to share their testimonies and envision where they hope to grow in faith over the next six months.