Will Our Faith Have Children?

Christian Formation Generation to Generation
“Designing and Using Curriculum Resources” Track


Curricula & Faith Formation
One of the “tracks” during the event, was “Christian Formation Generation to Generation: Designing and Using Curriculum Resources” facilitated by Sharon Pearson and Janie Stevens of the Diocese of Texas. Fifteen individuals participated in this ten contact hour seminar, in which key questions were asked, especially in regard to the materials that are available for parishes from all over the Episcopal Church. When we started, we developed learning goals, individual and as a seminar track. Everyone wanted to come away with deciding what was the right curricula for their parish. One participant was from Fargo, ND and had very limited resources, while another came from a cathedral parish in California with a big budget. Before it could be decided what was the “right” curricula for the Church, we realized we needed to have a consensus as to the definition of formation – each of us had a different understanding, and several had never used the term in their educational ministry. So…the group came up with a “working definition”:

What is “Formation”? – A Working Definition

It is:
• One’s life-long growth in Christ
• Allowing and accepting God as the potter in our becoming who we are meant to be
• Living with the understanding that the “ends” are not always known
• Finding our true image (given and made by God) which already exists and may not yet be recognized by us as individuals
• Our uniqueness
• Holistic, always moving and experiential in nature
• Life-changing in our relationships with one another and in our encounter with the Living God.

It is not:
• Fabrication – something we can make on our own
• Pouring into a mold
• Based solely on content
• An “end product”
• “Knowing” the answers as to who we are and who God is.

It involves:
• Liturgy and worship
• All ages
• Service and witness
• Instruction (in scripture and tradition) in connection with Education (how we apply our learnings to daily life)
• Intergenerational experiences with the whole community engaged together

The role of a Christian Educator is:
• To provide the environment where formation can occur
• Mentor others along the journey
• Help individuals take the next step on their on-going journey

Our last day together was spent in reflection and sharing learnings. The answer all were looking for on our first day became very apparent. Curriculum for teaching the faith cannot be purchased and it does not come in a can or box. Below are the recommendations we developed our of our time together:

Outcomes & Recommendations for the Future of the Church from our Track:

WE are the curricula!

The National Church (ECUSA) should work hard at developing support for the Christian Education leadership:
• Train the trainer – God will do the rest
• Stop telling us how to do it – model and share ways and methods of how others are doing it (living out the Mission of the Church)
• Give us the gift of encouragement – we learn more from each other than from you
• Act as a “clearing house” with signposts of information – why are we competing against each other if we are all called to a relationship with God?
• House of Bishops: focus on this event – focus on formation – Where are their visions and understandings? Bishops need to connect directly with children – it is a stewardship of their faith
• Bishops need to tap into and encourage others who have gifts in Christian Formation, especially if they personally do not have gifts in this area.

Dioceses should:
• Articulate the Vision and Mission of the Church – Bishops need to set the vision for their diocese.
• Urge parishes to develop a mission statement that explains their uniqueness and provides an avenue for participants in the parish to understand their specific role in the mission of the Church

The congregation needs:
• To travel together (metaphorically) in developing their mission (individuals need to be in community with one another in a parish/congregation)
• To act out their mission together and re-visit the mission often, determining how to continue to make it valid for the community while not marginalizing others
• If formation is real, stewardship campaigns aren’t necessary

Individually we need:
• To care for those involved in Christian formation (ourselves) because there is much work to do and very few of us