The Curriculum of the Church: 5 Forms for Shaping Faith
Faith formation is seeing ourselves as part of the faith story and knowing ourselves as part of the body of Christ. To begin, we invite a return to the sources of the church’s life, the means of grace. Celebrating the sacramental life of the church, gathering together around the font and the table, hearing, reading, singing the weekly texts, all within the rich framework of the seasons and cycles of the church year–form the foundation on which to build … The goal is a rich and multi-layered faith enabling us to encounter God in each other and in all of life. –Julie K. Aageson
“Christian education doesn’t begin or end with Sunday School.” This is most of what I wanted to say, dropping in for just a minute to our Adult Forum on Faith Formation. Some people may find this curious, since Sunday School is in my job description.
Allow me to explain.
Most of my colleagues and many other respected leaders in Christian education long ago buried the idea that what happens in the classroom is enough to shape and form God’s gift of faith in kids and families to be the church, living the resurrected life. It certainly isn’t news that “the church is a living partnership between the ministry of the congregation and the ministry of the home” (Dr. David Anderson, Vibrant Faith Ministries)
The curriculum of the church is people, and baptism is our initiation into a life of being formed in faith.
Churches do not have a curriculum, they are the curriculum. –Maria Harris
In Rethinking Christian Education, Aageson reminds us, “Baptism is a very big deal.” God seals us with the Holy Spirit and marks us with the cross of Christ forever. As God’s children we are being shaped and reshaped; formed, informed and reformed through the gathered and sent community. Give almost anyone a handful of clay, a baptismal starting point and the question, “How do we form God’s gift of faith in children and families?,” and you’ll experience the metaphor of the work of Christian education come to life.
Instinctively we know what it means to be formed in faith as sure as the potter forms the clay.
So how does the church intentionally form faithful imaginations of children and families?
This exercise, inspired by the late Maria Harris and her book, Fashion Me A People: Curriculum in the Church, works best with at least 5 people. Give everyone a handful of clay, a baptismal starting point, and the question: “What is faith formation as you’ve experienced it?”
Share your experiences with one another.
Assign at least one person to each of the 5 forms and invite everyone to imagine what’s possible in shaping God’s gift of faith in children and families. Again, allow time for participants to encounter the form taking shape.
Explore everyone’s responses to the question: “How can the church shape and form faith with a curriculum of:
Didache -Teaching and Learning (More)
Leiturgia – Prayer, Liturgy and Worship (More)
Kergyma – Preaching and Proclaiming the Word of God (More)
Koinonia – Community and Communion (More)
Diakonia – Service and Outreach (More)
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