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Preparing for faith formation this fall

Is your congregation ready for faith formation this fall? Rev. Kathy Pittenger provides a variety of resources to assist your leaders.

Children’s Initiatives Coordinator, Michigan Conference

Christian Education. Faith Formation. Discipleship. There are many labels for the ministry that supports an individual and the community growing in faith. Faith formation happens through Sunday school, small groups, Bible studies, worship, social justice advocacy, prayer groups, book studies, service projects, mission trips, and so much more.

Many churches begin the fall with Rally Day or Kickoff Sunday or Christian Education Sunday. This is often when teachers and leaders are recognized and commissioned for their work, Bibles are given to children and youth, and fall ministry offerings begin. Christian Education Sunday may also include a special offering.

Preparing for fall also includes making sure that your church has up-to-date protection policies in place (sometimes called Safe Sanctuaries policies), and all leaders who are working with children, youth, and vulnerable adults are screened and trained.

Faith grows throughout our lives, and there are limitless possibilities to how one’s faith is formed. Each person can actively engage in shaping their faith in a variety of ways.

One of my early memories is in my kindergarten classroom putting a sticker on the attendance chart. But most of the things I remember about church and “Christian Education” are the relationships. Sitting with my grandparents during worship. Singing with the children’s choir. Attending confirmation class in the pastor’s study. Having my Sunday school teacher stay with our class for more than 8 years.

The pieces that were most important to me were feeling like I had a place where I belonged and knowing I could ask hard questions. I appreciated the “teachers” who were most interested in learning with me, not just telling me something. And those people were the ones who helped me grow the most.

Faith formation is about being with one another, hearing each other’s stories, and sitting with the good and the painful moments. It’s about finding God in all the places of life.

It’s about reading the Bible and finding ourselves in the story or discerning what the story teaches us today. It’s about building a tower with a toddler and showing them what God’s loves looks like, not through a lesson but through relationship. Faith formation is about sitting with a teenager and listening. It happens through praying together and worshiping together. Faith formation may even happen on the sidelines of the soccer field or at the playground. Or while putting together a puzzle at a senior center.

Faith formation is important because it puts faith front and center in our lives. Plus it acknowledges that all aspects of life include faith, not just what happens on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening or even at the church building.

There is a plethora of resources churches can access for fall planning to aid faith formation in your church. Here are some to consider.

Children’s Ministry Fall Resources: To guide and assist leaders in their preparation for fall, this toolbox has been updated and can be found on this page. It includes resources for choosing curricula, selecting the best Bible for a child and thinking through ways to present it to them during a service, as well as back-to-school blessings and giveaways. You’ll also find Sunday school training tips and information about Christian Education Sunday.

While Christian Education Sunday for the Michigan Conference is designated for August 21, 2022, your church can choose another date that works better for your community.

Fall Mini Cohort for Leaders: Children’s Initiatives of the Michigan Conference is offering a Fall Mini Cohort from September through November that is open to all faith formation leaders. We are committed to equip, empower, and encourage leaders in our churches. The cohort will meet once a month on Zoom to talk about your questions, concerns, ideas, successes, and failures in ministry. Sign up via this online form to learn more.

Kids Min Zooms: These Zoom gatherings will continue in the fall. The schedule and sign-up information can be found on this page. We are excited to have two guest speakers. Rev. Kim Myers will share about Equipping and Empowering Parents as Faith Formation Leaders (Sept. 21), and Rev. Kelly Jackson Brooks will speak on the Mental Health of Children and Youth (Nov. 2). Other topics include VBS swap (share kits and supplies) and spiritual practice.

We’ve had a summer full of fun, VBS, and events that felt more “normal.” In-person gatherings and connections are starting to happen as we travel into fall. Full of new adventures and new challenges, we must be open to exploring new ways to be in ministry with our congregations and communities.

If you have questions about ministry with children or faith formation in your church, contact Rev. Kathy Pittenger at [email protected].

Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference