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Road Maps for Vibrant Faith

Steps & Sample Ministry Road Maps

Christian communities have the power to change lives and transform communities. People yearn to be part of Christian communities that help them

  • be awakened to God’s presence in their daily lives,
  • experience belonging and the gift of life-giving, long-lasting friendships, and
  • contribute their time, talents and treasures towards fulfilling God’s dreams for the world.

The church is a WHO where the people of God bring Christ’s transforming presence everywhere they go rather than a WHAT, a place one goes once or twice a week? Every faith community can become a multi-site congregation where people’s homes serve as mission outposts.

Current faith forming efforts are like tattoos where change is only skin deep. Leaders need plans for helping people go deeper with practicing faith everyday, everywhere. Leaders create greenhouses for growing faith that include congregations and homes as well as online and community settings.

Everyone has a story to tell and a gift to share.

Forming faith is a lifelong endeavor where everyone has a next step.

QUESTIONS  TO ASK WHEN CREATING A ROAD MAP

QUESTION 1 | What are your DREAMS for lifelong faith within your ministry setting?
One congregation’s deepest desire is to help people be living expressions of Jesus Christ in the world where they learn to live and thrive in the love and grace of God. Their dreams are laser-focused on the following five initiatives where they design:

  • transformational, intergenerational worship experiences.
  • long-lasting, life-giving relationships.
  • renewing faith practices for individuals and households.
  • meaningful rituals and traditions, and
  • servant opportunities that serve and bless their local community.

QUESTION 2 | What are your beliefs about how faith is formed and lived out?
We encourage faith formation leaders to list their core beliefs and convictions about how faith is formed and how one lives a life of faith in their daily lives. Listed below are sample belief statements from various congregations.

  • God is present and active in the world; our task is to become aware of what God is “up to” in our lives. • Faith is formed in the context of community that includes settings at and beyond the congregation.
  • Faith formation as a lifelong process that’s lived out every day, everywhere.
  • Faith formation is the process of learning to follow in the way of Jesus, where our words, thoughts and action reflect God’s intentions for the world.
  • Stewardship is everything we say and do after we’ve say “yes’ to God. • The world we interact with every day is our mission field. Our homes are mission outposts and centers of hospitality for people in our community.
  • We meet people where they’re at in life and faith and seek to walk alongside them. We acknowledge each person’s experience and expression of faith may be different than others.
  • Everyone has a gift to share and a story to tell.

QUESTION 3 | What kind of climate/culture is needed to create and sustain vibrant faith?
Take a moment to describe what your faith forming greenhouse looks like in your setting. A few ideas are listed below.

  • Our setting must make faith central in all that we say and do. God must be the subject of our conversations.
  • Our setting must demonstrate radical and genuine hospitality where people experience God’s love through the encounters with one another.
  • Our setting must be a place where stories of faith are shared during worship, in small groups and online gatherings.
  • Our setting must introduce people to life-giving, faith forming spiritual practices that enliven one’s soul.
  • Our setting must celebrate people’s gifts, honor people’s sense of call and help them develop their gifts.
  • Our setting must be Spirit-driven, joyful and exhibit an abundance mindset.
  • Our setting must tolerate failure, encourage risk-taking, and be open to new ideas and experiments.

TOOLS FOR CREATING A ROAD MAP

  • 4 | Strategize ways to share your EMERGING VISION for lifelong faith with others.

    How you communicate your vision for lifelong faith will continue to change as you gather more research, and as you live into various elements of your plan. Listed below is a description of how one congregation used shapes to describe what matters most at their congregation related to lifelong faith formation.

    PEOPLE Matter

    Life-giving relationships play a critical role in the faith forming process. We use the term “familying” to describe the relational process that the Spirit uses to create and sustain us in life and faith. Our faith community strives to create a web of support where every individual is cared for, supported, challenged, and empowered with new possibilities for living a life of faith. The circle serves as a reminder that we can always “step back” to make room for others. We are called to be an inclusive, intergenerational community where our desire to follow in the way of Christ is what grounds us and guides us.

    PRIORITIES Matter

    The triangle reminds us that we gather as a community of faith to 1) Connect with God, 2) Connect and care for each other, and 3) Connect with people and needs from our local & global community. The triangle reminds to find ways to 1) be AWARE of God’s presence in our lives, to 2) create an atmosphere of BELONGING where people experience grace-filled, life giving relationships, and 3) to provide opportunities for people to CONTRIBUTE to God’s transforming work in the world. We also seek to engage people’s heads, hand and hearts in all our faith forming experiences.

    PROCESSES/PRACTICES & PLACES Matter

    Understanding faith as a verb, our congregation seeks to engage people of all ages and life stages in practicing faith everyday, everywhere. We seek to offer faith forming experiences that include 1) Caring relationships, 2) Reading the Bible, 3) Learning the Christian traditions and applying them to life today, 4) Worshipping with the faith community, 5) Celebrating rituals and milestones, 6) Praying, doing devotions, and engaging in spiritual formation, 7) Serving those in need, working for justice, caring for creation, and 8) Celebrating liturgical seasons. We emphasize the importance of practicing faith everyday, everywhere, referring to the sides of the square to symbolize the 4 practices

    (Pray | Learn | Serve | Celebrate) and the 4 places (below) that we currently focus on:

    1. Congregation: We provide worship and large group experiences where people are introduced to Jesus, interpret the Christian life, learn Bible stories and biblical concepts, celebrate milestones and are taught renewing faith practices.
    2. Home/Daily life: Understanding home as church, too, we help every person create a web of Christian support that extends into home and daily life. Spiritual practices are taught in the congregation that can be replicated at home.
    3. Online: Our website and social media platforms serve as connecting points to share life and faith stories, learn spiritual practices, pray for and encourage one another, and call forth each others gifts and passions in service to our neighbor. They provide opportunities for independent study, reflection and dialogue, allowing people to learn what they want, when they want, and with whom they want.
    4. Community: We seek ongoing partnerships and dialogue with community organizations, local congregations, seminaries and other learning institutions.
  • 5 | Share BIG PICTURE & NEXT STEPS with others.

    Leaders of lifelong faith need to model the way for others and experience first-hand what they’re inviting others to do. In this exercise, leaders should list their responses to the exercises below and then share their responses with the group. Think about the impact that people, places and faith processes/practices can have your ongoing spiritual vitality. Explore ways to build on what you’re already doing and what’s working. As a group, discuss what might help or hinder people’s capacity to take the next step in their faith journey.

    3 things I’m doing now to grow in faith

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________

    3 people that support my faith journey

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________

    3 “wellsprings” in life & faith for me

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________

    3 potential “next steps” might be

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________
  • 7 | List strategies for celebrating rituals, traditions & milestones.

    Use the form below to identify ways you bless participants at home and congregational gatherings, further equip people to practice faith, offer a gift that signify the uniqueness of the occasion, and reinforce new ways experiencing God more fully. Variations of this form can also be used to recognize seasons of church and other annual rituals and traditions.

  • 8 | Evaluate faith forming experience using the Plus Delta form.

    Part of the lifelong faith planning process is to evaluate current faith forming programs and ministries based on the impact they have on people’s spiritual vitality. We invite you and other leaders complete this exercise on at least one element of your faith forming activities.

    The Plus/Delta exercise is a simple yet flexible and effective tool in helping leaders celebrate and build on the bright spots of ministry while also making note of current challenges or areas of ministry that need greater attention. The form can be used individually as a self-reflection tool to evaluate a person’s performance (preaching, leading meetings, organizing events, building teams, etc.) or to to evaluate a specific event one oversees (worship service, youth event, webinar).  In addition, it can also be used in group settings to evaluate a staff person, a program, communication tools (newsletter, website, Facebook page, worship bulletin) or perhaps how deep your congregation is living into one of its core values. Simply select just ONE topic, theme or category in which to evaluate. At the end of the exercise, take a few moments to list 3 actions steps leaders could take in the next 30 days to begin implementing learnings generated by the experience.

    Faith Formation Program/Experience to Share Feedback on:

  • 9 | Identify 1-3 faith formation goals to be fulfilled within 12 months.

    For each goal, provide a simple heading and a description of a measurable result and three action steps.

    SAMPLE GOAL: Design weekly worship to engage all generations.

    Description: Create worship experiences that are planned and led by all generations, and consistently provide opportunities to teach faith practices, share faith stories and reinforce congregational values.
    Action steps are specific, short-term tasks that can be completed with a month’s timeframe.

    GOAL #1:
    Description:__________________

    Action Steps:

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________

    GOAL #2:
    Description:__________________

    Action Steps:

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________

    GOAL #3:
    Description:__________________

    Action Steps:

    1. __________________________
    2. __________________________
    3. __________________________

Videos & Resources to Support Lifelong Faith Formation Initiatives

SAMPLE 3 YEAR PLAN FOR VIBRANT FAITH

  • Have leaders review and bookmark the Faith Formation Learning Exchange, and the recommended websites found in the Toolbox section of this website.
  • Help leaders view themselves as people of influence, who are forward-thinking and model the way for others.
  • Sign up to receive Surface to Soul blog postings – view past and present postings based on categories you’re most interested in.
  • Make note of the upcoming free webinars and past recordings found on this site.
  • Have leaders read and discuss A Coaching Approach to Spiritual Vitality.
  • Have leaders read and discuss A Guide for 21st Century Faith Formation.
  • Provide core leaders with the Take the Caring Conversation Challenge form.  Invite them to develop deeper, more significant relationships with the people they encounter throughout the month.
  • Determine if the Check Your Ministry Pulse or Faith Assets Assessment will be administered at your congregation.
  • Introduce the concept of “familying” through sermons, news articles and conversations with leaders.  Discuss the importance of creating cross+generational faith forming networks of support for all people.
  • Help leaders understand the importance of creating a sense of urgency that’s reflected in the setting and review of 30-day goals.
  • Introduce leaders to the Ministry Road Map template (see coach for various options) and the Assignment Log to help them track progress.
  • Integrate Fearless Conversations into staff meeting, board meetings, and all leadership meetings.
  • Integrate Fearless Conversations into Sunday School, Confirmation, Music rehearsals and small groups.
  • Provide a “Deepening Connections” Packet for all meeting and event coordinators (see coach for samples).
  • Create an email distribution list that includes people are introducing Caring Conversations into activities. Provide ongoing resources and support.
  • Post Deepening Connections resources on the website.
  • Integrate Fearless Conversation questions into social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Begin using a Ministry Road Map to guide meeting agendas; set 30-day goals.
  • Have meeting conveners review Leading Meetings that Make a Difference; explore ways to ensure that caring conversations, devotions and the setting and review of 30 day goals is integrated into all leadership meetings.
  • Introduce the concept of lifelong faith formation that takes place 24/7/365 and is practiced in the congregation, online, in the community and in daily life.
  • Help leaders understand the importance of building a guiding coalition that continues to grow in size.
  • Integrate prayer and scripture reading into upcoming meetings.
  • Integrate prayer and scripture reading into upcoming scheduled events.
  • Post devotional tools, resources and ideas on your website for all leaders.
  • Begin posting a weekly devotion on your congregation’s Facebook page every day for one month.
  • Complete the Integrating Formation Practices form focusing on scripture reading and prayer,  discuss possibilities for integrating devotional practices into home, congregation and online settings.
  • Create a first draft based on the Sample Soul Script. Submit draft to other leaders for feedback.
  • Continue to integrate connecting and equipping activities into meetings and worship.
  • Make a list of all scheduled events for the next 90 days along with the names of the event coordinators. Develop a plan for training all leaders how to introduce Caring Conversations, prayer, scripture reading, acts of service and meaningful rituals into their scheduled activities.
  • Train small group leaders, teachers, mentors and event coordinators how to integrate faith practices into upcoming events.
  • Introduce leaders and event coordinators to the Planning Form for Engaging, Transformative Events.  Encourage leaders to be intentional about planning events that teach faith practices, build community, engage all generations and seek to care for and bless others.
  • Help leaders understand the importance of paying attention to results and evaluating their priorities, programs, plans, people and practices.
  • Develop an online depository where all event plans are archived for future reference using platforms such as Dropbox or Google Docs.
  • When planning upcoming events, worship and learning experiences, look for opportunities to “extend” the congregational activity into home and daily life.
  • Create a proposal highlighting ways to use the internet and other tools to help people practice faith 24/7.
  • Highlight members stories about ways they serve in daily life on the church’s website.
  • List servant opportunities that take place throughout the year on the website.
  • Share peoples comments from recent servant events on the church’s Facebook page.
  • Post links to local and global servant opportunities on the church’s website.
  • Show Gumball video clip during worship, at leadership meetings and at all church events.
  • Explore ways to make the planning, promotion and participation in worship an increasingly intergenerational experience. Review the Ideas for Engaging Children in Worship form; identify ideas that may be adapted to your ministry setting.
  • Expand the concept of familying to include grandparents, godparents, relatives, neighbors and friends.
  • Preach on the types of family that provides a network of spiritual support to people, young and old.
  • Help members identify and extend their network of faith-filled friends.
  • Create a sponsor/god parent email distribution list – send monthly updates with ideas for growing as a faith parent and ideas for supporting young people in their faith journey.
  • Provide tools and resources for faith parents such as a Faith Parent Ministry Description, Launching Family Faithkits, and Developmental Relationships Framework, etc.
  • Continue connecting, equipping and blessing activities into all congregational activities.
  • Introduce the congregation to the power of storytelling and marking the milestones in one’s life.
  • Assemble a Milestones Ministry Team to plan, promote and lead Milestones events for the coming year.
  • Train Milestones Event Coordinators how to use the celebrations as teaching and outreach opportunities.
  • Begin sharing people’s lives and faith stories during worship, in newsletters and online.
  • Have leaders review the list of accomplishments and celebrations from the past year; help leaders set goals and make plans for the coming year.
  • Once a month during worship, highlight ways people are celebrating home-based milestones. Provide resources for people to replicate the experience in their own household setting.
  • Highlight a sample home-based milestones celebration, using For Everything a Season as a Guide.
  • Include newsletter article that highlight ways to practice faith at home.
  • Post Milestones tools, resources and links on your congregation’s website.
  • Review the results of the Check Your Ministry Pulse survey or Faith Assets Assessment if this was done during the last quarter. Compare current survey results to initial survey results. List items to celebrate and areas that need greater attention to in the upcoming year.
  • Determine if it would be beneficial for the coaching relationship to continue, and if so, in what capacity.
  • Identify major faith formation initiatives that need a person to oversee in the coming year.
  • Once a month during worship, highlight ways people are celebrating home-based milestones. Provide resources for people to replicate the experience in their own household setting.
  • Highlight a sample home-based milestones celebration, using For Everything a Season as a Guide.
  • Include newsletter article that highlight ways to practice faith at home.
  • Post Milestones tools, resources and links on your congregation’s website.
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