# 4 Life-Long Faith Formation

This is the fourth in a series on Vernon-ELCA’s “Core Values”:
Meaningful Worship, Caring Relationships, Mission Focus and Life-Long Faith Formation

Pastor Molly’s Thoughts…

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

Faith is central to our spirituality. But I wonder if we really know what it is. Often, we think of faith as mere “understanding.” More like education. Or, we think that the more we learn about the bible, or Jesus, or theology, the wiser we will be. Maybe faith is about knowing how to align our lives (at least morally) with God’s commandments.

Trouble is, we can pack study and learning in our heads, but our hearts may remain untouched. Conversely, often it seems like the ones who have less “learning” – children – have the most faith. (1 Corinthians 3:18)

Life-long faith formation, our fourth core value, is connected to each of our other values:

It grows as we worship – we know it comes by hearing the Word and eating at God’s table. In baptism, we are given the Holy Spirit who imparts to us the gift of faith.

Faith also is nurtured in Christian community. The sharing of God’s word and food, in the context of caring relationships helps us to see that we cannot grow in faith without other’s and their love.

Faith is also increases as we are engaged in mission. “Faith without works is dead!” (James 2:14)

Faith is about learning. But more importantly, it is about living in grace, of experiencing God’s love.

The old adage: “The longest distance you will ever travel is the 18 inches from your head to your heart” reminds us that faith isn’t something that we calibrate, or amass. It’s about being held, and loved, in the arms of a loving god – who showed us that love in Jesus’ outstretched arms on the cross. This is the journey of a lifetime.

Faith is also a response, openness to being changed or “reformed” throughout our lives. Faith is alive, not static! It receives the life God gives us and reshapes us into loving people who fulfill the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40).

Vernon-ELCA’s fourth core value is understood in the context of one’s entire life . . .and acknowledges that we are always growing. Intergen-erational relationships become important; no one is “greater” in faith than another. We all grow by being together!

We are on the verge of massive changes in the church, not just here at Vernon-ELCA, but in the world. The methods and resources we utilize to grow in faith will be very different than the old ways. Many church leaders are rethinking ways in which modern “tools” (such as social media) can help us to grow; likewise, many are rethinking new ways to do group bible studies, Sunday School, etc.

We all need to understand not only the dynamics of faith-formation and become savvy to the changing culture around us.

Two important things are happening at Vernon-ELCA, designed to help move us into the 21st Century, in terms of faith-formation:

We are designing a new (and MUCH improved) website – with new Logo and “branding” which will greatly assist us in the connections we need not only for outreach, but for our own growing faith.

We will be working again this year with Jim LaDoux of Vibrant Faith, gathering information and coming together as a con-gregation to see how this core value can be strengthened.

I encourage you to download and read the tool “A Guide to 21st Century Faith Formation: Designing Connected and Net-worked Faith formation for All Ages & Generations” by John Roberto

And mark your calendar for our February 27th (Saturday) workshop. (9-3)
We all need to be encouraged and equipped to address the way we grow in faith today – both in understanding how things have changed and also what new and exciting ways are emerging.