Over the next several weeks my colleagues and I will be reflecting on the “Where of Faith Formation.” The challenges of doing our work as pastors and clergy are already numerous. With so many of us displaced from our places of worship over the last couple years, it has given us a lot of time to the think, obsess and sometimes worry about, the whys, whats, hows, whos, and the wheres of faith formation. The pandemic has accelerated what was already shifting in many of our contexts and while it is disorienting, we may consider these times as opportunities to reorient ourselves.
We love our dualities, dichotomies, and compartmentalization. At a glance, these things can give an appearance of order, clean lines, boundaries, and logic. But if we aren’t careful, I believe that these things can undermine our sense of purpose, compromise our identity, and erode our authenticity. These things may actually hinder the work of faith formation.
Our faith informs every area of our lives. So, necessarily, when we speak about faith formation, we must not see our spirituality as just another compartment, another silo, another cubby, that contradicts the wholeness that Spirit.
So… What is the “where” of faith-formation?
As a multi-vocational pastor for two decades, you can imagine that I’ve had considerable time to think about and try to live out this ‘where of faith formation.’ What I’ve discovered is that it just happens. At work, at school, at home, in the neighborhood, at the market – everywhere I went – there God was – mediating relationships with family, friends, colleagues, classmates, and neighbors – teaching as well as learning how to live faithfully and authentically.
Now, I admit that as a pastor, I was more deliberate about this “work” on Sundays and Wednesdays – there is a certain spectacle to our traditions. But I also confess that being deliberate doesn’t necessarily imply being effective.
I am humbled when I think about it – the lives and spaces I’ve been invited into – both tough and tender – the influence that God has given me beyond the four walls of the sanctuary I preach in, or the fellowship hall where I teach – the deep and meaningful relationships that have sprouted in the unlikeliest of places –
I guess I’ve learned that my “where of faith formation” is pretty much everywhere I go. I know that’s not a formula or a roadmap toward robust community in a virtual environment… You can probably find something else more engaging to read about that…
Our times are demanding and we have a need for deeper faith formation, and I’m teaching and learning at the same time, not always with a text per se, but more often with how I approach the work God has given me to do for the day, or the ability to embrace moments of play and rest, or what I’m able to learn when I open my ears and heart to others – where God places me…
y ver. 17
z [Philem. 16]