Christian Formation (sometimes called Christian Education) is a life-long process of learning how to live the life we are called to live by God. While there are milestones or stepping stones, there is no point along the way where we complete the journey. The journey can be divided into a number of parts beginning with Baptism. When parents bring a child to be baptized, they are signaling to God and the congregation to which they belong that they are prepared to begin the process of Christian Formation with their child. For their part, the parents promise to bring the child faithfully to the services of God's house, teach their child the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments. (Notice that it is the parents who are promising to teach their child.) Furthermore, they promise to place in their child's hands the Holy Scriptures and provide for instruction in the Christian faith. Inherent in the congregation's welcoming of the child into the fellowship of the church is a commitment to support the parents in their task of providing Christian Formation. But it must be emphasized that this is the job of the parents first and foremost.
For its part, the congregation provides a number of programs under the umbrella of Christian Formation in order to support the parents and assist in the work of Christian Formation.
First comes the Cradle Roll. This ministry covers the first and second years of the child's life. Through a series of mailing which include helpful resources, the Cradle Roll program seeks to assist parents in sowing the seeds of the Christian life in the child. Stories, devotions, prayers, songs: these are some of the resources provided.
At age three, the child is enrolled in the Sunday School program of the congregation. The curricula used are carefully selected to keep the child in touch with the message of the church. Social ministry projects help to develop an understanding of the need for us to care for others.
Sixth through eighth grades are spent in the Foundations program of the congregation. More information on this program can be found in the Youth Ministry section of this website. Confirmation (Renewal of Baptism) usually takes place during this time period. Though seen by some as a graduation from Sunday School, this milestone actually readies the child for fuller participation in the life of the congregation.
Finally, adult study groups provide ongoing support for living the Christian life.
Successful Christian Formation requires a partnership between parents and the congregation. Consider now how these programs can assist you and your family in more faithfully living your lives as people of God.