Holy Week is almost upon us! This is one of the busiest times of year for many faith formation leaders, especially those on a church staff (or, in the case of solo pastors, ARE the church staff). But, in the flurry of activity, how we make faith formation a priority?
First, let me define what I mean by “faith formation.” Faith formation is every action, experience, or relationship that nurtures a relationship of trust with God and shapes the way we see and interact with God’s world. Faith formation is the very mission of God’s church, to equip followers of Jesus Christ and send them out into the world to spread God’s kingdom. So, everything your congregation does should be supporting this mission.
Corporate worship, including special festival worship services like those coming up in Holy Week and Easter, is one of the primary faith formation experiences your congregation offers. So, it’s important to make sure the experience is as effective as possible in forming faith in all worshippers. How can you do that? Let’s break it down.
- Include everyone. Make sure that everyone who wants to be is actively included. This can be as simple as everyone singing, but it is best if each person and generation feels like they are specifically invited. If worshippers can engage their creativity, all the better!
- Make it concrete. Theology is important, but heady and abstract. Faith is something that is lived out concretely in our messy lives. Younger worshippers are best served with specific, concrete language and explanations (and it can be helpful for the rest of us after a long day’s work (or week)!
- Engage the senses. Faith formation experiences that engage the most senses, as well as our minds and emotions, are the most memorable. What senses are already engaged in your worship services? How can you make it better?
- Invite interactions. How can worshippers of all ages interact with the worship service, the Scriptures, God, and each other? In our current culture, we are used to interacting and not just listening to someone else. How can this tendency be used to form faith in our worship services?
The Narrative Lectionary Scripture lessons for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday move us through Jesus’ passion to his resurrection. As there are often three distinct worship services, I have included three distinct FREE faith formation resources for Holy Week/Easter. For Maundy Thursday, the free resource is a selection of background insights on the Scripture reading from our Living the Word: Contexts & Connections product, which provides cited research notes on the background context for each Narrative Lectionary reading as well as connections to other Scripture passages, the season, media, etc. For Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the free resources are both from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship product, one activity and one opening prayer. Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship provides a weekly interactive liturgy aimed at all ages designed to make our worship services accessible and engaging for everyone in the congregation, from every generation. Use these in worship or in any other context to help make this story come alive to your congregation!
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)