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Matthaei, S. H. (2004). "Rethinking Faith Formation." Religious Education 99(No.1. winter): 56-71.



“This article is based on the assumption that we need to rethink processes of faith formation in order to meet

the need for deeper meaning and authentic relationship within the U.S. culture. The author argues that an intentional,

effective, and life-giving ecology of faith formation within the communion of a faith community is necessary. Elements

of an effective ecology including relationships, structures, and practices are discussed using examples from the early

Methodist movement” p.56



“I am using the term “faith formation” to signify our participation in God’s work of inviting persons into

relationship with God, self, others, and creation (Matthaei 2000,20)”p.57


“The aim of faith formation is deepening relationship with God, what some would call “spirituality”, and

 the faithful witness through word and action that grows out of this relationship. Through this relationship

with God, persons are transformed to a life of loving God’s creation, including one’s self and others. While

 the faith community’s efforts do not cause this transformation, they provide the environment and opportunities

for lives to be transformed by God through the process of faith formation.” p.57


Communion as the Context for Faith Formation

“The context for faith formation is communion with God and the faith community.”p.58

“In other words, God created humans to be in relationship, and this means that the image of God

is dynamic rather than static. As a result, growth in communion is possible through God’s grace. Our response

 to God’s gift of life is to cultivate our relationship with God and creation so that we reflect God’s gift of communion

 in our words and actions.”p.60


Elements of an Effective Ecology of Faith Formation


  • Relationship
    • “First, advice and admonition were needed to needed to guide a family in a Christian life”p.62
    • “Second, instruction in the knowledge and practice of faith within a particular faith tradition is also part of formative relationships in
    • an effective ecology of faith formation”p.62
    • “Finally, Wesley instructed parents, teachers, and leaders to pray for and with those under their care.”p.62
  • Structures
    • Correspondence
    • One-on-one conversations
    • Suggested reading list
    • Worship
    • Small groups
  • Practices


“Wesley’s admonitions to “do no harm”, “do good,” and “attend upon all the ordinances of God” were accompanied

by examples of specific practices to illustrate each guideline.”p.64

Creating a Life-Giving Ecology of Faith Formation

  • A life-giving ecology of faith formation begins with a community of grace p.66-67
  • A life-giving ecology of faith formation offers guidance and opportunities for practicing faithful living p. 67-68
  • A life-giving ecology of faith formation celebrates gifts of leadership p.68-69


|posted 11 April 2005|


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 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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