Envisioning Faith Formation 2020
The Impact of the Four Scenarios for Churches
Each scenario story explains why the “main story” of faith formation in 2020 will be framed by the response of churches to the challenges and opportunities in each scenario. While the questions that follow are only illustrative of the challenges and opportunities the scenarios present, they help to frame questions that churches need to ask about the impact of the four scenarios upon their congregation and its faith formation. Develop your own questions by studying the eight driving forces and how they apply to your church, and by exploring the implications of the four scenarios for your congregation. Use the following questions as a guide to begin your study of the impact—challenges and opportunities—of the four scenarios upon your church community.
Scenario #1. Vibrant Faith and Active Engagement
- Will churches develop continuous faith formation for all ages and generations, especially for adults (twenties-nineties), that engages people—mind, body, heart, and spirit—in a diversity of ways to grow in faith for a lifetime?
- Will churches strengthen family socialization by equipping parents and families to become centers of faith formation and practice?
- Will churches become “sticky”—keeping all ages involved in faith formation through a diversity of programs, activities, and resources at home and church that address their life situations and religious and spiritual needs?
- Will churches embrace the tremendous potential of digital media and web technologies to provide faith formation and engage people in lifelong faith growth 24x7x365?
- Will churches empower people of vibrant faith with the knowledge, faith sharing skills, and confidence to share their faith with those who are not involved in a church community or spiritually committed.
Scenario #2. Spiritual, but Not Religious
- Will churches invest the time and resources to develop specialized faith formation around the life situations and spiritual needs of the “Spiritual, but Not Religious” who are in their twenties and thirties?
- Will churches provide faith formation programming for spiritual seekers that is conducted in “Third Place” settings outside of the church facilities.
- Will churches see the potential in marriage and baptism for faith formation and the potential (re)engagement in church life for the “Spiritual, but Not Religious?”
- Will churches provide a guided process and program for spiritually hungry people to investigate the Christian faith and join in small communities with other seekers for spiritual growth and support?
Scenario #3. Unaffiliated and Uninterested
- Will churches establish a “Third Place” gathering site as a platform for reaching the “Unaffiliated and Uninterested” through a variety of spiritual and/or life-centered programs, conversations, and activities?
- Will churches develop a “web-presence” that is inviting and attractive to the “Unaffiliated and Uninterested” so that they can investigate and experience the Christian faith online.
- Will churches sponsor programs, such as service projects and mission trips, that are designed so that people from the wider community can participate, interact with church members, and come into contact with the Christian faith in action?
Scenario #4. Participating but Uncommitted
- Will churches begin with the birth and baptism of children to strengthen family socialization by equipping parents and families to become centers of faith formation and practice?
- Will churches develop pathways for spiritual commitment and more active engagement by offering a formation process that helps people develop and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, explore the foundational teachings of the Christian faith, and live the fundamental Christian practices?
- Will churches utilize digital media and web technologies to extend faith formation—resources, social networking, faith practices—into the daily lives of people who only participate occasionally?
- Will churches use the occasions of participation, such as sacraments and milestones, to provide faith formation that involves the whole family, and invites them into more active engagement in the church community?
Assess the Impact
Use the following questions to explore the impact of each scenario on your church community.
- What are the challenges that this scenario presents for the future of faith formation in your church community?
- What are the opportunities that this scenario presents for the future of faith formation in your church community?
- What are the implications of not addressing the future of faith formation in this scenario?
- What are the implications of addressing the future of faith formation in this scenario?