What is Faith Formation?

By Kathy Smith

Faith formation is learning who you are, figuring out how you want to live, and filling the toolbox you will need along the way.

That toolbox should hold practices that keep you grounded, a community that supports and encourages you, connections that sustain and challenge you, and the resources that you need to keep growing and learning. Not just resources for our bodies or our emotions or our brains, but resources for our spirits – the part of us that makes us love, laugh, cry, pray, sing, wonder, dance, and take care of each other. The part that seeks out answers to the big questions like …

  • What do I hold sacred?
  • Where do I feel the presence of something bigger than me?
  • Where do I turn when things are too big for me to handle by myself?
  • How do I make meaning of my life?

Faith formation is learning the ways our spirit interacts with the world (both the world we see/hear/touch and the mysteries we cannot experience with our physical senses). And it is creating and ever deepening ways to keep our spirits healthy and growing.

Unitarian Universalist faith formation is becoming able to articulate what our faith teaches and what it doesn’t teach. It is an ever-deepening understanding of what our faith calls us to – compassion, justice, love, liberation for all starting with the most marginalized – and continually awakening and re-awakening our responses to that call.

I’m in the business of raising up lifelong Unitarian Universalists. It’s my life calling. I want families with children to know ways to be Unitarian Universalist at home, to teach their children and learn with their children about how our faith can shape their lives. I want every child, teen, and adult in this church – you! – to know what Unitarian Universalism is and how those values influence the way you walk through this world. I want you to know enough of Unitarian Universalism that you choose to be a part of this faith for a lifetime, and that if you choose to leave, you have a foundation for finding what you seek wherever you go. I believe we have a life-changing, life-saving, life-giving faith – not perfect by any means – but a faith that teaches, preaches, and lives as if a better world is possible.

One more thing: Faith formation is everything we do, and the congregation, as they say, is the curriculum.

Church is based on relationships. Relationships grow when you make time with each other. And so, I urge you – include Unitarian Universalist rituals in your daily life. The home ministry packets’ chalice lightings, prayers and affirmations are a good start. Tune in to church and meetings online when you can’t come in person. Children, come to church and bring your adults. Adults, bring your child to church. Bring your child and your teen to the social justice meetings, the protests, and the rallies. Bring your teen to youth group, to the social events or the D&D game. If community is about relationship, let’s give ourselves every opportunity to build those relationships with people who are our age peers and people who are not, with teachers, ministers, and our whole church community – the kind of relationships that, say, help a young rooster find the self-awareness, the confidence, and the inner strength to fill the air with … say it with me … cock-a-doodle-doo!