As a leader in promoting Christian education throughout the United Methodist Church, I want to emphasize the importance of “Intentional Faith Development.” The third of Bishop Robert Shnase’s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, it is a key part of what has made the Methodist movement strong. Therefore we need to inject new life into our practice of faith development today.
First off, worship needs to point to faith development. During worship, newcomers are introduced to Scripture and the life of Christ. When a congregation practices Passionate Worship, it will point to the value of Intentional Faith Development. A local church practicing intentional faith development will use the hymns, prayers, sermons and liturgy to share how the importance of Christ for the world and our lives.
Through Radical Hospitality, congregations also invite people into small group settings where they may further their faith development. I am working on a program that begins by exploring how God is already at work in our lives. As one comes to know this grace God shares with all, there is room for further growth.
I do not want to focus on certain programs for intentional faith development, because each person’s journey is different. However, I encourage all churches to regularly provide an in-depth Bible study program such as Disciple Bible study. Furthermore, it would be valuable for all members to have a basic understanding of the many forms of Christianity and why the United Methodist Church came to its present form and doctrine. Scripture is primary, but as we admit people into the United Methodist Church the people should know what makes it the United Methodist Church. It is essential that leaders in the congregation have a solid grasp on what is the church.