Shaped by God
Shaped by God is a compilation of twelve essays on Christian faith formation. Each essay, written by a unique contributor, offers insight on the "Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults." Contributors include Holly Catterton Allen, Sarah Arthur, Elizabeth F. Caldwell, Erik W. Carter, Robbie Fox Castleman, David M. Csinos, Fred P. Edie, Syd Hielema, Robert J. Keeley, Kevin E. Lawson, Marian R. Plant, and Don C. Richter.
Chapter 1: Wide and Long and High and Deep: Biblical Foundations of Faith Formation (Syd Hielema)
According to the author, there are "nine themes that describe the character and activity of faith formation." The themes fall under two categories: 1) The Character of Faith Formation, and 2) The Activity of Faith Formation.
Chapter 2: Embodied Wisdom: Faith Formation through Faith Practices (Don C. Richter)
In this chapter, the author discusses the how faith formation intersects with Christian practices. He discusses the need for Christians to practice their faith as it affects others around them.
On the relationship between Christian beliefs and practices: 1) Practice-shaped beliefs are resilient. 2) Practice-shaped beliefs hold practitioners accountable. 3) Practice-shaped beliefs must be strengthened by wider communities of practice. 4) Practice-shaped beliefs also shape our practices.
Chapter 3: Distinguishing Dragons: The Importance of Story in Faith Formation (Sarah Arthur)
The premise of this chapter is that humans respond to story so much better than dry facts and information. She discusses how it is the stories of the Bible, rather than the information of the Bible, that shape a person's faith.
Chapter 4: It’s What We Do”: Faith Formation at Home (Elizabeth F. Caldwell)
In this chapter, the author discusses the importance of living out Christian faith at home as a means to develop the faith of the children in the home. She also emphasizes the important role of the church to equip parents as they work to instill faith values in their children.
Chapter 5: Step by Step: Faith Development and Faith Formation (Robert J. Keeley)
In this chapter, the author discusses faith development, as it is impacted by the developmental stage each person is in, from childhood through adulthood. His conclusion is that, “All of these stages are best experienced in community.”
Chapter 6: Liturgy for a Lifetime: Faith Formation through Worship (Robbie Fox Castleman)
According to the author, there is a certain rhythm to liturgy. This rhythm, or sequence of biblical liturgy, is illustrated in Isaiah 6: call, praise, confession, forgiveness, hearing God’s Word, responding to God’s Word, and blessing. Using this biblical sequence in a worship service is foundational to the faith formation of a congregation.
Chapter 7: Living Mysteries: Sacraments and the Education of Christians (Fred P. Edie)
In this chapter, the author explores the sacramental ‘curriculum’ (content to be taught) along with its ‘pedagogy’ (how to teach that content). He discusses in depth how teaching the sacraments of worship well can build the faith of congregants, children and adults alike.
Chapter 8: Beyond the Schooling Model: Faith Formation in the Educational Context (Marian R. Plant)
According to the author, teaching faith in the way most schools teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, no longer works. The author challenges readers to give their congregations a chance to practice their faith, so they are prepared to live a full life of faith outside the walls of the church.
Chapter 9: No Better Place: Fostering Intergenerational Christian Community (Holly Catterton Allen)
In this chapter, the author makes a convincing argument for fostering intergenerational community within the church. Over the past 100 years, society has segregated age groups, as we have begun to understand cognitive and psychosocial development. The author maintains that spiritual development does not follow along the same developmental timelines, and people of all ages would benefit spiritually by interacting with those who are not necessarily in the same developmental stages as they.
Chapter 10: Exchanging Gifts: Faith Formation and People with Developmental Disabilities (Erik W. Carter)
According to the author, many churches need to reconsider how accessible they are to those with disabilities. He also makes clear that, while many churches minister to people with disabilities, church leadership should strongly consider integrating those with disabilities in ministry opportunities so those without disabilities can minister with those that have disabilities. “The presence of developmental disability does not mean a person does not receive essential gifts to share, nor does it mean that others have no need for those gifts.”
Chapter 11: Growing in Wisdom and Stature: Recent Research on Spirituality and Faith Formation (Kevin E. Lawson)
This chapter discusses the role both parents and the church play in building a foundation of faith in children. The author observes that, "…children are not empty, passive vessels to be filled with religious instruction. Instead children are active agents with spiritual awareness of their own, trying to make sense of their experiences and what they are taught." He then moves on to encourage the church to equip parents as they endeavor to help their children grow in faith.
Chapter 12: Questioning the “Right” Answers: Faith Formation in the Postmodern Matrix (David M. Csinos)
The author discusses how both modernism and postmodernism have impacted the church as a whole. In this chapter, the reader is encouraged to live an authentic life of faith, and embrace the hope of the gospel in the midst of a pessimistic postmodern society.
What Others Are Saying
"Shaped by God offers the gift of ground breaking and transformative reading to any 21st century church leader who hopes to provide formational ministry to others. A must-read!" --Reverend Susan Steinberg, Associate Pastor for Children's Ministries, United Church of Chapel Hill
"Faith formation is a critical task for Christians of every age. This collection of essays offers a variety of approaches that enrich our understanding of this task and offer practical advice for nurturing and growing our relationship with Christ."--Kathy L. Dawson, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary
"Shaped by God is a terrific new resource that blends 21st century thinking in faith formation with effective practices to enhance every congregation's faith formation efforts. The 12 chapters live up to their billing -- they present "essentials" for faith formation today by offering a comprehensive vision that includes worship and sacraments, Christian practices, family and intergenerational approaches, spirituality, and the postmodern context, among its themes. Church staff and faith formation leaders should take the time to study and discuss the chapters in this book and use the authors' wisdom to develop strategies for strengthening and expanding their faith formation with all generations in the congregation and at home." --John Roberto, LifelongFaith Associates, Editor, Lifelong Faith Journal
"For anyone interested in spiritual formation, this compilation of essays provides a stimulating diversity of styles and disciplines covering a range of relevant, vibrant topics for forming people in the likeness of Christ. A valuable resource for ministry professionals and lay leaders alike! Robert Keeley has given a gift to those of us involved in the spiritual formation of children. A special contribution of this skilled, multi-discipline compilation of essays is that it addresses oft neglected subjects such as children with disabilities and how different faith traditions form children. A rich resource indeed!" --Scottie May, Assoc. Professor of Christian Formation & Ministry, Wheaton College