In John Roberto’s new blog series, “A New Faith Forming Ecosystem”, he compares daily Christian life and faith formation to an ecosystem, with many interconnected and interacting parts each affecting each other. When a faith formation ecosystem is working, the entire congregation depends on one another, growing in faith as they consistently learn, celebrate, pray, serve, and support each other. To do this, Roberto says, we must become “intentionally intergenerational”; that is, we must set a goal, as a congregation, to integrate and involve all age groups in the faith formation of youth and adults. In doing this, we will “foster intergenerational relationships, faith sharing, and storytelling,” strengthening our community of believers even as we grow in our faith.
Roberto provides many ideas as to how a congregation’s faith ecosystem can be improved, from improving a church’s digital presence to encouraging family faith formation at home; however, the common thread that runs through all of his ideas is the importance of continued faith growth for all Christians, no matter their age. By continuing to grow in the understanding of our faith throughout a lifetime, beyond confirmation, we can encourage and mentor young Christians as well as mature to reach a deeper relationship with Christ.
Eating solid food is a difficult thing for an infant; it takes months of work to slowly introduce new foods, but once they are able to take on those new foods, their diet is expanded, ensuring their future health. We must do the same; if we are to stay spiritually healthy, we must grow in our faith, deepening our own understanding as we encourage others who have just begun their spiritual journey. As Roberto says, being intergenerational is more than simply having every age group represented; it means having every member present, in every sense of the word. By doing this, we can become more than graduates of the church “system”; we can become life-long learners and teachers, building up our congregational community as it simultaneously builds us.