Christian Formation and Spiritual Practice
In our baptismal covenant we promise, with God’s help, to worship, evangelize, teach, love, serve and strive for justice for all people. God has a mission in the world and God has the body of Christ – as members of the church, we are God’s laborers in the vineyard, called to participate with God in God’s mission of love and redemption for all. In order to serve, we need to be formed, as disciples of Jesus Christ.
How do we continue to grow in faith? How do we discern our spiritual gifts? How do you discern what new or renewed ministry is God calling us to?
In order to grow your faith, discern your gifts and deepen your ministry, Explore the Way of Love with the Episcopal Church and consider the following practices, tools, and resources:
A Spiritual Director is someone who is trained in listening and serves as a trusted companion for your spiritual journey. There are several centers for spiritual direction associated with the Episcopal Church in New England at which one can be connected with a spiritual director, or train to be a spiritual director:
ChurchNext offers a course on Spiritual Direction - discussing what it is, how it works, whether it might be right for you - you can find this class and others HERE.
Spiritual Direction in New England (Province I) – resources for connecting with spiritual directors in Province I of the Episcopal Church
Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) –An Episcopal monastic community offering workshops, retreats, direction, internships, and formation materials like “Brother Give us A Word” and “Meeting Jesus”
Bethany House of Prayer – a retreat and spiritual direction center run by the Sisterhood of St. Anne.
Adelynrood - a retreat and conference center run by the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross – offering women and men conferences, workshop and individual and group retreats.
Spiritual Direction International – an inter-faith resource for information about spiritual direction.
Crafting a Rule of Life and Daily Examen
“A rule of life is a commitment to live your life in a particular way. It is meant to be crafted with prayer and discernment, in partnership with God, as you consider the way God made you and the values God has inscribed upon your heart. Once written, it serves as a tool that can help you make decisions for your life and determine how best to order your days.” From www.sacredordinarydays.com – click here for resources on creating a rule of life.
Daily Examen: A daily examen is one way to reflect on our lives by reviewing the day that has passed, and preparing for tomorrow with the expectation of God’s continued care. Here are some ways:
Introduction to the Examen at The Hive Apiary.
Simple prayer card for practicing the Examen HERE.
Exploring Your Spiritual Gifts
There are various tools for discerning your gifts and strengths. Here are a few options:
Spiritual Gifts Assessment - a tool from the United Methodist Church
The Enneagram – an ancient tool for understanding personality type and spiritual growth - here are several resources for exploring this popular tool from a Christian perspective:
Christian Formation and Bible Study
For Bible Study and Theological Reflection:
Education for Ministry (EfM) – EfM is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together. For more information or to join a group, contact EfM coordinator, Jerry Tepe.
ChurchNext – ChurchNext is a set of online classes where you can learn from expert teachers in Scripture, liturgy, and important Christian topics. Founded by the Rev. Chris Yaw. More information here.
Montreal Diocesan Theological College (Montreal Dio) - associated with the McGill University School of Theology, Montreal Dio offers classes online, in Montreal, and a reading and tutorial program. Classes are available to lay people as well as those in formation for ordination.
Anglican Episcopal Community of Learning – associated with the Boston University School of Theology, offers a learning community dedicated to nurturing and preparing Episcopalians and other Anglicans for future leadership and service in and through the church.
Work of the People - The Work of the People is a website that includes “visual liturgy” and films for “discovery and transformation.”
For Christian Formation – Sunday School – Faith Formation – Faith at Home:
Formation Network NH – The Formation Network NH seeks to provide a way for formation leaders in the diocese to share ideas, encourage each other, and collaborate. Linnae Peterson is the coordinator of the network and is available for consultation and ideas. Check out Linnae’s blog, Roots and Branches and the Formation Network NH facebook page.
Province I Christian Formation – Province I (the dioceses of New England) also hosts a variety of Christian Formation opportunities and networking and an annual conference for formation leaders.
FORMA - FORMA celebrates, equips, supports and connects leaders who form followers of Jesus.
Sharon Ely Pearson’s blog Rows of Sharon has many ideas and resources for Christian Formation. Sharon is an editor at Church Publishing.
Build Faith is a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary. The website includes Faith at Home with lots of ideas for spiritual practices for families. Also go to Grow Christians – “a community of Christians practicing faith at home.”
Discipleship and Evangelism
Episcopal Church Evangelism Initiatives - Episcopalians are passionate about proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in our words and actions. Through the spiritual practice of evangelism, we seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people - then invite everyone to MORE. Includes Evangelism 101 toolkit, information about Revivals, and a practical theology for evangelism.
Beloved Community Story Sharing – The Beloved Community StorySharing Campaign seeks to help faith communities and individuals to share and receive stories of faith, race, and difference and to become more effective healers, reconcilers, and ambassadors of Christ in the world. Storysharing Guidebook contains lots of tools for implementing storysharing in congregations.
Renewal Works – a ministry of Forward Movement that focuses on spiritual growth by deepening love of God and neighbor in the lives of congregations, in the lives of ministries that animate those congregations, and in the lives of the individuals who bring life to those ministries.
Invite Welcome Connect – Invite Welcome Connect is a ministry of relational evangelism and congregational empowerment allowing churches to become places of genuine connection for inviting the faith journeys and stories of everyone.
Episcopal Evangelism Society - A ministry that support evangelism in the Episcopal Church through grants, research and communications.
Faith Based Advocacy for Human Dignity, Racial Reconciliation and Creation Care
Voices of Faith – New Hampshire Voices of Faith is a community of people from multiple faith traditions who believe in the power of moral witness as a force for social and political transformation for a more just and equitable society. Vocies of Faith is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.
NH Council of Churches –The New Hampshire Council of Churches – with faith-filled witness and action, mutual respect, and understanding – unites for Prayer, Learning, Justice, Peace, and Stewardship of God’s Creation. Led by the Rev. Jason Wells.
Episcopal Public Policy Network - Within a range of Episcopal Church policies, EPPN focuses on several key areas determined by the Church's priorities of evangelism, reconciliation, and environmental stewardship, and issues where the Episcopal Church can have a unique and important voice at the federal level.
Lombard Mennonite Peace Center – training in mediation, conflict management, and healthy congregations.
Various bloggers and podcasts on spiritual themes to explore:
Formation Network NH - Children, Families and Church
No matter what area of Christian formation you may be interested or involved in, the Formation Network wishes to support you and welcomes your participation and input. The Formation Network seeks to support and promote Christian formation through the following:
Sharing what works
Sharing resources and ideas
Crowdsourcing solutions when help is needed
Serving as a resource for parishes throughout the Diocese
Formation Network NH offers a Facebook page for sharing resources, ideas, and requests, and to help make connections with other Christian Formatoin leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc. Click here for the Facebook page or go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/839924332793120/
Linnae Petersen is the coordinator of Formation Network NH and she is available for consultation, questions or ideas about Christian Formation for all ages. Looking for ideas and inspiration? Her blog - called Roots and Branches - highlights Christian Formation ideas and resources for adults, teens, and children, and explores ways to create inter-generational and digital opportunities to grow in faith.