Family Ministry: What Is Information vs. Transformation?

Discover how formation begins in a person’s life in this Family Ministry Conversation video.
4 min read

Hi everyone, I’m Michelle Anthony. Welcome to Family Ministry Conversations. Today’s topic is about information versus transformation.

Think about how much time we spend in family ministry. Whether to children, teens, or even their parents; we are disseminating information. We are telling them things to learn, we are telling them things to know, we are telling them things to do, we are giving them a lot of information!

And when you look at your own life, was it the information that actually transformed you? Or was it something different? So we don’t want to just stop at information alone, but we also don’t want to throw information out all together because it is still very important.

The Foundation for Transformation

Information becomes the foundation for which formation begins in a person’s life. And then the transformation is something that God’s Spirit comes in, takes over, and does—when and as HE chooses.

So I kind of like to think of it like this. Information plus formation equals transformation. Now, I wish it was that simple. And I wish that we could always ensure if we were doing the right information and we were creating environments for formation that, just like that, transformation would take place.

Transformation is when God’s Spirit comes in, takes over, and does—when and as HE chooses.

But this is why we need to partner with God’s Spirit because transformation is something supernatural. It’s something that only God’s Spirit can do. But we have to do our part which, is the marriage between information and formation.

It’s About More Than Information

thinking girl culture shifts childrens ministry
Image credit: Ismailciydem/E+/Getty Images

So think about this for a second. If you think about the narrative of Noah and the flood, and I were to ask you, “How many days and nights did it rain?”

You would say, “40.” And that would be correct.

And then if I were to say, “How many of each animal did God bring on the ark?”

You would say, “Two.”

And some of you who were scholars would say, “Seven of each of them.”

So we would know that information. In fact, if I were to ask you, “What was the wood that the ark was made out of?” You would probably know that is gopher wood.

Information plus formation equals transformation.

Now, why do we know these things? I don’t know. But they’re great little pieces of information that we store away in our minds, and as teachers we love it when we teach and then we ask questions and kids can regurgitate back all the right information that we gave them!

But at the end of the day, I just don’t want us to get seduced into thinking that that knowing a lot of information equals transformation.

The Apostle Paul Needed an Experience

Consider the apostle Paul when he was Saul and he “knew everything.” He was a scholar among scholars, a Pharisee among Pharisees, trained by the best. But it wasn’t until Paul encountered the living God and had an experience that God’s Spirit formed him from the inside out—that he was actually transformed. So information enough was not enough for Saul.

Think back to the narrative. 40 days and nights of raining, two or seven of each animal, gopher wood. On any given day none of those things really transform me.

And if I’m a fourth-grade boy sitting alone in the bathroom because I’m bullied, eating my lunch by myself, 40 days and nights, two of animals or even gopher wood is just not going to meet me where I’m at.

But the formational part is that God was in that story. God was salvation in that story. God kept His promises. God was merciful.

Information + Formation = Transformation

Now, if I’m that fourth-grade boy sitting alone and I’m being bullied and I remember back to those things, the things that are more forming to my heart and my soul and my spirit about who God is. That God is just and will fight my battles for me. That He keeps His promises. And that He will always be there for me and that He is faithful.

Now, those things give me the courage to walk out of that bathroom and to make friends and to walk in his confidence with Him by my side. That’s the forming piece that we want to pass on to children.

Information is good, but only when it’s the foundation. We want to make sure that we’re giving them the forming aspects of experiencing a living God and knowing Him, not just knowing about Him.

What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

What if We’re Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing the mark? Research shows that young people are leaving the church and aren’t looking back. In this guide, we examine this difficult, challenging, and eye-opening question and seek answers to help change the trends. There is hope. We can make a difference.
Free Guide
What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

What if We’re Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing the mark? Research shows that young people are leaving the church and aren’t looking back. In this guide, we examine this difficult, challenging, and eye-opening question and seek answers to help change the trends. There is hope. We can make a difference.
Free Guide
What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

What if We’re Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing the mark? Research shows that young people are leaving the church and aren’t looking back. In this guide, we examine this difficult, challenging, and eye-opening question and seek answers to help change the trends. There is hope. We can make a difference.
Free Guide
post article end mark
  Updated on April 14, 2021

About the Author

  • Dr. Michelle Anthony is the Pastor of Children and Parents at New Life Church. She is the author of Spiritual Parenting, The Big God Story, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, and 7 Family Ministry Essentials. Michelle has over 25 years of church ministry and leadership experience in children’s and family ministries and graduate degrees in Christian Education, Bible and Theology from Talbot School of Theology and Southern Seminary. In her free time, Michelle enjoys being with her family, reading a good book, and being at the beach while drinking a strong cup of coffee.

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

© 2020 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
© 2019 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
Ministry Spark email logo

Want to spark a stronger ministry? We'll show you how.

Join others who are taking their ministries to the next level with our regular email insights.

Please click “Submit” if you would like to receive our email updates, which may contain information about our products. Your use of this site is subject to our Terms of Use, and we will process your personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy, which also contains details as to how you may unsubscribe from receiving our email updates.

Register for The impact of COVID-19 on Children and Teens

Space for this webinar is limited. Register now to reserve your seat.

happy holidays

we want to hear from you

Rebuild: Ruts, Rhythms, and Caring for Your Soul

Space for this webinar is limited. Register now to reserve your seat.

Becoming Wholehearted Leaders: Living and Leading with Integrity

Space for this webinar is limited. Register now to reserve your seat.

Register for Supporting Families in an Anxious World

Space for this webinar is limited. Register now to reserve your seat.

Register for Pastor to Pastor: Strategies for Leading Through COVID-19

Space for this webinar is limited. Register now to reserve your seat.