Let’s Talk Spiritual Formation for Lifetime Faith

In this Family Ministry Conversation video, walk through what discipleship looks like for lifetime faith.
4 min read

Hi everyone. It’s Michelle Anthony here. And welcome to Family Ministry Conversations. Today’s topic is going to be spiritual formation for lifetime faith.

We want to see the next generation live out a vibrant faith for their lifetime.

Well, there’s a lot of conversations happening right now about spiritual formation. What it is. What it isn’t. And simply, spiritual formation is discipleship.

It’s what we all signed up to do and why we’re doing what we’re doing. We want to see the next generation live out a vibrant faith for their lifetime.

Developing Lifetime Faith

Think about this. When our children or the children in our ministries are little, we could teach them almost anything, and they would believe us because they love us and trust us.

So, when we pat ourselves on the back too much when children recite or believe the things we teach them in childhood ministries, that’s one thing. But when we see those kids 13, 18, or 25 years from now and they’re still walking with the Lord and still embracing those things that we taught them, well, then that’s when faith has really taken root.

And we don’t want to neglect the teaching of a young heart. Not at all. But we want to make sure that we’re teaching in such a way that we have our eyes fixed on the future. We have to begin with the end in mind.

So, if I am thinking about the faith of this little 5-year-old when they are 30 years old and they’re married and they perhaps have children, then how am I going to teach in such a way that it transcends just a childhood belief system?

mother sitting on sofa playing with toes of son
Image Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Practicing Vulnerability and Authenticity

One of the ways that we do this is by sharing our lives. If I teach you just a bunch of things to memorize and know, but I never really bring you into my personal journey, then you can negate that those things were true if you walk away at some point.

But if I share my life with you—places where I was fearful and God’s Spirit comforted me; or times when I made poor decisions, but God offered me grace; or times when I did not want to forgive someone but extended forgiveness anyway because of the lavish grace of God, and I saw the reward that came both in peace of my own spirit and then that healed relationship perhaps—then you have an eye-witness glimpse into what transformation really looks like.

Sharing Your Journey

And, so, in our ministries when we’re teaching God’s Word, I don’t allow the teachers in my ministry to purely just teach from an esoteric or informational point of view. I ask them to think of a time when that storyline became real for them and to offer that up.

So often our parents in our ministries don’t want to be vulnerable with their children. They don’t want to share the places of the bumps and bruises along the way or the places where they made mistakes. But I encourage them to share these things with their children.

Especially when they’re young and forgiving, right?

Those are the times when we really bond with our children spiritually, and they know it’s not about living a perfect Christian life. It’s about living an authentic one.

A life of faith—which means it’s going to be messy.

You Often Get What You Give

So we better store up all the grace and all the forgiveness that we can muster because if we are going to be vulnerable with our children, we’re giving them permission to give that vulnerability back to us.

We might hear things that might shock and appall us, but it’s important for us not to react shocked and appalled because God is never shocked by our sins. That’s the essence of the gospel. We wouldn’t have the gospel if He didn’t assume our sinfulness.

So I want to encourage you to look at spiritual formation and discipleship with eyes for lifetime faith by being authentic and vulnerable. And teaching parents and leaders to receive the authentic vulnerability of the children and students in their ministry.

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  Updated on June 30, 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!

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