Thursday, April 2, 2009

Formation In Faith

Sondra Higgins Matthaei (2008), Formation in Faith: The Congregational Ministry of making Disciples, Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Sondra Higgins Matthaei is professor of Christian Religious Education at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri. I have been following her writings closely and have enjoyed her other book, Making Disciples: Faith Formation in the Wesley Tradition.

This book builds on her thesis of her previous book that spiritual maturity involves three stages; invitation to communion, deepening communion, and full communion. However she has taken the further step to suggest how her thesis may be translated into a congregation that is making disciples. She looks at the development of such a congregation in terms of relationships, structures and practices. I like this book because Matthaei is making a genuine effort to apply the results of her thesis. Many Christian educators are very good in suggesting theoretical models but often fails to teach us how to apply it to the grass root level of the church.

There is much to recommend for her model. However it could have been better if she had paid more attention to the leadership of the church in her model. Any disciplemaking processes in the church depends heavily on the support and commitment of the upper echolon leadership of the church. If the upper echelon are not interested in faith formation but more in building their own empires, then whatever model will fails. I wish she have given us some indicators how how she will convince church leaders to be spiritual leaders rather than glorified adminstrators.

A good book to read.

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