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Understanding Faith Formation

Theological, Congregational, and Global Dimensions

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Three leading Christian educators offer a survey of faith formation from various perspectives: biblical, theological, pastoral, practical, and global. The authors present a biblical theology of faith formation for individual and congregational life and show how faith can be formed through the life and mission of the local church through practices such as communal worship, Bible study, and mission. They also explore the faces of faith formation in multicultural and global contexts.

Understanding Faith Formation is well suited for spiritual formation, discipleship, pastoral theology, and Christian ministry classes. It includes practical exercises for those beginning in ministry as well as reflection questions.


Introduction: Dimensions of Faith Formation
Part 1: Theological Dimensions of Faith Formation
1. Faith Formation in the Bible
2. Faith Formation in the Christian Tradition
3. Faith Formation Theory Revised
4. Critique of Faith Development Theory
Part 2: Congregational Dimensions of Faith Formation
5. Cultural Challenges to Faith Formation
6. Faith Formation in Community
7. The Role of Scripture in Faith Formation
Part 3: Global Dimensions of Faith Formation
8. Forming Faith through Missions
9. Faith Formation in Multiethnic Contexts
10. Faith Formation in Global Contexts


"Amid increasing secularization expanding the gap between the church and culture and alarming rates of biblical illiteracy and matters of faith among Christians, there is a critical need for this work, Understanding Faith Formation. It balances that tension between being academically challenging and yet accessible to those outside the academy. Not only are biblical and theological foundations carefully explored, but new models of faith formation are proposed, which are more faithful to evangelical doctrine than James Fowler's developmental approach or Horace Bushnell's emphasis on Christian nurture. What sets apart this work from other texts on faith is the careful attention given to the influence of context and community in faith formation. The catalyst of dissonance is recognized as a contributor to a robust faith, and insights related to globalization and diaspora are firmly grounded in biblical truth and evangelical theology. Diversity is viewed as the genesis of unity in Christ, and the authors remind us that there is one true faith to be celebrated among all believers, given by the triune God who initiates and sustains our faith."

Karen E. Jones, professor of Christian thought and practice, director of Veritas Theology Institute, Huntington University

"This is a good basic work for exploring faith formation intended for educators, pastors, and church leaders. It is well researched and of particular interest for those in the Wesleyan and Pietist traditions, with helpful discussion questions for church leaders and readers. It insightfully considers the interplay of the rational and relational dimensions of faith. I applaud the initial attempt to consider the multiethnic and global dimensions of faith formation."

Robert W. Pazmiño, Valeria Stone Professor of Christian Education, emeritus, Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School

"Much has been written throughout the centuries attempting to define faith, where it comes from, and how it grows. We owe thanks to Maddix, Kim, and Estep for their foray into the difficult discussion in Understanding Faith Formation, a refreshing approach to this central construct of the Christian experience. Since faith is absolutely essential in order to please God, all Christ followers should better understand and strengthen their own faith. This new book will help the reader to grasp the meaning of faith through sound biblical arguments, to appreciate the various ways faith is influenced, and to learn practical ways to personally and corporately grow their faith."

Jay L. Sedwick, professor of educational ministries and leadership department chair, Dallas Theological Seminary

"What a welcome introduction to Christian faith formation! Maddix, Kim, and Estep have provided us with sound biblical and theological reflection on how faith begins and grows, helpfully critiquing existing theories and approaches and offering a distinctively Christian understanding of this critical aspect of our relationship with God and others. The integrative reflection regarding culture, community, and missions is especially helpful for those in ministry seeking to understand how to lead and teach others in ways that promote transformative faith growth. In addition, the discussion regarding how we grow in our faith together in multiethnic settings is critical for the increasing diversity of our communities and churches, both in North America and internationally. Thanks for this thoughtful integrative overview--it helps us better understand how God is at work and how we can cooperate so we can grow in faith and faithfulness."

Kevin E. Lawson, editor, Christian Education Journal

"Faith formation is a communal process that lasts a lifetime. This process involves a partnership with the triune God and a community of faith at the local level, in collaboration with a global body of believers. Mark Maddix, Jonathan Kim, and James Estep are three leading scholars whose different backgrounds and ministry settings provide a robust and practical description of what it means to grow together in Christ."

Octavio Javier Esqueda, professor of Christian higher education, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

The Authors

  1. Mark A. Maddix
    Marcus Emerson

    Mark A. Maddix

    Mark A. Maddix (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor of San Dieguito United Methodist Church in Encinitas, California. He formerly served as dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Point Loma Nazarene University and...

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  2. Jonathan H. Kim

    Jonathan H. Kim

    Jonathan H. Kim (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) associate professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He has over twenty years of ministry experience.

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  3. James Riley Estep Jr.
    Anne Fincher Photography

    James Riley Estep Jr.

    James Riley Estep Jr. (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is vice president of academics at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri. He previously taught at Lincoln Christian University. He is the author or coauthor of several...

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