How we continue forming faith into adulthood
by Armando and Veronica Sanchez
Pastors of Iglesia Enciende una Luz, Harrisonburg, Va., and Iglesia Shalom, Waynesboro, Va.
Translated by Lizzette Hernandez
One of the ways we are working in faith formation at Iglesia Enciende una Luz and at Iglesia Shalom is through discipleship in small groups. In those groups, a closer relationship is developed among believers and new members of both congregations. This allows a space where people can reflect on their own faith, ask questions and express concerns. We try to connect people with groups that are near to their homes. In addition, we do visitation in homes, hospitals and the jail.
We also encourage the most committed members to be trained more in depth in theological education, by attending to the Anabaptist Biblical Institute, to strengthen their faith and beliefs, and to learn how to share it with others.
Although faith formation is important among young people, we recognize its importance among every age group. For adult ages, we have groups that meet once a week where we designate a chapter of a specific book of the Bible to read together. Then we all meet at our weekly group gatherings and talk about the assigned reading, comment on what we learned, our questions, and how we can apply it to everyday life.
The goal is increasing our faith and building the spiritual life of each person who attends these adult meetings. In this way, an atmosphere of close fellowship, mutual trust, and commitment is created. This space helps us reflect on how to face our individual challenges, struggles, and weaknesses during the week.
These groups have produced disciples who follow Jesus, who grow and develop spiritual maturity, and who work on the gifts they have received from God and serve in the congregation.
We pray together to conclude the meeting, interceding for every need, asking the Holy Spirit to fill us with his peace and comfort as we go.
Some of the challenges that we face are the difficult work schedules of the believers who have different working hours during the week. Another challenge is to motivate believers and new believers to embrace a permanent commitment with their own personal growth.
So what have we found that really works? The congregations we are serving have been growing and we believe that faith has been increasing too, through different groups and discipleship oriented groups of two to five people.
We also believe that another factor—nurturing a close interaction with people, letting them know that we are interested in their spiritual growth, that we genuinely care for their lives when they face a test or a struggle that might set them back— has been effective. We also encourage people through phone calls and text messages.
Beside the Bible studies, we have also found Missional Discipleship Groups and the resources of Anabaptist Biblical Institute to be effective and helpful.