Learning new information is a fundamental human activity; we all do it all the time. Growing in faith is the same; it requires ongoing learning. Not only do we need to learn about Jesus (and God), but we also need to learn how to recognize God at work, and how to form habits, choices, and actions in our own lives that emulate Jesus’ example.
Christian discipleship is more than merely knowing who Jesus is; it is our response to that knowledge that makes us disciples. Learning who Jesus is, how God is at work in the world, and how we can participate in Christ’s ongoing mission – that’s formation.
Your fundamental mission as a church is to form, nurture, and empower followers of Jesus to continue his mission of reconciliation, healing, and hope. That won’t happen by accident, or osmosis, or any other passive model.
Discipleship training – formation – needs to be intentional. A group of Galilean fishermen, two thousand plus years ago didn’t go out and found the church. They were invited by Jesus into his community, he taught them by example, by word, and by sending them out to try their hand at ministry. Only when they were ready to continue his work did he turn his face to Jerusalem and to the crucifixion, by which we are freed from evil’s grasp to live “abundant” lives. The fishermen had to become disciples before they could become apostles. The same is true for you and anyone else you hope to include into your community.
The ancient church used a process called the catechumenate where newcomers (catechumens) were instructed (formed) to become dedicated followers of Christ. When I became a Christian, I also went through a catechumenate process, and I eventually became a catechumenate leader myself. Visit the Catechumenate page for an outline to implement this process at your church.