Tips for Adult Faith Formation

By Jean Marie Hiesberger

Adults learn best when:

  • they are treated with respect. 
  • past experience is valued and built upon.
  • they have a voice in planning. 
  • they are physically comfortable and can socialize with others.  
  • they are grouped with peers. 
  • they are also connected with the larger community. 
  • a variety of learning models and experiences are used. 
  • liturgy, Scripture, retreats, and prayer experiences are included. 
  • they are given problems to solve and tasks to be done. 
  • they can see some practical results and a connection to real life.

The two groups whose needs are most often not met are older parishioners and young adults. Both groups include a great variety of needs and interests. They need a voice in planning as well as a variety of opportunities both to learn and to offer their gifts to the community.

Important Church documents underline the importance and priority of Adult Faith Formation. The examples below are meant to whet your whistle. Spending time with these documents can enhance your adult faith formation efforts.

Adult catechesis in the Christian community is described in the International Council for Catechesis: "a fully Christian community can exist only when a systematic catechesis of all its members takes place and when an effective and well-developed catechesis of adults is regarded as the central task within the catechetical enterprise." (# 25)

Within its principles the document quotes Adult Catechesis in the Catholic Church: "Adults do not grow in faith primarily by learning concepts, but by sharing the life of the Christian community." (# 28)

"By reason of its special position and the contribution it makes to the growth of the whole community's faith journey, the catechesis of adults must be regarded as a preferential option." (# 29)

National Directory for Catechesis. "The catechesis of adults…is the principal form of catechesis, because it is addressed to persons who have the greatest responsibilities and the capacity to live the Christian message in its fully developed form…" (p. 187)