On Monday I posted a list of “Top Ten Guidelines for Effective Adult Faith Formation,” adapted from a Loyola Press book entitled Gathering Together. That was only half the story, however. The authors, Jane Regan and Mimi Bitzan, also included their “Top Ten Pitfalls for Adult Faith Formation.” Do any of these sound familiar to you?

1. Lack of hospitality: Much more than the presentation you give or the handouts you create, the way you welcome adult participants is your greatest opportunity for evangelization. Don’t miss it!

2. Fear of commitment: You cannot run a successful program on low provisions. If your parish is making a commitment to adult faith formation, the allocation of parish resources should reflect this commitment.

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat…: If you repeat the same program year after year without evaluating or making changes, it is very likely that your program will soon become stale and out of touch with people’s lives.

4. The Lone Ranger approach: One person cannot run a successful program by him- or herself.

5. Missing the wisdom of the community: Beware of speakers who tell you they must have an hour or longer because they cannot cover all that the participants need to know in a time shorter than that. This kind of attitude shows a lack of appreciation for the wisdom of the people.

6. Failure to flow: Each element of a gathering is important, and it is essential to give time and attention to creating and developing each piece.

7. Skipping the discussion time: In the sessions, the conversation is given the same amount of time as the presentation. It is when adults talk with other adults about the significance of the faith for their lives that real growth in faith happens.

8. Dismissing the details: When you plan a gathering with adults, know that the details are important.

9. Volunteer void: Provide ongoing training and support to help your volunteers (facilitators) learn how to respond to the needs of adults.

10. And another thing!: Too often, there is a tendency in parishes to add program after program for adults without thinking about what you really want or where you are headed. Be clear about your vision for adult faith formation in your parish and communicate this vision to others.

Did Regan and Bitzan miss anything? Perhaps. There are a couple of other Adult Faith Formation DON’Ts I’d like to add. Like “Don’t let someone facilitate a class just because they’re interested in a subject and they’ve volunteered to teach…” and “Don’t think that just because you have a Sunday morning forum your congregation has an Adult RE program.” If you’ve got an Adult Faith Formation pet peeve you’d like to share, please post a comment!

For complete details, you can download the the list of Adult Faith Formation Do’s and Don’ts here: Effectiveadultformation-pdf.

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