“ Faith formation is about what it means to be a child of God, and to live in this world as a Christian.”

Smith later became a pediatric nurse, and while

teaching nursing at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, started taking classes at nearby Trinity Lutheran Seminary to learn more about faith. “I loved it, loved Lutheran theology,” Smith said. “I was hearing about God’s grace, as opposed to having to earn God’s love.” Smith pursued a degree for hospital chaplaincy

until she realized that pastoral ministry in a congregation would allow her to teach, nurture others and pursue justice in her community through encouraging—and challenging— others to use their gifts. Like Smith, Johnson considers justice “a right

relationship, not just a foregone conclusion or political ideology,” he said. “If I know someone, I’m in it with them. Justice flows from relationship, the messiness of community: who’s in charge? Who decides? Who tells the story?” In Johnson’s ministry, the answer to these

questions is increasingly the students themselves, who have organized together to work for change within their university and community. Justice happens, he said, “when people recognize

the power of God at work in their weakness and vulnerability … when they realize they’re not alone. When a community gets perspective and is no longer isolated, maybe religion is not an escape but a deeper engagement in a rhythm of contemplation and action—a beloved community.”

“We do, and ask God to help and guide us” “Do you intend … to live, hear, proclaim, serve, strive?” These marks of the life of a baptized Christian tell us that faith formation is “truly about forming a person of faith through the practices of faith,” Carson said. Rawlings concurs: “Faith formation is about

what it means to be a child of God, and to live in this world as a Christian.” For the church, leadership begins here: in our

baptized identity as children of God, the heart of a faith that is formed in us our whole lives long.

Illustration: Elizabeth Wang, T-01269-0L, © Radiant Light,

Throughout 2018, in connection with Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s Leadership Initiative, Living Lutheran will explore the nature of leadership in the church. Find out more about the initiative at

Download a study guide by clicking on the “Spiritual practices & resources” tab at

Meghan Johnston Aelabouni is an ELCA pastor studying full-time for her doctorate. She and her family live in Fort Collins, Colo.


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