Because every congregation is different and its needs unique, the CFI process is not designed to be a one-size fits all process. Instead, the process and materials are intentionally skeletal in order to leave ample room for adaptation to particular contexts. For this reason, these materials are not designed to teach themselves; they are designed to be used by skillful teachers to guide congregations and study groups into deeper and potentially edifying conversations about their life together. As such, the primary focus of each study is the life of the congregation, not the printed material in the resources.
With that understanding in mind, there are primarily three different ways that congregations and study groups might engage the CFI process:
Each year, EP seeks to partner with several congregations to walk them through the CFI process in their local context. This partnership is not a consulting arrangement, but a form of friendship. This friendship involves pairing the congregation with an EP pastor-scholar team who will partner with that congregation during what is typically an initial two-year process. Pastor-scholar team members usually visit and engage the congregation twice during that time period, as well as offer support and friendship to the person leading the CFI process. To read more about the expectations of this partnership and to download an application, click on the following links:
A somewhat less intense engagement with CFI involves partnering with the person who is primarily responsible for leading the CFI process in a particular congregation. That leader/teacher is paired with an EP member (in geographical proximity whenever possible) who serves as a sounding board for the leader as the congregation or study group work through the CFI process. Congregations that participate in this level of partnership could, of course, apply later for the Congregational Partnership. To download a brief application for the Leadership Partnership, use the following link:
Some congregations and study groups will prefer to engage the CFI materials without the aid of formal EP support. You are, of course, welcome to do so. We do, however, hope you will drop us an email and let us know how you are using the materials and how they are working in your setting and context. We also welcome comments and suggestions about how the materials can be strengthened.
Through the Congregational Formational Initiative, EP hopes to provide resources and processes that will be useful to congregations as they continue to discern how to be faithful to their calling as the body of Christ in and for the world. Our hope is that all those involved in this initiative, at whatever level, will not only grow in their understanding and practice of the Christian faith, but also gain a renewed appreciation for the manifold gifts God has placed in their hands to be used to build up the body of Christ for its mission in the world.
If you have questions about CFI, such as which of the above partnerships might be best for your congregational situation, would like to be in contact with a church leader who has engaged in this process, or would simply like to discuss congregational formation with other EP folk, please email the CFI support team and we will be in contact with you as soon as possible.