Over the past year Dr. Scott Magnuson-Martinson has been studying us at Vibrant Faith Ministries. Dr. Scott has 30 years experience on the faculty at Normandale Community College.
While on his sabbatical Dr. Scott did an extensive analysis of whether what we teach at VFM actually makes a difference. Specifically, does the Vibrant Faith Frame (Five Principles for Effective Faith Formation, Four Key Faith Practices, leading to three characteristics of discipleship) transform congregations by deepening the faith life of the members and leaders.
Here’s one of the things he learned: CONGREGATIONS RECEPTIVE TO USING MULTIPLE FORMS OF LEARNING ARE MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE IN FORMING FAITH AND MAXIMIZING THE WISDOM OF THE VIBRANT FAITH FRAME.
In other words, God speaks to us in many ways and the Spirit works faith in us in many ways. Multiple intelligence learning, developed by Howard Gardner in 1983, states that we learn in many modalities including:
- Interpersonal: God connects through the relationships coming from community interaction (think Oprah). A VFM resource for this would be FAITHTALK CARDS.
- Spatial: God connects through visualizing ideas, concepts and images in our minds eye (think Picasso). A VFM resource for this would be SOULARIUM CARDS or PRAYING IN COLOR.
- Kinesthetic: God connects through our bodily movement and activity (think most any male child or church camp). A VFM resource for this would be MISSION TRIP RESOURCES.
- Musical: God speaks through our sensitivity to sound, tones and rhythms (think Mozart, or Justin Bieber). A VFM resource for this would be our theme song LOOSE IN THE WORLD by Peter Mayer.
- Logical-mathematical: God connects through our processing of abstractions and connecting the dots (think Bill Gates). A VFM resource for this would be VIBRANT FAITH IN THE CONGREGATION by David Anderson, or the FAITH FORMATION LEARNING EXCHANGE.
- Linguistic: God speaks to us through words, language, verbal cues, and reading (think Shakespeare). A VFM resource for this would be all the tips, tools and resources on VIBRANT FAITH @ HOME, or all the research studies on the FAITH FORMATION LEARNING EXCHANGE.
- Intrapersonal: God engages us through internal reflection and thought (think praying nuns, contemplative faith practices). VIBRANT FAITH @ HOME offers hundreds of these kinds of activities for the individual and the household.
- Naturalistic: God provides information, inspiration and personal organization via our surroundings, especially nature (think Chef Rachel Ray, or John Muir). Contact me and I’ll walk you through all my classes I teach titled WHY CAN’T CHURCH BE MORE LIKE CAMP?
- Existential/spiritual: (Gardner was more ambiguous on this one) God speaks through our inner spiritual and existential lives, struggles and insights. VFM’s MILESTONES MINISTRY covers a wide range of life events and stages.
This research is so important, notes Dr. Scott, that he suggested we ask one question of prospective leaders and congregations with whom we would work: “Are you open to sharing faith in multiple ways?” If they are then we should extend our services, if not….walk away.
How would you answer this question for yourself and your congregation?