Stages of Faith

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Dynamics of Christian Formation James Fowler’s STAGES OF FAITH DEVELOPMENT:

Dynamics of Christian Formation James Fowler’s STAGES OF FAITH DEVELOPMENT A Summary Professor La Verne Tolbert, Ph.D.

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Fowler’s Stages of Faith (bottom up ): Universalizing 40 plus Conjunctive Faith 30-40 yrs Individuative /Reflective 18-30 yrs Synthetic/Conventional 12 to 18 yrs Mythical/Literal 7 to 11 yrs Intuitive/Projective 3 to 7 yrs Primal Birth to 2 yrs


Application The Primal Stage (birth to 2), is when the infant develops “confidence”. The power and wisdom coupled with tender care that parents provide are “ preimages ” that children develop prior to learning how to talk. What is the implication for faith development in children who are abandoned or abused?


Application Intuitive/Projective (ages 3-7), is the stage where children’s minds are active and free. “Symbols, stories, and the shared life of religious traditions provide for the child a rich base of meaning—a source of guidance and reassurance,” ( Yount , p. 123). What is the implication for parents, and are they fulfilling their role?


Application At the Mythical/Literal stage (7-11), there is a reliance on stories, rules, and the family’s implicit values. “This is a ‘conformist’ stage, in which the person is tuned in to expectations of significant others. The focus of authority is in others,” ( Yount , p. 124). What is the implication for children raised in non-traditional families?


Application At the Synthetic/Conventional stage (12-18), faith is not necessarily internalized. Faith is modeled. At this stage, some teens and young adults tend to step away from the church. Why? What can we do to prevent this exit?


Application At the Conjunctive stage (30-40), truth is complex and there is a commitment to tradition. At this middle-age, there’s a feeling of interdependence. A person is neither young nor old. What happens when people become Christians at this age?


Application In the Individuative /Reflective stage (18-30), young adults now own their faith. It’s become personal. The good news is that young adults tend to reconnect back to the church. Is there a downside to this return?


Application A person sees the world through the eyes of others at the Universalizing stage (40+). Spiritually, few reach the Universalizing stage. Examples are: Jesus Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Theresa Ghandi What about this stage is distinctive?


In light of Fowler’s Stages of Faith, perhaps we’re able to see faith as progressive rather than as a stagnant accomplishment. It’s a process… [Now, click on the Notes Page and read the notes.] Reference Yount, William R. (1996) Created to Learn: A Christian Teacher’s Introduction to Educational Psychology . Nashville: Broadman & Holman Summary

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