“Life in Christ is formed in a believing community, and expressed in daily living.” (Living Faith, 8.1.2)

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“We live in Christ as we study the scriptures learning to think and act in a Christian way.” (Living Faith, 8.1.5)

Note: The resources included in this list have not been produced by The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Leaders are encouraged to adapt these resources to fit with the theological and educational approach of their context.

Learning in community how to live as followers of Christ is a lifelong calling. As the above statements from Living Faith affirm, the church is called to nurture the faith of believers so that we will be equipped “for every good work.”

Ongoing faith development is just as important for adults as it is for children. Church communities can support adults in their faith journeys by providing relationships, resources, learning opportunities and conversations that draw them into deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are a few things to keep in mind while selecting a resource to use with adults in your congregation:

  • What are the needs of the adults who will be using the resource?
    Contemporary adult faith formation is person-centred, which means it is guided by the needs and interests of the participants. Adults are more motivated to learn when the topic addresses a need in their life. Those needs could be related to their roles as workers, spouses, parents, grandparents, neighbours, disciples or friends. They could address certain life tasks, situations, spiritual questions or faith journey challenges that occur at different stages of adulthood. The best way to find out the needs of adults in your congregation is to ask. It is as simple as saying, “If we were to start a discussion group in the church that addresses a topic that is of interest to you at this time, what would that topic be?”
  • Does the resource provide opportunities for engagement for different types of learners?
    For adults, learning and growth is a process of active inquiry. When considering resources to use with adults, consider whether the resource suggests or inspires engagement. You want to move beyond talking to experiencing. Prioritize variety to address the needs of different types of learners (e.g., prayer, spiritual practices, silent reflection, goal setting, mission projects, creative engagement through art, drama and music).
  • Does the theological and educational approach align with that of your faith community?
    The Presbyterian Church in Canada is part of the Reformed theological tradition. Many of the popular Christian resources available come from other Christian traditions, which means that the beliefs reflected in them may not align with Reformed beliefs. This does not mean that they aren’t good resources; it just means that they need to be evaluated before use and adapted to suit the Presbyterian context. A good summary of The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s beliefs can be found in Living Faith . You can also use this tool for choosing curriculum created by Dr. Tori Smit.

A Note about Purchasing Resources

Some of the printed adult resources that are published in the United States, such as the curriculum created by the Presbyterian Church USA, can be challenging to acquire if the publisher does not ship to Canada. Newer resources, such as the Follow Me curriculum recommended in this resource, are available as a digital download. Some resources are also available through Canadian distributors of Christian resources, such as Parasource . If you are having trouble acquiring a certain resource that you would like to use as a church, please email Emily Hill, Education Program Coordinator, Canadian Ministries.

Types of Resources

Some of the resources suggested in this document are traditional: Bible studies, curriculum and book studies. Others reflect current trends in faith formation: intergenerational resources, spiritual practice ideas and online course offerings.

The Thoughtful Christian
The Thoughtful Christian is an ecumenical website dedicated to helping Christians and seekers understand, share, practice and be challenged in their faith. Their digital offerings include downloads for individual and group studies for adults and youth. The Thoughtful Christian website also offers all-access subscriptions to downloadable group studies for adults and high school youth.

Kerygma
Kerygma has been creating adult Bible studies since the 1970s. Their studies are tried and true favourites amongst Presbyterian Christian educators. They have foundational courses for in-depth study of the whole Bible and shorter Bible studies focusing on a particular theme, topic or book of the Bible. Their studies are comprehensive and challenging and, as such, are best suited for established Bible study groups looking to go more in-depth in their Bible reading.

Horizon Bible Studies (PCUSA)
Horizon Bible Studies are written from within the Reformed tradition by PCUSA women. The studies, which are published annually, cover a variety of themes. You can purchase the current year’s study as well as studies from past years on their website. All studies are suitable for both individuals and groups.

The Bible from Scratch Series by Donald L. Griggs
Donald L. Griggs—a respected Christian educator, author and former teacher at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia—wrote a series of Bible studies that have been used by Presbyterian churches for the last couple of decades. They are accessible and easy to understand for adults who have—or fear they have—little to no Bible knowledge. For people who are new to studying the Bible, The Old Testament for Beginners or The New Testament for Beginners from the series is a great place to start. There are also studies in this series based on individual books of the Bible, such as Genesis, Exodus and Acts.

Yale Bible Study
The mission of the Yale Bible Study is to engage people in small group Bible study by providing studies of biblical books, deepened by insights from Yale Divinity School professors. There are over 25 Bible courses of eight sessions each with video and study guide materials. These materials form an accessible, deeply thoughtful and informed group Bible study program. All course materials available to access for free without needing to register.

The Present Word
The Present Word is a weekly study published four times a year by PCUSA. Each quarterly study works its way through different books of the Bible with a focus on a specific theme. This is another a tried and true Bible study that has been used by Presbyterian churches for many years. It is solid and dependable and is best suited for established and committed Bible study groups.

Faith Alive Studies
Faith Alive Resources are created by the Christian Reformed Church, and they are written from a Reformed theological perspective. The various Bible studies and small group resources are used widely in The Presbyterian Church in Canada. The material is reasonably priced; the material can be purchased in Canadian dollars and shipped within Canada.

Curriculum is not just for children’s ministry! Many of the popular and well-loved curricula used in Presbyterian churches for children’s ministry also have adult versions. If you are already using a curriculum for your children’s and/or youth ministry, check to see if there is an adult component to the curriculum. You may even find out that your subscription to the curriculum already includes the adult material. If you are not already using a curriculum with an adult component, consider looking at the following options.

Feasting on the Word
Feasting on the Word curriculum follows the Revised Common Lectionary and allows everyone in the congregation to study the same Bible passages each week. This makes it easy for families to live out their faith together. The adult 12-month curriculum includes materials for fall, winter, spring and summer. The curriculum includes a leader’s guide with biblical background for teachers from the Feasting on the Word Commentary series. There are also reproducible resource sheets and media connections that tie each week’s scripture with a film, video or website.

Seasons of the Spirit
Seasons of the Spirit adult curriculum invites adults to deepen their spirituality and explore their faith through activities and articles that encourage a rich engagement with all four of the weekly lectionary readings. Art images, contemporary writings and consideration of current issues offer meaningful ways to link faith and life. As a lectionary-based curriculum, Seasons provides Christian education resources for each Sunday of the church year.

Whole People of God
Whole People of God is a simple, easy-to-use, online Lectionary-based curriculum. It is priced especially for small churches—one license grants your church access to all the age-level and worship materials, including the adult portion of the curriculum. How much you pay is based on the size of your church, which makes this curriculum more affordable for smaller congregations.

Looking Into the Lectionary
Looking into the Lectionary is a free, weekly online publication created by The Presbyterian Outlook, which explores some of the appointed texts for the upcoming Sunday. It contains a reflection on scripture and questions to ponder. It is not a curriculum, but it does contain enough information that, if used along with the assigned scripture reading for that week, would provide enough material to discuss with a Bible study group.

There are many Christian books that are great for adult faith formation, and more are being published each year. Some groups choose to study classics of Christian faith, such as the works of Deitrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. Others choose to go with contemporary authors, such as Diana Butler Bass, Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Walter Brueggemann. The books that are used for group studies in congregations vary depending on the topic, which include the Bible, theology, Christian living, spiritual practices, congregational development, leadership and innovation, social justice and liturgical seasons (e.g., Advent, Lent).

When choosing a book, it is important to consider whether it aligns with the theological beliefs of your congregation. Please review the opening section of this document about choosing resources that align with the Reformed tradition.

Here are some helpful sources for choosing contemporary books:

  • The Christian Century Book Reviews
  • The Renovaré Book Club chooses four soul-shaping, Christ-centred books each year to promote. It is an online book club that you must pay to join, but their book selection is usually excellent, so it is worth checking out their website to see what books they have chosen.

Here is a list of books that Presbyterian churches have used successfully as small group studies over the last few years:

  • Rehearsing Scripture by Anna Carter Florence (Eerdmans, 2018)
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (IVP, 2016)
  • Short Stories by Jesus by Amy Jill Levine (HarperOne, 2015)
  • Life Together by Deitrich Bonhoeffer (Harper, 1954)
  • An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne, 2010)
  • Being Disciples by Rowan Williams (Eerdmans, 2016)
  • We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren (Jericho, 2014)
There are not a lot of video-based studies that are created from a Reformed theological perspective. Many of the popular video studies available would need to be adapted to work well in the Presbyterian context. There are a few video options that Presbyterian churches in Canada have used successfully as part of adult education. Here are the options that you might consider as a supplement to the study or curriculum you are using.

The Bible Project
The Bible Project is an animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated Bible videos, podcasts and Bible resources to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. This free resource is excellent for providing overviews of the books of the Bible as well as videos about theological themes such as covenants, justice, sabbath and sacrifice. Bible study leaders often use this resource to provide overviews before digging into a certain book of the Bible in a more in-depth way.

Re:form Ancestors
Re:form Ancestors is a youth curriculum made by Sparkhouse that features animated videos about Bible heroes, villains and everyday folks that God selected to do extraordinary things. These videos have been used with young adults and are appropriate for a light-hearted adult education group who would be open to learning through animated videos.

Theocademy
Theocademy produces high quality video curriculum from a Reformed perspective. They have a variety of videos for all stages of faith formation on topics such as Reformed theology, Reformed worship, confirmation, women and the Reformation, elders and deacons and new members. Many of their videos are available for free on their website and YouTube channel.

The Work of the People
The Work of the People videos have a particular style that some people really like, while others do not. The videos are made from several different Christian perspectives; they do, however, have some well-known and well-respected Reformed theologians and ministers sharing their knowledge and experience. There are two types of videos available: visual liturgies that can be used as part of worship services and thematic videos that can be used for adult education.

There are some very interesting online courses designed with adult education in a congregational setting in mind. Offering or suggesting these courses for people to study individually is a great idea.

ChurchNext
ChurchNext provides a wide variety of adult faith formation courses from expert teachers in scripture, liturgy and important Christian topics for a small fee. Adults can interact in a safe, online environment that’s convenient, engaging and affordable. They also have videos on YouTube .

FULLER Formation
Whether you are seeking ways to grow deeper in your faith or looking to learn with your small group or congregation, FULLER Formation provides access to a variety of guided lessons from Fuller experts. With anytime-access to spiritual formation content, you can start engaging your faith on a deeper level today. The library of content created exclusively for FULLER Formation includes topics such as integrating your faith and work and discerning your calling. There are over 60 resources. A subscription to the FULLER Formation library costs $10 per month.

Alpha Online
Alpha is a series of online sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over 11 weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone is welcome. Alpha is now offering an online version. They have produced three guides to assist in running Alpha Online: Moving Alpha Online, Hosting Alpha Online and Alpha Online in Action.

Intergenerational: Congregations are discovering that intergenerational faith formation—bringing all age groups together to learn about their faith—is an effective way to accomplish the goals of lifelong faith formation. Here are a few good sources for intergenerational curriculum and resources:

Spiritual Practices: Faith is formed through spiritual practices, such as prayer, scripture reading, sabbath and hospitality. There are several resources that teach Christians how to work spiritual practices into daily habits, family routines and everyday life at home.

Adults with Disabilities: All members of the church community, including those with differing abilities, should be able to participate in Christian education. The Christian Reformed Church has created an inclusive Bible study called “Together” that uses a wide range of teaching techniques to help participants apply the lessons to their own lives. Together provides learners of all abilities with an important set of tools so that each participant can grow in relationship with God and with one another.

Still not sure what resource is best for your group?

If you would like to chat further about what resource might best suit the adults in your congregation or to talk about best practices in adult faith, please email Emily Hill, Education Program Coordinator.