(watch the FORM story)
Every FORM year is full of real-world impact. FORM students embark in life-changing experiences that prepare them for a lifetime of living and leading like Jesus. It's important that we tell those stories to share what God is doing. The students below were asked two questions: "Why are you in FORM?" and "What has God done while you've been in FORM?"
I got really burnt out last year in a ministry role with hardly any support. I needed time and help to process what career would be a better fit for me. I also needed spiritual support since I had very little last year. FORM, to me, is a sabbatical. It's a time to be poured into, refreshed, encouraged, and a time to get help answering questions about where my life is headed.
God has grown my prayer life. Part of FORM requires being involved in church ministries, and I chose the prayer team. I've seen God heal people through my prayers. It's amazing! I've also grown in hearing God's voice, and have been practicing that during our required journaling time.
When I first heard about FORM, I didn't think it was for me. I had always desired to be in vocational ministry, and at that point I was finishing up my third church internship and a degree in youth ministry. However, when I was encouraged to join by our staff leaders, I ended up entering into a truly life-changing and life-equipping journey. What I love about FORM is that it is designed in a way that can accommodate anyone; this year we have people like me in ministry, people who don't want to be in vocational ministry, people from 18 to 27, an ex-Muslim, people with bachelor's degrees and people without, a girl who came from the Navy, supportive families and abusive ones, everyone! Maybe that's because the main premise is to hear what God is saying and respond faithfully--something we all need.
Just when I think I've reached an appropriate level of humility or trust, God calls me deeper still. He has taught me deeper realities about my identity in him, and I've learned to relate to him both as Dad and Friend in ways I simply hadn't before. I've been challenged in my assumptions about heaven coming to earth in healing and prophecy. Most importantly, he's teaching me to grow in recognizing his voice and learning to be obedient. He is everything.
I am in FORM, because when I graduated from high school in May of 2015, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. I didn't feel called anywhere, and I didn't have a specific passion I wanted to pursue. Then I remembered I was told about this thing called FORM earlier that spring, and I felt God was calling me to join. I fought God on it for a while because my life was very comfortable. I was surrounded by friends and family in a nice little city in Michigan, and honestly, I really just don't like change. But after quite a lot of prayer, I was drawn to FORM. I loved the idea of taking a year out of my life to focus on and develop not only what I can do, but who I am, as well as focusing on my relationship with God.
God has done so many incredible things in me since I started FORM. For example, He has helped me work through and beat so many things. I use to struggle every day with depression, and God has been there with me every step of the way, helping me find the roots to why I felt the way I did and to face the lies the enemy was telling me head on. My absolute favorite thing that God has done in me is I have been encountering Him in such a new and real way. He's my best friend, the love of my life, and everything to me, whereas when I joined FORM, I really just liked God. If this one thing is the only thing I get from FORM, it will have been worth every single second because it has completely changed me now and forever.
I am in FORM because I felt very clearly that God told me to be. Besides that I was at a point in my life where I wanted know more about God and actually see Him in the community that I was in.
Since I have been in FORM I have been pushed in so many areas of my life. I am in a constant state of discomfort which I don't especially enjoy, but I know that in the end it is for a greater good. I am learning what it means to be in true community, which is something that I have never experienced. I am learning grace for others and for myself. I am also learning how to process and heal from my past so that I can go into my future free from it. The complete humbleness of all of the leadership here is something that I am continuously learning from.
Honestly, I am in FORM because it was part of my job requirement. I was hired on to Fellowship Missionary church staff as the Young Adults Intern. Part of my job requirements was to do FORM. Even though it is required for me, I still enjoy FORM very much. It has been a really impactful experience for me.
God has done so much during FORM. One huge way God has shown up during FORM is through the supernatural. I have been challenged to act in the gifting God has given me. It has allowed me to see God through new lenses and further his kingdom in my life in a new way.
I just graduated high school this past summer and was not interested in going to college. During this time of waiting, God opened the door and led me to FORM. I prayed to ask God if this was what I was suppose to do next, and I felt His leading that it was. I was super excited to learn and grow in Christ!
He has taught me so much more about Himself and I’ve grown spiritually. I have had a lot of opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and be stretched in areas of leadership and prayer. It’s been such a blessing to be part of a group that is longing to grow in Christ and to have Christian fellowship. I’m excited to continue my spiritual journey of drawing closer to God as He leads.
My reason for being in FORM isn’t entirely clear. The opportunity to join presented itself right around the time that I was reevaluating my direction with school, and I guess you could say I just felt called to it without knowing why (which is hard for me, that is, doing something without a clear reason from the outset.)
The prevailing thing I feel God has been teaching me throughout FORM is how to actively have a quiet heart. There have also been many beneficial lessons pertaining to leadership, spiritual growth, and identity. But in the end, the overarching theme that has become more apparent in recent weeks is the importance of silence in my personal life.
Want to hear a few answers to common questions straight from FORM grads? You'll find them below.
What life circumstance/obstacle led you to consider FORM?
I was at the lowest point in my life at the beginning of 2016. I was nearing the end of college and wasn't sure what was next. One thing I felt like I was hearing from God was to "not go join corporate America." I also felt a very strong calling to ministry. I knew I wasn't going to go to seminary. People consistently told me to do FORM. I was very skeptical of FORM at the time and thought it didn’t make sense for me to sign up. I had just spent the last 21 years of my life on schooling. People kept suggesting I do FORM. I wasn't sure what else to do with my life so I just went ahead and signed up. –Ryan
I felt drawn to FORM by my desire for community. In addition, I had to leave school because of my depression. After coming through that season, I had a renewed passion for pursuing God and that made FORM a great opportunity. –Malachi
After graduating high school, I had opportunities to go play baseball in college but finances kept me back. God showed me I should do FORM through denying things I wanted.- –Hayden
I felt God calling me to ministry/to work with people instead of working on trucks. I was looking to make a career change and had registered for college classes (Human Services) at Ivy Tech. After speaking with my pastor I decided that Form would be a better place to start in gaining a biblical foundation for life and for human interactions. –Daren
How has FORM been worth the investment of the cost and nine months of your life?
Without FORM it would have taken me probably nine years instead of nine months to learn to hear the voice of the Lord. –Hannah
FORM has been worth the cost because it has made a substantial and lasting difference in how I view my relationship with Christ, my relationship with others, and what following God with my whole life really means.
FORM has drastically changed my life. It has pruned my character, altered my life goals, produced many skills I was unaware I had. It has given me a deep hunger and thirst for Holy Spirit, His presence and His power. –Wardell
It has taught me how to live opposite of the American dream and truly live a life worth living and for a worthy God. –Hayden
It has shifted my perception of ministry and forever changed my approach to reaching people with the Gospel. Form experience = Priceless. –Daren
What are the top three things about FORM?
- Learning new tools to share the gospel.
- Giving the confidence that I am a leader.
- Knowing that I’m allowed to operate in the way God made me. –Ross
- How difficult but rewarding it is to follow God wholeheartedly. It costs everything but in return you get the privilege of getting to experience more of God's presence in your life while fulfilling His purpose for you in furthering the kingdom of God.
- The reality of God's current and active presence in our lives. The reality that we can speak to Him and more importantly that he speaks to us regularly and personally.
- The importance of reaching out to others and sharing my faith for my own growth and health as a Christian. –Malachi
- I love the teachings. I love hearing different people talk about different parts of God.
- The mission trip. It's a great opportunity to experience a new culture and become closer.
- Huddle. I love the times of processing through things and the safe places. –Brandy
- God pouring into my identity
- Learning how to better lead a small group
- Learning how to look at circumstances from a different perspective –Ryan
- The community. Community has shown me exactly what it means to function as a church body.
- Deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. I have gained deeper understanding of the role of the Spirit and how He represents God's heart and passion.
- Huddle. Huddle impacted me to give more and deeper parts of my Heart to the Lord. –Hayden
What has been the hardest part of FORM for you?
After just getting a job for the first time, for me it was a huge time commitment, BUT totally worth it. It was even more of a time commitment that I would have thought, but it was through those things (worship, missional community, IHOP) that God really moved in my heart! –Hannah
It has been really good--sometimes it is hard deal with different personalities. –Ross
The consistent challenge and accountability it has required. It's a very good thing but it's not easy to be forced to keep moving forward. –Malachi
Giving up EVERYTHING. This has been hard because I put a lot of value in relationships, career, and self. Through this process I have learned that God wants me to only value what He values. I believe he wants me to value His presence and make an all-out 100% commitment to pursuing Him for the rest of my life. –Wardell
I was challenged and stretched constantly. –Hayden
For me balancing time has been extremely stressful. I have two jobs and I am also enrolled in college and have seen things such as my grades poorly affected. –Conner
How have you changed the way you think?
I am a missionary wherever I am! God has really called me to see my workplace and family as a place to share the gospel. –Hannah
I’m more open to the Holy Spirit. –Ross.
I no longer fit God into my life but myself into God's will and plan for my life and the world around me. –Hayden
I cannot contain God in my head. –Dan
He's begun to take some of the negative thinking I have towards myself and replace it with truth. He's taught me how to stand on the truth of His Word. –Brandy
From a constructive evangelism time to being open to the Spirit wherever I may be. Everyone is a Child of God. –Daren
What would you tell someone considering FORM?
DO IT! If there’s even a chance God will show up and speak to you in something, you should run after it, and there no chance He wouldn’t speak to you when you commit nine months of learning about Him! –Hannah
You will for sure grow in your faith, but it won’t be easy! –Ross
Pray about it, and if there's any belief in your mind that God has told you “Yes!”, run after it despite of the plans you had before. FORM is an amazing opportunity to take time out of your life to pursue understanding and deeper relationship with your loving father before you move on with the rest of your life. It’s a time to gain focus and perspective so you can enter your life with a greater understanding of both your identity and purpose through Christ. It has a cost, both financially and in other areas like time, but for me it has been far beyond worth that cost. If this is a path God wants you to take I can't encourage you too much to take it. –Malachi
DO IT! Seriously. Best decision you could make. Only do it if you are willing to work though. It's not a year to slack off. –Brandy
You won’t regret it!! If you have the time He will find the funds! Don't wait, Just jump!! –Daren
Doing FORM will change your life. You will learn what it means to be a son or daughter of God and what life looks like because of it.