Next Generation Faith

Writing a book is an interesting proposition. It’s both thrilling to get a book deal but also frightening because one’s thoughts and ideas go public where they can be critiqued by any reader. Without our oldest daughter’s help and encouragement, we would have lacked the courage to write a book. It’s not second-nature to us like it is to Erin who was born a writer. (We still have a few of her first “books” written at 5 years of age) As a child, she wrote creatively about presents and friends and childlike adventures. Now as an adult, Erin openly shares her honest experiences as a young mom, and advocates for warm and understanding parent/child relationships as essential in the transfer of faith. We completely agree. If there is one thing we hope readers of our book will gain, it is that parents truly are more influential than they may realize. This was reinforced for us by Vern. L. Bengston,  a presenter at last week’s D6 conference in Dallas. Bengtson is the author of Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations in which he outlines the outcomes of an empirical study on religion and family that has been going on for 45 years. His study clearly demonstrates that parents, and even grandparents, have a greater influence than they think and that emotional bonds are the most important. While faith may waiver, especially in the ages between 18 and 24, many prodigals return once they become parents – especially if they were raised in a warm affirming environment. Here are Bengtson’s concluding tips, shared in his own words: How...

A Spiritual Heritage

John F. Kennedy once said that “children are the living messages we send to a time we cannot see.” What values are we imparting to our children today that will be their message to future generations? My husband and I pondered this question often while writing A Spiritual Heritage, which launches in October.  Thinking of our own children, we want them to know that they are part of something larger than the circumstances they face today – that they on a continuum of a family story that spans centuries and includes both inspiring victories and heart breaking struggles. Most importantly, we want them to comprehend that their story is linked to the greatest story – that of God’s love for, and redemption of, mankind. A study conducted by Marshall Duke at Emory University paired resiliency with how much a student knew about their family history. The researchers were surprised to discover that “the ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges.”  Furthermore, the more they know about their family’s history, the better they regard themselves. Knowing about my family’s history causes me to think outside myself and feel a part of something more significant than just ME. To know what life was like for my ancestors in a tiny northern village in Finland makes me more humble and grateful. To know of my grandfather’s struggles to stay alive despite being severely beaten by Russian soldiers makes me more resilient.  To know that this experience led him to become a praying man, makes me want to pray more. To know that my...