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 to pass on faith:

1. Set an example
2. Be consistent in word and deed
3. Focus on being warm and affirming
4. Allow exploration and openness to other perspectives – (let them ask the hard questions with you)
5. Don’t expect them to be YOU

How NOT to do to pass on faith:

1. Run a tight ship
2. Leave it to their mom
3. Don’t spare the rod
4. I’m right and I know it

We are pleased that this study supports the ideas we write about in  A Spiritual Heritage. We pray that our book will encourage parents and grandparents to be more intentional about next generation faith in warm and affirming ways.

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