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How do we pass on our faith to children? This is a question most religious traditions care about deeply. We are concerned, perhaps, for our children's spiritual well-being, their moral grounding and behavior, and perhaps for the ultimate state of their souls. Without the commitment, creativity, and zeal of the next generation, our own values and beliefs may die with us. But what is the best way to communicate faith? If faith is "caught, not taught," then what can we do to make our spirituality contagious?


We invited scholars, practitioners, teachers, and parents from diverse traditions and perspectives to share their wisdom, insights, and best practices on this important topic.


 

My Six Essentials for Passing on the Faith

My Six Essentials for Passing on the Faith

Phyllis Tickle

What we want to implant is an easy and natural affection for the holy, an inherent connectedness to an on-going story, and a sense of membership within a sustaining community that is always there to hold all of us as well as demand some things of us.

Gleaning New Truths from the Old Stories

Gleaning New Truths from the Old Stories

Melvin Bray

To hell with the save me/love me/do for me religion I once embraced. I want better for my children.

You Shall Teach Them to Your Children

You Shall Teach Them to Your Children

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

We build the brightest future, not by worrying about the future, but by living our faith in the present.

Passing on the Hindu Faith

Passing on the Hindu Faith

Padma Kuppa

Being active in the temple community, along with what we have done outside the house of worship, has provided my children the essence of what it means to be Hindu.

Brian McLaren on Passing on the Faith: A Video Q&A

Brian McLaren on Passing on the Faith: A Video Q&A

Deborah Arca

Brian and I reflect on the challenges of passing on a progressive Christian faith to our children. I also ask Brian what his dream curriculum for children would look like if he got to create one.

Passing on Spirituality: Teaching the Spiritual ABCs

Passing on Spirituality: Teaching the Spiritual ABCs

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Spirituality is a way of being in the world, and it is marked by activities and experiences. Passing this on to our kids is all about things we can do.

Sharing Your Faith Naturally

Sharing Your Faith Naturally

Annie Reneau

For Bahá'ís, sharing our faith without proselytizing is an important, but tricky, balancing act. Here are some lessons I've learned over the years.

Less Talk, More Action

Less Talk, More Action

Mark Yaconelli

In my town, children and youth are looking for people with mischief in their eyes, people willing to say “yes” to the active pursuit of love.

Additional Perspectives

Just Imagine: Considering the Theological Insights of Children

Just Imagine: Considering the Theological Insights of Children

Ivy Beckwith

Perhaps we should be thinking about how to do Children's Ministry in the way of Jesus, by taking our children's theological questions and observations seriously.

Why Children Need Ignatian Spirituality (Part 1)

Why Children Need Ignatian Spirituality (Part 1)

To the extent that we offer our children ways of imagining God always present among us in our families, we help them to understand that everyday life is shot through with grace.

Learning Theology through Catechism, Imagination, and Song

Learning Theology through Catechism, Imagination, and Song

Bethany Blankley

The catechisms formed a foundation for my beliefs, but the reading of literature reinforced what I knew by awakening my imagination.

Follow Me

Follow Me

Monica A. Coleman

My curriculum for infant faith formation is a lot like day camp. We sing songs and go on field trips.

What Pagan Families Can Learn From Unitarian Universalists

What Pagan Families Can Learn From Unitarian Universalists

Michelle Mueller

I've learned that children LOVE ritual. Pagan traditions are really effective for positive experiences for children-- from Sabbats to chants to the particular structure of circle ritual.

Love the Lord with All Your Mind

Love the Lord with All Your Mind

Jennifer Fitz

Pulled off my review shelf, here's my list of favorite resources for college-material Catholics who need a 101 on the faith.

Postmoderns Have Nothing to Teach Our Children (And Other Fables)

Postmoderns Have Nothing to Teach Our Children (And Other Fables)

Tony Jones

Adolescents are inherently question-askers. We inhibit their faith development when we conclusively answer their questions, rather than walking with them into deeper questions. 

The Center of the World: Beauty as a Mandate for the Future of Formation

The Center of the World: Beauty as a Mandate for the Future of Formation

David F. White

Beneath layers of language, concept, and custom, there lies a radical human openness to aesthetic encounter, to beauty.

Passing on the Faith? Probably Not: A Pagan Perspective

Passing on the Faith? Probably Not: A Pagan Perspective

I'd certainly want to teach my children to love the Earth and to respect the change of the seasons, but I'm not sure I'd instruct them to pray to the Horned God before going to bed every night, that decision would be their own.

Raising Leaders: What I Did This Summer

Raising Leaders: What I Did This Summer

Lillian Daniels

What are we doing to mentor the next generation of clergy from our own congregation? What can we do on the supply side of the pipeline?

Do Christian Kids Need Christian Education?

Do Christian Kids Need Christian Education?

Thomas Kidd

I wonder whether churches should prod Christians more directly to consider Christian education, even when public schools are not openly hostile to the faith. 

A Radical Vision for a New Generation

A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Matthew Fox

We hear a great deal about the need to pass spiritual values on to our young people but over the past few years, we've seen the young people of the world taking the lead in teaching Christ-like values of love, compassion, justice and mercy.

How To Raise Hindu Children

How To Raise Hindu Children

Ambaa

I do think all religions are paths up the same mountain, but I personally think that Hinduism is a particularly direct and easy to understand path. The goal is much clearer than many other religions.

From the Mouths of Babes: How Children Teach Adults

From the Mouths of Babes: How Children Teach Adults

Jerry Ireland

When any of us, like Jesus, welcome children into our presence, we discover among other things an opportunity to grow and learn from some of the best among us.

Cultivating a Community of Practice

Cultivating a Community of Practice

Joyce Ann Mercer

The best curriculum for forming children, youth, and anyone else in Christian faith is guided participation in a community of practice.

Passing on the Faith in a Makeshift Choir Stall

Passing on the Faith in a Makeshift Choir Stall

Jack Levison

There we were, together, a white twelve-year-old boy with an utter incapacity to sing the tenor line and an old black man with a voice that could inspire the angels. Together we were a community. 

Passing Faith to the Next Generation: A Pagan Perspective

Passing Faith to the Next Generation: A Pagan Perspective

Sterling

Though I am sure that there are a great number of things that I do know something about, the Universe has far more things that I am completely ignorant about. It is in this lack of knowing that my conversation on faith begins.

Becoming a Follower

Becoming a Follower

Suzanne Ross

The stumbling block, the obstacle to faith in Jesus, is to become infected with shame about being a follower.

A God for Girls: Questioning Male Language for God

A God for Girls: Questioning Male Language for God

Deborah W. Dykes

It is essential that we offer our children curricula, worship, and liturgy that is inclusive and that proclaims a God that is invested in every little girl and every little boy.

Why Passing on the Faith Isn't Good Enough

Why Passing on the Faith Isn't Good Enough

Dave Csinos

What if, instead of passing on the faith, we encouraged our children to play with the faith that God has given to them in order to love it into greater vitality?


Growth Spurts and Faith Formation

Growth Spurts and Faith Formation

Rebecca Laird

Disequilibrium and restlessness—often seen as negative characteristics in children—can be viewed differently as natural signals that children are ready for a growth spurt in faith and responsibility.

A Test Case in Passing on the Faith: The Children's Sermon

A Test Case in Passing on the Faith: The Children's Sermon

What did Jesus do when children came near? He welcomed them. He blessed them. These things embody the fact that the gospel is actually for them.

It's Hard to

It's Hard to "Think of the Children"

If a Pagan or polytheist religious tradition is good enough for ourselves, why do we hesitate to pass it on to our children?

Being There: The Magic Means of Passing on Your Faith to Your Kids

Being There: The Magic Means of Passing on Your Faith to Your Kids

Rebecca Hamilton

If you don't want the larger culture or the mixed up kid from down the block raising your kids, then you're going to have to step in and be there so you can do it yourself.

Teaching Our Children Authentic, Spirit-filled Living

Teaching Our Children Authentic, Spirit-filled Living

Lolly Odea Polvinale

I imagine, dream, believe that our hope and optimism lies within the possibilities for curriculum modifications. Courses that would provide meditation, tai-chi, visualization, positive affirmations, cooperative team-building exercises in every subject from pre-school through college.

Faith Without Words: On Infant Faith Formation

Faith Without Words: On Infant Faith Formation

Jeanne Choy Tate

Awareness of how we first formed our faith as infants re-connects us as adults with faith at its source.

We Must Midwife the Faith

We Must Midwife the Faith

Ted Witham

The limitations of overall numbers and the absence of children indicate the stark reality that passing the faith by teaching is failing.

Faith Formation in the Small Congregation

Faith Formation in the Small Congregation

Susan Strouse

How do we pass faith on to our children today? No curriculum can provide it all. We must be intentional, inclusive and inter-generational.

Changing Churches

Changing Churches

James McGrath

The church needs to adapt to changing needs and modes of communication, without simply trying to adopt a facade of relevance or pandering to demands and desires in a way that ceases to challenge those who are or would become a part of it.

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