When a family brings their child to the font to be baptized, the family promises to help the child grow in the Christian faith and life. These promises can be a daunting task for parents and sponsors. How are seeds of faith planted in a way that we can be confident that they will take root and flourish into the abiding faith that so many before us have experienced and depended upon? As the Director of Children Youth and Family Ministry, I would love to hand you a tried and true, fail-proof recipe; however, it is an uncomfortable truth that there are a number of things that feed (or starve) one’s faith and we don’t know most of them!
One thing I can confidently say is that your child has a really excellent resource readily available to them: You. This article discusses that an extensive sociological study of youth and religion has shown that there is nothing more important to your child’s faith formation than you – their parents. "No other conceivable causal influence ... comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth, … Parents just dominate." You are the best faith formation resource for your child.
For some of you, knowing this fact might make the baptismal promise even more daunting! You might wonder how does one fit in time for faith formation in the midst of all the other life activities that you are trying to juggle. The best part is you are already doing it! As you live out your faith you are showing your child what faith looks like and how to live it. When you pile them into the car and take them to church you make a statement that it is important. When you send them to Godly Play, Maile and Eric’s or Peter and Sarah’s Sunday School classes, you are saying that it has value. When you talk with them about your life and faith, you are demonstrating to your child the importance it. They learn it from you more than they learn it from me, Pastor Goodman or any of the vicars. As much as we love to connect with the kids and youth at St. Paul (and we really, really do!), we pale in comparison to the impact you have on your child’s faith.
One set of tools to help facilitate faithful conversations at home is Rich Melheim’s Faith5. This is a fairly simple set of five actions to do within your family as often as you can – even daily! T First is to check-in. Each person has the opportunity to give a synopsis of their day, their high point and their low point. Second is to read a passage in the Bible. Third is to talk about it. Fourth is to pray. Finally before your group breaks apart someone gives a blessing. An awesome part of this set of tools is that it can be utilized in any relationship setting. We have modeled our Confirmation and our Youth Group gatherings. I know couples who don’t have kids who practice this as it is a great tool not only for growing in faith together but also strengthening relationships.
I am excited about the opportunity to continue this conversation in more depth with you all and how Faith5 can be implemented into your home. Aurelio Ramirez and I will be facilitating these conversations which will take place in Room 7 from 9:35-10:15 on November 8, 15, and 22. There are several families at St. Paul who have already integrated Faith5 into their home, and we can learn from their experiences! Through tools such as this and the support of the community (we made baptismal promises to your children too!), I hope we are able to equip you to confidently plant and nurture the seeds of faith in your child.
Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries