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Spiritual Formation at Home


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#1 Pax (unregistered)

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 03:45 PM

I've been asked to teach a parenting class at church about catechism, which, in the same vein as the "domestic church" concept, means how children's spiritual lives form at home.

To that end, can I impose upon you to give me some unscientific information that might be helpful?

If you were raised in a Christian home and are a believer today:
  • What activities in your childhood helped you to understand the Christian faith?
  • What childhood activities helped you follow Jesus?
  • What was the greatest barrier or threat to your spiritual growth as a child?
If you are a Christian and have children--regardless of your upbringing:
  • What are you doing to teach your children about Christian doctrine? I'm particularly interested in use of documents such as the various Roman Catholic tools, Westminster (shorter) Catechism, Book of Common Prayer, etc.
  • How are you demonstrating your walk with Christ to your children?
As a possible launchpad for discussion, here a recent article from The Christian Science Monitor: "How parents keep the faith: getting spiritual meaning at home, not church"

I have a lot of problems with the article--mainly that it, in my opinion, capitulates to some of the very things it criticizes. Nevertheless, there is a lot of useful content in it.

“In this age of do-it-yourself religion, researchers find teens have such vague, poorly articulated beliefs that many who come from Christian homes have effectively replaced Christianity with a ‘moralistic therapeutic deism’ that emphasizes personal happiness as a paramount goal of religion.”

“Home is the primary setting where kids learn to make meaning of their place in the universe.”

“Home–not church–is increasingly where kids acquire religious character.”

“Responsibility for forming children's faith identities is shifting from institutions to parents.”

“Spiritual formation isn't something parents can effectively outsource to religious institutions.”

“Faith increasingly gets formed at home or not at all.”

“Parents don't need all the answers. Seeking insight alongside children is often all that's required.”

I'm not a huge fan of Phyllis Tickle, but she was spot on when she observed: “Congregations and denominations that are not attending to the moral formation of ... children are the most threatened because parents of that age group tend to see religious formation in terms of moral formation…the emergence of community service as a dominant value leads, in many cases, to a deinstitutionalization of faith.”

Edited by Pax, 09 January 2011 - 07:53 PM.


#2 Greg Wolfe

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 02:52 AM

This is only a shorthand response, but my wife and I wrote a book on this subject, specifically with regard to prayer.

Circle of Grace: Praying with and for Your Family.

Which was later released in an abridged edition, Bless This House.

Info here:

http://www.gregorywolfe.com/books.html

Both available here:

http://imagejournal.org/store/books

#3 Pax (unregistered)

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 04:58 PM

I'll pick up a copy of your book, Greg, thanks!

Anyone? Any other thoughts? I'm doing some research within my own parish. The most consistent response in the positive seems to be when parents take the time to explain the faith to their kids and really understand and respond to their questions. That, and actually going to church, week in week out, without excuses--which I think speaks to religious life being a real priority and not just an accessory to family life.

I'm also going to read J.I. Packer's recent book on catechesis and re-read the recent Barna book on raising spiritual champions.

#4 BethR

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 11:11 PM

Anyone? Any other thoughts? I'm doing some research within my own parish. The most consistent response in the positive seems to be when parents take the time to explain the faith to their kids and really understand and respond to their questions. That, and actually going to church, week in week out, without excuses--which I think speaks to religious life being a real priority and not just an accessory to family life.

This more or less describes my parents' approach. In addition to ensuring regular church and Sunday school attendance for all of us, both my parents were strongly influenced by Inter-Varsity and they were great believers in and practitioners of daily personal "quiet time" and family devotions every morning. Two books I remember we used (the Bible is a given, obviously): Little Visits with God, when we were young. Amazingly, a version is still in print. When we were older, Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest--which my dad had also used as a devotional in high school or college. I can't say that I always lived up to their example, but it certainly helped lay a strong foundation.