When Paul wrote to young timothy (2 Timothy 1:5), he talked about the faith instilled in him by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Timothy’s faith was developed in the home which is still the primary institution for faith development. But Paul also talks about the “household of faith” in Galatians 6:10 which is the gathering of believers.
Let’s face it, times are changing. Within the next 15 years or so about 20% of the people living in the United States will be 65 or older. But the fact of the matter is that worldwide about one third of the population is age 15 or younger and many of these younger individuals are moving back with their parents. That presents an interesting dynamic, but also an opportunity to help generation Z stay connected or to reconnect with their Lord and Savior.
My point here is that family life and faith life is extremely important to all generations. Our country seems to be headed away from its roots as a Christian nation. Postmodernism has seen the deterioration of authority, especially institutional authority. And the idea that knowledge is power leads to an interesting discussion about where we get that knowledge. Do we look to individuals who know and understand or do we turn to the internet and trust the opinion of someone whom we don’t even know?
Jill Hasstedt’s article in The Pedagogy of Faith has helped me flesh out this issue of Teaching the Faith in a Post-Christian Context. Our youth need us to point out those forms of communication that can be harmful, whereas God’s word is always true. We should teach our youth to welcome diversity, but not necessarily embrace it. The Gospel points us in the direction of love and forgiveness, and we know that Jesus is the one to follow rather than trusting one’s own understanding of what is truth. The Bible warns us of false teaching so stick to the Bible on a daily basis and learn the truth from it.
Having faith in Jesus as Lord and savior is an individual thing. Parents, pastors, and teachers need to first build a strong relationship with the young. Then we show how we care about our faith by participating in worship on a regular basis, studying God’s word, praying with each other, and serving others as Jesus came to serve. The journey of faith development is not necessarily easy, but it is necessary. Parents must take the lead and rely on pastors and other Christians to supply a support role. If we truly care about the future, we will take the time to build a strong relationship with our youth so that they may love and care for others as they grow in their own relationship with Jesus.
Education Exec. Mid-South LCMS