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Passing on the faith: 6 essentials

Passing on the faith: 6 essentials

Phyllis Tickle offers her six essentials for passing on the faith at Patheos:

Train up a child in the way s/he shall go etc., etc. may be the oldest cliché that parents are subjected to in this world. It certainly is the most annoying when it is laid upon one by an overweening grandparent. Yet there is—isn’t there always!—a rock-solid truth in the whole thing. In this case, what it means is that the first thing we must do in teaching and forming our children is to become dreadfully honest with ourselves and our mates and/or extended family about just how Christian we want this youngster to be and in what ways.

Most of us, if we’re honest, eventually conclude this preliminary work by realizing that what we really want to form is not so much a code of conduct, though that is obviously important, as it is an intimacy with God and the things of God. 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, being larger than any of us, is always there to hold all of us as well as demand some things of us.

And to do these things, the second step is to pray earnestly together as parents and/or extended family and without the children present, for them and for the progress of their souls. That, too, seems like a no-brainer, but it is an adult or mentoring habit often overlooked and almost never routinized in the press of other, more immediate duties.

What would you add?

This essay is part of a longer series on Passing on the Faith to the next generation.


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Adam Wood

I would add:

1. If there is a question about “how Christian we want this youngster to be,” that there is a serious problem. “In what ways” is a worthwhile thing to consider, but “to what extent” suggests that it’s okay to be 80% Christian.

2. The most damaging thing I see regularly in terms of bringing up children in the faith is not including them in the primary liturgy. Nurseries and parallel services may seem convenient or helpful, but they rob children of the opportunity to know liturgy as intimately as they would a native language.

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