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INSIGHTS & PRACTICES SERIES:

NCCL's Insights & Practices from Research and Theory series explores the latest research and thinking on forming faith with families and various age groups. Additionally, each article suggests practical strategies for forming faith that reflect the current research and thinking.

Click a topic to jump to your preferred report synopsis and downloadable PDF, easy to share with your leaders and colleagues.

Practices for Forming Faith...

with Families & Parents Intergenerationally with Children
with Adolescents with Young Adults

INSIGHTS & PRACTICES SERIES:

NCCL's Insights & Practices from Research and Theory series explores the latest research and thinking on forming faith with families and various age groups. Additionally, each article suggests practical strategies for forming faith that reflect the current research and thinking.

Click a topic to jump to your preferred report synopsis and downloadable pdf.

Practices for Forming Faith...

with Families & Parents
Intergenerationally
with Children
with Adolescents
with Young Adults

      

REPORT 1

Practices for Forming Faith with Families & Parents

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We seek to respond to several key questions that surface when considering faith transmission for children and youth. When it comes to passing faith to the next generation, in our minds, the key questions are:

  1. What do we mean by faith transmission? 
    In short, the faith transmission process culminates when a young person or young adult makes a conscious choice to take their faith and religious practice and make it an integral part of their identity and life. 
  2. What does the research show are the most important contributors to effective faith transmission? 
    The answer—parents and family—has been known for decades, yet most congregations cling to programming models that harness the influence of neither parents nor family. It’s time to get serious about our partnership with the home and understand each other’s roles.
  3. What does the research show are the activities, tasks, and behaviors that bolster faith transmission? 
    While certain activities such as family faith conversation, and behaviors such as “warm” interactions between parents and children, have real impact over time, what’s more important is creating a faith-building culture that renders faith growth normative. “It’s what we do, and it’s who we are.”
  4. What are the implications for faith formation leaders, and the church as a whole? 
    Broadly speaking, the research has voiced the same conclusions for decades: parents and family matter most. Yet, for decades, faith formation programming has clung to variations of a gathered, graded-level, schooling model that perhaps was never as effective as we would like to believe, and has certainly become obsolete in the post-pandemic, digitally-enabled world of today.

Tapping into the research reports from more than a dozen recent studies, we offer a concise, cogent, and hopefully helpful response to each of these four questions. Our goal is to empower you to develop new and innovative approaches and strategies that engage, encourage, and equip parents for family faith transmission and formation. From that work, we are confident, will emerge best practices for the future of faith formation in churches. 

There is no more urgent task for churches today than strengthening parental and family faith and practice. Use this information to assess your current practice, redesign ministry and programming, and create new initiatives that engage, encourage, and equip parents and the whole family at home, church, and school.

Continue reading the article online or download the article in PDF and share it with your leaders and colleagues.

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REPORT 2

Practices for Forming Faith Intergenerationally

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We have known for some time that a graded-level, schooling model of faith formation focused almost exclusively on children and youth, all by itself, fails to move the needle in the quest for effective faith transmission, i.e., passing faith to the next generation. Rather, a whole life approach that offers intergenerational programming and home/family learning options, along with age-specific efforts has a much greater chance of authentic and lasting faith transmission.
 
Research and other literature clearly indicate that intergenerational faith formation plays a crucial role in the faith transmission process, and every church should consider how to incorporate it in their faith formation efforts. This report can help. Our review of the literature on intergenerational faith formation can be capsulized in the following categories.

  1. Benefits of intergenerationality. The literature points to the significant value of intergenerational faith formation through such factors as the following: it strengthens faith and involvement for all ages, provides relationships beyond family, utilizes gifts and abilities of all, forms caring community, and passes on faith traditions. It’s worth the work.
  2. Research findings. In short, the research shows the importance of intergenerational connections, which benefits not just children and youth but emerging adults and all ages, and intentional intergenerational efforts which strengthen the vitality of church communities.
  3. Practical applications. There are a host of ways intergenerationality can be infused into church life, including worship, mentoring programs, multi-age/family learning programs, milestone events, service projects, and parent formation and involvement. Creativity, outside-the-box thinking, is key to finding the right application.
  4. Principles and strategies. What does it take to make it a reality? When a faith formation team is doing well with intergenerationality, they have embraced more than a few of these intentions: promoting Christian identity, building caring relationships, addressing developmental needs, employing varied and experiential methods, developing collaborative leadership, assessing current ministries, and starting small with experiments. 
  5. Becoming intentionally intergenerational. Some key factors to keep in mind: it requires commitment over time, it must focus on belonging, learning, and serving together, and it must  see intergenerationality as integral to church life and ministry.

Continue reading the article online or download the article in PDF and share it with your leaders and colleagues.

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REPORT 3

Practices for Forming Faith with Children

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If we accept the broadly affirmed theological premise that God is present in every human person, regardless of age and development, then we owe it to children to help them discover and respond to that gracious presence in their lives. Even if children cannot grasp the full meaning and implications of the Christian journey, we have a solemn responsibility for developing their innate spirituality and nurturing them, over time, into the Christian way of life. 
 
It's clear from the research and literature on children’s faith formation that this responsibility remains largely unrealized. In many communities, children only find welcome in the church if they do not act like children. All churches say they welcome children, but how many really do?
 
How many churches genuinely and systematically seek answers to such questions as: What is the spiritual condition of the children when they are born? In what ways should Christians include young children within the fellowship and community of the church? How might believers effectively raise children toward a vital love and faith in God? What responsibilities should the church in general, along with parents or caregivers, take in the spiritual instruction and nurture of children? How can Christians work together for our children’s good?

With these queries in mind, we seek to respond to these four questions: 

  1. What about faith transmission is relevant to children and children’s faith formation? 
  2. What does the body of literature indicate as the most important contributors to effective faith formation with children? 
  3. What does the body of literature show are the activities, tasks, and behaviors that bolster faith formation with children? I
  4. What are the implications for faith formation leaders, and the church community as a whole? 


Drawing upon the writings and research of more than a dozen experts in children’s spirituality and faith formation, we offer a concise, cogent, and hopefully helpful response to each of these four questions. Our goal is to empower you to develop new and innovative approaches and strategies for children’s faith formation that truly leads to a committed, engage faith life. From that work, we are confident, will emerge best practices for the future of faith formation in churches. 

Continue reading the article online or download the article in PDF and share it with your leaders and colleagues.

View / Download Article

 


 

            

REPORT 4

Practices for Forming Faith with Adolescents

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Adolescence is the age period of intense ideological hunger, deep search for meaning and purpose, and near constant yearning for relationships and connectedness. Adolescence is also the age period when many young people make what turns out to be a lifetime commitment to faith and religious practice, while many others turn away from religion altogether (Hardy). What are the factors involved in adolescents going in one direction over the other? How can churches and their leaders position themselves to influence these factors for the overall good of young people themselves, their families, and the church community?

In this article we seek to respond to these four questions:

  1. What about faith transmission is relevant to adolescents and adolescent faith formation? 
  2. What does the body of literature show are the most important contributors to effective faith formation with adolescents? 
  3. What does the literature show are the activities, tasks, and behaviors that bolster faith formation with adolescents? 
  4. What are the implications for faith formation leaders, and the church community as a whole? 

 
With cogent responses to these four questions, we hope to offer you an overall picture of adolescent  faith development and give you insights that can lead to innovative and effective approaches and strategies for adolescents faith development that leads to eventual faith transmission. From that work, we are confident, will emerge best practices for the future of faith formation.

Continue reading the article online or download the article in PDF and share it with your leaders and colleagues.

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REPORT 5

Practices for Forming Faith with Young Adults

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Young adults have reached a life stage that calls for a lot of sorting. They have had twenty plus years of rules, roles, and responsibilities provided by parents, teachers, friends, media, pastors, and other key influencers. As they launch into adulthood, they must sort through all of that and decide what to take with them and what to leave behind, what to keep just as it is and what to reshape to suit their individual identities.

Our key question is this: Where does faith and religious practice fit in the sorting process?
Furthermore... What factors lead them to integrate a religious faith into their identify and life, and what factors prompt them to leave religious faith and practice behind?

Specifically, in this article we seek to respond to these four informative inquiries:

  1. What about faith transmission is relevant to young adults and young adult faith formation?  
  2. What does the body of literature show are the most important contributors to effective faith formation with young adults?  
  3. What does the literature show are the activities, tasks, and behaviors that bolster faith formation with young adults? 
  4. What are the implications for faith formation leaders, and church communities as a whole? 


With cogent responses to these four questions, we hope to offer you an overall picture of young adult faith development and give you insights that can lead to innovative and effective approaches and strategies for young adult ministry that assist faith transmission. From that work, we are confident, will emerge best practices for the future of faith formation in churches. 

Continue reading the article online or download the article in PDF and share it with your leaders and colleagues.

View / Download Article

 


 

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