Faith In The Family

By Not Known

In the course of interacting with people in both pastoral and evangelism contexts, I have often asked these questions: What brings you to church? How do you know about Christianity? Various responses I have received are:
•    I used to study in a missions school;
•    My mother used to take me to church;
•    One of my aunts/uncles is a Christian;
•    My boyfriend/girlfriend is a Christian.
These answers suggest several consistent realities: (1) Many know about Christianity through someone else; (2) Certain relationships seem to matter more than others in passing on the faith; (3) Many were exposed and become open to Christianity when they were teenagers; (4) There is often a time gap between their first encounter (12-16 years old) and their later engagement (mid-20 upward).
My preliminary conclusions from these observed realities are: (1) At a pliable age, relationship with a family member/close relative/teacher is most influential in passing on the faith; (2) During the adolescent life-stage, faith does not matter as much as significant friendships. (3) At a marriageable age, people either re-explore the faith or relinquish it depending on the strength of mutual influence between the believer and the non-believer.
What is interesting but disconcerting, however, is a consistent lack of strong testimony to parental influence in the passing on of the faith, especially with those who claimed to have one or both “church-going” parents. If there was, it was more accidental than intentional. Furthermore, more and more Christian young adults have non-believing partners. I wonder how much this is true in many so-called Christian families today and in ORPC particularly.
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers…” (Judges 2:10-12a).
We should not be surprised that the new generation of Israelites (and our children) would fall away from God if the principles in the following passages are not obeyed: (1) Deuteronomy 6:4-8; (2) 2 Corinthians 6:14; (3) Proverbs 22:6; (4) 2 Timothy 3:16.
It has been said, “Christianity is one generation away from extinction”. How is your faith lived out and passed on in your family?



Benson Goh