“We cannot assume past faithfulness will continue or that future generations will be aware of the great historical legacy available to them. The passing on of our faith must continue to be refreshed with each generation. Each generation must be taught who God is and what He has done for mankind.”
– David Keehn1
When we truly understand the nature of God and salvation through His Son, God’s instruction to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) becomes less of a command and more of a lifelong act of gratitude.
In his article “Passing on Our Faith” on The Good Book Blog, Professor David Keehn (Talbot School of Theology, Biola University) talks about Joshua, Moses’ young assistant who eventually led the people of Israel to the Promised Land. Joshua declared, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15); his leadership impacted Israel’s next generation as they committed to being faithful to their God (Joshua 24:31). Keehn tells us: “However, the passing on of faith broke down after that generation died. Somewhere along the line, parents failed to instruct their children, and the larger spiritual community failed to honor God…” [see Judges 2:10]2
God’s command to love Him was forgotten; Israel began worshiping false gods (Judges 2:12) and, time after time, refused to honor the God of their ancestors. The Lord allowed other nations to overpower Israel, but each time they cried out, He sent another judge to deliver them (Judges 2:18-19).
We can never forget all that God has done for us. This “great historical legacy” is not automatic; it must be communicated by believers and instilled in the hearts of our young and in the minds of unbelievers. We know that passing on our faith begins in the home with spiritual practices. But as Christians, we are all tasked with helping others come to Christ. Listen to what Professor Keehn says about “sticky faith”:
The larger community of faith is needed to help the passing of our faith “stick.” Recent studies show that for a teen’s faith to become “sticky” and continue into adulthood, a youth needs five significant relationships. [the first] is parents; [second] is a youth pastor or leader who knows them well… but they need an additional three adults who know their name, who will approach them when they are with the Community of Faith and ask about life and school, who will speak blessings and encouragement over them as they grow and pursue a vocation and family.3
You may find that passing on your faith in this way is easier than you think. If volunteering to teach Sunday school or to help in the preschool seems too diﬃcult as a first step, start with something very simple—introduce yourself to one of our young families and oﬀer a compliment or a word of encouragement. Take note of their names and pray for them. Families need to be supported by their community of faith, mentored toward Christ, and lifted up through the power of prayer.
by RJ Flower-Opdycke
1 David Keehn, “Passing On Our Faith – One Generation to Another,” Sept. 10, 2014, Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-bookblog/2014/passing-on-our-faith-onegeneration-to-another