A colleague of mine attended an Adventist school reunion. He enjoyed catching up with classmates from the past but was shocked at the lack of spiritual continuity. Only four of 23 students from Adventist families were still active in the faith of their childhood. There were many issues: addictions, relationship breakdowns, relocation, university, drifting, unanswered questions—but most seemed to suggest that the Church did not care about their absence. A tragic loss.
Passing on faith and values is the role of the current generation (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). Faith is caught and taught.
The Bible suggests four ways to pass faith onto the next generation:
1. Tell them of God’s character and actions (Psalms 22:30,31, 71:18, 78:1-11, 100:5, 145:4). Toddlers to retirees value hearing what God means to you and how He has worked in your life. We need to keep providing opportunities to share our personal God stories.
2. Take them on historical tours and show and tell them the stories of the past (Psalm 48:12-14). Tours of the Bible lands, Reformation Europe and Adventist heritage sites build faith. So do movies like Tell the World. How many people know the origin stories of your local church or school?
3. Don’t tell them your doubts but how God led you through the questioning times (Psalm 73:14-17). Most of us have doubts and unanswered questions. Asaph did, but he didn’t share these while going through the faith struggle—he wrote about it once he had an answer.
4. Sing the songs of the past revealing God’s love and faithfulness (Psalm 48:12-14). I like new songs—the Bible encourages us to sing new songs—but the old songs have a heritage of rich theology. We need both.
If faith in God is not passed on, the Church is only one generation away from extinction. By being a warm, faith-living person we can halt the terrible losses.