Editor's note:

There is never an out-of-season time to reflect upon the importance of building faith within our families. This vintage piece from Lacy Finn Borgo is a good reminder that we are not helpless against the tide of culture when it comes to shaping our kids.

Jerome and John point the way, and Lacy fills in the blanks with her characteristic earthy wisdom. 

—Renovaré Team

Today parents and church leaders are lamenting the fact that children who have been raised with the foundation and knowledge of our faith are leaving it.

There are many pieces to this problem, but one solution lies in the advice of St. Jerome and John Chrysostom who wrote about this in the third century. Both men encourage parents to be the primary conveyers of a relationship with God. Reading the stories of the Bible, memorizing and singing the Psalms, and learning to pray were all practices encouraged at home on a daily basis. Parents were encouraged to take their children to church, but it was one practice, not the conduit from which the foundation and knowledge were to come. That expectation was given to the parents. Chrysostom and Jerome borrow from their monastic leanings to give their guidance. They saw families as small monastic communities of discipleship to Jesus.

Many Christian communities today blame the culture around us for the mass exit from the faith. But I don’t buy it. The culture during Greco-Roman times was no less immoral and idolatrous than ours is now. For certain Chrysostom and Jerome encouraged separation from the immoral and idolatrous elements in their culture, but I think the real power lies in the positive practices they encouraged.

  • Read the stories of the Bible together (The Jesus Storybook Bible is the best Children’s Bible out there.)
  • Singing the Psalms (Sing them or say them. The gift of the Psalms is that they teach us how to pray in the nitty gritty details of life. They teach us that no matter our life circumstances God is with us.)
  • Prayer (Talking and listening is the first step and the foundation of relationship, even the one we have with God.)
  • The last thing we need is more guilt poured out on parents.  I mean seriously, if someone gives me one more thing I have to do, heads are gonna roll.  This is where the discipline of simplicity is useful. The child friendly definition of simplicity is letting go of things that keep us from God. Some things are going to have to go. As a parent, my children are at the mercy of my scheduling. (They may not like it and I may not want to admit it, but it’s true.) Ultimately the buck stops with me.

Do I have the courage to say, “No” to the approval of others, who may think my kid needs to be in the church play, the school play, and the neighborhood play?

Do I have the courage to say “No” to my children who may pitch a fit when they don’t get their way?

Do I orient my own schedule around a life with God?

Thinking, “How can I squeeze these practices in?” will induce craziness. Instead ask yourself, ask your family, “What is keeping us from a life with God?”

Starting Soon: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? Choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

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