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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Intergenerational Faith Transfer

We talk a lot about “Inter-generational Faith Transfer” here at the Bible Society. It’s one of the core pillars on which our ministry operates. But some might not know what that phrase actually means, so let’s explore it!

Some might call it intergenerational transfer, intergenerational transmission, or intergenerational transferal. But regardless of the term, the meaning is the same: this process refers to the transfer of individual abilities, traits, behaviors and outcomes from parents to their children.

According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), 2015, the transmission of values, ethics, and practices regarding faith and religion across generational lines begins in the home and continues through communal socialization. Doesn’t that sound familiar? 

“Religious identifications, beliefs, and patterns of participation are passed from parents to children, and the family of origin is the most important source of religious socialization (Sherkat, 2003; Sherkat and Wilson, 1995).”

These studies show that the key elements to successfully teaching your children about the God that you serve are the ways that you punctuate time! Whether it’s special events, holy day celebrations, or milestones, the sacred spaces that you create for your children to commemorate these moments are the most critical.

By lighting the Shabbat candles, we teach our children the importance of giving God one day in seven. By circumcising our sons, in the presence of the community, we show our children, young and old, the ways that we dedicate ourselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By taking part in the traditions of the Jewish people with Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, we teach our teens that there is joy in committing yourself to the God of Israel. Each one of the practices that we take part in adds another layer of strength to the foundation of faith that we want to give our children.

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 22:6 to  “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it.” Well, according to these studies, the most critical times of transferring faith practices is during both a child’s formative years as well as the years of transition from their parent’s house to a household of their own! Training doesn’t stop at age 18! It keeps going!

Intergenerational Faith Transfer is all about keeping the Creator of Heaven and Earth a critical part of your daily life. But take the time to integrate something about God’s faithfulness and provision into the major events in your family.

Memorialize them in a Book of Remembrance. Document them with pictures. Make a new tradition of prayer or worship for your family. Sing a special song of praise every time you achieve a family milestone.

Whatever you feel called to do, do it with joy! Because our God is great and mighty and worthy to be praised! •

Introducing The Family Altar Initiative

The Tree of Life Bible Society is building 700 Family Altars in homes across the United States of America by Thanksgiving 2019.

That is 700 families making the decision to love God and love one another.

Since 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to declare the week of Thanksgiving as National Bible Week. At the time, the National Bible Association read passages on the air as NBC between radio broadcasts. Since then, every President has declared the week of Thanksgiving National Bible Week.

By joining the Family Altar Initiative, you can be 1 of the 700 families that will be gathered together around God’s Word during their Thanksgiving meals.

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