Published by Church Publishing on October 1, 2016
Genres: Christian Life, Religion
Source: I purchased a copy of this book.
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Home (not the congregation) and parents (not clergy, youth ministers, or Sunday School) are the key mechanisms by which religious faith and practice are transmitted intergenerationally. Recent studies indicate that the single most important factor in youth becoming committed and engaged in their religious faith as young adults is that the family talks about religion at home. However, for many parents in the United States, religious language is a foreign language.
Faith at Home will help parents learn this "second language" and introduce it to their children in simple, meaningful, concrete ways. Parents often ask: How do we introduce prayer to our children if we do not necessarily believe prayer changes outcomes? How do we approach reading the Bible with our children when our own relationship with it is mixed or complicated? How do we talk about difficult things and where do we find God in the midst of them? How do we teach our children to make a difference in the world? How do we connect what happens at church to what happens at home? These questions and many more are addressed with talking points, practices, and resources provided for each subject.
Faith at Home has plenty of nice ideas for incorporating and creating faith traditions at home, but it was hard to feel inspired by the suggested activities when the author neglected to spend enough time tackling the reasons we are “cautiously Christian” (and how to move past that).
Many of Barrie’s ideas were connected to a more formal, religious approach. The book is steeped in Episcopal traditions; the author outlines the liturgical calendar and points readers to The Book of Common Prayer often. Maybe there was an assumption that her readers are “cautious” about talking about faith with their family, only because it occurs outside of a church setting? If so, she missed an opportunity to reach the many people questioning faith at a deeper level. Barrie does touch on those deeper reasons, but doesn’t spend nearly enough time fleshing them out.
Readers coming from conservative evangelical or fundamentalist backgrounds are probably going to be far more “cautiously Christian” than Barrie might have intended when she considered her audience. I had high hopes for this book because of the questions raised in the synopsis, but it didn’t really deliver.