A number of years ago, Duke Divinity School professor John Westerhoff authored a book that has become somewhat of a classic in the field of religious education. It is entitled “Will Our Children Have Faith?”
It is a critique of traditional Christian religious education and sets out a new paradigm for passing on the faith to our younger generations.
Twenty-five years later it was revised and expanded. Although the original thesis of the book still held true, developments in the church and our culture necessitated an updated approach.
Recently, the title of that book has been adapted to pose another question, a question that some would say is much more relevant to our contemporary situation. That question is, “Will our faith have children?”
Demographic trends indicate that the average age of those who associate with a faith community is on the rise. How will the Christian church (and all faith groups) meet the challenges that many segments of our society face – being faithful and relevant to people living in a time of rapid change and advancement?
Life evolves. That is not only a scientific and biological fact, it is true in all aspects of the world in which we live.
Our physical bodies change and evolve, as does our social circumstances, our health, our knowledge, insight and wisdom, our mental capacities, our physical abilities, etc. The natural world is in a constant state of motion – seasons change, tides rise and fall, polar ice caps melt, new species emerge and die out, etc.
If everything around us and within us changes and evolves, should not also our religious institutions and faith as well? Of course. Experience and logic dictates that this is natural and necessary.
This past week, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada met in convention.
What is most notable about that, is that for the first time in their history, these two churches met together in a joint assembly.
In 2001, these two national church bodies signed an agreement which brought them into full communion with each other.
It was a “free trade agreement” of sorts wherein the two churches maintained their individual and autonomous structures but entered into partnerships with each other on every level, from international co-operation to the sharing of clergy and congregational life on a local level.
In the past 12 years there has been a wonderful exchange and cooperation between the two churches that flows from a mutual recognition that each tradition holds the essentials of the Christian faith.
It is an evolution in the way these two churches are seeking to be faithful in an ever-changing and increasingly globalized world, where national borders are becoming less and less of an impediment to cultural exchange.
By being faithful to our roots and at the same time co-operating, evolving and adapting to changes within our world and culture, it is one way that certain parts of the Christian church are answering the question, “Will our faith have children?”
Reverend Brian Krushel cares for the North Thompson Pastoral Charge of Clearwater United and Church of St Paul in Barriere.