In my most recent Covenant post (“In praise of subculture”), I wrote about the need for the Episcopal Church to cultivate a sense of belonging through subculture. Our liturgy assumes that family will be a primary place where children will gain that sense of belonging outside of church. When Christian parents bring their children for baptism, they promise to see that “the child [they] present is brought up in the Christian faith and life” and to help them “grow into the full stature of Christ.” All too often Church-going parents are ill equipped to fulfill these promises at home beyond occasional Church attendance and saying grace before special family meals. I knew of a priest who refused to do infant baptisms because, in his words, most parents and godparents were “committing group perjury!” I suspect that most parents who do commit perjury at their children’s baptisms are not intentionally dishonest; most have some hopeful intentions to honor this commitment, at least by bringing their child to Church on occasion. Perhaps that was the extent of their parents’ involvement in Church, and they are simply imitating what that promise meant during their own childhood. Fulfilling these promises in a more robust way will require far more explication on the part of the priest and far more reflection and intention on the part of the parents.
The good news is that there are so many wonderful and creative ways to do faith formation in the home. Making faith a part of our family doesn’t require that we spend hours sitting in straight-backed chairs while someone reads from the Bible in a monotone voice, nor does it require a divinity degree or encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible on the part of the parents. It does require time, attention, and conversation, as we create habits that help us acknowledge Christ and his presence within our homes.
Below I share six thoughtful, creative, and fun resources that help us make faith a part of our home lives. These resources will be encouraging to those of us who haven’t the foggiest about where to begin. They also speak to those of us who grew up in other denominations and joined the Episcopal Church as adults. If, like me, you grew up in an American evangelical church in the ‘80s, you had lots of faith formation at home as a child; you remember flannelgraph presentations of Bible stories, you can tell me who Psalty the Singing Songbook is, and you have several episodes of Adventures in Odyssey memorized. (Behold the power of subculture!)
These resources from my childhood had a number of strengths: they encouraged me to make personal commitments to Jesus Christ, to memorize a great deal of Scripture, and to see faith as involved in every aspect of life, not just Sunday morning. I look forward to sharing some of the songs and books from my childhood formation with my son, but I also want to teach him about the Church year, the saints, and the beauty of our Anglican tradition. The following resources provide that in spades.
So, without further ado, here’s my current list of favorite resources for faith formation at home:
- At Home With God by Gavin Long
A lovely book with readings and prayers laid out for each week in the liturgical year. I especially love Long’s suggestions about hosting a family Sabbath meal each week. (A sample of this book can be found here.)
- The Anglican Family Prayer Book by Anne E. Kitch
Kitch compiles a number of prayers from the Prayer book and offers additional prayers for occasions such as house blessings, baptism anniversaries, and hosting house guests. She also offers simple ways to recognize holy days and seasons together as a family.
Oliver shows parents how they can be “intentional with the time, practice, and symbols that point to God and form their children in the faith.” She outlines ways for families to practice the Ignatian Examen, which encourages us to look for God in our daily life. I am delighted to know Kara personally through a writing group, and I’m so grateful for her wisdom and insight on faith formation at home.
- Feast!: Real Food, Reflections, and Simply Living for the Christian Year by Daniel and Haley Stewart
Written by a young Catholic couple, this book is filled with creative ways to mark the holy days of the church calendar as a family with a focus on celebrate the lives of the saints on their feast days.
I hereby dub Jerusalem Greer the Martha Stewart of faith formation in the home! She gives incredibly creative suggestions for recipes, activities, and crafts that will bring the church year to life in your home. (A sample of this book can be found here.)
This book takes you through each of the church seasons, offering an explanation of the season and its traditions, ways to observe it through crafts, rituals, and food, and ideas for taking our home celebrations out into the wider world. This series is available as a complete collection (the entire church calendar covered in one book), or you can purchase separate books that each cover just two seasons: Advent & Christmas, Epiphany and Lent, Holy Week & Easter, and Pentecost & Ordinary Time.
I would love to know about other resources for faith formation at home in the comments below!
Sarah Puryear’s other posts may be found here.