“Families and Faith a Book of Answers and Hope”
There is a great deal of concern—bordering on fear—in congregations across America. From leaders to laity, people are concerned about declining attendance figures. People of all ages, but especially the young people, are dropping out of the church.
In response to this dilemma books have been written, seminars created and webinars transmitted, all of them claim to have identified the problems and possible solutions. Some claim the millennials don’t like the antiquated beliefs of several Christian groups and these groups need to modernize their beliefs. New styles of architecture need to be used that are more appealing to those outside the church. The liturgy is dead and contemporary worship is needed, claim a few, while at the same time others claim that the young people like the liturgy and are getting tired of the contemporary. All of the presentations bemoan the decline of the family and the families influence on the faith of the young.
Into such a milieu comes the book Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations, by Vern L Bengtson. Where most books and seminars have been based on conjecture, Bengtson’s book is based on thirty-five years of research. That research identified some failings of families, uncovered some fallacies about families and discovered some reasons within families to hope. It is a book that is both realistic and positive in its outlook.
The research is wide-ranging. It not only covers thirty-five years, but it is done with families of various religious (and non-religious) traditions, different nationalities, different sizes and different levels of income. This is a major sociological project. The book contains so much information that it is not an easy read, but Bengtson does a masterful job of condensing the information to make it palatable for the general public and illustrating it with family stories. Congregations and Christian leaders should be able to take the information they glean from this book and apply it as they develop ministries for families and young people.
I have no hesitation is heartily recommending this book. It has the possibility of being a life changer for congregations and for the families in those congregations.