John Westerhoff wrote a book by this title in 1976. He was concerned that an academic, school-based model of Christian education was failing to adequately prepare people for living a Christian life in our world. Presciently, he saw that the ancient catechetically-based model grounded in scripture, liturgy, and history was needed in order to "form" Christ's people for our time.
This question remains supremely important for Christian parents in post-Christendom. The answer, as bluntly and directly as I can make it, is: NO! Absolutely not! Your children will NOT have faith unless you make it a priority of your own family life.
I do not know a single parent who is not concerned about the culture their children are growing up and maturing in. Almost to a person, they are frustrated that many cultural realities are actually undermining and countering the values and beliefs they wish to give their children.
An hour of Sunday School, even 52 times a year, cannot possibly compete with the total immersion in culture our children experience. The faith and confidence in God's goodness and providential support and direction that they will need to navigate their own times and claim lives of purpose, meaning, and joy can hardly be shared with them on Sundays only.
You have watched a slow dripping faucet. Put a sponge under that tap and the first drops will do nothing to that sponge. But, by morning, it will be completely saturated with water. Your Christian outlook, beliefs, and practices are like that dripping faucet and your home and your example are the sponge where your child may be completely immersed in the life-giving, lifesaving example of Jesus Christ that alone can give a peace that the "world", with all its powerful allures, cannot even come close to matching.
Increasingly and over time, Christian formation at Good Shepherd is about giving you the skills and knowledge you will require to be Christian people in the new apostolic era. We must challenge and inspire you to take to heart the nurture and formation of your child's relationship with God in Christ. But you cannot give your child what you do not yourself possess and all of us adults at Good Shepherd must consider anew our interest in a deeper life with Christ.
This Fall, a couple of opportunities will be available for equipping parents for this sacred task. They are:
+ Revolutionary Parenting: How to Raise Spiritual Champions with George Barna and Karen Lee-Thorp. Led by parents, for parents, this will be a Sunday morning offering.
+ We will be researching and recommending several resources that you can use at home with your family for prayer, study, and conversation.
+ Tricia Dodge will be leading a formation course over five weekends throughout the year that will give you insights and understanding into your child's God-given religious nature. Open to, and for all adults of the parish who wish to effectively engage their children or grandchildren in religious conversation.
Jesus said, "Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty" JOHN 4:14 It is time to open the faucets at Good Shepherd.