Will our children have faith? Christian educator John Westerhoff asked that question over 25 years ago in a book with that title. It a question worth asking repeatedly, for the church is always only one generation away from extinction. Are mainline churches winning the hearts and minds of their youth? Or do they serve as a revolving door, with youth exiting either into faithless secularism or “hotter” forms of religiosity, from evangelicalism to Orthodoxy to New Age spirituality?
Bob McCarty, executive director of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry, says that Westerhoff’s question needs to be turned on its head: not will our children have faith, but will our faith have children? Youth, McCarty claims, are very much interested in God, Christ and Christianity, but they’re not drawn toward institutional expressions of it.