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Family affair: Rich Melheim on how faith is formed

Rich Melheim was pastor of several Lutheran churches in Minnesota before starting Faith Inkubators, which produces materials designed to make the home the primary incubator of faith. He has written and produced books, songs and plays for children and youth, and he is a frequent consul­tant and speaker on faith formation and family ministries. In 2009, he launched the FAITH 5, an effort to get parents involved in their own kids' faith life every night.

You've stressed the importance of linking church and home in the work of Christian formation. What do you have in mind?
Right now I am testing a simple five-step process I call FAITH 5. I am asking parents and kids to commit themselves to five minutes a night of simple faith encounters. Families are asked to drop what they're doing as soon as the first kid is ready for bed and walk through these five steps: 1) share your highs and lows of the day; 2) read a verse of scripture from Sunday's preaching or teaching text; 3) talk about how the highs and lows of the day relate to the scripture (is God actually saying something to you?); 4) pray for one another's highs and lows; and 5) bless one another before turning out the lights on the day.

Does this model assume a nuclear family at the center? Is that assumption warranted? Some kids get dropped off at church. How do we take them into account?
This model assumes that someone cares enough to want to make sure a kid knows he or she is loved. Peter Benson of Search Institute, who died in October, championed the idea of getting adults to surround kids with love, encouragement and faith. His 30 years of research showed that one mentor is better than none, two mentors are exponentially better than one, and three are multiplicatively better than two.