Nurturing Faith in Families: The Necessity for Finnish Parents to Reclaim their Part of the Mission of Making Disciples
This thesis investigates the role of the parents in the disciple-making of children in a contemporary Finnish context. It suggests that in a successful intergenerational faith transmission process (1) Christian parents are the primary socialization agents and (2) biblical childrearing principles and practices should be used.
During the last one hundred years Finnish society has transformed from traditional Christianity to a secular and pluralistic direction. The societal-level changes have radiated to all levels of society including education, values, and family structures. As modern children form their religious beliefs, they do it in contexts many of which offer minor or no support towards a Christian conviction.
In the Bible, children are appreciated and their spiritual instructing is exhorted. The main responsibility of children's spiritual instruction is assigned to the parents together with practical methods for fulfilling the task.
This study analyses the efficacy of biblical childrearing principles in light of sociological research in general, and in the families belonging to the Evangelical Free Church of Finland (EFCF) in particular. The latter was done in the form of a questionnaire among 317 20-30 year-old young adults from the EFCF families.
The results indicate that parents have a crucial influence on the religious choices of their children. Moreover, parents' Christian commitment, Christian practices in the childhood home, and good parent-child relationships are effective methods of religious socialization. Finnish Christian parents are exhorted to realize their responsibility in the current secularized context and to utilize the practical disciple-making methods given in the Bible.