By Pat Olds, DEdMin, Columbia Theological Seminary
Myers, Patty, Live, Learn, Pass it on: The Practical Benefits of Generations Growing Together in Faith. Nashville, Tennessee: Discipleship Resources, 2006, tells the Christian communal story that reveals the fruit of multi-generational learning settings that enhances’ spiritual growth and lives up to the African proverb that says,” it takes a village to raise a child.” Her ideal community is intergenerational, two or more generations intentionally learning together, which is the strength of this intergenerational connection. The author believes only God can truly give faith to another person. However, interactive social skills transmit,inform, and nurture faith formation through intergenerational relationships, apprenticeships, mentorships, and through the practices of discipleship.
Another important insight offered by the author is connected to the generational era in which we live—the age of competition. Myers uses the term “sandwich generation,” to describe generation that is supporting two generations: their parents and their children. Myers says the central character traits of contemporary cultural trends disrupts or competes with generation faith development: time, age, choices and quality of choices, poverty, the shift in racial dynamics and education becoming increasingly important in the 21st (p.34). Therefore, education—secular and Christian—is not optional; it is a mandate for faith formation.
Live, Learn, Pass it on is supported, according to Meyers, by five theories: faith development theory, systems theory, quantum theory, chaos theory, and generational theory (p. 47-55).
The author understands faith formation is a lifetime gift from God and that a teacher and a learner growing in that faith is a life-time process. She argues the church is the best context for generational learning for two reasons. First, the church is a community of believers. Secondly, because worship is creates spiritual space to welcome and practice hospitality that understands generations coming and generations going connected to life cycles and seasons of change.
Myers identifies hospitality ministries as the best context for apprenticeship and mentorship faith formation and Christian education ministry for seeding, teaching, coaching, learning and nurturing spiritual growth. Her generative learning beliefs are supported by biblical texts from Deuteronomy 31:10-12 and Psalm 78:1-7. The questions and activities offered by the author at the end of each chapter for breaking the old and beginning new generational teaching-learning settings for relationships, fellowship and learning were helpful.
The five theories discussed by the author as being important for creating and preparing a multi-generation congregation for meaningful intergenerational learning and life and application is insightful window for reviewing, evaluating and developing new faith forming practices for faith learning, faith living and faith transmitting. The book is full of ideas about ‘what and why’ of generations growing together in faith, but the ‘how’ offerings for generational faith formation is lacking. The solutions’ offered were familiar, which explains the attraction to the theories dialogue and the brief discussion on the brain research.
The research, according to Myers reveals how religious socialization and service learning helps to develop the brain was encouraging. Meyer’s and John Medina, author of Brain Rules, both share the belief that it is using symbols, metaphors and sounds with educational exercises focuses and stimulates the brain for learning new information, increased memory and enhances retention.