How do we grow faith in children and youth? How do we grow faith in ourselves? Certainly we want to assert that it is God who gives the growth, but perhaps there are things we can and should do. If only we knew what we could do to play our part with God in growing faith. If only there was some good research about growing faith. Well, there is! In 1990 the Search Institute studied the faith maturity of youth and adults in six Protestant denominations and identified factors in congregational and personal life that are associated with growth in faith maturity. From the report of this study (Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations: Summary Report) came the Four Keys.

The Youth & Family Institute (now called Vibrant Faith) identified four keys that are essential for nurturing the faith, values, and character formation of children, youth, and adults.


Christian values and faith are passed on to the next generation through supportive conversation. Listening and responding to the daily concerns of our neighbor make it easier to have meaningful conversations regarding the love of God, and are ways to express God’s love to others.


Adults need to learn the Christian message and the biblical story as their own story if they are to pass on their faith to their children and other adults. Our Christian faith shapes the whole of our lives and involves a lifetime of study, reflection, and prayer.


Children, youth, and adults are most likely to be influenced by those who “walk the talk.” There are many opportunities for service: some in the home, some in the congregation, some in the larger community. Whatever type of service you choose, it is best done with family members or other intergenerational groups.


Families identify themselves and tell their family stories through regular routines, celebrations, and rituals. The family of faith also has routines, the most obvious being weekly worship with the community of faith. Congregational activities speak volumes about what the family values, believes and promotes, and how much the family values its faith.

So, how will you grow your faith? How are you doing with your caring conversations, devotions, service, and rituals and traditions? It is through these that God will grow the faith inside of you. It is through these that you will grow closer to God.

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