Spiritual formation begins in the home. Well, that’s at least according to the way Susannah Wesley raised her children. I believe that many of our U.M. Churches have relinquished this responsibility in equipping, encouraging and preparing parents to intentionally pass on spirituality and the language of the Christian faith to their children. That’s not to say that there aren’t some churches have done a phenomenal job at equipping parents to pass on the faith, however, not enough leaders in the church are taking this very important responsibility seriously.
This essay is to begin to address the issue of spiritual generativity in The United Methodist Church. It is being presented at the Student Theological Conference on Church and State at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois on Friday, April 20th. I’d love your thoughts and feedback on Spiritual Generativity as I’ve presented it in the essay below. Please comment and let’s get the conversation rolling so we can begin to challenge churches to rise up and claim their role in equipping parents and the congregational “village” in raising up a new generation of young people mature in their spiritual faith.
This paper will attempt to understand and evaluate the Christian church, specifically The United Methodist Church, through the current Call to Action Research conducted by The United Methodist Church and tie the issues of influence and relevance to the relinquished role of identity formation and “spiritual generativity” for all people. I posit that in order for The United Methodist Church to effectively reach young adults and youth, the system must be reformed to reclaim their place as a fundamental partner in identity formation for children, youth and young adults. This will be done through an understanding of the church’s responsibility in spiritual generativity for all generations of people in the church. I will evaluate the historical social and psychological definitions of generativity and offer an understanding of spiritual generativity as a response to the “Moralistic Therapeutic Deists” that are amongst our youth and young adults today.
 This is a new term that I am coining in relation to Erikson’s work on generativity. The only work that is in print that is similar (to my knowledge) is Kenda Creasy Dean’s work on “Generative Faith.”
 Smith, Christian with Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005.)