Born and raised in a Mennonite home in Kenya, I watched my parents closely. As a family, we gathered every night before bed (this continues to this day in my parents house) and sang one or two hymns from the popular Swahili song book among Mennonites Tenzi Za Rohoni or a popular chorus. The singing was followed by a sermonette from my dad and the evening was normally concluded by a prayer from either parent who prayed for each of us children by name and various needs in the community. The person who prayed often mentioned widows, orphans, the needy and the world. My parents’ faith was clearly important to them. Sometimes, dad’s sermonettes appeared to be overkill to us kids but now I look back and marvel at how much these regular nightly practices and many other practices such as prayers before meals, prayer when leaving and returning home, our church’s practices such as foot-washing, communion, sermons, songs, testimonies, etc. were formative in my faith and life journey.
There are troubling signs in the North American church today. Of concern in this article is the seeming erosion of the Christian faith and the increasing difficulty to pass on that faith to the next generation. Many emerging formative stories with their respective practices are increasingly replacing the Christian story and its practices. I am alarmed at the current state of affairs in the North American church. I would therefore like to reflect on what the church might be and do to become a community that nourishes and nurtures the faith of its young people to live as God’s missional people in the world…. (for further reading see -“Fully Engaged”: Missional Church in Anabaptist Voice edited by Stanley W. Green and James R. Krabill)