Generative Devotion: A Theory of Sacred Relational Care in Families of Faith


family practices, family relationships, family strengths, family theory, intergenerational relationships, religion and families


Generative devotion is a middle‐range theory grounded in analyses of interviews with religious and nonreligious families that illuminates ways religion can facilitate strong family relations within and across generations. Generative devotion is a way of approaching religious and spiritual beliefs, practices, and communities that attends to the long‐term well‐being of family members, is essentially other‐oriented, responds to abiding needs of persons, respects the agency of others, and is consciously relational in nature. This article discusses various influences that have informed the development of the theoretical framework of generative devotion; the major terms of the framework and how generative devotion differs from other forms of religious devotion; 10 pathways to generative devotion; a metaprocess (generative family conversations) to better realize generative devotion; and assumptions about devotion in general, shared devotion, and generative devotion. Concepts are illustrated with quotes from in‐depth interviews.

Original Publication Citation

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., & *Wurm, G. J. (2019). Generative devotion: A theory of sacred relational care in families of faith. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 11, 429-448.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Family Theory & Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor