The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting

…and What We Should Do about It

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

I have never been much of Star Wars fan (please don’t unsubscribe), so when my student hit me this quote in the middle of a conversation about morality, my reaction was little more than an eye-roll. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been strong with the force, but he was weak with philosophy, especially considering that his statement was absolute.

Consequently, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about the nature of morality.

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Now, Batman? I can appreciate Batman. So, when a student threw that one at me, I was a bit more receptive. As it turns out, much of the stress this student felt due to his underperformance in school was prompted more by fiction than fact.

As a result, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about identity and accountability.

In both situations, fictional characters had given these young people more answers to life’s big questions than any of the adults in their lives had. I was not surprised. If you are, you should know, this is typical.

Here’s the thing…

Our young people’s lives are more often than we would like to admit guided by the culture that surrounds them more than the adults that raise them.

So, what can we do about it?

We first need to recognize two facts: young people are asking questions, and they are getting answers. The question is, from whom are they getting those answers?

We then need to develop a strategy to answer their questions properly, meaningfully, and—most importantly—Biblically.    Continue reading “The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting”

5 Ways to Disciple Your Kids this Summer

Being a Christian parent and parenting Christianly are two different things. The Bible is replete with stories of notably faithful people who have notoriously unfaithful children. So, what does it mean to parent Christianly? That is, what is the Biblical pattern in parenting?

More books have been written to answer that question than any mom or dad could read in a lifetime. They range from the practical to the theoretical, from the philosophical to the psychological. And yet, with each curveball our kids throw at us, it seems like another one needs to be written.

Whatever the approach, a book on parenting Christianly is only as good as it is Biblical, and the more Biblical it is the more there seems to be a dominant theme:

Christian parenting means discipleship.

Chap Bettis makes the case this way in his book The Disciple-Making Parent:

What method did Jesus use to develop his disciples? For three years, he lived with them, taught them, trained them, tested them, and quizzed them. They matured by observing his life, his preaching, and his miracles. After his resurrection, it was time for them to go and do the same. Does that not sound like the job of a parent? He has given us little ones. We live together and learn together so that one day, they too will go out from us as humble, lifelong learners and followers of the risen Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

On top of whatever is involved in raising a child into an adult, for Christian parents, there is the added eternal weight of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Throughout the Bible, we see this intentional development of children has always been God’s intended pattern.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-6 God expresses the foundational doxology of his relationship with his people. He commands his words to be instilled in their hearts. The very next verse, God with the type of “thou shalt” insistence that only God can claim, he commands:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

The goal of Christian parenting is to produce followers of Christ. We are disciples making disciples. We say to our biological children what Paul said to his spiritual children, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

So, here’s the thing…

What about this summer? For many, summer is a great opportunity to spend more time with family than other busier seasons of life. We Christian parents ought to capitalize on that time. Here are some suggestions on how to do so. Continue reading “5 Ways to Disciple Your Kids this Summer”

Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 3)

Previously, we have considered the cultural and spiritual realities that our young people face. In this final installment, I would like to suggest some personal considerations when talking to our young people about their worldviews.

So, how do we go about the task of talking to our young people about their worldviews?

Personal Considerations

We must study and pray for preparation, and we must teach and live for application Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 3)”

Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 2)

Previously, we considered the generational realities facing our young people and how those realities affect the way they view the world. Next, I would like to discuss two spiritual realities that should shape our conversations with our young people regarding their worldviews.

What is the ultimate nature of the problems our young people face, and what should we consider the solution to those problems to be?

Spiritual Considerations

It is easy to get bogged down with all of the statistics and studies being done regarding our young people. What is often overlooked is the spiritual nature of all that they face. As different as their world is, the ultimate problem has not really changed. Nor has the solution.

Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 2)”

Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 1)

In a previous post, I discussed the need to engage young people where theology and community intersect, namely their worldviews. In next three posts, I would like to address generational, spiritual, and practical considerations for doing so.

How is the youngest generation among us different from preceding generations?

Generational Considerations

The generational composition of the U.S. population has changed dynamically in the past twenty years. The two youngest generations have grown to make up nearly half of the population, the ubiquitous Millennials and the newly-named Generation Z. Up until recently, the lowest age brackets have been grouped together as Millennials. However, it has become clear that these two generations are distinct in many ways.

Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 1)”

Talking Young People and Their Worldviews

What keeps young people in the church as adults? What are those who leave missing? What must we do to keep them?

Statistics for young people who leave the church after becoming adults have been haunting pastors, teachers, and parents since the early 2000s. As early as 2005, the Barna Group found that 61% of young adults who had been raised in evangelical homes and churches described themselves as “spiritually disengaged.” Similar statistics have been rising steadily ever since. Depending on the scope and demographics being studied, research has found that the current percentage of churched young people turning from the faith as young adults is well over 70%.

On a personal level, I see these statistics as a glaring reality. Growing up in a vibrant youth group with scores of teenagers at any given meeting, I can attest to the accuracy of the statistics. A large portion of the people I grew up with has moved away from any active involvement in church. For many, the personal connection diminished as we grew up, or else was decimated by church scandal. Many, facing the harshness of life, found few answers to the questions thrown at them by circumstances and doubts.  Now, as a youth worker and high school teacher, I have seen young people who are heavily involved in our church as teenagers go off to college, never to return. Many have found homes at other churches in other parts of the country, for which I am deeply grateful. However, at least an equal number have simply not allowed church to remain a meaningful part of their lives. A significant portion has walked away from the faith altogether.

Continue reading “Talking Young People and Their Worldviews”