Book Review: So the Next Generation Will Know (McDowell & Wallace)

As a Christian parent, are you concerned that your children have doubts about the faith you are passing on to them? As a youth pastor or minister, are you troubled by the apathy so many of the kids in your youth group show toward spiritual things? As a Christian educator, are you worried that you are out of your depth with the questions your students have about the Christian worldview?

Being all three, I can relate. The fact is that the generation currently coming of age, Generation Z as they are called, are living a profoundly different adolescence than even the most recent generation before them. So, how do we Christian parents, pastors, and teachers help them stay grounded in the faith and thrive in the culture?

Here’s the thing…

Thankfully, we have some help.

In their newest book, So the Next Generation Will Know (set to release May 1), renowned Christian apologists Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace offer a guide to engaging what is quickly becoming the largest and most secularized generation. Continue reading “Book Review: So the Next Generation Will Know (McDowell & Wallace)”

Advertisements

Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: How?

Last time, I discussed the reasons why we Christian parents, pastors, and teachers should make it a goal to teach young people the big ideas about God, his Word, themselves, and the world around them. 

But, here’s the thing…

That can be a daunting task, especially when the distracted kindergartner or the apathetic teenager is sitting there in front of you. So, how do we go about teaching big ideas to these young minds? 

I would suggest five Es: exemplify, educate, explain, escalate, and express.  

Continue reading “Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: How?”

Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: Why?

Just the other day, I walked in on my students doing something amazing—they were discussing calculus. They were slinging terms left and right, talking quadratics and derivatives, differentiated and otherwise. I mean, I guess it was calculus. As if this dyslexic history major could tell either way.

It is the joy of teaching in a classroom following a calculus class. I take one look at the hieroglyphics that the previous teacher left on the board—I assume out of pride—and I just laugh. The students laugh at me laughing. It’s fun.

Then it’s my turn. I get to teach them Christology, soteriology, and anthropology. I teach ontology, epistemology, and cosmology. Sure, it may be Bible class and apologetics class, but far be it from me to ease up just because the topic turns spiritual. After all, they were just learning calculus!

My first year of teaching theology to high school freshmen, I remember looking over my syllabus with a fellow teacher. Scanning all the “-ologies”, he asked doubtfully, “Do you really think that freshman can handle this? Don’t you think this is over their heads?”

With an unbearably Will-Rogers-like smirk, I replied, “Maybe, but that just means they need to sit up taller.”

Why is it that we teach such big ideas and expect such deep thinking from our young people when it comes to so-called “secular” subjects, yet when it comes to the things of God, we are content to have them read a few verses and discuss a few practical applications?

We need to teach young people the big ideas about God our creator, the universe he created, and the image in which he created us—using the mind he created in us to use. That is to say, we need to teach young people theology.

Here are three reasons why. Continue reading “Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: Why?”

Every Christian an Apologist

Last week, I mentioned the U.S. Marine Corps’ legacy of “Every Marine a rifleman.”

In my research on the phrase, I came upon one Marine’s explanation of what that means:

It means if needed any Marine regardless of job can stand a post such as convoy escort, guard duty, etc.
It means if your position were overrun by the enemy, you could stand up and defend yourself and your position without being completely lost.[1]

Here’s the thing…

As with theology, apologetics is a discipline in which every Christian should have some training. Christian apologetics is the personal discipline of giving a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. We are called on by Scripture–and by necessity at times–to defend our post, and to always be ready to do so.

Every Christian to one degree or another ought to be an apologist.
Continue reading “Every Christian an Apologist”

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”

6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know

christian apologetics theology culture graduation

As a high school teacher, I have seen ten classes of seniors graduate. It is a great joy in my life to see them grow and move on to bigger and better things. I have kept in touch with many and have become close friends with several. I thank God for the memories I have collected over the years.

Every year, around graduation time, I become reflective. I know what I have taught them, but what have they learned? I know what they were given, but what are they taking away? I see how they have grown, but are they where they need to be?

After all I have said to them, have I said everything that needs to be said?

My answers to those questions are more satisfactory some years than others. However, there are things that I hope every student takes away every year. In all the things they have learned, I hope they know these. Continue reading “6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know”