When I started as a children’s pastor parents would often come up to me and beg me to decry the evils of Pokémon and Harry Potter. I remember when the reality of how overwhelming keeping up with all the things that try to distract and displace the affections of a kid is exhausting. I quickly realized that my job as a children’s pastor is not to address every evil but to use the small window of time I have to paint a picture of Jesus that is so attractive everything else pales in comparison.
In our Christian culture we so easily get this wrong we expend all of our energy in listing out for our kids what shows, books, music are so evil that we never get to the part where we describe the attractiveness of Christ to our kids. Our job as parents and leaders is to protect our children from harm and from the evil that clearly exists but above and beyond that our primary job is make Gospel attractive to our kids.
I grew up in a church culture that was very much about rules, do’s and don’ts, and gave way to much credit to our enemy. I remember asking about witches and wigi boards growing up and received detailed warning of the power and evil behind them and if I didn’t avoid them the dire consequences that would follow. When we do that we give way to much credit to our adversary. Lucky for me I had parents that demonstrated to me what the gospel is all about. Is it wrong to tell kids the evil of messing with thing they shouldn’t? Absolutely not. What we have to constantly be aware of when talking to our kids is that we point them to Christ that we focus on what is true. The more our kids see God’s power in our answers and in our lives the more attractive the Gospel becomes to them.
How do you focus on what is true? Spend time with your kids and ask them questions. When your kids are watching TV ask them about the choices people in the cartoon are making and how those things line up with the truth in Gods word. As you go through the bible and read the bible to them at night ask them questions from the bible. In doing so you will teach them how to ask questions about the bible and where to find the answers.
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
One of the things that always sticks with me is all these years later is that all those parents who wanted me to preach on the evils of Harry Potter focused so hard on those things they never handed to their children the love of the truth. The sad fact is that most of those kids never experienced the power of the Gospel and almost all of them graduated from High School and walked away from the church. The first tool you need to have spiritual conversations is a love for the truth and a love for the word. Spiritual conversations start with us as parents and leaders. We need to initiate them and when we do we need to be armed with the truth of God’s word. I love what Doug Fields says “If your kids are not asking questions about the bible they aren’t reading it.” I would go a step further and say if you are not talking with your kids about the bible you are probably not reading it. If you want kids who hate evil you need to teach your kids to love and recognize truth.
When kids ask you a question give them an answer. If they understand enough to ask tough questions than chances are that they are old enough to hear tough answers.
I love technology. The leaps we have made in the past 30 years are astounding. I remember as a ten-year old being my families first remote control. As my family was sitting on the couch the kids would take turns either turning the sound up or changing the channel. We didn’t have remote controllers for our TV’s but we also didn’t have the internet. As a result there was many things we just didn’t know. In some ways looking back ignorance really was bliss. As an adult I can remember back to being a child and my mom just making up answers to questions I asked that she either didn’t know the answer to or felt the answer was beyond what I should know at the time. Today we don’t have that luxury. Technology has changed everything.
If we tell our kids half-truths they will find out once they discover our half-truths we have used to deflect or delay from tough conversations our kids will begin to wonder which half of everything we say is untrue. When you answer a question with age appropriate directness you remove the power of curiosity. Kids have always been curious the only things that has changed is the internet allows our kids to not only satisfy any curiosity but it feeds their curiosity.
Every parent needs to invest in filtering and using parent safety procedures most technology provides. The first line of defense is not those things it’s honest answers to though questions. Kids have no lack of resources to satisfy their curiosity without you. It is our job as parents to know our kids enough to know what their questions are and be prepared so that when they ask we are ready to give them the answer that is based on a biblical worldview. This is huge because every answer kid get from the questions they ask help to form their worldview. What our kids need more than their curiosity satiated they need to understand how to see the world through the lens of the gospel. Our worldview informs every question we ask and every answer we give. You might be saying right now I don’t have a world view, I would say you do and If you don’t think you do you are in trouble, because the lens in which we view the world both defines and informs our loves.
My friend Matt Guevara just launched a kickstarter campaign to provide families with a wonderful resource for advent. When it comes to partnering with parents one of the ways we can do that is by linking them to great resources that make them the hero not us. The beauty of putting a resource in the hands of our parents is that it transforms that parent into the communicator of truth their kids need them to be but they are often intimidated to be. When you provide a resource for parents to deepen a child’s understanding and love for Christ that parent grows as much as their child.
I hope you consider joining me in funding the “The Advent Book”
Every Christian is a theologian. We are always engaged in the activity of learning about the things of God. We are not all theologians in the professional sense, academic sense, but theologians we are, for better or worse. The ‘for worse’ is no small matter. Second Peter warns that heresies are destructive to the people of God and are blasphemies committed against God. They are destructive because theology touches every dimension of our lives. The Bible declares that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he…Those ideas that do grasp us in our innermost parts, are the ideas that shape our lives. We are what we think. When our thoughts are corrupted, our lives follow suit. All know that people can recite the creeds flawlessly and make A’s in theology courses while living godless lives. We can affirm a sound theology and live an unsound life. Sound theology is not enough to live a godly life. But it is still a requisite for godly living. How can we do the truth without first understanding what the truth is? No Christian can avoid theology. Every one has a theology. The issue, then, is not, do we want to have a theology? That’s a given. The real issue is, do we have a sound theology? Do we embrace true or false doctrine?
Yesterday I talked about the need to limit time on devices for kids. While these devices are life-giving for kids and a game changer for kids with autism, most kids are on them too much. Limit time on these devices is difficult. So I thought some practical advice would help. Below is a free suggestion via The iTeach hub
So how do you limit the length of a user’s session on an iPad?
One easy way that this can be achieved is with the Clock app. It is an Apple app that should be already on your iDevice. Follow these simple steps below to use the Clock app to set the duration of a user’s session:
- Launch the Clock app and select Timer.
- Set the timer to the amount of time that you would like your child to have access to the device for (in hours and minutes). Also check that in Sounds (iPad) that Stop Playing is selected. If it is not select that option.
If you are using an iPhone or iPod the When Timer Ends display shows this information. Make sure it displays Stop Playing.
- Press Start and give the device to the user. After the timer runs out the device will bring up the Lock screen.
- If a Passcode Lock is set then the user will not be able to get access to the device without entering it.
The Clock app could also be used to transition students with special needs. When in the clock app this can be done by selecting Sounds
at the top-left of the screen (When Timer Ends in iPhone/iPod). Select an option for a sound you want your child/students to hear as the timer finishes. This sound will be played every time the timer is activated but the device will not lock when a sound option is selected. If you use this feature as a sharing timer. You will need to activate the timer again for the next session. Simple.