How Do I Help My Kids Engage Culture

A Parents Guide to Social Action

When I was growing up our world was a very different place and the influence of evangelicalism was very different as well. I remember the primary posture of the church toward culture was condemning culture. I remember well the frequent calls for boycotts. For some reason, a late 80’s call to boycott Procter and Gamble due to a symbol on its packaging has never left me. The next change in culture was the copying of culture in the mid 90’s (anyone remember “if you like Slayer then listen to “One Bad Pig”). The posture the church seems to be in presently is one of consuming culture. We seem to believe that the other two postures have failed so this is the must be the best way forward to consume culture in an ever elusive quest for relevance. The posture that seems most lacking in the evangelical world today is the ability to critique culture.
Andy Crouch in his bestselling book Culture Making goes into depth on how we are called to be cultivators of culture and how we interact with culture should not be one dimensional but multifaceted in addressing how we react towards culture he says the following:
The problem is not with any of these gestures— condemning, critiquing, consuming, copying. All of them can be appropriate responses to particular cultural goods. Indeed, each of them may be the only appropriate response to a particular cultural good. But the problem comes when these gestures become too familiar, become the only way we know how to respond to culture, become etched into our unconscious stance toward the world and become postures.
Andy Crouch
Here is the challenge for us as individuals in general and parents in particular. We have to be sure that we respond appropriately to culture, maintaining a dynamic response to our culture based on the situation and the circumstance without letting our responses become fixed postures. We will never be cultivators of culture or teach our kids to survive and thrive in the complexity of being exiles in a culture that will destroy them if they only learn how to respond with a singular fixed posture.

3 simple questions to help you ask better questions.

 

Is there such a thing as a stupid question? I say Yes, I think there is. I think stupid questions are questions that people who fill time but don’t get to the root of an issue. I think stupid questions are questions that are so generic they can’t help anyone including the person asking them. I think stupid questions are questions you ask because you know the answer or think you do and you are more interested in sharing your answer than learning from the person you are asking.

So you might think I am an anti-question guy, on the contrary. I think question asking is a skill all good leaders own. In my opinion, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you ask someone a question?

1. Am I willing to be vulnerable? – Most awful questions come from here. We want to sound like a good leader, not a good learner. I am a leader but guess what I am a learner. I don’t know lots of stuff. If you want to ask a good question be vulnerable enough to ask something that isn’t so generic it doesn’t help anyone.

2. Can I find the answer to my question on google? Don’t ask questions you can google on your iPhone. Ask something that demands the person you are asking to think before they answer. To ask clarifying questions to help understand what you are trying to say.

3. How am I going to apply the answer I receive from the question I am asking? Am I asking this question to gain more information or am I looking for ways apply it and have it help me grow. Questions asked from a framework of application rather than from knowledge acquisition will always lead to growth.

One of the things I love most is how Jesus was able to cut to the core of an issue. He saw past the question to the heart of the matter. He also answered lots of questions with even better questions. In order to ask better questions of others, I think we need to start by asking ourselves better questions first.

Books You Should Read Your First Year in Kidmin

One the questions I get asked from time to time is what books people who are new to Kids Ministry should read. Some are asking because they are new to ministry others are asking because they are family pastors adding new staff. This is the list of books I often share it isn’t comprehensive and is not in order of importance.
One of the best books I have ever read on the mandatory art of recruiting and building teams of volunteers. As a family pastor, you will not survive without learning how to help make volunteers.
Show them Jesus is an indispensable resource for anyone who teaches or communicates with kids. Jack gets to the heart of what we teach and then gives practical tools and tips in how to teach those truths using real world examples. Jack is not sharing with us untested theories but time-tested truths he has learned as someone who has been and still is teaching kids Sunday to Sunday. His stuff on how to teach the hard stories of the bible are solid gold.
Leading isn’t easy. Leading others when you are deceiving yourself is impossible. If you lead anyone and yes I realize this is everyone. You need to read this book.
 You are what you love – by James KA Smith You Are What You Love is a fantastic book that tackles the idea that we are not so much what we think but what we love. That the problems in our lives are a result of misdirected affections. Even if the whole book doesn’t interest you the chapter on teaching kids and youth is a must read for all who work in family ministry.
You Are What You Love is a fantastic book that tackles the idea that we are not so much what we think but what we love. That the problems in our lives are a result of misdirected affections. Even if the whole book doesn’t interest you the chapter on teaching kids and youth is a must read for all who work in family ministry.

The Disordered Love of Disney

Disney Beauty and the Beast

This week The Disney company made news by introducing an LGBTQ sub-plot in its remake of Beauty and the Beast. They also are placing their first gay kiss between two animated characters. This is shocking for many Disney lovers. As someone who respects Disney’s creativity but won’t sell an organ on eBay to make the annual pilgrimage, I find it not shocking but expected. Disney has always told their fairy tales in a way that reflects culture rather than transcends culture. Most of the stories Disney tells are of reflecting our culture’s obsession with romantic love. The answer to the problem every character faces is not the proper order of love but in the right kind of love. The heart of every princess wants to find true love usually in the form of romantic love.

C.S. Lewis called Christianity a true myth. He came to faith through his friend J.R.R. Tolkien’s explanation of the gospel as the story behind every story. Lewis said “Christianity is both a myth and a fact. It’s unique. It’s the true myth.” Disney has always dealt in the currency of fairy tales, in the happily ever after. Every story Disney tells has the same framework we see in the Bible. In the Bible, we see the structure every good story has Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. In Cinderella, for example, we see Cinderella’s perfect world, followed by the death of her mother, the redemption through her Fairy Godmother and restoration with the prince and happily ever after. Our hearts long for redemption and restoration. This storyline resonates with us because we see ourselves as Cinderella in a world full of Step-mothers. We instinctively long for Redemption. The problem with Disney is their idea of love is usually reflective of culture rather than transcending culture or as we would call it otherworldly. To be fair Disney has produced movies that speak to the longing of properly ordered love in movies like Frozen and Up.

Hide and Go Seek and Letting Go.

I may not be a doctor of anything but I have a theory. I have been reluctant to throw this out there but now after we have had our third kid I am fairly certain that it’s a fact. The amount of time you spend playing peek-a-boo translates into your child’s ability to be ok with you dropping them off in the care of others. Because even though they can’t see you they know that you always come back. We tell our kids we will come back but young kids deal in concrete, not abstract thought so if you can show them that you will be back by hiding your face then popping out again you demonstrate that even when you can’t see me I am nearby and you will see me soon. They can trust you.

I am not sure if this helps the parents with the letting go part when their kids get older but it may. I do however know many two-year-old teachers that would benefit from this theory of mine.

As a parent dropping my oldest off at kindergarten I think I am starting the processes of peek-a-boo where I can let my boy go and know that he will come back. It’s not easy but few things are easy when it comes to parenting. Our job is to equip, train, release. I have to prepare my kids to be everything God created them to be and not selfishly hold them back because they fill a gap in my life.

This reminds me of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ definition of faith in her Jesus Storybook Bible

Faith is knowing that God loves you and because He loves you, you can trust Him.