Recently I picked up a book by Brett Kunkle and John Stonestreet called A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World. So far it has been excellent. I would strongly encourage you to read this book, particularly if you have kids that are still living at home. Stonestreet and Kunkle issue a wake-up call to Christian parents in the opening chapters of the book.
“Dreher (in his book the Benedict Option) insists that, currently, culture is shaping the next generations’ understanding of faith far more than their faith is shaping their understanding of culture. Sociologist Christian Smith, who has conducted extensive research on American teenagers, coined the phrase “moralistic therapeutic deism” to describe how they understand religion and spirituality. For these teens, faith is about being nice and happy and believing that God is always there to help them when they need it.
Moralistic therapeutic deists believe that God visits their world not that they live in God’s world. They believe that God serves their agenda, helping them feel good about themselves along the way. God, in their view, demands nothing of them. Rather, He exists to help them in whatever way they wish. Moralistic therapeutic deism is not Christianity at all.”
The challenge to parents and pastors is to not ignore or even demonize culture but rather to help see culture through the lens of the gospel. Empowering our kids to see culture through their understanding of the faith that has been handed to them. The reality we face as parents are that our culture is doing all it can to erase and expunge the existence of God from the collective conscience of our country. Perhaps even more tragic is that the often the messages Christian kids hear within the church is one that pushes the Moralistic therapeutic deism that is not Christianity at all. They walk away from church believing “faith is about being nice and happy and believing that God is always there to help them when they need it.”
As parents and pastors, we must paint a different picture of God and the world he created. This comes from a proper understanding of the gospel and how the story of redemption intersects and challenging the culture we live in. The challenge is that our default mode is moralistic therapeutic deism. We constantly have to swim upstream against the cultural lie that “God demands nothing of us and exists to help us in whatever way we wish.” The God of the Bible is not our cosmic butler. He is good but he is not safe. The only constraint that exists on God is the self-imposed constraint of his own goodness.
How as parents and pastors do we help our kids to develop a faith that shapes their understanding of culture.
- Value the Word of God.
- Give kids a sense of their place in History.
- Give them heroes who are worth emulating.
- Teach them to cultivate virtue.