Are Our Kids Going to be Ok?

I came across a video the other day that as a parent of four digital natives shook me. It was an ad where three generations of a family were asked: “When you were a kid what did you do for fun?” The resulting answers are sobering, to say the least. Watch the video below and we will talk after.

Smartphones are a gift in that they allow us to present with those we love. They are no longer a gift when they isolate and separate us from those who God has entrusted into our care. They make life easier but rather than provide more time to love those God has placed us with the very device that frees us and our time turns on us and devours the very time it freed for us.

Andy Crouch says it this way in his book The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place “Technology, with all its gifts, poses one of the greatest threats ever conceived by human society to the formation of wise, courageous persons that real family and real community are all about.”

Technology is not evil when it serves us. It becomes devastating when we serve it. The single most devastating element of Technology is it isolates us and creates for us a virtual community of people who we can only know casually and never know intimately. We call people who share the same political ideals on twitter friends and go months without driving across town for a barbeque with the best man from your wedding.

We were made for presence, but so often our phones are the cause of our absence. To be two places at a time is to be no place at all. Turning off our phone for an hour a day is a way to turn our gaze up to each other, whether that be children, coworkers, friends, or neighbors. Our habits of attention are habits of love. To resist absence is to love neighbor

– Justin Early The Common Rule

Parents this is something we have to get right. Yet it is something that is so difficult because the very devices choking our children have a stranglehold on us as well. We have become so pleasure focused and pain averse we don’t even see the fact that we are numbing ourselves and making ourselves unable to feel unable to love the very people God has placed us in community with. We are unable to be present because we have forgotten who we are.

When we can’t answer the question of who we are in silence, we can’t answer it in public either, and our insecurities spill out into the world in the form of manipulations. We hide our confusion behind a posture of perpetual offense. If we are opposed to someone or something, that’s enough to create our identity for the day, which is to say we use others so that we can get the temporary identity we need. We don’t know who we are, so we make others feel the pain of our insecurity.

– Justin Early The Common Rule

Parents if we want our kids to answer the question of what did you do for fun as a kid differently we have to give them a different example. We have to give them a better story. Rather than teaching our kids to numb their pain electronically teach them, they were made for the love of God and love of neighbor. Kids remember what they see far more than what you tell them.

“Imitation is a far stronger principle with children than memory. What they see has a much stronger effect on their minds than what they are told”.

– J.C. Ryle

If we want our kids to live a different story we have to practice the gospel and preach the gospel. To apply the gospel to the lives or your kids you need to know what they are facing so you can point your kids to Jesus. The problem in so many families is parents are too distracted scrolling Instagram to listen to their kids and kids are to distracted by games to talk. We need to give our kids the gift of boredom. When you are bored you eventually create a creative way of escape. This is how kids develop critical life skills. When you as a family put down your devices your kids will get bored they will eventually start talking to you and you will actually listen because you are bored too.

Our electronic addiction is not the worst problem our world has faced because there have been many others that are far worse. It is, however, one of the more sinister problems because so many of us don’t see it as a problem. We were meant to be more than the amount of like we can manufacture with just the right angle of our selfie. We were meant for real lasting eternal connections with the family God has placed us in.

At the end of his book challenging families to rethink how they use technology, Andy Crouch ends with this sober challenge to be present.

We are meant to build this kind of life together: the kind of life that, at the end, is completely dependent upon one another; the kind of life that ultimately transcends, and does not need, the easy solutions of technology because it is caught up in something more true and more lasting than any alchemy our technological world can invent. We are meant to be family—not just marriages bound by vows and the children that come from them, but a wider family that invites others into our lives and even to the threshold of our very last breath, to experience vulnerability and grace, sorrow and hope, singing our way homeward. We are meant not just for thin, virtual connections but for visceral, real connections to one another in this fleeting, temporary, and infinitely beautiful and worthwhile life. We are meant to die in one another’s arms, surrounded by prayer and song, knowing beyond knowing that we are loved.

We are meant for so much more than technology can ever give us—above all, for the wisdom and courage that it will never give us. We are meant to spur one another along on the way to a better life, the life that really is life. Why not begin living that life, together, now?

Andy Crouch

So how do we change our kid’s story? Here are a few practical suggestions.

1. Filter your internet – Our family uses Circle by Disney it is a game-changer.
2. Limit your time – decide how much time is appropriate for adults and kids and keep each other accountable. – We don’t use screens at all on the Lord’s Day and when we come home from school and work we put our phones in a box still on so we can have undistracted availability.
3. Turn off all notifications – I did this a while back and it has been a game-changer for me. I only get notifications of text messages that’s it.
4. Delete apps that take up lots of your time. – I enjoy social media but when I look at my screen time report on my phone and see that I am spending more time than is wise for me to spend or am in a season I need to focus, rather than deleting the social media accounts I just delete the apps on my phone that make them so easy to access.
5. Remind yourself that restraint and control create freedom, not oppression. – You are free to use your phone for its many good purposes when your phone isn’t using you. The control allows you to love God and love neighbor. It allows you to treat your phone as a good gift rather than as a poor functional savior.

Here are a few resources I have found helpful.
The Tech-Wise Family
The Common Rule
Parent Chat
Liturgy of the Ordinary
You Are What You Love

Five Audiobooks You Have to Read Instead of the Physical Books

I love the way a physical book feels the way a book smells when you have a physical book in their hand. There are few things better than a great book. I agree with Lewis who said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” As much as I enjoy a physical book there are some books that are just easier to read and resource on the kindle. Likewise, there are some books that you have to listen to on audio because they are just that good. I would go so far as to say that you really should listen to these audiobooks rather than read the physical copy.

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi – This book is the powerful recounting of the story of a Muslim looking for Allah and seeking truth and God in his mercy broke into his world and revealed himself to Nabeel in supernatural ways. The narration of the Book was by Nabeel himself it was a powerful story of conversion but why you should listen rather than read is hearing the emotion in Nabeel’s voice as he recounts the cost of following Christ as someone who grew up in a Muslim home. The cost was his family but the price was worth it. Such a powerful book you must listen to rather than read.

The Four Loves – By C.S. Lewis – Why would you not read a physical book by C.S. Lewis and listen to the audio instead? Well, when it’s the only recording of Lewis reading his own book. It’s, s to hear the voice of Lewis. A rare treat that you will thank me for later. Skip the book and go for the audio.



The Complete Chronicles of Narnia: The Classic BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatisation – I am a huge fan of all things Narnia. I have read all seven books several times. If you are looking to dip your toe in for the first time or if you have young kids you want to introduce to Narnia the BBC Dramatized version is the one for you.



David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell – There is something about an author reading their own book they do a much better job conveying what they wrote but also the intangible emotions they felt when they wrote what they wrote. David and Goliath was a powerful book about the power of underdogs. In this book, Gladwell is at his best. I rarely cry reading books. The end of this book was one of the exceptions. Powerful. Much more power by audio than by the book.


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is a classic that is a must read. The audio recording was done by Sissy Spacek and was excellent and engaging. People often argue what is better the book or the movie I say neither the audio book was better.


Why Kids Need Hymns and Carols.

When I was a kids pastor at the ripe age of 21 I did then what I find unthinkable now. I wouldn’t sing Christmas songs in kids church and never would sing hymns. As I think back I can’t even remember why I felt that way. I think I felt that kids wanted to have fun and Hymns were above their pay grade. I think I thought Christmas Carols were things you heard in stores not songs of praise sung in church. What changed my perspective was being in the same church for 20 years. Seeing the kids grow up that I had taught in preschool I realized that I had made a couple of mistakes.

One mistake was thinking that fun mattered more than substance. If I made it crazy enough they would come back. I’m all for fun but not at the price of substance. The other mistake I made is I thought I was helping kids with the faith that they need today rather than preparing them for the faith they are going to need. As kids pastors, we have to give them a faith for today but we also have to prepare them for the faith they are going to need.

  We must give our kids a faith that is big enough they can grow into. Kids also need to be connected to the history of our faith. The need to know that God loves them, yes, but many people have lived a life of uncompromising faith they can to by God’s grace.

You have volunteers that need to be trained for Fall Launch, we can help!

Gather your volunteers together, and we’ll take it from there! By joining the Fall Launch Party, you’re giving your volunteers an opportunity to be trained by dynamic and expert leaders in 5 key areas!

-Vision for the Importance of Children’s Ministry
-Spiritual Formation for Kids
-Teaching Kids the Bible
-Managing Behavior
-Building Relationships with Parents

***Every leader who registers for the Fall Launch party gets the replays and debrief resources to use whenever it works for their team – so even if you can’t join us for the live event on August 25th, you’re still able to use this great training for your team!***

Learn more! –> https://incm.org/fall-launch-training-party-2018/

Date: August 25, 2018
Time: (10:00am-04:00PM)
Event: CPC Webinar.
Topic: Why Kids Ministry Matters.
Sponsor: INCM
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Summer Reads

Summer is a great time to grab a book and sit in a hammock and unwind or lie on a beach and get some free vitamin D while getting lost in a great book. This summer was busy at work, so I took the summer off from seminary to focus on some of our most impactful events of the year in kids and youth ministry as well as spend time with family enjoying each other. So a break from seminary means I can catch up on some books that I have gotten behind on. So if you are looking for a new book here are a few I am reading this summer.

 

The Deep Things of God – Fred Sanders
I started this book about three years ago I got about half way in then started Seminary. Such a challenging book as I realized that much of my understanding of God is so often how I perceive him rather than how he reveals himself to me. The background of the gospel is rooted in the Trinity.

 

All that Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
I have been on a O’Connor kick as of late to see what the fuss is all about. My thoughts so far. 1. She is a massively gifted writer.  2. She is a bit eccentric. 3. She connects her thoughts about God in her writing in unique and very interesting ways.

 

 

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
I am reading this over the summer with my oldest son. Why we are reading this together? 1. Schools don’t assign classics anymore 2. Stowe was a devout christian with a clearly Christian worldview. 3. I find the fact that Lincoln credited this work as the impetus for the Civil war fascinating.

 

The Hardest Peace – Kara Trippet
I just finished this book. It was both beautiful and challenging. To read of Kara’s peace and God’s grace in the midst of life’s most challenging moments was humbling and difficult. Humbling because of her great faith and difficult because it brough up lots of fears I thought I had dealt with in the midst of my wifes battle with Cancer. Kara’s faith was rooted in a person not a feeling. This book was beautiful.

 

Confessions – St. Augustine translated by Sarah Ruden
This is my second time through Confessions and like most classics once you finished reading it for the first time you are prepared read it again for the first time. Sarah’s translation is extremely accurate and super accessible. I am grateful for the parts she has illumined that I missed the first time through and am also grateful that many more will read Augustine’s masterpiece because of the accessibility of this translation.

 

Love Thy Body – Nancy Pearcey
This fall we will be doing a sermon series in our youth ministry talking about what the bible has to say about many of the topics Pearcey covers in this book. So I will be reading this book to have the proper framework needed for that series.

 

 

Prince Caspian – C.S. Lewis
Just started this book with my oldest daughter. When my kids turn 8 I start reading them the Narnia series. I think I enjoy more than they do. Every time through I see new aspects of Lewis’ genius.

 

 

What books are you reading this summer?