I have been sharing with you about a workshop I was asked to present to a group of church leaders while at LifeWay. I was asked to address the topic of “Why Teenagers Think The Way They Do.” In Part 1 I presented a frightening picture of how these church leaders’ average teens thought. You can see what they shared with me by clicking here. We then saw that teens think the way they do because we have taught them to do so. These church leaders shared with me that the teens in their churches were receiving very little biblical instruction at home and the church each week. In contrast their teens were receiving between 60-72 hours of secular influence at school and from the media. You can review last week’s article by clicking here.
These church leaders understood the serious condition their church families were in and they were desperately asking for help. I began presenting a plan of action that I believed would change the way their teens were thinking. It started out with the need for parents to take control of how their children were being influenced through the media. Everyone agreed that the influence from the media had to be more controlled by the parents.
Then I began presenting some biblical principles that tells us how God wants us to educate our children. I began listing these principles on the white board along with the corresponding Scripture references. These are the same principles that I included in my book, Kingdom Education: God’s Plan for Educating Future Generations. They are as follows.
The education of children and youth:
- is the primary responsibility of parents.
- is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week process that continues from birth till maturity.
- must have as its primary goals the education of and discipleship of the next generation.
- must be based on God’s Word as absolute truth.
- must hold Christ as preeminent in all of life.
- must not hinder the spiritual and moral development of the next generation.
- if and when delegated to others by parents, must be done by teachers chosen with utmost care to ensure that they all follow these principles.
- results in the formation of a belief system or worldview that will be patterned after the belief systems or worldviews of the person’s teachers.
- must lead to true wisdom by connecting all knowledge to a biblical worldview frame of reference.
- must have a view of the future that includes the eternal perspective.
It was when I started writing down principle #6 that it happened. Out of the blue, one youth worker spoke out and interrupted the presentation. She firmly stated, We can’t follow these! I was a little shocked and I asked her if she didn’t think these were biblical principles. She said, Yes these are biblical principles but we can’t follow them. Puzzled, I asked why can’t you follow these? Her answer wasn’t what I expected. She said, If we follow these principles, we would have to pull all of our children out of public school.
I explained to her that the word school is not mentioned in any of these principles because these are universal biblical principles that apply to the total education of children and youth. She agreed with me but went on to explain that public schools do not follow these principles so we couldn’t leave our children in them. I then asked her if she was saying that we can’t obey what the Bible says if it means we would have to change the way we educated our children? She emphatically said, Yes, that is what I am saying!
My next question was, why wouldn’t you obey Scripture even if it meant you would need to provide your children with another form of education? Her answer was something I had heard many times before. We can’t take our children out of public school because they are the only Jesus the lost students would see.
Fortunately, I had left how the teens in these churches were thinking on the board. You can go back to Part 1 in this series to see what these church leaders had told me about their teens’ thinking patterns. I asked this youth worker, Is this the way the teens at your church think (pointing to the list on the board)? She shook her head yes. Then I asked her, Where do you see Jesus anywhere in this list? She didn’t reply.
A few months later I was invited to a meeting of the Discipleship Department at LifeWay. The director wanted me to present these biblical principles of education to the leadership of his department. As I presented the principles, a similar reaction took place. One of the leaders interrupted me and said, I don’t like this “abandonment” language. I asked what he meant by his statement. He replied, this is language that would mean that we had to “abandon” the public schools. Again, I reminded this group that there is no mention of school anywhere in these principles.
I responded to this leader this way. Suppose a new family moved into your neighborhood. You visited them and you soon were convinced that the entire family had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. However, you also found out that they were attending a local Mormon church. What would you do? He replied, Of course, I would explain to them that they needed to be in a strong Bible-believing and teaching church. To which I quickly asked, You mean you would abandon that Mormon church?
In both of these situations, the same dangerous condition existed. These church leaders were living a compartmentalized life. What they would never allow in their “church lives”, they were willing to fully embrace in all other areas of their lives – even if it meant that they would have to violate biblical principles! My challenge to both groups was quite simple. You need to develop a consistent theology of life.
This is the same condition I find in today’s church. Even in today’s political arena, I find Christians endorsing/supporting candidates whose personal lives are in direct conflict with God’s Word. I recently tweeted the following: When a Christian endorses a candidate, he endorses his character & his lifestyle – even his language. You can’t separate one’s private & public life. I am not trying to tell anyone who they should vote for but I am saying it is time to stop living out a sacred/secular divide in our lives. Either Christianity is, as Nancy Pearcey writes, total truth or it is not truth at all. It is time for us to develop a consistent theology of life no matter what changes it will demand of our lives. What we decide to do today is very important!