Our children and youth are going to interact and engage in the world in which they live—a world increasingly hostile to anything remotely “Christian.” So, the question becomes: How will they interact? Will they be as the Apostle Paul commends in Philippians 2:15?
…blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Will they do as the Apostle Peter commends in 1 Peter 3:15?
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
If these verses are to be true of our children and youth as they grow and mature, we must be proactive. In his excellent book, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Paul David Tripp offers five strategies for preparing children and young adults (a.k.a. “teenagers”) to interact redemptively with their culture. Here is a brief summary:
Prepare. The first step is to instill in our teenagers a biblical view of life. Many Christian families have years of unfocused devotions. What their children receive during these times is not without merit, but it could be so much better if parents had the instilling of a biblical worldview as their goal. Without it, children end up familiar with all the popular Christian stories and with random doctrinal knowledge, but none of it is assembled into a usable system of truth that reflects God’s way of thinking about life. The aim of all family Bible instruction must be that our children would be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).
Test. In this step we teach our teenagers to critique, evaluate, interpret, and analyze the surrounding culture from a biblical perspective.
Identify. Here we teach our children to recognize common ground…we want to raise teenagers who have learned to identify with their culture—not agreeing with its interpretations and responses, but identifying with its struggle and humbly acknowledging why these responses seem logical to someone who does not know Christ.
Decide. We want to teach teenagers how to know when they can be redemptive participants in their culture and when they must separate from it.
Redeem. Here we teach our teenagers to take back turf that has been lost to the world by witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ…The goal is to declare positively what God had in mind when he designed things in the beginning, to be part of rebuilding the culture his way, and to proclaim that this rebuilding can only be done by people who are living in proper relationship with God through Jesus Christ. (Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, ©2001, pages 161-165)
A couple more things I would add:
Hope in the Triumph of Christ. Teach them that this broken world—with all its sin and evil—is not the end. They should not be surprised if they are hated for the sake of Christ. They should not be dismayed if their redemptive words seem to fall on deaf ears. Jesus has decisively won the war against sin and evil through His death and resurrection. He will return and fully reveal the triumph of this and judge the world in perfect righteousness. He will usher in His glorious kingdom for His people to enjoy forever!
Pray. Teach them that only God can redeem the sinful human heart. Therefore, we need to earnestly and continually pray for God to act in the lives of unbelievers, bringing them to repentance and faith in Christ.
Here are some additional helps for parents I recommend:
- "Teaching Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture" video seminar by Pastor Ron Rudd (and the Seminar Notes)
- Stand to Reason Website—Their mission: Train Christians to think more clearly about their faith, and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.
- The Briefing podcast by Dr. Albert Mohler—Current news topics from a Christian perspective.
Truth78 also offers two curricula that are especially helpful in preparing children and youth to interact redemptively with the culture: