Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples, Part 3

“Gary, times are a-changin!” These are the words of my wife’s grandfather, spoken to me probably 20 years ago.

This statement has never been truer than in 2013. To help make this point, I want to turn to Josh McDowell and his book, “The Disconnected Generation.” Here, Josh created a list of terms and how they are defined by adults and by teens. Pay close attention to this list. “Folks, definitions of words are a-changin!”

Tolerance

Adult Understanding: Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.

Teen Understanding: Accepting that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles and truth claims are equal.

Respect

Adult Understanding: Giving due consideration to others.

Teen Understanding: Wholeheartedly approving of other’s beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Acceptance

Adult Understanding: Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say and do.

Teen Understanding: Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Moral Judgments

Adult Understanding: Certain things are morally right and wrong, as determined by God.

Teen Understanding: We have no right to judge another person’s view or behavior.

Personal Preference

Adult Understanding: Preferences of color, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.

Teen Understanding: Preferences of sexual behaviors, value systems and beliefs are personally determined.

Personal Rights

Adult Understanding: Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.

Teen Understanding: Everyone has the right to do what they believe is right for them.

Freedom

Adult Understanding: Being free to do what you ought to do.

Teen Understanding: Being free to do everything you want to do.

Truth

Adult Understanding: An absolute standard of right and wrong.

Teen Understanding: Whatever is right for you.

Some may be asking at this point, “Christian kids don’t think this way, do they?” Or, “Not my kids!”

First, let me say that no, not all Christian kids think this way. However, don’t assume they don’t until you present the list to them and talk about it. No matter what we do as parents and youth leaders – in this age of technology – we cannot shield our children from postmodern influences.

Along with technology is the pull of friends. Never underestimate your teen’s desire to be liked by his or her friends. I call this the “cool factor.” It is completely normal for teens to want to build relationships outside their families. This is why we, as parents and youth leaders, need to do what we can to make sure that our teens’ closest friends – their “inner circle” as we say at Reach America – are all Christians. And make sure these Christian friends have a biblical worldview!

In my next post, I will begin to explore how postmodernism has infiltrated the Christian teen world. And yes, I do have solutions and a strategy to turn postmodern Christian youth into multiplying disciples. I am doing my best to keep these posts to around 500 words.

Thanks for your comments. I always enjoy reading what God is saying to you!

Pastor Gary

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples, Part 2

I am writing a blog series on turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples. Today, let’s take a snapshot view of the postmodern youth culture in America.

The following is taken from my observations of Christian teens and with a little help from some research by Purdue University.

Historians generally place the beginning of the postmodern era in America at 1945. The characteristics of this era are as follows.

There has been a breakdown of cultural forms. Everyone is coloring outside the lines.  Although the average teen is “retro” when it comes to fashion and style, they reject the grand narratives that have made America great. Youth reject that America was founded as a Christian nation, American exceptionalism, capitalism and free enterprise.

America is becoming an oral society. According to Purdue University, literacy rates had been rising steadily from the introduction of print through the modern period. Postmodern society has seen a drastic reversal in this trend as more and more people are now functionally illiterate, relying instead on an influx of oral media sources: tv, film, radio, etc…

This culture still very much relies on print to create media outlets; however, it is increasingly only a professional, well-educated class that has access to full print and computer literacy. An increasing percentage of the population merely ingests, orally, the media that is being produced.

Due to these factors, young people are visual and temporal. They have lost all connection to reality and history. This may help to explain why they are so fascinated with reality television. Pop culture keeps coming back to the idea that the line separating reality and representation has broken down. The movie, The Matrix, is a prime example of this.

Young people have a deep desire for individualism, yet they have a strange comfort level with collectivism and government. Capitalism and free enterprise is on the way out and the government as caretaker is in. Due to advancements in technology, especially surveillance technology, young people have the sense that they are always being watched. And who do they blame for this invasion of privacy? You guessed it, the government. I know, this is getting a bit convoluted, but hang in there with me.

Essentially, teens and young adults are looking to government to protect their individuality, and provide for their daily and life-long needs. They see capitalism as the epitome of greed and they want nothing to do with it. Yes, Marxism is making a comeback.

Don’t get me wrong. I value individualism as much as anyone. It is the way it is being defined that is troubling. This generation wants the freedom to do whatever they want and to be whatever they want – individualism. They believe in a type of social justice where we all have the same things – collectivism.  Again, can you say “Marxism?”

In general, this generation is disoriented; there is no right and wrong. Truth is within you. Don’t judge me, and give me what I am entitled to have. Give me an education, health care, a job and a retirement plan. Take care of me and keep me happy from the cradle to grave.

In my next post, I will continue to discuss postmodernism.

I would love to hear from you. What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples

1 Chronicles 12:32 “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do–200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;”

As Christian parents and youth leaders, it is crucial that we understand the times and know what the church should do in America. One observation I have made is that the current American culture has moved far away from God and has taken Christian youth right along with it.

Too often, when we think of “the culture,” we think of people outside the church. Truth be told, the culture has invaded the church, especially our teens and children. I have come to believe that before we can adequately reach out and impact the culture out there, we must reach in and change the culture in here – inside our youth ministries.

We always hear of the “godless” culture in America, but we rarely take the time to define what we mean. Philosophers, sociologists and other cultural gurus seem to agree that in America we are living in a postmodern world.  From what I have been reading and witnessing first-hand, I agree.

Well, what does it mean when we say “postmodern?” How has postmodern thought influenced our Christian youth? How do we reach teens for Christ in this postmodern age? And most importantly, how do we turn postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples?

Over the next few days I am going to write a series of blog posts on how to turn postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples. I hope you find it helpful.