I Approve

You may have seen an article circulating online about a letter from a University president to the student body and prospective students.  The letter in full is here, on the school website.

Yes, I approve of what he is saying from the academic, intellectual perspective.  College campuses are turning from areas of rigorous intellectual pursuit to, well, I don’t quite know how to describe what they’re turning into.  But I don’t like what I see and hear in the news, even as I also acknowledge – as a former university instructor and advocate of higher education – that it remains possible to get a good education without getting completely brainwashed.

The other aspect of this situation affects congregations.  I’d be curious to know where the young man alluded to in the beginning of the letter attended primary and secondary school.  I’d like to think that he is a product of public schooling, but that may not be the case.  But pastors and congregational leaders need to once again wake up to the reality that our children are being hugely influenced by secular culture.  This has always been the case, of course (unless, perhaps, you’re Amish).  But now the influence is a lot more dangerous.  Pointedly, unabashedly contrary to the Gospel.

How are we dealing with this as congregations?  Pastoring in a congregation with almost no children (other than my own), we don’t deal with it.  While the excuse that we don’t have many children and we don’t have people willing to serve as Sunday school teachers and other children’s ministry folks might be valid, it isn’t helpful, either.  Children in the church need to have Christian instruction.  They need to have examples of Christian lives outside of their immediate family.

For congregations with robust children’s ministries the challenge is no different.  How are children sounded out on these issues and attitudes?  How directly is sin talked about even with very young children?  How intentionally is a Biblical worldview and self-view explicated?  How specifically is this worldview and self-view contrasted with what they are likely to hear taught to them in school, on television, on the radio, in the movies?  How directly are the questions and assertions that our culture raises being addressed in the congregation, by all congregational leadership, not just the youth minister(s)?  How intentionally is worship being made relevant to children, and how intentionally are they being taught that they are a part of it, they have roles to play and gifts to contribute beyond the occasional cute nativity play?

Don’t assume that because your family goes to church your children are immune to the culture they are immersed in 99% of the rest of their week.  Know what that culture is.  Know what’s being pushed and taught and how it is being pushed and taught.  Interact with your kids daily to find out about what they’re learning.  Engage in Bible study and discussion daily with them on core issues such as sin, grace, forgiveness, the Gospel, the Law.  There’s a lot at stake here.

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