Back in 2011, David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, published a book called You Lost Me. The book is a study on why young Christians are leaving the church and rethinking faith. I just read again some of the criticisms that young Christians have against the church…one of them: “Christians are afraid of pop culture, especially its movies and music.”
“Many young Christians complain that they have been conditioned to fear ‘the world.’ The problem is that, as they explore ‘the world,’ they come to believe (rightly or wrongly) that the world is not nearly as hopeless or awful as they’ve been told. They discover movies, music, and other art and media that sometimes describe the reality of human experience much better than the church does.” (You Lost Me, page 97)
No doubt, he’s right. We Christians condition our children to fear the world and rethink our faith every time we see a new television show or a group has a new single on the radio. Our tendency – at least at the level of the Kinnaman study – is to shut that whole area of the world off completely. I think that’s missing what Jesus means when he says, “You are in the world, not of it.” I try to read the Wall Street Journal each morning. I get electronic subscriptions to Fast Company, MacWorld, and Cigar Aficionado. I listen to AC/DC and Metallica… and KSHE (Saint Louis Real Rock Radio) is on my speed dial. Our pastor opens up Bible study each Sunday morning by saying, “Anything you want to ask or talk about from the news or current events?” I’m convinced that is the way to go. Parents should be asking and talking to their children about current events and songs they hear on the radio. It’s okay to watch a show together and to ask questions about your kids Facebook newsfeeds.
What really struck me about David’s statement is the as they explore the world they find it not so horrible thing. Painting all of pop culture as horrible for our young people like a broad brush paints us into a corner. It’s the act of engaging our young people with the culture that teaches them about the reason Christians are in the world. Satan would have us run only in our own circles and never bump into another non-Christian so that when our children and young people do, they leave and never come back. Let’s call a spade a spade and a club a club… but get out with our kids and talk.
Our kids are going to listen to music with their friends. They are going to be at a mall at some point in their life. The kids sitting with them at the football game may have “potty” mouths. Instead of trying to paint our young people into a silo of Christian solitude, let’s help prepare them to have a defense for the hope the Holy Spirit has placed in their hearts. Our kids have some serious and great questions. They are very curious about the world around them. They want to explore and try new things and they want the thrill of life. The church (which includes parents and church workers and fellow pew sitters and Sunday School teachers) is there to guide them, teach them what the world is and why their in it. We’re there to teach them why and then how.