Helping Kids Navigate Culture

The basics

by Brent Colby/ June 10, 2015

Kids are growing up in a remarkable world. They enjoy unprecedented access to information and entertainment while exploring new frontiers of social justice. For better or for worse the Internet is changing the way children think, care, and connect with others. Kids also live in a world that is spiritually obtuse: tolerance is considered the ultimate virtue, but that tolerance doesn’t extend to Christian morality. Millennials are now parents and are doing their best to guide kids through uncharted territory. Culture is less unified, more temporary, and more pervasive than ever. How can we keep up? How can we prepare children to make a difference in the world around them? 

The currents of popular culture move more quickly and diversely than ever before. We face three specific challenges when helping kids learn how to navigate culture: to think biblically, to love Jesus, and to act compassionately. Without these expressions of the mind, heart, and hand the church of the future is dead in the water. Don’t fall into the trap of responsive-discipleship; we will always be facing a crisis-of-the-week. Instead, cultivate healthy Christians by forming a worldview that reflects the heart of Christ. 

1. Help kids think biblically. Biblical literacy faded from popular culture long ago. Teach kids the Bible from scratch, start at the beginning, and don’t assume anything. Put away your smart phone and grab an actual Bible. Turn the pages and show children the beginning, middle, and end of this special book. It’s critical that kids learn who our Creator is and what our relationship with Him should be like. Knowing the story of God is the only way kids will be able to navigate through divergent streams of culture today.
2. Help kids love Jesus. Knowledge is an easy first step; teaching kids to love Jesus comes next. Can you teach someone to love someone else? Perhaps not. Can you model expressions of Christ’s love in your one life and through the lives of others? Yes. Don’t skimp on worship, prayer, and other artful expressions of Christ’s love and creativity. Help kids see how beautiful, creative, and caring our Savior really is. Help them see how Christ loves each and every one of us and let them see how that love can be reciprocated.
3. Help kids act compassionately. This is a natural expression of Christianity, but we don’t always facilitate it for children. Create opportunities for kids to share God’s love with others. Support local and global compassion ministries, challenge kids to be generous toward people in their own world, and make servant leadership cool. That’s right, you set the tone for compassion ministry every week by modeling the type of leadership you want your volunteers and children to imitate.

Jesus showed us how to love people from many different cultural backgrounds. Navigating culture is not a path of retreat or isolation; it is a path of action and initiation. Equip kids to love others as Christ loved the Church. Create a culture that loves the Word, loves Jesus, and loves people. This is how we navigate culture: by creating streams that focus on Christ. 

What can you implement in your kidmin to assess whether or not your kids think biblically?