Walt Mueller, in his book Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture, says, "culture is the 'soup' the emerging generations swim in every day. Consequently, if we want to engage the young for the sake of the gospel, we'd better take the time to know what's in the soup. In one of our local restaurants, the soup bar typically features three selections. I've watched how people choose their soup. As they arrive at the bar, they grab a bowl. Then they step back and scan the names of the soups in each of the large soup tureens. Before placing soup in their bowl, they lift the lid off the tureen, stir the soup, lift the ladle and examine the soup's ingredients. If they like what they see, they fill their bowl. If we are to effectively engage our children with the truths of the gospel, we must step up to their world, lift the lid, and look carefully at the unique and ever-changing mix of cultural elements they 'swim' in. We can't escape the reality that those elements, as strange and frightening as they may seem - shape their worldview and govern their lives. We might even be tempted to close the lid because we don't like what we see. But if we hope to effectively communicate the good news, we can't avoid the ingredients of that culture (p.112-113)."
During the month of March, we will begin a series about how to engage today's culture. We are calling it Rooted to Transform Culture: Living in but not of the world. The goal is to help our teens think and respond Christianly to the world around us. We have gathered some questions and topic ideas from the students, and will work to cover a handful of them throughout the month. Once this is fleshed out, you as parents will receive an email and an invitation to join us for any of those conversations!
There are a variety of different perspectives when it comes to how Christians should engage the culture. On the one hand is Christ against Culture. In this view the world is seen as hopelessly corrupt and the only option for the Christian is to separate, to avoid, to alienate themselves from the realities around them. On the opposite side is Christ of Culture. This is a much more optimistic view of the world and eagerly embraces cultural norms and latest trends. This Christian seeks to fit in with the world and minimizes sin, grace and law. A third view is Christ above Culture. This view divides the secular and the sacred into two compartments that rarely interact - one foot in the kingdom of God and one foot in the world. What happens on Sunday mornings or at youth group has little to do with what occurs the rest of the week. And finally, Christ transforms Culture. This view says both culture and Christianity are important. It acknowledges that culture is tainted and is in need of transformation, but does not shy away from engaging it. This emphasizes living in the world but not of it (John 17:13-19; Romans 12:2).
How have you chosen to engage culture? What has been communicated to your youth, not only by what you say and do, but also by what you don't say and do? Walt Mueller says, "When we fail to see and answer the influence culture has on our kids, we forfeit the influence we should be having on our kids."
Thank you for allowing us to partner with you in growing extraordinary students who love God, love people and make disciples! I pray that you would be a student of youth culture and seek to equip your youth to live in but not of this world - to transform their world for Christ!