Guided by the Spirit & the Word
Passing resilient faith on to children is less likely to happen by default or by accident in this increasingly complex and accelerated culture. This study makes clear that engaged Christian parents don’t expect this calling to be easy, but also that they do consider it a calling—a sacred, God-ordained assignment in service to his expansive Kingdom mission.
Making and growing young disciples is not easy, as plenty of previous Barna research shows, but churches and parents can partner to more effectively guide kids along the way. Children’s ministries play an enormous role in the lives of Christian families. Remember, a majority of parents says their church’s program for kids is the primary reason they chose their fellowship. Nearly half say they rely most on their church, rather than themselves, as the key spiritual influence in their child’s life. A majority wants help with teaching their kids about difficult social issues, and many are actively looking for resources that can help them with their child’s spiritual formation.
And that’s all before we get to the issues of media, entertainment and technology!
Imagine how powerful this partnership could be if ministry leaders and parents shift their focus from simply limiting screen time to releasing disciples. Rather than “How much is too much?” we could wrestle with bigger questions:
- How can we set youth up for healthy online habits—not just avoiding harmful content, but initiating and engaging in conversations for spiritual growth and the common good?
- What do Christian virtues or disciplines look like in digital spaces?
- What are some opportunities for digital natives to live out their Christian faith that didn’t exist for older generations?
- How do we connect kids with wise guides to help them navigate the increasing complexities of childhood?
- How can new technology interface with the timeless Christian message?
- How can leaders listen to emerging generations for input and ideas regarding what needs they feel around digital life and habits?
- How can we give the Bible its proper place in the lives of young Jesus followers?
Christian parents are not the only parents grappling with the role of media in their children’s lives. While highly engaged Christians are likely to feel the dilemmas and dangers of tech and media saturation more keenly than many others, they are certainly not the only parents who do. People of other faiths, the “spiritual but not religious,” and even atheist and agnostic neighbors are all asking hard questions. How do we raise children well in this transitional era in history?
Answering that question well is an opportunity for Christians to serve and lead within the broader culture. The shared challenge of parenting in this context presents us with a chance to meet and listen to and share with our non-Christian neighbors—not just in our churches but in our living rooms, schools, community centers and even our social media feeds.
As Spirit-led parents and their church ministry partners guide children to put tech in its proper place in their God-honoring lives, the countercultural Kingdom will come a little bit more on earth as in heaven. The goodness of Christianity for individuals, families and communities will be as evident as its truth.
How can ministry leaders equip Christian parents for everyday evangelism?
Because in the end, evangelism is exactly what we’re doing when we pass faith on to the next generation.
We want our children’s relationships with media and devices to be healthy and life-giving. We want young people to invest in and wisely lead the Church’s future.
And most of all, we want our kids to inherit a deep love for and knowledge of God’s Word, to experience Jesus for themselves and to allow his Spirit to be their Guide.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.