> Time to educate our own again <
A call to a change in thinking regarding the education of our young
This article, formatted into 4 short ‘chapters’, suggests a change in thinking I suggest is needed in the NZ Church regarding how we view and engage with the discipleship of our young.
It’s target audience is Christian parents and Christian leaders.
So you know where it is going – it is not promoting home-schooling or Christian schools. It is about how we, as families and churches, understand the discipleship of our youth and children within culture. As culture changes, so much our approaches in Christian discipleship.
Because it is a long article – let’s consider it a book. It has four short chapters. I pray it speaks to your heart!
Something that is true
The Jesuits said, ‘Give me the child until he is 7 and I will give you the man’ – repeating a saying hailing back at least as far as the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Hitler copied a time-tested pattern of socialism by taking state control of education and made it free for all. Through this he could indoctrinate the thinking of the children, and a generation later they were his. It doesn’t matter what side you are playing for – the education of children is important!
A parents job
In our Christian understanding, the responsibility for discipling children in the Christian faith rests with the parents.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
A faith-community’s responsibility
But what about children and youth from non-Christian homes? If they attend a Sunday school or youth group, logically the responsibility rests with the Christian community they are part of. My understanding is that this is where our cultural ideas of having ‘youth groups’ in our churches came from. The original idea was outreach – rather than the discipleship of youth from Christian families.
CHAPTER 1 – An increasing tide of hostility for our young to stand against
The current against the Christian view of live, care and love is increasing.
- If schools say that a boy isn’t a boy even though he is one biologically (i.e. sex doesn’t define gender), how many years before children accept this to be true, and a sex change the best thing – despite the statistics we aren’t told about that suggest otherwise (like 18 or 20 cases of gender dysphoria in the young self-resolving by 20, while the alternative of gender change yielded a 50% suicide rate prior two age 23)? How long before she embraces views that differ to her parents?
- What about abortion being ok – and any critique of it considered ‘judgemental’ or ‘anti-woman’?
- What about Euthanasia? Most University students vote Labour or Greens. Why and how has our education system come to affirm a given political view?
- If schools say all types of sexuality are equal while the Bible instead esteems monogamous heterosexual marriage, what would cause a Christian youth to believe the Christian view – other than faith? What is the rationality of it – if any? That is what education is about!
- What difference would seeing all the statistics on broken families, and the affect this has on us, make?
- Might the idea that monogamous marriage is sacred make sense if they saw that it was about more than the rights of the couple involved – but instead also the rights of children to grow up on stable homes for the sake of their own mental and emotional wellbeing (quite apart from a myriad of other societal implications this has).
- Might an understanding that confining sex to marriage in what was a male-dominated society actually served to protect women help? Might an understanding of the suffering resulting children would endure due to having non-committed father in a broken society help?
- Might the law of love begin to make sense then?
For a current example, ‘Inside Out’ is a school program designed to teach children LGBTQ values. The challenge we face, however, is not just the principle of treating people who are different to us with grace. That’s a no-brainer to most of us. Tolerance is not what this programme is about. It is about moral dominance – to control and secure ascendancy in any conversation about morality in connection with all these things. This is about telling us their definitions of right and wrong with the full expectation that we must comply, or else!
This is very different to teaching tolerance!
It also denies all intelligence, because moral definitions come from our religious worldview. Religion is therefore the actual topic being discussed!
The pointed question is this: Will a diversity of opinions be accepted regarding the promoted diversity of sexualities if we agree to treat all people equally and with love?
I personally don’t think they are interested in tolerance or care or respect for all. They have a view. They are claiming they are ‘right’ – all while without any rational basis for that claim (as morality is relative if there is no God). It’s about winning, and it’s about power!
It is not intolerant to disagree with someone.
Tolerance is about how we treat people irrespective of how much we disagree.
How long will our children and youth stand when picked on by students and teachers for being ‘intolerant’ because they believe something different to the woke teacher, who’s own views have been established by nothing more than the peer pressure of an education system and public media – who will kick them out of the ‘in group’ if they don’t comply. So they’ve complied.
Or – for the younger teachers, how long will youth stand in their own convictions and thoughts when in opposition to teachers educated in a university that has not allowed discussion of differing views on all manner of things to even exist, leaving them inept philosophically – while also feeling genuinely angry at people who think differently to themselves (because those people are judgemental and narrow-minded, in case you didn’t know. We’re trying to help them think more broadly and to be less racist).
…And if the school says that evolution explains our existence, how long will the student last when demeaned for being ‘un-scientific’ – despite the absurdity of that statement – noting Christianity established scientific method and endeavour in the way we know it today; …while also noting that it’s claimed absolutely everything including time, space and matter came from nothing without a first cause; …while also noting that first life is supposed to also have somehow come about from nothing despite it’s unimaginable complexity; ...while also noting that there is still no viable mechanism for an evolutionary process in the first place (because adaption doesn’t explain species-types, and we now know mutations can’t explain their ‘creation’ either because, while rare positive mutations are possible, they do not create the intelligent information that is necessary for an upward developmental process to exist. (The information problem is an exorbitant problem.) So the theory current sits within science with no suggestion regarding it’s most important evidence, and these above points are surely core material for any assessment – yet will go without notice in a classroom, while any who dare to ‘disagree with this science’ are demeaned.
This is no joke – and the force of these cultural bias’ are too great for most youth to face!
The resulting problem understood
A person of faith is therefore stereotyped as being lacking in intelligence, and also as relationally intolerant. They are a sub-human both intellectually, and socially. What do you think this will achieve?
Despite the success of some churches in youth ministry, the overall pattern is still one of decline. Our estimates, based on the feedback of pastors’ groups in 2015 and 2016, were that youth ministry is attending 1/3 to ¼ of what it was 25 years ago. Godtalk.nz was our solution – to address one area of deficit in outreach focus, and conversational equipping for it. It’s met a need – but the need is bigger.
The overall situation is likely to get worse too. Persecution of youth, and pressure upon youth and children to confirm to dictated ‘norms’ in moral opinions and the like… …is fast becoming our reality. So, what is the path forwards?
The change I suggest: It’s time to take responsibility to educate our children in more areas than we have, and with greater diligence than we have.
My point here is about how we think about discipleship, and the kind of effort and competence we bring to it.
We have delegated the responsibility of education to our schools. We trust schools with it. This is fine for math and reading – but are they really competent now when it comes to discussing religious worldview (how people see the world) and all the global, moral and other ethical matters that arise from these foundations? Things that relate to ideas of truth affect philosophy, history, morality, sociology and more. These topics are always with a bias. This is unavoidable – and in our schools that bias is going to be that of the teacher, coming from the ‘religious lenses’ they have chosen, or been given!
George Barna, an American cultural researcher, tell us a child’s worldview (view of the world) is established by age 14. In most churches and families, we aren’t even discussing issues like the above until youth are aged 14.
The reason for considering a change in approach in view of continuing trends is clear.
We need to engage with young people as educators on a range of topics – and to do this by the time they are 13 or 14 years of age. To do any different is to surrender them to the whimsical fads of our public education and media, which are then enforced by natural means through the resulting social pressure.
Might it be time to take more seriously again the idea of actually educating our own children ourselves in some core things?
In case it hasn’t been noted – Iwi are doing this. They run waananga / houses of learning, to teach young Maori things they know public education will not teach.
I venture to say that the Church has done it throughout history too – as also do Muslims, to preserve their own cultural and religious values and practices.
In all cases, people do not simply surrender their children to the influence of other people whom do not have full faith in!
CHAPTER 2 – What discipleship involves
Discipleship is not only about the study of Scripture alone. Discipleship is about the study of Scripture for application in the context of our world today! In this sense all pulpit peaching should be ‘prophetic’ – bringing application from timeless truths to our current context. This is a very important point.
- We need the Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other.
- Or – put differently, we need a Bible app on one page and a few news apps on the another.
- We have to help our children and youth understand the society they live in through the lenses of their faith – before the changing viewpoints of that world become their lens!
- They therefore also need to understand that other points of views do exist – and not just what those viewpoints are, but also why those who believe them believe them. This is about learning to discern what might be true – or false.
- This implies that we discuss the ‘philosophical’ concepts of God – with a view to developing an understanding of how this, in-turn, relates to ideas about the existence of truth and morality, as well as ethics, tolerance, equality, freedom, interpretation of history – and more.
- …and this needs to be done while they are still young!
The keyword for a disciple is ‘choice’. We make choices to honour God.
The key word for a disciple-maker is ‘intentional’. We intentionally seek to educate through a variety of means, to produce measurable change.
CHAPTER 3 – Examples of how we could approach education on world-view matters
This short chapter is not a list. It’s is reflections – to inspire thoughts of a list (aka your chosen ‘curriculum’)
The importance of marriage to a society:
Those with LGBTQ values want not only to define some moral values – but to control the conversation. In the face of this we might firstly be wise to promote heterosexual marriage as a viable option for starters! The benefits aren’t hard to find (as contrasted with the ‘broken marriage’ narrative, that suggests there is no point, as marriages are nearly all doomed anyway… Why do church people feed that narrative? Why not work tell the good stories – and build legitimate hope?). This could include intentionally educating our young on various reasons that might exist for this choice – just as our schools and media are doing, but with a different set of agendas in mind.
I remind the reader – none of this discussion is about tolerance. We are tolerant already! We respect the rights of individuals to choose lifestyles that are LBGTQ – and even H-M (heterosexually married). The issue here isn’t’ tolerance. It is the right to hold a moral view, and the legitimate reasons that there are behind the existence of different moral views.
We need to demonstrate the benefits of certain choices, and also the logic of these choices on the basis of sound data where it exists in relation to the social, emotional and mental consequences of our choices for ourselves, as well as for our societies as a whole.
Regarding training our young how to deal with the growing intolerance of their society:
If tolerance is said to be about accepting certain viewpoints ‘because no sexual morals actually exist’, then our children and youth also need to be taught not only why we might believe sexual morals do exist (as one example), but also
- what intolerance is, and then,
- the conversational skills Jesus modelled with which he (i) engaged with interested people, but (ii) merely sought to intrigue the disinterested with stories, while (iii) fully deflecting the hostile through questions (or silence).
Without this training they are going to be incapacitated. This training isn’t yet part of our ‘corporate culture’ as churches – so they won’t yet learn this by ‘osmosis’ from the rest of us. We need to lead a change – which is to say, we need to make a decision together (nationally as Christians) to prioritise this area of learning and training!
Regarding empowering them with ‘big-picture knowledge’ as a tool
Youth and older children could also benefit from a small bit of understanding on some big-picture things. For example, regarding the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. This was penned by Eleanor Roosvelt (American Presidents wife) with a group she chaired. As a Christian she was delighted to bring Judeo-Christian values to the world, and under the name of ‘secularism’ Christian values have indeed spread widely.
Secular historians like Tom Holland affirm the reality of dynamic – though not specifically in these words. The challenge is this: Without an objective view of morality, some rights will invariably end up contradicting others.
- Because the word ‘God’ is not included in this declaration, moral values are left as subjective – meaning they can be changed however it suits us.
- Muslims understood this quickly, which is why the OIC met in Cairo in 2002 to create their own Declaration of Human Rights, while rejecting that of the UN – and with considerably different moral boundaries in some areas.
- Because of this, changing sexual morals are on a collision course with religious freedoms in the West. This is the point that needs to be understood. Then we understand why – and from where,
- The only solution is tolerance – which is why taking RESPONSIBILITY for education is so important, because public media and education aren’t going to educate people about things that don’t benefit their own goals and values. And the real challenge is that those promoting these new values are intolerant! They only want to ‘win’ – which to them means convincing or forcing everyone to admit that morality is disconnected from sexuality. Only through understanding this do we have a framework for understanding the current debate, so as to engage with it wisely. (We need to defend the freedom of religion – because it is now in direct conflict with new moral values related to sex, and the ‘liberal’ side has no basis for fixed morals or ethics, so they have no motivation to tolerate any view that is different to their own. Tolerance is the solution we need to argue for.
Regarding morals – children and youth also need to understand why all morals come from religion. Our youth and children need to be taught this.
Two more illustrations.
It is not just science and philosophy that need teaching. It is also history, and the skills needed to discern truth from error.
Regarding history our society says Christianity is an imposition of colonisation, and quite irrelevant to who we are. Children need to hear about the work of the missionaries in New Zealand who were invited by Maori precisely because Maori did understand a few things. Without their foresight there would have been no Treaty. No other group of non-Maori stood for the Treaty like them. No other non-Maori suffered for their stand to defend Maori like they did also! They also need to hear about Christian Maori, who transformed the violent aspects of their culture – while remaining fully Maori in themselves. Also, regarding the Christian foundation to many of our values – children and youth also need to hear about people like secular historian Tom Holland who considers secularism a ‘footnote to the Bible’ (taking Christianity’s values, but making it religiously neutral for wider application). As a non-believer defends the idea that the West is ‘Christian’ – even though this conclusion is contrary to his on starting bias. Our cultural concepts of charity and care are Christian. The cultural ideas we have related to education and healthcare even for the poor are too. Christianity ended slavery, founded the women’s rights movement, taught equality, brought honesty and prosperity to our society through its values and worldview, enabled and promoted democratic forms of government, and a lot more! To criticise it is to cut our own feet off. It’s absurd – yet happening, and our children and youth need to know this. Otherwise they will fall silent – ashamed ‘of the terrible things their irrelevant faith has supposedly done.’
Finally, our education needs to include teaching the young how to read the news – discerning truth from error. This is because, if a person were to view public media as a balanced source of information, very-tragically we’d have missed my entire point. Despite our success as the Christian community in establishing the freedom of information, and the freedom of the press, for Western societies… times have changed, and public media are now again significantly owned by people with power, and with an agenda. People with intelligence have (literally) bought media companies, and the are influencing who is employed, what news will be told, and also how it will be told.
Editors of publications have always has power. They can influence culture and belief through controlling the flow of information. We are entering an age again where integrity in this privileged role is being lose, and public news media being used as means of public control. We are losing the freedom of the press – and with it the freedom of information. We must study matters – and then show the young examples of the contradictions that exist, so they can learn how to read not only what is said – but the motives and intent of those who wrote it. Everyone has a worldview, What is the worldview of the person who wrote this? What are they saying – and what are they not saying? What is the real issue here?
This is true of our universities too. I know academics from our own nation who have, in confidence, told me that their own freedoms of speech are catagorically gone. Others in academia make sport of undermining the faith of their students – and with the superior knowledge and life experience they have (quite apart from the position of power they have as lecturers over their students), it’s hard for a student to stand against – unless they’ve been educated.
…and I suggest that is now a responsibility and role we need to take on in our families and relational communities.
CHAPTER 4 – How much can children understand – really?
Children can understand profound things – but only if their teachers understand those things enough to explain them simply. Making disciples involves becoming an educator!
Just recently I watched a video of a child explaining the Easter story. This young boy could hardly speak – yet understood Jesus’ death and its purpose, that it was Jesus’ own choice to die – not anyone elses. Also that he rose to life ‘all by himself’. The identity of Jesus was God’s Son was comprehended. Much more was within the threads of the short video – and this wa the understanding of a 3 year old. We underestimate the ability children have to comprehend things – maybe because we measure their intelligence by their literacy (their reading and writing level).
I suggest that the reading and writing levels of children are not the same thing as their intellectual level, with which they can understand theological, scientific and philosophical thought. We are grossly underestimating what our children could understand – if we were to teach them!,
The need for an approach that is concise, and based in story and discussion, is noted.
In view of some application: What do you think?
While schools can do math and literacy, has the time come for us to be more involved in values, origins, purpose, charity, truth, morality, philosophy, history and reason?
What would happen if we decided to educate our own children with intelligence again?
And do we care enough for truth and health and life and freedom to engage? Or – as a challenge, have we been so lulled to sleep by the prosperity and abundance of entertainment that we swim amongst that we can’t actually see the ground upon which we walk?
I take great encouragement from a course I saw run in a city teaching foundations to children aged maybe 8 to 12 on topics like God’s existence, why we believe God’s Word, and more. This is the kind of thing that is needed taking resonsibility for education!
A final short story
John Calvin decided illiterate people needed to be taught to read, irreespective of their social class or level of wealth or poverty. It was a radical decision – and funny too. The idea of educating even the poor was, at that time, ridiculous in this world!
JOhn realised that, without this ability people could not read the Bible. And why was that important? If they could not to read the Bible for themselves, they old not make a free and informed decision on matters related to faith and religion! This would leave them at the mercy of those who control the public narrative (the government, various religion’s leaders, and the media). He therefore realised that, only through education, could people be free! He therefore proposed education for all – with a view to establishing the freedom of religion for all! His idea of educating even the poor took off in the hands of Christians. They travelled abroad to serve people’s different to themselves – and that is why you and I can read, along with a few billion others. (that is also how majority of the worlds languages ended up in a written form).
That story gives you the heart of why public education exists. It’s worth remembering – because the moment an education system is run by a Government it runs the danger of becoming something else. The person who controls the narrative writes the future. Were must see that education within our culture has been corrupted.
I pray for new innovation in education – not in schools, but in homes and churches!
- Let’s love and esteem knowledge!
- Let’s love and esteem thinking!
We do, or do not, do this to our own peril.