I don’t know what I believe.
Six in ten young people will leave the church for an extended period of time, according to a Barna study from 2012. Kids who grew up in the church, spent time in Sunday school and Youth Group, many of them, will leave when they get to college.
Lots of people are studying why this happens, and many of the answers are instructive. I’d like to suggest that if you have children, and you homeschool (or plan to), you should put a plan in place for instructing your child in biblical worldview. See my earlier blog on biblical worldview and the young child. In fact (and I really don’t need to say this), anyone who parents a teen should find this instructive, homeschooling or not. 🙂
Biblical worldview instruction begins with the very youngest and doesn’t end until the child has moved out. It doesn’t need to be all classroom instruction, but the aim of biblical worldview education for the teen is so that he can assuredly, eloquently, passionately give a reason for the hope that lies within (1 Pet. 3:15).
An interview with some of my teenage students showed me some of the things they think about and showed me the importance of biblical worldview teaching for teens.
Key Reasons Teens Need Biblical Worldview Teaching
1. Helps to give me an identity. Teens struggle with who they are. When they are comfortable with who they are–and I mean who they are in Christ–they can wade through the identity struggles of their teenage years. (Eph. 2:1-10)
2. Helps me navigate the dangers of adolescence. The teen years are more dangerous than when you and I were young. They receive endless messages from media, from peers, from teachers, about who they are and about what is true. They must battle their way through temptations we never imagined. Rebellion, sex, pornography, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, self-abuse–and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the dangers Christian kids face from unbelievers who will try to pull them away from their faith. They get hardened. They begin to pull away. With a solid foundation of faith–with a solid biblical worldview–their feet are firmly planted in soil that will never give way. They will not be “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (NASV Eph. 4:11-16, esp. v 14).
3. Helps me to combat other worldviews and ideas that come at me. My students were adamant about this one. They know that “out there” they will meet much smarter people whose ideas will be strong and who will argue forcefully. When a teenager knows what he believes–and believes in it with his whole heart and mind and soul–he will not be so anxious when someone is forcefully arguing. He may also be able to counter an argument with one of his own. Biblical worldview teaching means not just learning about your own faith. It means learning about other worldviews so you are not knocked off your feet by every stray idea that comes along.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (ESV Col. 2:6-10, emphasis mine)
4. Helps me to remember that there is an absolute truth. Children and teens receive guidance from older Christians, but teens are busy challenging authority, ideas, peers. Teens are pressured by situational ethics that challenge their understanding of the truth. Homosexuality, alternative lifestyles, sex outside of marriage, friends who are pregnant from date rape and don’t want to keep their babies–these all challenge absolute truth. Where do I stand on these? The answers are hard, but the truth is still the truth.
The pressure to rebel is huge, but if a firm foundation has been built in them–knowing that there is an absolute truth, and it is found in scripture, and it never changes–they can fall back on that guideline when all else fails them. “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Ps 119:160).
5. Helps me to own my own faith. Children follow along their parents’ leading, and that lasts for several years. But somewhere along about the early teens, the questions begin to form. The challenges increase. Children begin to grow into thoughtful adolescents who need to understand for themselves what is right and true. If you teach them early, that foundation will have begun to take root. Make sure not to stop when they hit their teenage years. Make sure that during their teens they are surrounded by adults who will teach, exhort, and challenge them to grow and to grasp the faith to make it their own. When Christ prayed for his disciples, he prayed knowing that his disciples needed truth to hang onto when they lived in this world. He prayed,
But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:13-18)
6. It keeps me disciplined. “We have more freedom as teens. We are making more decisions for ourselves. So we need to have a firm foundation to use when we are deciding what to do.” I liked that idea, and I think that even we adults can learn a thing or two from these wise teenagers. As long as I learn that I am not my own, that I belong to a sovereign God, then my decisions should be based on that knowledge, and that should free me (1 Cor. 6:12-20, esp 19-20; Rom. 14:8; Rom. 12:1-2).
7. It helps me to keep things in proper perspective. Some of my students told me they were bothered by how easy it is for teens to separate themselves from their Sunday School or Youth Group personae. (It is something that bothers me about adults too!) A solid biblical worldview will show a teen that all of life is God’s. There is nothing–not one thing–that is hidden from Him. If there is not a thing that He does not see, then how can we go about our daily lives acting like the unsaved (Ps. 139:7-12)? Well, I can tell you it is because we all sin and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Keeping in mind that every single thing belongs to Him, and that I am at the mercy of my sinful self, makes me want to press in to Him even more so that I do not separate my Sunday self from my weekly self.
Finally, my students wanted to give advice to parents and to teens: Stay in the Word. Their prayer for teens and their parents:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 4:14-21)