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Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World

Colson Center CEO John Stonestreet discusses our culture shift and how to equip the next generation to thrive in it. Read Transcript

Bob Dylan once sang, "the times, they are a-changin'".

Of course, that was more than 50 years ago,

and the times have certainly changed since then.

What was once taboo has made it into the mainstream.

And who knows what's going to happen in another generation?

But as John Stonestreet explains,

there's a way that we can still stand strong.

John Stonestreet is the co-host of Breaking Point,

a Christian radio show founded by the late Chuck Colson.

He's also president of the Colson Center

for Christian World View.

John says America's views on issues

like gender identity, technology,

and abortion are changing.

That means parents, pastors, and mentors are faced

with a difficult challenge.

They must prepare young Christians

to face a confusing world.

In his new book, A Practical Guide to Culture,

he shares how we can equip the next generation

to change the world, even in uncertain times.

Well John Stonestreet is here with us now.

And what a great book, "A Practical Guide to Culture."

John, it's good to have you here.

Thank you.

It's great to be on with you.

So that we're all on the same terms here,

will you define culture?

Well that's one of the most important questions

to start with, because culture is one of those often used,

but rarely defined words.

Culture is what humans do with the world.

Sometimes Christians define culture

as all the bad stuff that's out there, but that's not true.

It's also work and it's business and so on.

But culture is the force around us.

It shapes our thinking.

And it shapes our mind.

Shapes how we behave.

And parents know that a lot of things

have changed in a short amount of time.

And we also know that we should

have the ability to somehow impact

culture for our children.

But talk a little bit-- you say in the book

that there are undercurrents in our culture

that we may not know about.

In the book we cover what we call cultural waves.

These are the ones you feel.

We've all been on this side of the ocean

and gotten knocked by a wave.

And talk about things like same sex marriage or racism

or addiction.

These are the obvious things.

But we've also had the experience

of being in the ocean and finding ourselves

20 yards down the beach, and what happened?


And it's the undercurrents.

And there's been a lot of undercurrents

in our culture for the last 20 or 40 years

that have created the cultural waves that we now feel.

So as a parent, as a mentor, as an educator,

if we're going to help the next generation deal with the waves,

we need to understand the undercurrents as well.

So what are some of those undercurrents?

One of those is just the fact that we live in what's

called the age of information.

When you and I were growing up, if we had a question,

our parents would say, go look it up.

And then--

And you had the encyclopedias right there.

And that was an authoritative source.

Today looking it up means going to Google.

And Google is going to give us whatever its algorithms say.

All this translates to the fact that all the information

we have doesn't mean the same thing as wisdom.

So navigating through a maze of information

and trying to find truth-- that's

one of the undercurrents.

Another one is what interestingly enough,

Senator Ben Sasse wrote about just recently,

which is perpetual adolescence.

Adolescence used to be considered 13 to 18.

Today it's considered 11 to 30.

There's words for it like Peter Pan Syndrome,

or my favorite is failure to launch.

You have high-schoolers that become

20-somethings that become 30-somethings, but don't

grow up.

They don't take on responsibility.

They don't move out of their parents' house.

One of the things is they delay marriage longer and longer

and longer.

So that's another undercurrent that we face.

And then there's a number of other ones.

One is just the lack of virtue.

We now talk about values.

You have Republican values or Democrat values,

conservative or liberal values.

And we need to have our values straight.

But connecting what we believe with how

we live-- the integrated life, as C.S. Lewis talked about,

being a man with a chest, is how we phrased it.

Having character-- the character formation.

We have a lot of solutions in life today

that are very easy, very quick, very convenient,

but not the a long, hard work of developing character.

Well, when you talk about something like character,

I think that's where parents get confused

because with the culture--

Has changed.

Swirling around us.

And the values changing.

And even the definition of what is truth changing.

How do we impart that to our children?

What do you speak to parents in this day and age?

In the fourth section of the book,

we spend a lot of time on scripture.

I think the challenge of every Christian

is to keep straight the moment in the story.

We live in a cultural moment, and there's a lot going on.

We have brothers and sisters in Christ

around the world that live in a cultural moment

where there is great persecution and great oppression.

And yet the most true thing about any cultural moment--

there's, ours, any generation of Christians throughout history--

is what we find in the story of scripture,

centered in the person of Jesus Christ-- that Christ is risen.

So there's no possible way to have an answer

to each and every question, even knowing what

our kids are going to face.

But grounding them with a trust in the authority of scripture,

helping them understand that scripture is not just

a collection of random moral mcnuggets

that we can take and pick and choose from,

but it's this grand story that gives us

the context of our current cultural moment.

It gives us truth with a capital T. No substitute for that,

if our kids are going to survive.

That's the truth.

And then walking it out ourselves.

I talk about parents and kids, but really for us as adults

the ones who are supposed to lead,

who are supposed to picture all of this for kids,

how do we inoculate ourselves?

Certainly scripture is the beginning and the basis

for all of that, but what are some other ways

that we can be aware of what we need

to do with regard to values and culture?

We wanted this book to be very practical,

and that included how do we develop a Christian world

view ourselves so that we can understand culture?

One of the easiest ways--I won't say easy,

but one of the most helpful ways is being very careful about

the definition of words.

Now that sounds strange, but here's what I mean.

Sometimes in culture we'll find ourselves-- sometimes

as parents with our kids, we'll find ourselves also using

the same vocabulary but not the same dictionary.

I once had a conversation with a woman

on an airplane who told me she was an atheist.

She said, how can you believe in God?

And I asked a question, what do you mean by God?

She said a grumpy old man with a beard

in the sky who wants to strike you with a lightning bolt.

I said, well I don't believe in Zeus.

That's not the God.

And so starting with that question, what

do you mean by that, we talk about words like love and truth

and freedom and God and male and female and marriage and family.

These are essential first steps to making sure

that we have the right dictionary

and understand the culture.

And as we do that as adults, we can do that with our kids.

So it's not only that we do it so that our kids can watch,

it's that we do it so that we can walk with our kids

into the culture.

There's so much anger today in our culture.

Some of that I think comes from the fact that we are confused

and people are frustrated and they don't

know how to change that up.

I just want to thank you for the book.

It's an amazing guide to all of that.

And there's so much that we haven't touched on here.

This is a deep book.

You need to read it and think about it

and then do something with it in your life.

It's called "A Practical Guide to Culture,

Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World."

We can't help them if we don't help ourselves first.

It's available in stores nationwide, highly recommended.

John, thank you so much.

Thank you so much.

Lots of food to chew on there.



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