Looking back on the trendy fashion, music and entertainment from the 60’s and beyond, one common thread remains; it was the teens that were the “trend-setters.” If we look at the current trends in music, technology and entertainment, it is teens that are still influencing trends today. Therefore, as loving, caring, faith-filled adults, how should we respond to cultural trends from a Christian perspective?

Let’s first look at how Jesus interacted with and responded to culture. I love the way Brian Housman describes the way Jesus interacted with the culture around him in his book Engaging Your Teen’s World. He writes, “Jesus came to heal and renew what sin has infected – by revelation and instruction he (Jesus) reattaches the soul to God the source of its being and goodness and restores it to the right order of love.” Notice those verbs; Renew, Reattaches, Restores. He doesn’t ignore, or respond in panic or fear.

Unlike Jesus, our first response is too often to reject or ignore tough questions and hard battles. However the best way to deal with issues of culture (music, tech, entertainment) is to engage!

Look at the story in John 10:6-10 where Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The Message says it like this; Jesus told this simple story, but they (the disciples) had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

“Will freely go in and out”—Notice Jesus doesn’t lock up the sheep. Dead bolt the gate shut! Keep the sheep completely sheltered, in hiding. John Rosemond, that man who coined the phrase “helicopter parent” says this; “Too many parents are ultimately carrying the burdens of their teen’s problems on their own shoulders. No teen will become a responsible adult if their parents carry the load for them. It’s not healthy for either party!”

So then, how do we engage without taking on our kid’s burdens? Whatever you do, don’t stay silent. Silence will often lead teens to jump to feeling of shame! Things so terrible we dare not mention them. When we try to engage, too often we ask simple (yes or no) questions. Then we’re surprised or disappointed when all we get is a simple yes/no/fine answer. Instead, begin your questions with phrases such as, “What do you think about…” or “How do you feel about…” These are open-ended questions, and can be quite helpful. Try them. They work!

To be continued…