Mark D. Roberts

Part 2 of series: The Barna Update: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities
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A couple of posts ago I began commenting on the latest Barna Update. As you may recall, it highlights four “mega-themes” in our culture. They are:

â?¢ Americansâ?? unconditional self-love
â?¢ Nouveau Christianity
â?¢ The five Ps of parenting
â?¢ Designer faith with rootless values.

Last time I shared some thoughts on the first two of these mega-themes. Today I’ll focus on the last two.
The Five P’s of Parenting
These “five P’s” come from George Barna’s recent book, Revolutionary Parenting (Barna, 2007). They are:

1. Preparation
2. Performing well
3. Pressure management
4. Protection
5. Public perception

Two comments stood out to me:

Most parents do not see themselves as the key to grooming a well-rounded child; they believe their role is to place their child in developmental environments and under the tutelage of those who can take their prodigies to the next level of proficiency.
Many parents, even those who are born again Christians, also overlook the need to foster deeper a connection between their children and God, or to enhance the childâ??s worldview as a critical component of their decision-making skills.

These observations fit with what I have seen during my tenure as a pastor, though with plenty of exception. Many parents underestimate their role and responsibility as the primary encouragers of their children’s intellectual and spiritual growth. They expect schools to grow their children’s minds and churches to develop their children’s spiritual lives. Of course schools and churches play a central role in this process. But parents are essential.
Why do parents minimize their role as educators and disciplers of their children? Partly, they have bought into a professionalism model, in which only trained professionals do the heavy lifting with children. Partly, parents feel insecure about their own abilities. And partly, Christian parents are sometimes ignorant of their God-given responsibility to nurture the faith of their own children. All of this opens up a huge opportunity for the church to teach and encourage parents to be the parents God has called them to be.
Designer Faith with Rootless Values
Here’s an excerpt from the Barna website:

As young adults, teenagers and adolescents have become accustomed to radical individualism, they have introduced such thinking and behavior into the faith realm, as well. Faith is an acceptable attribute and pursuit among most young people. However, their notions of faith do not align with conventional religious perspectives or behavior. For instance, young people are still likely to claim the label “Christian,” but the definition of that term has been broadened beyond traditional parameters.

In my experience, it’s not just “young adults, teenagers and adolescents” who exemplify “designer faith with rootless values.” My own generation of boomers has done this same thing.
In fact, I have found that the younger generations tend to look for a kind of rootedness, one that takes Christian tradition seriously. Our “post-contemporary” worship at Irvine Presbyterian Church, called Veritas, featured an excellent rock-band that regularly used hymns. Our worship leader, Dale Huntington, who was in his early 20s, was eager to connect what we were doing in Veritas with some of the classic Christian traditions. He, and others like him, wanted a faith with roots.
Nevertheless, I agree with the Barna Update about the tendency for many Christians to pick and choose what they want to believe and obey. Thus the church faces the stiff challenge, not only of teaching biblical truth, but of convincing people that they should accept even the aspects of that truth they find unpalatable. My sense is that, for most people, this kind of convincing will come more from how we live than from how we preach.

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