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Choosing Christ for Our Children (and Ourselves) by Jason Edwards

Way back in 2002, Tom and Christine Sine noted “The average child is on-line thirty-seven hours a week, including television, MTV, CDs, video games, and the internet. They are exposed to between three and four thousand advertisements a week. That number is increasing as corporations are invading both public and private schools with an inexpensive curriculum that includes their corporate ads.”

I feel sure screen time hasn’t decreased in the last 15 years, so the point holds: Our children are spending more hours in front of advertising than they are listening to their school teachers and far more than they are engaged in any Christ-centered spiritual formation.

To be clear: this is NOT an appeal to put away the tablets, turn off the tv and stop going to the movies. Jesus told us to be salt and light in this world, not to evacuate it. Technology and media have a proper place, as do (and I’d say a greater one) our commitments to family fun, engagement in the community, service, learning and extra-curricular activities like sports, dance, and music. These things season our lives and our participation in these activities seasons our world as well.

But season our world with what? Who are we in those activities and relationships? Who are our children becoming? To be clear: This IS an appeal for all of us to start answering that question not accidentally, but with the greater intention. Specifically, for our lives (and our children’s lives) to be first and foremost formed by Jesus Christ.

As Tom and Christine Sine indicated, this is a matter of how we spend our time. Is weekly worship and community Bible study a priority for your family? With the statistics at the beginning of this blog in mind, “weekly” is important. Do your children see you living out a regular commitment to serving Christ too? Much of who we become is taught by observation. And it’s integrated at an even deeper level through participation and conversation.

I’m never sure when something in worship is going to strike Jackson, but when it does, the questions and insights that emerge (for both of us) are so good. Beyond worship and Bible study, the blessing of serving with your child is one no parent (or child) should miss. Time serving with Jackson in South Dakota, filling meal bags for Haiti at our 2BC serve days, and in other intergenerational service opportunities have been a true blessing for me. I hope and pray the accumulation of these moments are forming him (and every member of our family) into the image of Christ.

“The question is not whether to undertake spiritual formation,” writes Robert Mulholland, “but what kind of spiritual formation are we already engaged in? Are we increasingly being conformed to the brokenness and disintegration of the world, or are we increasingly being conformed to the wholeness and integration of the image of Christ?”

The answers will come in time.

Posted by Jason Edwards at 12:56 PM