This is part 2 of our interview with Jody Vise. In Part 1, we heard Jody’s story of raising her children in the church, dealing with the devastating news when her son walked away from the faith, and looking at what she felt were some of the contributing factors. In Part 2, we discuss the differences between the modernist world that some of us and our parents grew up in, and the post-modern world that our children are being raised in. Jody also discusses the 6-week Sunday School class she led for parents whose children have walked away from the faith, titled The Prodigal Series.
[**DISCLAIMER** The recording quality isn’t as good on this interview as our previous podcasts because it was the first time to try and get 3 people on 1 microphone. Glitches have been fixed for future podcasts, but the quality isn’t up to our normal Mama Bear standards, and we apologize. Normally, I am a perfectionist about quality, but the content was just too good to let it go to waste though. (It’s THAT good!)]
- The importance of modeling and helping facilitate your child’s relationship with Jesus
- Jody’s Prodigal series
- How has the post-modern culture changed our kid’s view of Christianity
- Understanding why they are they questioning their faith when they leave home
- How can we live out our faith in front of our children so that they can witness the reality of Christ’s transforming power?
- Discover what areas your child is struggling in as it relates to their faith
- How do you parent your prodigal:
- Do not let it steal your joy!!
- Love them unconditionally
- Let them face the consequences of their own actions
- If and when they do return, do not demand a full accounting of actions. Let the Spirit begin His work.
- Pray, pray pray!!!
- The Prodigal Series by Jody Vise (not currently available as a resource 🙁 )
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture: A Practical Help for Shaping Your Children’s Hears, Minds and Souls by Mary DeMuth
- The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell and David H Bellis
- J. Budziszewski
- Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Reaching Your Prodigal: What Did I Do Wrong? What Do I Do Now? by Phil Waldrep
Unfamiliar vocabulary: Modernity vs Post-Modernity: an Essay by Jody Vise
Here is an essay taken directly from Jody Vise’s Prodigal Series:
How has our postmodern culture changed our children’s view of Christianity?
As I began to put this study together and looked at how different our children view the world and faith issues in comparison to my own generation, I felt it necessary to go back in history to see where the seeds of discontent began to really understand where we are now. The information I present today is by no means exhaustive on this topic, but I hope to at least hit the highlights so you can see more clearly that there has been a big shift in how people believe today and in what they put their faith.
Around the 1700’s the “Enlightenment” as it is often called began where the age of reason dawned and the beginning of the modern age was born. The change happened slowly over time as people shifted world views, they began to see they could control parts of their world and even conquer countries. People began to openly speak and write in opposition to stances held by the Church. One such writer was Pierre Bayle of France. He challenged the idea that an atheist is always immoral. He wrote “If faith says yes to certain ideas, but does not transform the will, it’s influence on human behavior is small.” He exposed people who behaved badly in spite of their religious beliefs and contrasted them against those who were irreligious, but exhibited behaved good and moral behavior. There was much hypocrisy in the Catholic Church at that time. Religious infighting over power, money and trying to force opinions down the throats of the people. These sometimes cruel actions reinforced the image that Christians displayed no “love for one another.”
Following Bayle, came Francois Voltaire, who was regarded as an arch enemy of Christianity. He was for free thought, meaning everything could be questioned — especially things written in the Bible. He attacked not only the truth of the gospel, but the acceptance of the Bible as God’s true word, and faith’s influence on man’s behavior. These beliefs began to spread throughout Europe. Quoting directly from the book “Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture” by Mary E DeMuth, we see a shift from God to man being the center of knowledge in this way. “Man could alter and control his lot in life. Machines made everyday living manageable. Science became the religion of the day as discovery and experimentation dissected the world down to its smallest components. Philosophically, folks began to shift their thinking, trading mysticism for logic and superstition for absolute, knowable truth. Humanity’s ability to logically discern the world opened the “master of my own fate” can of worms… Our ability to solve any problem trumped our need for God.”
So Ladies, for 300 years the “Enlightenment” has been affecting the world stage and came to be known as the Modern Era. Since our founding fathers and countrymen came here for religious freedom to worship God, America embraced a strong Biblical foundation. Sadly, over time the European influence began to change our universities where the study of Knowledge and Science was sought out and the filtered throughout society. In just the last 50 years, the Postmodern Era has begun. Just as it took time to modify our understanding of faith, science and knowledge to accommodate the Modern Era, so now it will take time to fully understand the implications of the post-modern era. It will especially take prayerful insight to understand the effect it will have on generations to come.
DeMuth’s book gives a good simple overview of the differences between these two eras of thinking;
“A modern person clings to facts and logic; a postmodern person questions whether facts are completely knowable and whether logic is the avenue to discovering how to navigate life. Truth, to the postmodern mind is not objective, but subjective depending on circumstances and can change from individual to individual. Personal happiness is not longer the pinnacle of life; instead, the betterment of the community is elevated.”
I am providing you a comparison chart of views each group has on major value words—let’s read and discuss each one.
Before moving on to discussing the results of the Barna Group 2005 Study, I wanted to first give you and overview of how Postmodern values affects how young people relate to church today.
- Scripture is reinterpreted to address the needs of the community.
- Some postmoderns have thrown out the validity of the Bible.
- Relationships are of primary importance.
- Postmoderns frequently seek God in community rather than alone.
- Evangelism no longer emphasizes the rational decision an individual made at one point in time.
- Discipleship occurs over years in community.
- Authenticity-being the same inside as how you appear outside has become utterly important.
This last point of authenticity seems to be a huge factor influencing what our children choose to follow. Previous Moderns tended to focus on lots of rules such as no drinking, no cussing, no wild behavior to name a few, but sadly a large majority followed more the path of saying all the right things on Sunday, but doing whatever they wanted the rest of the week. I shared in the opening that my son told us about the first time he really began to wonder if Christ really had the power to transform lives. It was largely based on the behavior of the “Christian” college students he met at school. His first two years of college, he attended a church with a small college group of believers. He enjoyed the lessons the College pastor presented, though they did not have many social gatherings. When his leader moved on, the little group seem to fall apart. So, my son moved down to the larger church on the other end of campus to a sizable youth group with more social activities. Sadly, he witnessed this group singing praises on Sunday, but on weekends they partied just as hard as the supposed heathens. It really bothered him they would live such hypocritical lives.
In truth, I think he also was feeling the guilt of his own gradual movement into the party scene. Rather than choosing a godly lifestyle, he began to reflect the other students, and thus began the conflict within himself. Was he willing to give Jesus control of his life which would mean separating himself or would he take charge of his own behavior? At this point he is still choosing to be the one in control and suffer the consequences of his decisions without the aid of Christ
Three areas we will continually touch on as key points to reach our youth of today are l) your child must, by their own free will, have chosen to follow Christ because they accepted the reality of the gospel and invited the Spirit of the living God to dwell with them in order to have his guidance daily in their lives; 2) your child needs direct discipleship on a regular basis over many years from you, mentors, and Christian peers to help them mature in their faith and build the solid foundation they will need to face a world that seeks to tear that faith down; 3) a strong community identity with not only their local church, but with the world wide church as the family of God must be instilled where they see the truth of God’s word lived out as they are taught to serve one another and reach out into the unbelieving world with the salt and light of Christ’s great gift of salvation and hope.
The early Christian Church was a community of believers bonded together who helped one another, spoke truth in love, and helped mature one another in the faith. The postmodern youth of today who are believers would relate more to what is described in the Bible as the body of believers than what our churches have become today. Acts 2: 38-47 speaks of the first group of believers who joined together to eat and share their lives daily; Eph 2:17-22 speaks of believers no longer being foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens and members of God’s household where Jesus is the cornerstone—in him the whole building is joined together;2 Cor 4:1-2 encourages believers to renounce secret and shameful ways; not to use deception or distort the word of God, but to set forth the truth to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
The task may seem daunting in today’s culture, but what we do have on our side is the Lord God Almighty who made heaven and earth—that fact alone should gives us all hope that nothing is impossible for our awesome God.
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is coauthor and editor of the Mama Bear Apologetics book, and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for over 12 years. She is working on her second master’s degree, and yet can’t seem to figure out the simplest cooking recipes.