A Pagan Messaging Frenzy
The noteworthy “media” statistic for parents used to be the average number of hours teenagers spent in front of a television screen. This is no longer the case, because portable electronics and the omnipresent internet have changed the way that young people (or anybody for that matter) consumes media and information.
The New York Times reports on a recent Harvard University Report, which revealed that teens spend about nine hours every day using some form of online media. Consider that Snapchat, a trendy social media outlet favored by teens, claims to reach 41% of 18 to 34-year-olds on any given day. Furthermore, ScienceDaily cites a survey that indicating that 76% of American teens age 13-17 use Instagram, 75% use Snapchat, 66% use Facebook, and 47% use Twitter. Moreover, another source estimates that the average teen spends up to four hours per day listening to audio music.
No matter how accurate these statistics may be, they reveal one obvious fact. Young people are experiencing a messaging frenzy. They are consuming a steady barrage of visual and aural input from all sorts of people and places. What’s more, their sources generally have little or nothing to do with God. Performing artists, media stars, purported friends, and an assortment of perfect strangers are feeding the minds of our young people a regular diet of pagan values and a godless outlook on life. As Christian parents, we can certainly find ways to limit the amount of access some of these sources have into our children’s lives. But even so, we cannot eliminate this completely.
The Most Important Influence
Minus the technological aspects of our culture, the nation of Israel faced a similar dilemma after settling in Palestine. Pagan nations surrounded them. The sights and sounds of these godless people threatened to pull the hearts of Israelite children astray from God. To prevent this from occurring, Moses affirmed to the Israelite parents that they served as the most important platform for reaching the hearts of their children. In doing so, he urged them to exercise this influence in at least two ways.
Your Regular Conversations
There’s no way around it. Children need to have regular, personal conversations with their parents. Open conversations between parents and their children must occur on a daily basis, and they must regularly feature insights about God from the Scripture. There’s no other way to capture a child’s heart. That’s why Moses instructed the Israelite parents to speak with their children at four different times of day.
Deut 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
- First, talk to your children when you are sitting in your house. This refers to times of relaxation and rest, when you are at home as a family.
- Talk with them also when you are traveling outside of your home. This refers to those busy times when going from one place to the next, running errands, sitting in traffic, riding the subway, and walking to the park.
- Talk with them when you lay down at night. This refers to your regular evening routine at the end of each day when you put them to bed.
- Talk with them when you get up in the morning. This refers to your regular morning routine at the start of each day.
Your Household Decorations and Personal Technology
Household decorations and personal technology serve as another powerful venue by which you may communicate to your children on a regular basis.
Deut 6:8-9 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
What kind of artwork, messages, and pictures do you hang on the wall and refrigerator? What kind of media – whether print, audio, or visual – do you feature in your home on a regular basis and in prominent places? And what about binding those “signs upon your hand?” Sounds a lot like wearable tech to me. Parents, learn from Moses to leverage all aspects of your home environment to capture to turn the hearts of your children to God.
Loving God for Real
Parents who determine to carry on conversations with their children and to surround their children at home with godly influences will still fall short if they neglect the most important dynamic. This dynamic is the depth and genuineness of a parent’s own devotion to God. Christian parents who have conversations with their children out of duty and guard the environment of their home the same way will ultimately be unpersuasive. Why? Because a child can detect what their parents truly love. How? From the free-flowing, spontaneous conversations you initiate throughout the day.
Christian parents who have conversations with their children out of duty and guard the environment of their home the same way will ultimately be unpersuasive.
You talk about what you love and about the things that interest you most, that fill your mind to the greatest degree. Though you may plan daily time for family prayer, this will accomplish little if you never talk about God and his truth spontaneously throughout the day and if you allow godless media and decorum to saturate your home without care.
So, to capture the hearts of our children for Christ and to protect them from the inundation of godless messaging they experience outside the home, we must have regular conversations with our children about God and his ways, and we must arrange the environs of our home to achieve the same purpose. But in order for this to have a genuine and lasting effect, our conversations about God and his ways must come from our heart. They must be genuine, heartfelt values that we personally embrace. To reach the hearts of our children, we must first love God with all our heart as well.
Deut 6.4-5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Thomas Overmiller serves as pastor for Faith Baptist Church in Corona, NY and blogs at Shepherd Thoughts. This article first appeared at Shepherd Thoughts, used here with permission.
- Deut 6:10-12 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. [↩]
- Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. [↩]