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Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World

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Author, A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World (David Cook, 2016)

President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Co-host, “Breakpoint”, the daily cultural commentary founded by the late Chuck Colson

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A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO CULTURE
Over the past several decades, culture has shifted in significant ways. Hot button issues like politics, technology, LGBT issues, sexuality, and consumerism are more divisive than ever.  John says Christian parents, teachers, and mentors are asking one question: “Is it possible for young people to survive, much less thrive, in a culture that has lost its fundamental bearings on everything from truth and morality to relationships and identity?”

In order to positively affect culture, John says we must understand what culture means and what it does. Many people are overwhelmed by the term “culture,” but it simply refers to whatever is normal for a group of people. For example, what people wear, customs they follow, and how societies make laws are components of culture. 

Several controversial issues dominate American culture. Pornography, the “hookup culture,” gender identity and consumerism are just a few examples of these issues. However, mentors of young people should also recognize “the not-so-obvious” cultural shifts. John calls these shifts “undercurrents.” He says culture is like water to a fish. Being immersed in water 24/7, the fish doesn’t even notice the water. One example of this phenomenon is living in the information age. Technology and information are ubiquitous. However, effects of the information age, such as having a smartphone all day, usually go unnoticed.  

These “undercurrents” have significant influence. We often don’t realize the way we internalize a culture’s values. For instance, the increase of technology means everyone has access to information. This makes authority a difficult concept to grasp. If everyone has the same information, who is the authority? A pastor? Google? A parent? A peer? Another undercurrent is being “alone together,” which is the phenomenon where people are together in a physical group, yet everyone is using a device. Another undercurrent is what John calls identity after Christianity- the idea that everyone creates their own identity rather than realizing God created us in His image. The final undercurrent, “perpetual adolescence” refers to the way traditional markers of responsibility and maturity are delayed into adulthood. While the teenage years were once the acceptable period for immaturity and mistakes, “adolescence” is now acceptable well into the young adult years.

John says we can help young people navigate today’s world by taking important steps. The most important step is to make the Bible a priority. It is important for young people to know God’s story and understand the importance of developing a Christian worldview. That way they are inoculated against the lies perpetuated by the culture. Another strategy is to teach discernment by asking questions. Asking, “What do you mean by that?” is a great way to get others to think critically and evaluate their ideas. Finally, we need to manage entertainment in the home. Entertainment is one of the key influences in the life of young people. Being aware of kids’ entertainment diets, taking regular breaks from it, and teaching kids to actively engage entertainment, rather that passively absorb it, are all steps that lead to using entertainment in a positive way.

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
John Stonestreet
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