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How Are Screens Influencing Us?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
August 2, 2020 9:00 pm

How Are Screens Influencing Us?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 2, 2020 9:00 pm

Authors David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock talk about the challenges youth face spiritually as they navigate all the opposing views and opinions of the spiritual Babylon we're living in. Kinnaman, who has been with Barna Research Group for 25 years, explains that the gap between Christians and non-Christians is growing, and our youth face a large chasm from which to interpret their faith. With the constant drizzle of news and information, they are feeling more anxiety and fear. Together Kinnaman and Matlock explain how parents can help their children use technology wisely.

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The digital revolution that we are living through is reshaping how all of us are being discipled. Mark Matlock says that's especially true for teenagers and young adults. Yet when we look at the typical screen time that a 15 to 23-year-olds experiencing about 2706 seven hours a year now. We asked them the intervention and try look at how much spiritual content they're taking in the average teen saying that hundred 53 hours of spiritual content we would have the typical churchgoer's a little under 300 hours so now somebody else's discipled him. My job is I had to unpack all of that and what we need to understand his parents. Is that just because we see our kids doing some of the same things that we did attending church, raising your hands in worship going to summer camp or spitting mission trips.

What's going on in the inside interior world can be really different because they've got this screen relationship that they're able to have someone else. This is family life today hosts are Damon and Wilson and Bob Lapine.

You can find us how do we as parents train up our children in the way they should go when their screens have started doing that job for us to talk more about that today. Stay with us and welcome to family life to. Thanks for joining us everywhere we go when we talk to moms and dads. I think it is the question that comes to the surface more than any other question concerned about their kids, whether they're in high school or adult kids not hanging with the faith not going to church starting to fade away or fall away, always your question as well.

What about when your kids were little and growing up. It was like oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness, how are we and help them be followers of Christ under 18, 20, 38, I feel like it's more so today that you're right Bob, I think there's a fear that people feel because they do see people leaving the church and were hearing the statistics about you know the 75% of kids who are active in their youth group who are no longer involved in church five or 10 years later and we wondered they come back when they have kids and all that you heard a presentation. This was a few months ago and you said we need to talk to these guys and and help moms and dads understand my than the first time you ever listen to me Bob like these guys said it was not the first kid that was the third but I was passionate about the research in the understanding of what God's doing in the next generation.

I said let's get these guys in here.

Let's do this.

Introduce these guys there. Here, Mark Medlock, David Kinnaman. In fact, Kinnaman got me in big trouble. Back in the days when he wrote the book on Christian with what Gabe Lyons that's right back in the day.

I know if I ever told you this but when that came out you know this study, which was fascinating. I read it thinking I would see no what you know you can go out and interview nonchurch people and find out what they think of the church and unbelievers and then as I read that, unlike all of these signs that they saw our true so I got our staff and say we gotta read this and I think we should do a series at our church and say were sorry and we did. We called the series were sorry for the things that you put in the book that the unchurched had said they felt from the church and I identify like I think we've done that. So here's here's a long intro but I end up on WJR.

The biggest radio station in Detroit because they heard you're doing a churches apologizing. This was the seven mainstream not a Christian state Yeah this is that I taught innovation Mitch album and this is very well-regarded millions of people listen to this, they cause up to hey can you come on, just for five minutes and say why would a church apologized, so I got a saying I'm in a meeting literally come out for thing and read as I'm getting ready to get off the interview.

The host goes hey could you hang on for some calls. You know will take some because Mike okay so I think were going to get a couple calls I go to break he comes back is low. This place is lit up. We got all you want to talk to you and you at the Culver. They were church people yelling at me for doing a series were we apologize and I was like me, this is exactly what the book says we would do, but no snow.

Seriously, David. That book and that research and this book is a number exiles that you've just recently written messages really the third in the true trilogy right. They are powerful understandings of our culture and our church and our kids. We should so that's why we need to talk about. We should say David is joining us remotely from his home in Southern California. Mark Matlock is in the studio with us you guys collaborated on this work in Mark you been involved in pastoral ministry youth ministry for a long time. You been observing as a churchman. Some of the trends that you're talking about here in the book. Yeah, I've been actually volunteer in my churches youth ministry for quite a long time and then the ordained minister, but primarily my work within the nonprofit serving other churches serving other youth pastors new specialties than some large format discipleship conferences used to run so I've had a real kind of boots on the ground watching this transition take place over the arc of 25, 30 years as well as joining David and doing data across the country.

David the underlying thesis of the book faith for exiles is that we live in a new day and we need to understand the new day if were going to continue to be effective in evangelizing and discipleship running yeah that's right yes I've spent the better part of a been 20 here at the company monitor for 25 years and started straight out of college started working with George Barna amazing research and care so much about the health and vitality of the church and so I started focusing in on millennial's, and generation Z when I was started working on the book on Christian work. Gabe Lyons and it's been almost 15 years now. Of the 25 years that I've been here while I'm spending a lot of time thinking about interviewing.

Try to explore the ways to build resilient faith in the next generation. And as he said the thesis of this book faith for exiles is that the disruptions of our current context of digital life of sort of the secularization of our society of the distractions that we deal with the chaos and anxiety to this generation feels that it's a very different place to try to disciple and whether were raising kids you know who are teenagers or young adults or you know the younger that all of us are facing a brand-new landscape in which were trying to work out how to how to pass on faith in a meaningful way. If we had been alive during the time of the Gutenberg press.

We probably would not have recognized all this is a revolution that's happening around us because when you're living in a revolution you don't necessarily recognize its revolution hundred years from now should the Lord carry people look back on this period of time.

The digital revolution that's taking place and say that was a culture change or I absolutely believe that's right. And I think we don't really understand the depth of that change and we come up with this phrase we call it digital Babylon that was happening for this generation is that they're being raised and growing up in a in a new kind of Babylon in Scripture we see over and over.

This concept of Babylon right from the very beginning, the Tower of Babel and then Daniel is an actual Babylon and then all the way and read the book of Revelation.

John is writing about Babylon that even first Peter. He talks about the current balance of this idea of Babylon is a very biblical concept, and I I think I'd idea they were living in a new kind of digital context access to pornography with the sort of the gospel according to YouTube the plausibility of Christian belief. All these things are changing the nature of how young people grow up, and the authority of a local church.

The authority of the Bible, the authority of parents and grandparents who believe this, their whole life does have the same weight as it once did only have you guys research the data that you also have kids in this atrial power will do your kids. You are both married Mark how to your kids. Yes, a minor, 23 and 21 and David 20 1815 so yeah we were both in our mid-40s early 50s and 46, a marker 50 and you know we feel this way of try to help youth pastors and parents and others who are interested in it because we've we've seen in our kids lives. The pressures that they're facing all the good intentions that we have had as dads, our kids are amazing kids might might be another asking deep questions, but seeing their lives and their friends lives more much more than just an academic sort of big study for us even though we interviewed thousands upon thousands of young people to understand the bigger trends than just our own notes, kids stories, but we see it in the laws for kids as well. In fact is we are writing the book I was trying to drop my daughter off in New York City in Manhattan to go to school and the arts.

David is getting ready to drop his daughter was dropping his daughter off at UC Berkeley going in kind of the sciences to fields not traditionally known to be embraced by Christendom and two cities that are not the evangelical meccas in America. Hooray yeah for me and Ella David speak to his experience, but it was kind that feeling of just wow. Okay were living this work that were doing. You know in 360 in our lives. First and yeah and in the real concern of just waiting to see what happens right. We think we've done these things right. We think we've listened and yelled. I hate putting that pressure on my children that somehow they have to prove my experiment is apparent.

But this idea of just realizing boy. So many of the rules change. My daughter is going to identity forming years as smartphones are being released. We didn't have, and there's no books on how to parent with technology and think everything that we did was kind of trying to figure this disruption out this digital Babylon out and try to figure how this can apply out in their their lives and every parent who is ever drop the child off at college, drop them off with fear and trepidation knowing that it's as likely. Maybe it's more likely that at the end of four years there, have wandered from their faith than to have stuck with their faith and were all praying and always affect their parents were sent, I'm sending my child to college because that's the outcome for so many parents and I can't even bear the thought of that potential outcome. So Marco explained for a listener who who's maybe not.

Maybe they haven't read the book of Daniel in a while Babylon versus Jerusalem right that those are that the two girls one is is a city where God reigns and the other is a pagan city with pagan deities correcting in so many ways I think this describes the tension that a lot of older generations are experiencing in the church right now, this idea that things are shifting and they don't completely understand why they're not comfortable in this. This move toward nationalism that were experiencing the United States. It's not just a US phenomenon. It's happening globally of you travel even even in India.

I got in this big Twitter more with some Hindu nationalists that were basically saying you know make India great again and it made me realize this is a global phenomenon that this change is happening because while we've always been diverse people in our world were encountering that diversity more often with greater frequency and in greater depth than we've ever had to deal with it and that's causing us some disruption in the way we normally go about our lives and how we disciple in that context is very different than how we disciple in Jerusalem. So diversity versus homogeny. Those are that one characteristic were moving from a more homogeneous culture to a more diverse culture. What are some of the other characteristics that differentiate the old way the Jerusalem way from the new Babylonian culture.

11. I think another big factor that we see in the research is that the gap between Christians and non-Christians in our society is growing and another way to think about that is well most of society among the Boomer and older generations sort of understood and at least respect that a Christian or biblical worldview. That's no longer the case with younger non-Christians.

So young Christians today face a much larger chasm to translate their faith into their public schools into their lives, and we just we have so many facts that could prove that to be the case.

I know boomers and elders who hear that anything know you to live through the 60s you don't know what it was like I just promised from a social point of view the attitudes of most Americans were relatively homogenous. They believe the same kinds of things and those things were based on a different kind of sort of as a social ethic I'm up on and bit based on a biblical ethic and so I think that's one of the big things of this generation is facing. We we did a big study recently where younger Christians. About half of millennial practicing Christian said it was wrong to evangelize. And yet, at the very same time they said that the best thing a person could do 9/10 said that the best thing a person could do would be to commit their lives to Christ and follow Jesus.

And so there's this great paradox and I think that you understood that paradox in light of the experience they have that most of their friends don't want to be proselytized.

They don't want to become Christians or talked into it from a sales perspective there feel that Young non-Christians are trying to close that chasm yet another thing is you know where kind of self-righteousness was maybe the the false idol of Jerusalem in this battle on its this idea of keeping up in this fear of missing out.

I gotta be in the know and cc everybody you know weighing in on everything you and I'm a constitutional scholar on Facebook one day and I'm a coronavirus expert. The next day, you know. And everybody's got an opinion analysis because we feel like we have to, and for generations growing up and probably one of the best times to be alive, is a young person they are experiencing more stress and anxiety and a lot of that is because they have more options available. So the things we would look at is your more secure their better education there is better jobs available. All these things, but the number of options and paths that they have available causes a lot of stress and is much as they're connected. There isolated and they feel loneliness to you and I want to touch on that because the loneliness epidemic is something that cannot be minimized.

There more connected to their friends than ever before through social media through texting through the constant connectivity of the a cell phone and yet they are lonelier and more isolated than maybe they've ever been, and suicidal ideation is higher than it's been in a long time help parents understand why is that while you my son asked me a question the other day said that when you're growing up did you ever feel safe and I said what you mean by that simony goes because I when I go to school. I never feel safe. I always feel like I have to watch over my shoulder and all that and see talk about physical safety physical safety while and I realize you know what I even had an instant high school. We had an active shooter on our campus and that still didn't make me feel unsafe. But they've lived with the narrative. Because of the 24 seven news cycle they are aware of every even though we know like child abductions are lower than they've ever been our experience of that information is increased and our awareness of all that so we actually think things are less safe and for a generation.

It's grown up forming their identity in this kind of a of a site. They have no way of being able to balance that and put it in any kind of context so it creates a lot of insecurity did not end as you as we know the fear is in our hand.

It's digital, it's constantly bombarding us when we went to school. If there was an incident you'd hear about on the news. Maybe that night may be rated in the paper.

Remember those things you never hear yeah you may not know likely if you did hear about it. It was far away and you didn't experience it.

But today, because there is instant video of everything that's happened it's like it's happening right around the corner from you and you feel like you've been there with it. I think in addition to that, one of the crazy things about the screens is the immediacy of young people's experience of that anxiety. And so in the past if you saw in a something happened around you would like. I remember being a student in college and all the golden egg. Remember happening outside of my experience at Christian college was the Okemos city bombing that was enough to break through, you know, kind of the bubble that we had around them, around us as college students, but today if you compare that young people are experiencing things in an immediate way and so anxiety. There's so much social research that's out today showing how much the levels of anxiety are increasing for this generation. And I think we as Christians have a couple responses. One is to just recognize and acknowledge that the true experience screens are increasing our sense of exposure to things around such a good thing in some fashion to the level of exposure, but number two. It also means that we have a responsibility to help this generation.

Root themselves in something that's deeper than the moment to moment realities that Jesus words about be anxious for nothing at all like let let tomorrow's worries be enough for tomorrow and just in enjoy God's goodness today that these deep scriptural truth are so important and they've never been more important than now as a raise.

And here's here's what's at the heart of what you guys have written in the book faithful exiles. It is that if we can recognize the times in which we live and the cultural landscape in which we live. We can do what Daniel and Shadrach and recheck it Abednego did and that is we can live faithfully for God.

We can train our kids to live faithfully for God. They just need understand it's a different day and we have to approach it differently than we did when we were coming up.

Yes, let's talk without this idea, the weight of digital babblings to get some perspective unit.

When we look at the typical screen time that a 15 to 23-year-olds experiencing about 2706 seven hours a year that they're taking in and screen time now. We asked them unit lunch and try look at how much spiritual content they're taking in the average teen is saying that hundred 53 hours of spiritual content. We look at the typical churchgoer's a little under 300 hours so proportionally there's a lot more content coming in via the screens and that led David and I to type II really powerful words on the screen which were to simply screens disciple and this idea that the church is been disrupted in that we have screens disciple will even realize it. Something there. The teenager and were in a small group situation.

He's a senior in high school I bit my church about 29 years I've literally seen this kid born brought this church in a carrier and now he sitting in my circle getting ready to go off to college and he's debating with me about the existence of God. Not because I seen this kid drop. I know she's not smart enough are the arguments that he's making you right like he's he's arguing way above his cognitive abilities, so I know he's gotten this from somewhere and so I asked him I said or I wrote down a couple phrases that are used.

I put them in to Google and sure enough, this website popped up that basically said you know how to debate a theist and he had internalized all this.

So much so that he could use it. Back in the conversation now in the past. What would've happened had a teenager, because they're having doubts as a mark I'm doubting my faith. You know it is God real how do I know how to set down the not just given them biblical reasoning. So I talked about his prayer life. I talked about reading Scripture, we would spend some time really getting in touch with Jesus as a person in his life and building that relationship.

We also look at the evidence of Scripture for why we can trust in and believe that the word of God is true and that these claims are it's rational to believe all this, but now I'm not having that opportunity somebody else's disciple him and now my job is I have to unpack all of that and what we need understand his parents. Is that just because we see our kids doing some of the same things that we did attending church, raising her hands in worship going summer camp or spitting mission trips. What's going on in the inside. The interior world can be really different because they've got this screen relationship that they're able to have someone else they have access with their doubts, and with their questions, they have access to voices that we never would have access to before. Absolutely. And this idea that there screens are discipling them.

This is a profound realization I'm hearing the parents are gone. That's it were cutting off the Internet at our house and nobody has a cell phone anymore. That's how to solve this problem. That is the right answer.I am not anti-so I think that's really important.

I am the most tech oriented parent.

I love my kids having axes all that it wouldn't work anyway. Do you think every parent is exhuming thinking little I do. First, there are wise ways for us to use technology as parents and were huge proponents of technology but using it in the proper place and so there's nothing wrong with limiting screen time. There's nothing wrong with thinking about how it is that R's.

Our kids are to be using technology at what age is, in fact think the more wise and intentional.

We can be about that the better but will have listeners today there that are across the spectrum from young young kids to teenagers to even you know that the parents whose whose kids are young adults and just to recognize this is part of the reason why we called it faith for exiles and why we think about life in digital Babylon is a God she does call us to be in the world but not of the world.

And so one of the practices that we can put in place. One of these deeper perspectives and that's where the research led us to interview the 10% of young Christians were the most resilient in their faith and rather than just what Mark and I in I've done right or not done right and raise your own kids. The principles that we might pursue just personally we try to learn from the research about what might make the people.

Young people the most resilient and so we learn there's these five principles that we can put in place okay I got and I might have to leave that as a cliffhanger and I know every parent know that okay will give you that you can get a copy of the book faithful exiles because the five principles are in there or you can keep listing this week and working to continue the conversation. I say do both with yeah absolutely no both go to our website go to family life Get a copy of David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock's book faith for exiles five ways for a new generation to follow Jesus in digital Babylon. You can order or call to order one 800 FL today begin the website family life to, the number to call to get your copy of the book faith for exiles by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock, 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today.

Now if you listen to family like today for any length of time. If you're a regular listener, you know, in addition to talking about passing on a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation. We often talk about your marriage about how you can take your marriage from good to great and we've got resources in place to help with that.

In fact, right now online. There's the take your marriage from good to great resource that's available that includes a couple of online video courses audio messages from Paul David Tripp and Buddy Baucom, Julie Slattery, Dr. Gary Chapman. There's also a downloadable e-book. All of this is is available for free because were committed to helping you strengthen your marriage relationship and anybody who downloads the content as we mentioned before you become instantly eligible to win a trip to family life sit in on a family life to the recording session have dinner that night with Dave and Ann Wilson will cover the cost of your travel here will put up a hotel will give you some spending money will take care of you. There's no purchase necessary. The contest ends August 14. Restrictions apply, and official rules can be contest and this month we will make available to you a copy of my new book, love like you mean it.

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We read about it in first Corinthians 13 and how that applies to our marriage relationship. Your copy of the book love like you mean it is our thank you gift when you make a donation during the month of August and you can do that today go to family life make an online donation or call one 800 FL today to donate over the phone again ask for your copy of my new book, love like you mean it. It's our thank you gift to you. When you donate to support the ongoing ministry of family life today and thanks for your support. We could not do what we do without you, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of listeners who benefit every day from your support. Thank you for being a part of the team and we hope you can be back with us again tomorrow when working a dive into the five practices that contribute to resilience in the faith of young people harness tomorrow Mark Matlock and David Kinnaman. The be back with us again.

Hope you can be back with us as well. Want to thank our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson and Bob Lapine will see you back next time for another edition of family life today.

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