When I was youth pastor at Apex I took a whole school year teaching from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology to the teens. I also held an annual conference teaching apologetics (the rational defense of the Christian faith). It was my effort to impart a biblical worldview to the students and showing it to be more compelling than any alternative. After becoming a parent I thought to myself, "I can't wait to discuss the argument for God's existence from morality and the evidence of the resurrection with my kids." I have this picture in my head of my kids (currently 4 years, 2 years and 6 months) one day sitting around the dining room table eagerly listening to dad's lectures (complete with slideshow). While this kind of thing may happen as my wife and I home school, I realize it's a bit naive to think that is how a biblical worldview is properly taught. That idea is like thinking eating a lot at Thanksgiving will satisfy you for the rest of the year. A biblical worldview is something that must be driven home and taught over and over and (one more time) over again. Of course this can happen at formal times of family devotion, but it would be wise for us to recognize opportunities or "teachable moments" in day to day life.
Here are a few examples of common sources that provide teachable moments (there are many others!):
If your family follows the news, it's important to learn to interact with it biblically and set that example for your kids. Asking questions is a great way to fuel discussion. "Hey kids. That decision the leaders of our country just made, what do you think God thinks about that? What does the bible say about that? Is this a good thing for people or not? Why do you think so?" Whether it's same sex marriage, abortion rights, racism or corporate greed, these things can lead to fruitful discussion about what's right and wrong and how God designed things to work in the world. Asking your kids questions includes them in the conversation and fosters critical thinking better than dad making a declarative blanket statement.
Example: The big story in the news lately has been the earthquake in Nepal. Some questions to ask could be:
-"Do you think God was surprised by the earthquake?"
-"Why do bad things happen in our world?"
-"How should Christians respond to what happened in Nepal?"
For this you may have to equip yourself with answers about suffering. It can be a very hard topic. Here is a good primer that may help your own thinking about it.
Sometimes a family just needs time to relax from a day of school and work and be entertained together. That, however, doesn't mean we don't watch or read without discernment. We ought to be selective of things to watch in terms of content, but that doesn't mean we ought to only watch "Christian" productions. We need to teach our kids to be, to borrow a phrase, "worldview detectives". We ask them, "What is the point of view this tries to convey? What does it convey as the truth? What does it value as good and as bad? What does it say are the major problems with the world and what does it propose as the best solutions? What are admirable qualities of the character(s) and what are some not so great ones?"
Then, "but what does the bible say?" If your child doesn't know, that's your opportunity to point to the scripture and reveal God's truth and discuss where the show/movie/book lived up to God's standard (if at all) and where it failed.
Example: The sequel to Marvel's The Avengers will be coming to theaters soon and no doubt many, especially older boys and dads, are likely to see it. While the details of the upcoming movie are unknown to most of us who have yet to see it before its release date, the first movie offered lots for us to discuss.
Consider the villain, Loki's speech to a crowd of people.
"Kneel before me. I said… KNEEL! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
Question to ask: Is Loki right?
In a sense, Loki is right. We all kneel to something in search of power and identity. However, kneeling to the right thing (God) is what brings true freedom and identity. For more on that see this.
Another discussion is, "How is Jesus the better hero?" Compare the characteristics and deeds of the heroes with Christ.
-Iron Man risked death by carrying a nuclear missile to another dimension and destroying the enemy base which led to the salvation New York City (man, when you describe it like that, it really sounds like a nerd movie:). But Jesus didn't only risk death, he tasted it. He carried a heavier burden to destroy a greater enemy for the salvation of mankind, not only preserving the planet, but making it new again.
-The Hulk has "incredible" power but it has limits. Jesus is omnipotent...all powerful. And his power is not a result of uncontrolled rage.
-In the first Captain America movie, he was a weakling who became super-humanly strong, but Jesus was supernaturally strong who by putting on humanity became weak.
-In the first Thor movie, Thor was the son of a god, Odin, and was banished from his father's realm because of rebellion but became a protector of Earth. Jesus voluntarily left the heavenly realm of his father out of obedience and became the world's savior.
In the Marvel world the biggest problems are caused by a select few villains bent on global domination and the solution is a group of heroes with super powers using force to overcome them. The bible however identifies the problem not with a select few but with all of us. Our "global domination" is the idea that the world revolves around us. We need rescued from ourselves and it will take more than four guys to beat that disease out of us, it took one savior who took our disease into himself.
Just living life and being around people provides an opportunity to talk about what the bible says. Those sibling squabbles that we try our best to avoid can actually be opportunities to share biblical truth (see last week's post by Chris Cardiff). Perhaps by noticing a persons behavior we can ask our kids, "What do you think this person values the most?" Of course we aren't teaching our kids just to sit in judgment over other people without a hard look at our own hearts (Matthew 7:1-5), but it's important for kids to learn to recognize actions are an indicator of something in a person's heart. Of course, one of the best times to impart a biblical worldview are times when we address the child's own behavior.
Example: Let's say you're driving and you child notices someone on the sidewalk and describes them as "Weird" or "Creepy". Instead of quickly shutting it down by, "Don't say that! That's mean!" go deeper.
-"Why did you say that? Why do those reasons matter?"
-"What do you think God thinks about this person? What do you think God thinks about your attitude about this person?"
-"We know the things we do and say are because of what's in our hearts. What do you think is in your heart that lead you to say that?
Hopefully at this point your child is remorseful, but either way you offer them the gospel. "You need grace. You need forgiveness. You need change, and there's only one way you can get all of that..."
In conclusion, it is important to have formal times of teaching so your children know what the bible says, but it's equally important to reinforce what the bible says as life gives us opportunities. This will help our children see how the word of God applies to all of life and not only the ten minutes around the dinner table.