This weekend I spoke at a retreat for preteen girls. We didn’t talk about modesty or boys or makeup tips. We didn’t discuss friendship or time management. Instead we spent the day dwelling on the absolute, perfect truth of God’s word. We talked about the Bible as the authority for all of life and Jesus as the answer to our very real and very present sin problem.
In the afternoon I had a meeting with mothers, and we sat together and faced the realities of this world that we are trying to raise disciples in. My fourteen year old Adelade sat on the front row and listened to us discuss everything from pornography to YouTube to sex education, and as our time came to an end, she quietly asked if she could say something. Then, in her level-headed, calm way, she encouraged the mothers to talk with their children early and often about sexuality, since so many of her own eighth grade classmates are struggling to understand where on the growing spectrum of sexuality that they fall.
When I was a preteen, a girls’ retreat would be focused on more superficial things. We would hear that we are doing great and that God finds us beautiful and that if we want friends we have to be friends. We would have been told that Christian girls don’t wear skirts that are too short and we may have even had a makeup demonstration. Nothing is wrong with these things, but those things aren’t what we really needed to hear.
We were living in a culture that didn’t often demand more from our churches.
But, our kids are growing up in a completely different world. It isn’t going to be enough to urge them to change their behavior. It isn’t going to be enough to tell them Bible stories as morality lessons or to equip them with self-help advice. The culture of their youth is awakening churches to rediscover the true gospel, to re-establish in the hearts of the people the reality that God’s word is the ultimate authority in our lives, to show us just how far we are from a holy God, to wave His standards of holiness like a banner, to throw His grace and mercy to a dying world like the life-and-soul-preservers that they are. For our children, repentance will be the theme of their growing up, perseverance in the face of a culture gone cold to the ways of God. They will have to grow a true, faith-fueled, God-honoring relationship with the Lord to survive the world in which they will come of age. No half-baked religious play time will be enough to sustain these boys and girls. They will have to rise as men and women of great faith, of total conviction, of solid doctrine, of sound theology. They will have to know and love God’s word, and they will have to know and love God.
Otherwise, in this age of anything goes but Jesus, they will crumble and fall away from the superficial religion that we tried to bubble wrap them in. Our kids don’t need to be hidden away. They don’t need for us to pretend the biggest issue they’re going to face is whether girls should call boys. Not in a world where preteens are sending naked pictures to each other. They need to be armed with the truth, both the truth of what the culture surrounding them really is and the truth of what the Bible really is.
I see this happening more and more. I see a generation that is being taught a biblical worldview, that is learning like no other American generation has had to before what kind of faith that it takes to stand up to lies, distortions, persecution, and hatred. It see it in my own daughter–she needs more to cling to than cliches and Christian tshirts. She needs a true, solid, unshakable faith that informs her every thought as she analyzes the world around her. She needs a worldview that is rooted in scripture. She needs the eyes and mind of Christ. No nominal faith will be enough for her–not in this world that wants to devour her heart and soul.
I believe we will soon see a generation that may be fewer in number but more firm in faith than any we have seen for a long time. These kids are growing up with extreme pressure from outside forces, a pressure that I believe will press them even more firmly into the shape of Jesus Christ as we guide them according to the very words of God. I have a bright hope for the kind of bold, God-fearing disciples we will see rise from the ashes of their generation. May God bless them as they glorify His name, blinding lights in an otherwise dark and depressing world. I believe He will do it.