Few things are as important to the trajectory of our lives as worldview. Worldview is the paradigm through which one understands and interprets the realities of their existence. Put succinctly, it is one’s point of view. It is vital then that Christians give the next generation the tools to see and interact with the world from a biblical point of view.
It is surprising how many parents, pastors, and even pedagogues fail to see the importance of education in the process of developing a worldview. The truth is, education is not a worldview-neutral enterprise. In fact, it is a leading contributor to the development of one’s worldview.
This is something that both secular and sacred authorities know well. Noah Webster, the “Father of American Scholarship and Education,” once stated, “The education of youth [is] an employment of more consequence than making laws and preaching the gospel, because it lays the foundation on which both law and gospel rest for success.”
From an opposing vantage point, the atheist human secularist and American education reformer, John Dewey, stated, “I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform. All reforms which rest simply upon the enactment of law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements, are transitory and futile . . . through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources, and thus shape itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move …”
Though differing on the source and nature of truth, everyone seriously seeking to influence the next generation agrees that education is a significant medium through which truth is broadcast. Education is one of the main mechanisms through which worldview is shaped.
According to the research of George Barna, there are four main spheres of influence in the development of a worldview. Those areas are 1) the home, 2) the culture, 3) the school, and 4) the church. From this research, it is estimated that a child from birth to the age of 18 spends approximately 50-60,000 hours of their lives at home. They spend approximately 15-20,000 hours engaged in the culture (media, TV, music, etc.). They spend about 16,000 hours at school. But they spend only 750-1,500 hours at church.
From this data, it is evident that placing a child in a home that is not Bible-centered and allowing him to fully participate in our culture without guidance and sending him to a secular school and then expecting the church to make him a Christian with a biblical worldview is lunacy. Yet, too many parents neglect their God-given responsibility to “bring [their children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This is perhaps why the culture seems to be winning out on our youth with only an estimated 30 percent remaining in church after graduation from high school. The church and home must be engaged as a main driver of worldview.
Allow me to suggest three proactive ways the church and home can enlist in this fight particularly through education.
Engage Children Early
Some studies indicate that one’s worldview develops starting at 15–18 months and is largely formed by the age of 13. Reaching the next generation with a biblical worldview cannot wait until high school; it must begin as early as possible. Enrolling in an excellent Christian preschool and kindergarten program can lay an important biblical foundation for a child’s life.
Primarily, however, this process should begin at home. It is never too soon to start developing a biblical worldview. Parents must be aware of the worldview they are forming through the shows they are watching with (or in the presence of) their children, the books they are reading, and the other influences in their children’s lives. Be sure to filter the content reaching your children even at an early age, and be sure to provide content and influences that will contribute to the development of a biblical worldview.
Engage Children Comprehensively
Children must be engaged with a biblical worldview in every facet of life. If the number one influencer of worldview is culture, then it is most important to counter cultural influence by ensuring that children are engaged through music and multimedia content that promotes biblical thinking. Invested parents will ensure that they recognize elements of culture that are contrary to the Bible and use them as teaching moments to instill the right way of thinking on these subjects.
Engage Children Often
The Christian life is not compartmentalized and relegated to Sunday mornings only. Therefore, the biblical worldview of our children should not be engaged and developed only in Sunday school and youth group. We must seek out every opportunity to develop a biblical worldview in our children. Based on sheer amount of time, the number one competitor to the culture’s impact on worldview is school. Selectively choosing the schooling our children receive is perhaps—outside of the Christian home—the most powerful tool in the shaping of a biblical worldview.
Onward Christian Soldier
We cannot be passive in this war of worldviews. As Christians—whether parents, pastors, or educators—we must earnestly and proactively seek to teach biblical realities and eternal truths to the next generation. General, Supreme Allied Commander, and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said of World War II, “No other war in history [had] so definitely lined up the forces of arbitrary oppression and dictatorship against those of human rights and individual liberty.”
After December 7, 1941, America reluctantly entered that war. Americans volunteered en masse as the entire U.S. population invested themselves in the war effort. Citizens turned into soldiers swelled the U.S. military from a meager 300,000 troops to a force of some 11,000,000 by the war’s end. Americans could do very little about the realities that brought on World War II, but when the evil behind it was personally realized, they willingly engaged in the war. And they reshaped the world because of their collective effort.
As for President Eisenhower’s statement above, he was only partly right. He should have said, “No other human war in history has so definitely lined up the forces of arbitrary oppression and dictatorship against those of human rights and individual liberty.” The truth is the world has continually been at war and is at war today. It’s not a “World War” like WWII, but it is a “Worldview War,” and it is coming for our young people.
How can we shift the battlefield and retake the initiative? Families must seek to have Bible-centered homes, pastors must seek to have Bible-centered churches, and Christian educators must seek to have Bible-centered classrooms. The church and the home must actively engage in shaping a young person’s worldview. Parents, church leaders, and Christian educators must invest themselves in cultivating hearts for God and the mind of Christ in the young people entrusted to their care. Together, just like the Greatest Generation during WWII, we can reshape the world. The Worldview War is raging—are you doing your part?
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