As I mentioned yesterday, I will be posting a simplified version of my sermon notes, hoping it will help our GBC parents, or parents in general, maintain practical Bible dialogue with their kids.
By way of introduction, our recent Wednesday night time has centered around common issues teens of today encounter. We have been in our Truth In A World of Grey series now for about two months, and are currently discussing issues of entertainment and discernment.
This is important, don’t skip.
Without further ado. Teens of today, have the world on a screen. That being said, there are certain things and concepts that must be considered when we think about how teens interact with technology.
1. They have never known a world without speed, instant information, and electronic social interaction. I’m a millennial, so I was there for the evolution of the iPhone and the advances of Facebook, Twitter, and the birth of Instagram. My point? The oldest teenager that I pastor was 7 when the first iPhone was introduced to the market and by the time she was 13, the world was using the iPhone 5C or 5S.
2. Therefore, it does nothing, except maybe some rapport damage to constantly criticize the tech age your teens are a part of. They honestly don’t understand your issue, because they know nothing else. You can imagine the good ol’ days and reminisce of the time when people wrote letters, but they cannot. This is the only world and culture they know. That’s what I have to say to you as parents, now, here’s what said to the teenagers.
3. We must approach technology and social media principally. There is obviously no text that outlines for us proper use of technology and social media. Therefore, I prayed and taught through some Scriptural principles that I hope provides a solid framework for using technology and social media in a way that pleases Christ. The principles are below, clear and simple.
Truth in a World of Grey- How to Keep Your Technology in Check
Message Theme: Your social media is a portrayal of your internal identity.
Parent, if you want to know what’s in your kid’s heart, keep tabs on his Facebook. Check up on her Instagram. You should be doing those things, anyway. The point here is simple, teenagers today wrap up who they are in their social media and technology. If they’re embracing who they are in Christ, it will show in how they exhibit themselves through social media. If they’re wrapped up in themselves, it will be equally clear.
I. The temptation consideration – Romans 13:14
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Simply put, are you helping your teens make it hard to sin, and easy to do right? There are some tremendous benefits of social media, but there are also some inherent dangers. Just for application, I included the ways I see technology and social media most misused.
- Speech- Eph 4:6, 29
6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.Sinning with words is no longer spoken, only. It can be Tweeted, texted, posted, or IMed. Observe in the verses above, there are two universal statements made, (1) Let your speech always be gracious, and (2) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up. Make sure your teenagers know these principles of communicating grace always and only, absolutely always applies to social media. Question, are you leading in this? Do you complain about your life, family, or anything via your social media? You teach them what’s right.
- Purity– Psa 101:3
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
This text doesn’t only refer to what is clearly evil, but what is useless, empty, and fake. The clearly evil stuff is easy to enforce with our youth, but what about the stuff that is simply, totally empty? Like, who is dating who in Hollywood? Or, how Pinterest is telling them to dress? Don’t only teach them what is clearly wrong, teach them to pursue what is excellent. Your kids probably know better than you do how accessible inappropriate visual media and entertainment is today. Porn is extreme and it’s heinous, but there are so many other outlets available to teenagers hidden within apps and sites that cheapen their view of image-bearing and the seriousness of their purity. Please let me know if you need specific information here.
- Dishonesty- Prov. 6:16-19
16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.Social media makes lying too easy. Observe the text above. Out of the six things God states that He hates (or, literally, is sickened by) three of them specifically pertain to dishonesty. Gossip, talebearing, and construing truth have never been easier. Again, are you leading here?
It’s all important, but seriously, this is important.
A more subtle way that social media tempts to lie is the false world that it creates for your teens. They can get on the Book all about their Face and pick and choose who is worthy to be their friend. They can fabricate information about their life, likes, dislikes, and even spirituality. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter center around who likes you and how many likes you get. It teaches us we can create a world of which we are the center, and people aspire to be like us. We can control people’s perceptions, all the while ignoring our actual character. At this point, you may say, “well, your message theme said that social media portrays what’s really in their heart.” Yes, it does, and when you couple that concept with the concept I am suggesting in this paragraph, the reality, is that social media can reveal how hypocritical a heart may truly be.
II. The time aspect- Colossians 4:5
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Second, encourage your kids to log how they spend their time 24 hours. Are you helping them make the best use of their time? Here are a few fun facts for you, brought to you by MSN.
- The average person spends almost 4 years of his life looking a phone screen
- A child born in 2013 will have spent an entire year of his/her life in front of a screen by the time he/she turns seven.
- The average person spends almost 11 years of life watching TV
- The average male teen spends 6.3 hours a week playing video games. That’s 2 weeks a year.
Anything you practice, you will get good at. Teens are good with technology. Make them practice other things. Make them read their Bibles. Make them talk to older people. Teach them that technology is a tool, a ministry item. And that they have too little time on this earth to live in their alternate techno-reality.
The relation consideration- Rom. 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Paul tells us in this text to dwell in joyful unity with one another, not to judge, and to be humble. This is all in context of what a sacrificed life and growing Christian mentality look like.
Technology and social media make it not only possible, but easy to be with people physically, but be emotionally and mentally alone. Teens grumble about being bored and lonely, so they download another app and miss out on real connections that are surrounding them. Again, don’t criticize the reality, utilize it. Teach them that their social and spiritual interactions will improve as their literal, true, physical and emotional interactions improve.
In terms of humility, social media isn’t an outlet for showing off. A Facebook friends list and a keyboard do not make one an expert on anything. Social media is the ultimate outlet for personal diatribes, rants, and self-promotion. When we submitted to Christ, we agreed to be a signpost to His glory. Ask yourself before every text, Tweet, post, or Snapchat, “who is this for?”
IV. The missional aspect- Matt. 5:13-16
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Now, Jesus obviously wasn’t referring to Twitter when He was preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Again, we are utilizing Biblical principles here. Ask yourself, and your teenagers, do you think about how you can shine the light of the gospel with social media? Have you ever shared the light and impact of the gospel with a post or text message?
Again, don’t denigrate the tech age, jump on board and start making disciples with it. Post what God is teaching you. Get a texting-accountability partner. Get an app that helps you memorize Scripture. Explore the opportunities, and communicate with your teens about them.
It’s just a tool. It’s a tool that’s getting bigger, faster, and more pervasive every day. So, instead of resenting it, think about the potential for Gospel- service it offers. Social media is a public portrayal of our hearts, so put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and your followers will see who your Leader is.