Bridging the Generation Gap
As a Christian educator, I am acutely aware of the importance of making certain that the next generation has been taught not only the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also the truth of the Bible and the life-altering attributes of God. As both a teacher and an administrator, I feel a pressing responsibility to make sure we are handing the baton of faith to the young men and women who are coming after us. The book of Judges gives this scathing account of the Israelites failure to do just that: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). If you know the Bible, then you know the catastrophic results of that particular failure – immorality, social injustice, war, and eventually bondage to foreign nations. Although it would be easy to blame the younger generation for the state of Israel, there was also clearly a failure on the part of their forefathers; and it is this same failure we must be diligent to avoid.
In Christian education, I believe we can make one of two mistakes that will keep us from fulfilling our God-given mission to help raise a generation of Christ-followers who are also fully equipped to think critically, communicate articulately, and perform professionally with skill and integrity in whatever field they pursue.
The first mistake we can make is to demean the power of God’s Word by trying too hard to make it relevant to a generation that may seem uninterested. We can fall into the subtle trap of trying to alter, or adjust, or avoid the sometimes difficult realities dealt with in God’s Word, but that will never work. We cannot make God’s Word more relevant than it already is, because the Bible has not changed. The Bible is relevant without our help, and will continue to be relevant long after we are gone. As Christian educators, our only job is to exalt the Word of God as the highest source of truth, inspiration, comfort, and wisdom available to human beings. Even further, not only has God’s Word not changed, neither has humankind. Whether they seem interested or not, this generation of young people struggles with the same questions of life, death, justice, love, and purpose as every generation before. As Christian educators, we must be committed to helping our students recognize that only the Bible can answer the deep questions of the human heart.
The second mistake we can make is to demean this generation by continually looking backward. Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” In the same way that we need not try to make God’s Word more relevant, we must not think or act as if this generation is somehow irrelevant because it looks different than ours. If this is the day the Lord has made, then it stands to reason that these are the days the Lord has made as well. YouTube, PlayStation, Twitter, and skateboards don’t make this generation any less valuable than reality TV, Atari, computers, or roller skates would have made the previous one. There is no going back, which is how God, in His sovereignty, has designed things. As Christian educators, our job is to take all the tools of technology and science, all the sources of audio and video, and every athletic or academic possibility and somehow redeem them for the sake of the Gospel. Our job is to teach our young men and women how to use these tools in God-honoring, Gospel-furthering ways, and to do it with a deep understanding and compassion for the unique benefits and pitfalls that accompany them. As educators, we must be careful not to dishearten our youth with a kind of disparaging nostalgia that can actually lead them into apathy or even hostility.
Gramercy Christian School has been in the business of Christian education for thirty-eight years. Much like the Church itself, Gramercy is an amazing place where generations of Christians come together to learn from one another. Personally, I am grateful that my students are able to assist me in uploading (or is it downloading?) a particularly thought-provoking podcast. I’m thankful they can help me understand the lyrics to the latest song by Skillet, and I am privileged to be a part of passing down the incorruptible inheritance of biblical truth. People may argue that there is a generation gap, but I hold fast to the belief that there is simply no gap Jesus Christ is incapable of bridging!