In this episode of TGC Q&A, Derek Rishmawy and Cameron Cole discuss the question, “How do youth leaders disciple a media-formed generation?” They address:
- Quiet voices in crowded spaces (:28)
- Countering the darkness (1:15)
- The gender conversation (2:14)
- Recognizing spiritual enemies and fighting them in prayer (3:24)
- The authority of Christ (4:53)
- Supporting parents as they teach their children (5:40)
- Not simply playing defense (7:22)
Explore more from TGC on this topic:
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Derek Rishmawy: One of the other challenges with evangelism with this age is the fact that we’re not the only one sharing a message. We’re probably the quietest voice, in a lot of ways, with students being broadly catechized, broadly inundated with social media, with cultural pathways, that they’re just bombarded from every single direction, chiefly from their phone.
Derek Rishmawy: And of course, the question is, you get to maybe an hour a week, you get them maybe, in a conversation too… How does the church, how do leaders counteract, or interact, with that counter catechesis?
Cameron Cole: Yeah, I think this is really important. And I’ve heard both Alan Jacobs and Tim Keller both talk about this in the past six months. And yet, we need to understand that there is a very deliberate effort to indoctrinate our kids into a worldview other than Christianity.
Cameron Cole: Chiefly, that intentional effort is driven by the spiritual forces of darkness. And it plays itself out here in the earthly realm in different ways.
Cameron Cole: But, Sandy Wilson, I heard him say one time in a seminary class, he said, “You need to preach as if you had enemies.” And I think we use that language enemies, that can sometimes have connotations of hostility or aggression. I’m not saying that at all. Because we always want to operate with a calm and kind tone. And at the same time, it is important for us to deconstruct the arguments of the world around us.
Cameron Cole: I think, with this conversation on gender, I’m not afraid to talk to my kids about what is it, what is the narrative, and what is the philosophical basis of the argument for gender being something that’s fluid?
Cameron Cole: And I’m just going to say, it is an intellectually empty argument. It is intellectually inadequate, and it is nonsensical. It’s not rational. And I think it’s important for us to work through, okay, you’ve heard that gender is actually something that is fluid, that’s individually determined. Well, what’s the basis of that?
Cameron Cole: You’re being called a bigot at school for saying that you believe in binary gender, well, let’s talk about what are the arguments behind that? And Christianity is rational. Obviously, it’s a supernatural thing, and there’s an element of faith. But at the same time, Christianity has a cohesive worldview to offer a person to understand life and understand existence.
Derek Rishmawy: Connected to that. The other side, I’m going to pull the other side, because you mentioned the spiritual forces. And I’ve been having conversations recently about this. Preach like you have an enemies, intellectual ones, tearing down arguments, like Paul says, that set themselves up against the glory of God.
Derek Rishmawy: We also know that Paul was a man who was down on his knees praying, all the time, preaching with authority, rebuking unclean spirits as did his master, the son of God.
Derek Rishmawy: And we need to be aware that, the battle, part of the battle, yeah, intellectual, rational, apologetics preach hard. And at the same time, before you get up there and preach, before you go sit there with a kid and talk to him, praying powerfully against the evil one, his schemes, his enemies, who has blinded the minds of unbelievers. And realizing that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and actually take the spiritual…
Derek Rishmawy: This is not where I thought I was going to go on this evangelism thing, but actually honest to God, realize that we do have a roaring lion enemy coming against us, and against these students’ hearts, and their minds. And it’s wicked. And they’re trying to tear them up through ideologies, through anxieties, through technologies, through all these things that maybe initially seem neutral, but are being used to malign purposes.
Derek Rishmawy: And just realize, also, not out of fear, but just in confidence that actually one of the things that Jesus did was bind the devil. He conquered in the cross. We have that authority in Christ. The gospel does set free and liberate, but we need to lean in to that. In embracing that. And I think of the disciples and their encounter with the demoniac, when the demon possessed child, who was being thrown. And his father was asking the disciples to heal him, to cast out that demon.
Derek Rishmawy: And Jesus comes down off the mountain, and they’re like, we can’t deal with this. It’s too strong. Why couldn’t we get rid of him? And he says, “This one only comes out with prayer.”
Cameron Cole: I think, as we talk about this counter catechesis here, I think this is really something that’s critically important for parents.
Derek Rishmawy: Yes.
Cameron Cole: Because the reality is that kids swim in a world of messages. The number of messages and advertisements that they are told and sold on any given day, it’s just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.
Cameron Cole: And so, if you’re a pastor or youth pastor, there are certain things that you can do, but you have a very limited amount of time around your kids.
Derek Rishmawy: It’s the parents.
Cameron Cole: And so, a parent has to really train their kids, when they’re watching TV, to just ask questions, to ask, “What are they saying here? What’s the implication of that politician’s stance? What is the implication of that advertisement?”
Cameron Cole: The diet Coke commercial, where the girl’s walking around-
Derek Rishmawy: Oh, my gosh. That one drives me nuts.
Cameron Cole: And she’s being all cool. And she’s having fun. Like, “Hey, you do you.” It’s like, “Hey, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about a world where you do you, everybody does what they see is fit in their own eyes. What does that lead to, Johnny? What does that lead to, Sally? Yes, it’s a Diet Coke commercial, and she’s all cool and carefree, blah, blah, blah. But let’s get below the worldview that she’s espousing, and look at the chaos, and the damage that is actually inherent in a you do you worldview.”
Derek Rishmawy: Coke’s advertising the book of Judges right there. But really, but that element of the counter catechesis, we think we’re thinking about youth pastors and all that, but it’s really, one of the main jobs I think of youth ministers is really just equipping the parents to be the discerning loving gateways and disciplers of their children.
Cameron Cole: Absolutely. And the last thing I will say is, that for parents, you can’t just play defense these days.
Derek Rishmawy: Yeah.
Cameron Cole: You can’t just think, okay, we’re going to set up the boundaries on the internet. And then we’re going to only watch certain things, and dah, dah, dah. Yes, you do want to play defense. That’s really really important. But you’ve got to play offense too. You’ve got to train your child how to engage these things. You can’t just hide.
Cameron Cole: Because there’s no way to escape it. And so we’d need to equip kids to be able to deconstruct the ideas around them and to filter them through God’s truth and scripture.