When Faith and Culture Collide: Matt Messner
Modern christian students face a myriad of challenges to their faith. The Christian worldview has received assault from various directions in the modern era leaving the Christian student adrift on the sea of culture.
The dominant voices of the West have infiltrated the church and Christian education in such a fashion as to confuse the minds of Christian students regarding the legitimacy of their Biblical worldview. These realities likewise leave parents searching for answers as to how to train their students to resist cultural vices and pursue cultural impact. This is precisely the goal we are trying to accomplish here at school.
Woodcrest Christian aims to train students through the development of a spiritual life that is devoted to Jesus. Our faculty and staff work diligently to teach and demonstrate that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most beautiful story in the world and that a life spent pursuing the mission of Jesus Christ is the happiest life in the world. We seek the completion of this goal by using at least two methods.
First, we teach the Bible. Here at Woodcrest Christian, every class students take is immersed in our Biblical Core. We believe that the Bible is God’s Word and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible is our source of truth and authority and our guide for all matters of life. It is the way in which we hear the voice of God and experience the reign and blessing of God. Therefore, we teach our students the Bible in order to equip them with God’s truth for the battles they currently face and will continue to face, living in this cultural context. Our goal is for students to exit our campus thoroughly convinced that the Scriptures are to shape, inform, and dictate the way in which they live in every arena of their lives. In the midst of a culture where truth, gender, and sexuality have been redefined, Woodcrest Christian students are being prepared to enter the culture with God’s truth in order to impact it for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Second, we teach beautiful stories. Storytelling is one of the most impactful mediums in the lives of teenage students. It is stories that draw and incite our students to abandon their Christian foundations and unite themselves with the culture. There is no denying that the culture tells beautiful stories of bravery, expression, and the quest for identity. In fact, the stories culture tells form part of the reason why teenage students continue to leave the church at such alarming rates. However, Christians have the most beautiful story to tell. At WCS, we teach in such a way as to explain and persuade students that amidst all of the allure of culture’s attempt at beautiful stories, the Bible tells the most beautiful story. In the past, Christians have failed to teach students that the Bible is more than a rulebook or a set of facts that need to be memorized. Such poor instruction fails to capture the hearts of Christian students and leaves them longing for transcendent beauty. Often, the result manifests in their college years as transcendent beauty is found in cultural narratives leading to an exodus from the local church. Instead, we intend to compel the hearts of our students with the most beautiful story ever told.We believe the Bible is the story of God redeeming and restoring the world for the praise of His glory. Here at Woodcrest Christian, we teach the Bible’s beautiful stories to urge our students to cling to the Biblical worldview amidst the draw of culture’s secular worldview.
While the classroom at WCS is engaging the truth of the Bible and the beautiful story of the Bible to train students to impact culture, parents remain the primary influence and voice in the lives of their students. Parents must realize that the power of culture is significant and impacts the hearts and minds of their students. Therefore, parents likewise must engage their students at home in such a way as to equip them to live in this cultural moment with Gospel ambition.
The first way parents can train their students is by participating in the normal rhythms of a local church. The local church is a wonderful place for Christian parents to be trained, equipped, and supported. It is the local outpost of the kingdom of God. Therefore, if it is the parent’s desire to raise children who are able to resist cultural vices and pursue cultural impact for the glory of Jesus Christ, they should participate in the normal rhythms of a local church with their children. Participation in a local church enables parents to be trained themselves in how they can train their children to live Christian lives in a secular culture.
The second practice is the insertion of holy habits at home. Homes are where children are instructed, trained, and formed. This formation happens primarily through the habits children practice. Therefore, parents seeking to raise children who are devoted to Jesus and can impact the culture for His glory should employ holy habits in their homes which support this goal.
Read the Bible with your kids after dinner or before bedtime to enforce the habit that they should always seek truth and wisdom from the Scriptures.
Invite non-Christians over for meals and share the Gospel with them to enforce the habit that cultural voices are not to be rejected outright, but are to be heard and compelled with the story of Jesus.
Pray for those whose sexual ethics and truth claims have been warped by culture to enforce the habit that the Gospel of Jesus can change anyone’s heart.
Through the practice of these habits, students will be formed to enter culture with clear eyes concerning the truth and passionate hearts regarding the power and impact of the Gospel. In these ways, parents can participate in the empowering of their children to resist cultural vices and pursue cultural impact.
Culture is seemingly headed further and further from the Christian worldview each year. Students are being swept away in the current of culture in abandonment of the church and of Jesus Christ. Woodcrest Christian seeks to join with parents in the training and equipping of students to hold fast to Jesus and dive head first into culture with the power of the Gospel. Rooted in Biblical Truth and compelled by the beauty of Christ, our students can change the world.
About Matt Messner:
Matt Messner teaches Old and New Testament Bible classes at Woodcrest Christian School. He is a graduate of California Baptist University and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he studied theology and pastoral ministry. He also serves at Redeemer Baptist Church in the area of preaching and teaching. Matt and his wife, Sarah, have been married for four years and are expecting their first child in February 2020.