Approaches to Integration: Contributor

Biblical integration is a teaching task. That means that approaches to integration can be as unique and varied as teachers themselves. There are some best-practices of biblical integration, but there is no one-ultimate-way to integrate. Different teachers think differently. Different subjects might emphasize different things. For the next several weeks, I will be highlighting different approaches so that educators can explore their options. This will only be introductory (rather than a deep-dive), but I hope that you will try out some new ideas and see if you can make improvements. 

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The Contributor Approach to biblical integration is significantly different from the approaches discussed previously. The biblical-theology and worldview approaches hinge on the teacher using a grid of questions to structure well-organized lessons that lead toward specific truths. However, the contributor approach is different; instead of leading directly to truths, it leads to questions. 

You see, throughout life, students will not always have their teachers to guide them in biblical thinking. Therefore, it is important to teach young people to ask the right questions so that they can teach themselves. In other words, the aim of this approach is to help students learn to learn. 

So how can we do this? What does the contributor approach look like? 

The idea is to lead students in a form of directed freedom. Think of directed freedom as giving students an overarching task, but allowing them to have freedom in how they go about it. This allows them to explore, try things, make adjustments, and be creative. Here are a few ideas:

1) Academic Content Creation: Asking students to include biblical-integration as part of an assignment. For example, if your students write a book review or paper, create a project, or develop a presentation, you can ask them to include biblical integration in that work. Tell them what you are looking for and include the integration in your grading rubric. They could be asked to search the Bible for connections, develop a biblically-formed analysis, or demonstrate the truths about God that they learned. 

2) Class Discussion: After introducing a new topic in class, ask the students leading questions about how this content points to God, discipleship, brokenness, etc. For example, if a PE teacher introduces a game that requires teamwork to the class, that PE teacher could then ask, “This game requires teamwork to succeed. Can you think of any other areas of life in which teamwork is needed in or to succeed?” This could lead in many directions: family/relationships, the church, communities, etc. Or the PE teacher could ask, “We can tell who is on our team in this game by looking at the uniforms. How can we tell who is on our team in life?” This could lead students to talk about beliefs/convictions, willingness to sacrifice, and more. Another idea would be for the PE teacher to ask, “There is a difference between a good and a bad teammate. If someone is distracted or unwilling to work, that causes a problem in our game. What makes a good teammate in life? Do you think you are a good teammate? Why?” And the discussion would move ahead from there.

3) Practical/Real-Life Engagement: Different classes are passionate and equipped in different areas. Some course material opens doors for moving outside of the class environment. One class, upon learning how to address envelopes, might be asked to send a letter of encouragement to someone in their life. This gives them freedom to choose whether to write to a parent, sibling, friend or pastor. They are contributing. Another class, upon learning about the justice system, could choose to pray for those who are incarcerated by using the tools provided by Prison Fellowship. As you can see, these activities are teacher directed, but students have varying levels of freedom to engage as they think is best. They can use their own will and choice to make an impact.

There are many other ideas that we could discuss, but the main idea of the contributor approach is to give students the opportunity (and expectation) of participating in the process of biblical integration. Many of these ideas are low-stakes and variable which generally sets them up as formative assessments. This approach might not be sufficient on its own, but it can supplement other approaches and help your classroom come to life. In addition, it helps the students learn to take responsibility for their own biblical thinking… and that is worth working toward. 

Key ResourceFormative vs. Summative Assessment from Carnegie-Mellon University

Do you think that this framework would work well in your class? Why or why not? Have you used it in the past? How did it go?

Next time, we’ll look at the Perspectives Approach to Biblical Integration.

Approaches to Integration: Biblical Theology

Biblical integration is a teaching task. That means that approaches to integration can be as unique and varied as teachers themselves. There are some best-practices of biblical integration, but there is no one-ultimate-way to integrate. Different teachers think differently. Different subjects might emphasize different things. For the next several weeks, I will be highlighting different approaches so that educators can explore their options. This will only be introductory (rather than a deep-dive), but I hope that you will try out some new ideas and see if you can make improvements.

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The Biblical-Theology Approach is one of the more common frameworks for structuring integration. It’s particularly helpful because of the way that it leans on large biblical themes, can be applied to every subject well, and allows room for creativity. The idea is to consider your class’s material through the lenses of Creation, Fall, and Redemption.

  • Creation: God has made all things. And He made them for his glory. So how does your topic/lesson/unit point to a wise, powerful, kind Creator?
  • Fall: All created things have been broken by sin. Where and how do you see the marring of sin in your material?
  • Redemption: Believers are called represent the Redeemer. So how can you and your students use class-content to help, serve, build up, or make wrong-things right?

A biology teacher might say, “Look at the way that God created cells. They demonstrate wisdom and power. But we can also see the effects of the Fall. Cancer, for instance, shows that sometimes cells are broken. But, doctors and researchers are trying to bring redemption into the situation when they love and serve others by treating and healing those with cancer.

Key ResourceBiblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption by Mark Ward

Do you think that this framework would work well in your class? Why or why not? Have you used it in the past? How did it go?

Next time, we’ll look at the Worldview Approach to Biblical Integration. 

Biblical Integration: Is It What You Hoped?

Most teachers are a few weeks into a new school-year at this point. All of the dreams and goals and plans expressed in your syllabus or guidelines are now bearing the weight of real students in real classes. So, how is it going? Now that we in the swing of things, we need to adjust and adapt our plans in light of real life.

I don’t mean that you need to do a dramatic overhaul or throw anything out However, if we are honest, we can note that not every plan that we dreamt up over the summer and during in-service training is working perfectly. Good teachers are always adapting because good teachers are always improving. 

Take a moment to consider your biblical integration. Are you have the kinds of discussions you wanted to have? Are you interacting deeply with the content in the ways that you planned? Are your students understanding and growing as you had hoped? These are basic questions. If you find an area that is not everything that you had hoped, you need to understand why things are not working in life like they did in your plans. Are you running low on time? Is the mix of students different than you expected? Were your goals unrealistic in some way? Those questions can help you find the pain-points — the factors that separate your planned biblical integration from your actual biblical integration. 

Once you notice some issues and identify some causes, you can work to adjust. Sometimes a little tweak, a tiny bit of attention, or one structural alteration can get things back on track. Other times, you might need to step back and make a bigger shift. But that is okay. There is nothing wrong with noticing that something is not working, but it is wrong to notice that something isn’t working and not address it. As academic disciple-makers, we need to work hard to make sure our biblical integration is as effective and accessible as possible. This year (or semester, or month) may be the only chance we get to point our students toward God’s glory. 

Null Curriculum and Biblical Integration

The biggest decision a teacher makes concerning a class is: What do I leave out? Think about American History, for example. A complete American History would include everything that has happened in America. Obviously, that is too much for any one class, any sequence of classes, or any person. So, the teacher needs to decide what to leave out of the course. The teacher needs to decide what is not important enough to include. Every teacher has to determine the null curriculum.

This decision should be made thoughtfully and with intentionality. However, that does not always happen — especially concerning biblical integration.

Every subject/unit/idea is grounded in biblical truth. Everything that exists does so for God’s glory. Therefore, biblical integration should never be in the null curriculum. We should not run out of space for biblical integration. Why? Because the content exists for God’s glory. 

When we disintegrate — place biblical integration in the null curriculum — we are conveying the message that it is not as important as what is in the overt curriculum. When we don’t assess biblical integration, it shows students that it’s not worth remembering. When we don’t invest time and resources in biblical integration, it sends the message that other things are more valuable.

Now, please note that this is not an encouragement to replace academic content with biblical content. Instead, it is a challenge to ground  your academic content in, and aim it toward, God’s glory. I’ve said this before, but it makes the point well: We would not teach Macbeth without talking about Shakespeare, so why would we teach God’s creation without mentioning Him? Let’s be intentional about what we leave out. Let’s choose a proper null curriculum.

Develop Biblical Integration That Excites YOU

Have you ever noticed that the best, most memorable teachers are usually the ones who are excited about their content? Students get excited when their teacher is excited. Students love to learn when teachers love to teach. In other words: engaged teachers engage students.

So what are the elements of your class or your subject that cause you to be amazed at what God has done? What aspects of your content makes your want to worship Him? 

It is important to identify those elements because you can authentically highlight them for your students. And it won’t be forced. It won’t be artificial. It will be passionate and real and right.

This idea reminds me of something recorded in Mark 1:40-45. There, we read about Jesus healing a man from leprosy. But after healing the man, “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’” 

Jesus did a mighty miracle, but strongly warned the man to keep quiet about it. However, if we read on, we can see that this man just couldn’t hold it in. “Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.” 

When we see God’s power, goodness, glory, and work, we will be compelled to tell the story. The man in this episode spread the news so effectively that Jesus couldn’t even enter a town without the paparazzi finding Him. Instead, He stayed outside in “lonely places.” But they didn’t stay lonely for long — the people just couldn’t help but come to Him. One man’s enthusiastic sharing of God’s work changed things for a lot of people.

Likewise, if you are excited about an element of biblical integration, it will have an impact on your students… and perhaps beyond. So take a little time to think about what enthuses you, and then infuse that into your integration. It will make a difference. 

Biblical Integration Is Worth Doing Poorly

At the start of the year, teachers have incredibly full plates — we’re talking marathoner-at-the-buffet-after-the-race full plates. We’re planning lessons, organizing rooms, learning names, figuring out new procedures, and more. But as academic disciple-makers, we must keep our goal — implementing biblically-integrated classes — in mind. 

“But,” you might think,”I can’t really do it well because I am so overwhelmed!” Don’t worry; “If you want to do something well, the best way to start is by doing it poorly.” 

That’s right. It’s okay not to be perfect and polished when you are getting started. That’s just part of the process. How did your first day of driver’s ed look? How did your first piano lesson sound? How was your first golf-swing? I bet there was room for improvement. And that is the point that I am trying to make.

Learning occurs in stages. In order to get to to step 2, you must take step one.

G.K. Chesterton, the noted author, said something similar — “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” He was making the case that, while there are experts out there, many things gain value because you are the one doing them. For example, it is possible that there is a hug-expert out there in the world. This person might have just the right arm-length, smell, technique, etc. This person may be able to execute the most technically excellent hug: a perfect 10. But does a crying child want a perfect hug from the expert or an amateur hug from mom? I think we all know the answer.

This is true for you and your class as well. Your students don’t need the PhD-level, scripted integration that is technically sound and perfectly organized from someone else as much as they need your integration. 

I am not excusing poor teaching or preparation here. No, we should strive to be excellent. But don’t forget that excellence is achieved one step at a time. If you want to do something well, start by doing it poorly. You will grow. And your students will grow with you. So get started right now. You might miss the bulls-eye at times, but at least you aimed for the target.

Enjoying Your Calling: Biblical Integration

Christian school teachers are on a mission — a beautiful, powerful mission. We don’t just make lesson plans, grade homework, or engage with challenging students. Yes, we do those things, but they are all part of something bigger: academic discipleship. 

When we are involved in our work, we are also involved in God’s work. We are pointing students toward truth and wisdom. We are teaching them to see and stand in awe of the God who made and ordered this world, designed us with all of our unique gifts and talents, and who has given us the ability to learn and love Him. This is hard work. But we must not forget that it is also wonderful, meaningful work. As Solomon said, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings,’ (Prov 25:2). 

I wanted to share this message with you in the middle of summer because good work can still be draining. The job that we do is hard. I was tired after the past school year. But after stepping back from school work during June, my excitement for next year is budding and blooming. Breaks are good. They can let us catch our breath. And they can help us take a moment to remember why we really do what we do.

So let me remind you of something obvious and essential: You are not involved in Christian schooling for the paycheck. You are not invested in Christian schooling because you want to stay busy. You are not engaged with Christian schooling because no other options panned out. Yes, you likely need to get paid, want to stay busy, and want to make the best use of your gifts. But the core reason that you are teaching, administrating, organizing, or supporting educational ministry is because 1) God has made his glory known in the universe that He has made, and 2) Every person is made to be satisfied by God alone. The ministry of academic discipleship — your job — brings these two things together. This means that you are not employed in a boring, 180-day-long work of rote teaching. Instead, you are deployed on an exciting, 180-day-short mission of life-giving exploration and discovery. 

So take a little time to remember the truth about your work. God has called you. Your effort matters. You are a tool in the hand of the Almighty. You have been given the gift of walking with students and pointing out the glory of God at every turn. Remember those things, rejoice and enjoy. God is with you. God will use you. Smile because He has called you to highlight his glory amongst eternal souls made in his image. 

And as you begin to open your syllabus, unit plans, and other materials for the upcoming year, plan to enjoy that you are not just teaching math, English, art, or gym —- you are teaching Him. What a gift!

WRONG WAYS TO THINK ABOUT BIBLICAL INTEGRATION: PART TWO

This is the second post in a short series about some of the mistakes that we can make concerning biblical integration. The goal is not to point the finger at those who struggle in these areas, but to address some real struggles so that we can serve God and our students more effectively. False dichotomies are at the root of these issues—we think that we must be this or that. However, as you will see, that is not always the case. (Note: this list starts at #3 because it is a continuation what was started in the previous post.)

Wrong Way # 3: Biblical Integration requires the teacher to be a Bible-expert.

The false choice here is between knowing something and knowing many things. A teacher does not need to be an expert in order to be an excellent teacher. Parents don’t have to be world-class cyclists to help their kids learn to ride bikes. Math teachers do not need to understand the deepest, most intense new ideas and theories in the field to help students thrive in geometry class. Likewise, you do not need to be a Bible expert in order to be effective in helping your students to know and follow God more. Conclusion: Yes, we should all keep learning, but we do not need to know everything in order to successfully teach something.

Wrong Way # 4: The point of biblical integration is Bible knowledge.

Knowledge is important in education, but it is far from the only important thing. Art and music classes are excellent examples of courses that often prioritize application and understanding over information. A student may learn a certain musical technique in ten seconds, but spend the next ten weeks perfecting it. In the same way, biblical integrators in all subjects can feel free to focus on how their material illuminates, expresses, or applies worldview issues. In your class, teach the knowledge that the students need for your subject area. This will mean that a specific set of biblical truths and ideas will be discussed. However, the scope of the biblical knowledge you teach  should not outdistance the academic content that is being integrated. Science class must remain science class, and music class must remain music class. The biblical knowledge/principles/foundations should support the class-material so that students can understand God’s world better through God’s Word. Conclusion: The point is not Bible knowledge, but biblical understanding that leads to biblical thinking and living.

Wrong Way # 5: The teacher needs to do all the integrating.

We can fall into the trap of an unnecessary dichotomy here when we think that, in integration, the instructor must always tell the students how to integrate. As you know, the point of a class is not for a teacher to teach, but for students to learn. We don’t celebrate the moments where we taught well unless we recognize that the students are learning well. Therefore, as you approach biblical integration, your goal is to help the students become integrators themselves. You won’t be there to do it for them over the long-term. They need to see how things fit together in God’s world—and you can show them that at times—but that is not the end goal. The ultimate goal is that they would learn to see and understand the world, their own lives, and everything else in light of who God is and what He has said. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask questions that make them become integrators. You can  require them to explore the Scriptures and seek truth. Conclusion You don’t need to approach biblical integration ready to teach all the good answers. Instead, you can come armed with good questions and wrestle alongside your students.  

Wrong Ways to Think About Biblical Integration: Part One

In their introduction to Teaching and Christian Practices, David I. Smith and James K. A. Smith make an important statement:

“When conversations about pedagogy do occur among Christian faculty, it’s all too common to find them uncritically reflecting tired dichotomies (such as lecturing versus group work) or currently fashionable slogans (such as brain-based or student-centered learning) rather than being informed by explicitly Christian reflection,” (5).

Biblical integration, though a good and necessary practice, can likewise be uncritically considered and practiced. Therefore, the aim of this post is to lead to some critical reflection on some incorrect ideas about biblical integration that stem from unhelpful dichotomies. This list is not exhaustive, but here are a few wrong ways of thinking about integration that stem from unnecessary, false choices.

Wrong Way #1: Biblical Integration requires that I take class-time away from the subject and replace it with Bible study.

The unhelpful dichotomy here would sound something like this, “I only have so much time in my classes. Therefore, the more we integrate the less we interact with our math/history/science/etc.” The problem here is simple: if we think that our biblical integration is something other than our class content, or if we believe that it is in a separate category, we are missing the point of integration. Our biblical integration should never subtract from meaningful, helpful academic class-time. Instead, it should engage our students as they explore, create, analyze, or solve. It provides needed context and content for every legitimate course of study. For example, try to study slavery or the Holocaust without wrestling with the ideas of human dignity and worth, ethical foundations, or power. Conclusion: It’s not academics or integration, but academics through integration.

Wrong Way #2: Biblical Integration requires me to whitewash over the challenging, confusing, or controversial elements that might arise in class content.

The artificial conflict here sounds like, “This is a Christian school, so we can’t talk about bad/evil things. We have to protect our kids from hearing about all of that.” Now, we do have a responsibility to protect our children. We are responsible for their safety and well-being—including their spiritual well-being. However, often their well-being might depend on us preparing them for things that they’ll need to wrestle with in the long-term.

For example, I would not speak to a 3rd grader and a 10th grader in the same way about gender dysphoria and transgenderism in science, history, ethics, current events, or other classes where that might rightly come up as a topic of instruction. I might speak to my 3rd grade student and say,

“We live in a world where some people are confused about being a boy or a girl. When sin came into the world, it affected everything and caused lots of problems and pain. As Christians, we need to love everyone, especially those who are hurting, struggling, or confused. We want to help them understand the truth about who God made them to be. Can you think of a place in the Bible where God talks to us about what to do when we are struggling or confused? Can you think of a place where God tells us how to treat others who are having a hard time?”

When speaking to a 10th grade student, I might start the discussion by saying something like,

“There is a condition that psychologists call ‘gender dysphoria.’ This means that some people are feeling tension between who they are on the inside and who they are on the outside, and this causes distress. As Christians, we know that the Fall affected the world so that it is now disordered. All humans are disordered in serious ways—you and me too. And this is a particularly difficult and contentious area because it is a hot-button issue and a real struggle for real people today. Can you relate to, or empathize with, feeling distress about who you are and how others see you? Can you think of how the Bible might speak to issues related to disorder, the results of sin on the world, and how we can love people well while holding to the truth?”

Instead of glossing over this challenging issue, biblical integration helps the students engage with it in appropriate, biblical ways. Conclusion: The best way to protect our kids is to help them think biblically. The world is more than ready to have the hard conversations with our students, but it is our responsibility to prepare them, engage them, and correct them so that they can succeed in the long-term.

In my next post, I’ll address other wrong ways to think about integration like:  “Biblical Integration requires the teacher to be a Bible-expert,” “The point of biblical integration is Bible knowledge,” and “The teacher needs to do all the integrating.”

Biblical Integration in Real Life: Part Three

Recently, I sent out a short, anonymous survey to the some educators. My goal was to collect information on how real teachers and administrators are perceiving their growth and struggles—What’s working? What continues to be a burden or weight? This post is part three of a short series that interacts with a few of the successes and struggles that came through in the results.

I was encouraged to see responses that shared the value of well-planned integration. These comments sounded like, “Integrating my syllabus and the design of my course really helped me as a teacher.”

We all know that excellent planning makes our courses easier and better. We are accustomed to mapping our curriculum, carefully selecting our books and assignments, meticulously designing our assessments, and thoughtfully reviewing key ideas and points. Your biblical integration should play a role in all of these areas. And when it does, you will find your work of academic discipleship easier and better. Biblical integration makes your work more fulfilling and meaningful. Therefore, thoughtfully planning your integration will serve you, your students, your school, and your God well.

A few teachers asked a question like this one: “How do I deal with the unbiblical ideas or conflicts that arise from time to time in our worldview discussions?”

I know that teachers are already capable of correcting and redirecting students so that they can grow. This is a core part of the teaching job so I am not going to dig deeply into the classroom management side of this. You know when to pull a student aside, or have a class discussion, or to let something go. However, I do want to point out some specific unbiblical ideas or trends that you need to be aware of. These ideas permeate much of our Christian culture. Be alert so that you can notice these as they come up because they are harming many of the kids that we are serving. These four key areas are worth engaging with directly and preemptively. Don’t be afraid to speak about them as they arise naturally in your classes. If one student is struggling a particular area, it is likely that many others are as well.

  1. (An Uninformed) View of God. One teacher shared a story about how a student responded to being corrected for doing something wrong. The student said, “It’s not my fault; God made my hand do that!” It seems that this student was sure that God was powerful enough to control his hand (which, of course, God is), but the student was missing something about the moral goodness of God. We live in a culture that often pits God’s attributes against one another. As we work to share how our students understand themselves and the world, the best thing that we can do is to help them see God for who He really is.

**One cultural culprit here is selective teaching of the Bible. Instead of teaching the whole counsel of God, many schools, Sunday Schools, parents, and even churches only teach selections of the Word of God. This, naturally, leads to incomplete, incoherent, and incorrect views of who God really is. In your class, try to engage with the character and characteristics of God as they are described throughout the sixty-six books. 

  1. The (In)Sufficiency of Scripture. I talk to many young people who want to hear God speak to them. They want to know God’s will for their lives. However, they are not willing to commit to hearing the Scriptures even though they tell us God’s will (1 Thess 5:18) and make us ready for every good work (2 Tim 3:17). The Bible gives life, points us in the right way, gives us wisdom, keeps us from sin, and more (Ps 119). God has spoken through the Bible. And He still speaks through the Bible. His Holy Spirit has perfectly put together his words, and when we read them, He is ready to apply them to our minds. But we must teach our students to open up that Bible in order to hear God’s voice. The Bible is the one and only place where you always know that you are hearing God speak. Our consciences can be wrong. Our inclinations can be misinterpreted. Visions or dreams may be from God, or they may not. But the Bible is right—always. And the Bible is 100% from God.

**A representative cultural culprit here is the Jesus Calling material that has been so popular. This series has exacerbated the belief that God’s Word is not enough for his people. Here is a good article by Tim Challies about some of the major problems with Jesus Calling. But in essence, Sarah Young, writes personal messages on the behalf of God because the Bible left her wanting more. Her book (and its spin-offs) are best-selling. We can see that she hit a nerve with this feeling, and it is important that we address that feeling for our students.

  1. (Self-Focused) Prayer and Prosperity Gospel. God loves his people. God loves to listen to his people. However, God is not in the business of giving us what we ask for unless it specifically aligns with his will. 1 John 5:14 is key here: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” And we must remember Jesus in the garden pleading, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42). The Father, in love and in perfect wisdom, did not give Jesus the first part of what He asked for—the Father still sent the Son to drink the cup. However, the Father did this out of love since it resulted in worship (Phil 2) and joy (Heb 12) for the Son. God loves us enough to say, “No.” He loves us enough to give us suffering, pain, frustration, and heart-ache for our good.

**One big cultural culprit in this area is the Christian movie, fiction, and music industry. Many, many Christian movies have been infamously off the mark. For example,  Facing the Giants is a feel-good movie, but teaches a bad theology on prayer and suffering. Of course, God can provide free vehicles, state-championships, and children for his people. However, our trials in this broken world are often the things God uses to make us like Him (Jas 1, Rom 5). And we must remember that we aren’t meant to be satisfied and at home in this life. We are aliens. We are called to deny ourselves. We are to pick up crosses, lay down or lives, and follow Jesus into suffering. Don’t Waste Your Cancer by John Piper is a great corrective to our unbiblical understanding of struggles and pain in this life. (Also, there are some good, Christian movies. I really like Chariots of Fire myself.)

  1. (Dangerous) Cool People. I love listening to messages from Christian teachers from around the world on my phone or computer. I love worship music. However, access to these two things has been a mixed blessing for the church. The people writing the most popular songs are not always the ones who have accurate theology. The ones with the most downloaded podcasts are not always the ones who teach with biblical fidelity. We live in a celebrity culture. And young people are generally more affected by celebrity influence than older people. Satan loves un-truths that are mixed with truth because they are more believable. Likewise, he is pleased when we share messages and songs that are sub-gospel rather than anti-gospel. Believing something less than the truth is just as dangerous as believing something against the truth. This means that we need to have a constant awareness of what is being taught by those who are popular. My church says it like this, “Have our feet planted on the Word of God, and our finger on the pulse of the culture.”

**Cultural culprits here fall into many categories, but some of the most influential are churches that have a wide reach with teaching, music, and style, but are off-track or unhelpful when it comes to the gospel. Bethel Church is an example of a ministry that is concerning in this area. They use their influence in many good ways (some of their songs are excellent), but they also lead people astray in reading and understanding the Bible, their teaching about Jesus, their understanding of discipleship, their elevation of experience, and in many other practical ways. We need help our students follow God and listen to his Word regardless of what the cool people are saying, singing, or teaching. And when the cool people are invested in  unbiblical things, we need to help our students identify what is wrong so that they are not taken in by subtle lies and errors.

Conclusion: I know that I stepped on some toes in this article by pointing to specific books, movies, and ministries. The idea is not to stir up trouble or conflict. And I am not trying to say that these particular books, movies, or ministries are the worst. However, they are representative of a wide scope of cultural culprits that lead many off-track. We need to be able to point to error when it is being taught as beneficial. To that end, in this article, I am hoping to live out (and help you to live out) the charge that Paul gave in 2 Timothy 4:2-5:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,discharge all the duties of your ministry.

If you have questions, concerns, or ideas about any of this, please feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to discuss.