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The Times They Are A-Changin
Posted by Clare

In 1964, Bob Dylan wrote this powerful and prophetic warning to parents in a song:

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land.
Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.
Your old world is rapidly aging.
So please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand.
For the times, they are a-changin

I just read Gen Z by Barna Research. It’s a short, but frightening guide book to this new world our teens are living in – what they believe and what they no longer believe.  

But why in the world would a 71-year-old guy read it?

Because our old world is rapidly aging and I don’t want to be left behind and irrelevant to our grandchildren.

Papa School
I’m papa to our 20 grandchildren. Year’s ago, I started papa school. I invited our then, middle school grandchildren out to eat. Afterwards we headed over to our house and spent 30-60 minutes talking about everything – anything they wanted to discuss, or God put on my mind to share with them. History, civil rights, World War I and II, the Holocaust, The Reformation, ethics, morality, divorce, hard questions like why bad things happen to good people, why I believe the Bible is true.

Why those topics and not straight out Bible Study? Because I wanted to introduce them first to history, then demonstrate and discuss what happens to a world that disregards God’s teachings in the Bible. There is cause and effect for everything that happens in this world. So, I want them to understand there is a spiritual compass available to them and if they choose to disregard the wisdom of God, they will get lost in this new world.

I also try to get very personal. I share with them stupid and sinful choices I and others have made and the consequences, and how differently things might have turned out if God had been obeyed. Cause and effect.

So, if you’re over 50 and you know the times are a-changin, you can shake your heads in disgust, or you can choose to understand and enter this “new world” and learn to tell the “old, old story” in new ways.

It will take work. Periodically, I email or text our older grandchildren and ask them for topics they’d like to discuss. Then I end up doing a lot of research, writing and prayer to learn how to communicate God’s wisdom to our grandchildren in ways I hope makes sense to them. Sometimes I can tell by their questions or comments they’re getting it. Other times it’s like bowling in sand!

I don’t host papa school every week or even every month. A few times a year on a Sunday afternoon seems to work fine. In my experience, one or two of our grandchildren will circle back later and ask to meet to discuss a particular question or topic that they still don’t understand, or is personal to them. That’s the Holy Grail of spiritual mentoring – return customers!

Also, I’ve told them and their parents that Papa School is like Las Vegas. What goes on here – stays here! That means if anyone reveals they’ve made some bad choices or are struggling with their faith, I won’t rat them out to their parents unless what’s going on in their life is dangerous to them. However I do urge them to trust their parents enough to let them know.

So, here’s a list of topics I’ve covered with most of our high schoolers and I am beginning to work on with our middle school grandchildren.

  1. Major events and people in history that shaped Christianity.

  2. How should Christians think about the death penalty?

  3. Are all sins the same in God’s eyes?

  4. What happens upon death to those who have never heard the gospel?

  5. Why do bad things happen to good people?

  6. Aren’t other religions simply different ways to the same God?

  7. How did we get our Bible? Who decided which books, or letters should be included? How do we know the Bible is actually from God?

  8. Understanding the major historical events that led to the formation of modern Israel.

  9. Do people “choose God” or does God choose us?

  10. Can Christians lose their salvation?

  11. Infant Baptism or adult baptism, or doesn’t it matter?

  12. What makes “luke-warm” Christians, luke-warm?

  13. What religion was Jesus?

  14. What does it actually mean to be born-again?

  15. What happens to Christians and non-Christians immediately after death?

  16. Prayer, giving and fasting – three very good things that can also be sins.

  17. Is our idea of church today, what Jesus had in mind?

  18. What about Christians who speak in tongues? What is that?

  19. Why are some countries poor and other countries rich?

  20. Is capitalism consistent with Christianity? Was Jesus a communist, socialist, or neither?

  21. If we’re “saved by faith,” what does that actually mean? What is faith?

  22. Does God “favor” one group of people over another? Does he favor the poor over the rich?

  23. Social justice issues:
    • Abortion
    • Right to die
    • Civil rights
    • Gender Rights
    • Sex-change surgery
    • Sanctuary cities

  24. World history:
    • Civil War
    • WWI
    • WWII
    • Vietnam

The “back-story” behind each of these events.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11:19

How following Jesus works in real life.

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