As Christians, we are often encouraged to live in the world but not of the world. But with a culture inundated with some negative, less-than-desirable media, it can feel discouraging to dig through and find the positive things worth engaging with.
At one of our Love Good events this spring, two of our patrons (people can subscribe to Love Good’s seasonal packages of music, books, and art) shared their struggle to find media for their family that is wholesome but also inspiring and transformative. They explained that we often feel like we only have two choices:
- Allow our kids to be entirely overcome by modern media because they’re going to engage with it anyway.
- Reject everything the secular world offers, and limit their worldview with a small offering of media deemed unable to hurt them.
“There is a third way,” they said, “and that’s what we choose for our family.”
This third way involves recognizing that there are beautiful, true, and transformative media sources in our culture. It does, however, require intentionality with your time and choices. But this time is worth it because in choosing this third way you can help your teenagers engage with culture in a way that allows them to integrate their faith into daily life instead of isolating it within the walls of a church.
This all sounds great, but what does it look like in action? We’re going to tackle this endeavor through three lenses: music, social media, and time.
Listen to music from Christian artists creating secular music.
I understand that’s easy to read and hard to do. Fortunately, this is a huge part of what Love Good does: curate media that teaches our hearts to love what is good (without having to have praise and worship playlists on repeat). Download our free music sampler here for a taste of this “third way.” We’re also on Spotify, releasing new playlists monthly. Put this music on in the car. Play it around the house. I guarantee you will begin to hear Christian themes in music you hadn’t considered breaking out during worship.
Follow uplifting accounts (and suggest them to your teens).
Social media doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. In fact, there are some pretty spectacular people doing good work through those channels. People like Emily Wilson and Joel Stepanek are doing great work with young people, and they are living examples of integrating their faith into daily life, which is exactly what we want our teens to do. But when you find great social media accounts, how do you get your kids to follow them?
The art of subtlety is key here. Most teens aren’t naturally inclined to listen to what their parents tell them to do (I remember those days well… they weren’t terribly long ago). The straightforward way of sharing —“Hey, this Catholic person talks about Jesus all the time, and I think you need to be holier, so please go follow them”— may not be effective. But you can say something like, “Hey, I know you’re always looking for cool accounts to follow on Instagram. There’s this girl/guy named _______ that I think you would really like him/her.” Subtle, invitational, and it allows them to engage with positive media in a place they’re already active.
Unplug and ask questions.
Do you want to know what your kids are engaging with? Ask them. Do you want them to put their phone down for a minute and talk to you? Do the same. We live in a world of constant connection and overstimulation, but we don’t have to choose that every day. When we unplug for a time, we are more able to plug into the people around us, including our families. Some teens may put up a fight when you suggest anything technology-free but stand your ground. Every single one of us benefits from taking a technology break and focusing on the culture of our own family.
These are some pretty hefty ideas to tackle all at once, so choose one to focus on right now that will build up your family in the best way possible. You know your kids. You know your family. You know what family culture you hope for, and these are a few intentional ways you can live in the world without being of it.