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7 Must-Read Books on Faith, Parenting, and Technology
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When it comes to parenting a pre-teen who is immersed in technology from what seems like dusk until dawn, I’m not sure if I could do it without some serious faith and guidance from above. Let’s face it, there is no escaping social media, digital media, the 24/7 media cycle, and on, and on. Sometimes I want to unplug, take my “tweenager”, and run for the hills.
Unfortunately, I can’t, and neither can most people. We have to learn to deal with it, and more importantly, we have to teach our kids how to deal with it too – the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s really where the faith part comes in for me, which I talked about in my previous post, Learning to Fly Right Side Up: A Guide for Parents in a Digital World.
Adding Jesus into the mix makes all of the difference. He modeled a way of life that provides a framework for living the right way in an imperfect world. Through his death, he provides us with access to the grace, love, and forgiveness we all need when we make mistakes.
7 Books That Tie It All Together
Of course, there are tons of great resources and books on all three of these topics. However, the ones I chose for this list either deal specifically with building strong relationships within families through a Christ-centered lifestyle or they deal with the continued relevance of Christ and his teachings today. They all reflect my core values as a parent who is striving to raise a child rooted in Christ’s teachings, equipped for discernment as she is exposed to ever-changing media, and engaged in using technology tools to make the world a better place.
I want to emphasize the word striving… As I write this, that goal sounds crazy considering how hard it is sometimes to manage technology, social media, and everything else. However, I think it’s a goal worth working toward – That’s why I am hoping you will join me and we can work together!
Ok, so here is my list…
by Art Bamford, Kara Powell, and Brad M. Griffin
Right Click, published by the Fuller Youth Institute, is an easy-to-read, practical guide for parents navigating digital media with their teens. And while the focus is teens, many of the suggestions can be used with younger children as well. It focuses on family communication, provides thought-provoking insights on technology from kids’ perspectives, and talks about setting boundaries and handling tough situations. Right Click emphasizes that every family and every child is different – hence the importance of communication. There are questions to help guide discussion at the end of every chapter. If I could start a required list of reading for all parents, this would be on it – it is that awesome:)
By Kara Powell and Chap Clark
Sticky Faith is also published by the Fuller Youth Institute and was the forerunner to the book Right Click listed above. It is also a great resource for parents, focusing on practical ways to instill faith in your children that lasts a lifetime. The book cites research on why young adults tend to leave the church after high school and then gives practical, positive approaches for parents and churches to build and strengthen relationships that foster Christ-centered living in children. Research indicates that parents are the #1 influence on children when it comes to faith and values. Talking to your kids and being intentional about communicating what matters when it comes to what’s okay and what’s not okay on social media and online is important for families! This book isn’t about technology, but it is about practical ways to connect with your kids. It is great to read as a small group study (there is also a video series) or could be used by parents individually.
By C.S. Lewis
Many people think of C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia as merely a fantasy story, but it is so much more. Lewis’s classic, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe begins with four children entering a secret world that has been enslaved by an evil queen. Through adventure, trial, and the loving sacrifice of Aslan the Lion, the world of Narnia is restored. The story mirrors the Christian narrative in an engaging way for parents and children alike. Lewis deals with sin and redemption, fellowship and sacrifice. There are many ways to weave these themes into conversations with your family about boundaries and discernment related to technology and/or life in general. This is a great book to read with your 3rd – 6th grader or it’s a great book to listen to in the car on CD or on Audible. For younger kids, there are many picture book adaptations. And, of course, there is always the movie!
I want to stop right now and mention my friend the audiobook. I talked about listening to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in the annotation above – and seriously, my daughter and I love listening to audiobooks together, especially in the car. But if you are like me and have very little time to sit down and read by yourself, ever. The audiobook is for you too. Talk about multi-tasking, I can listen to a book and drive the car, mow the lawn, clean the house, and the list goes on. If you haven’t tried it and you’re just dying to get to that book list, check it out! I use Audible, but you can also get CDs and some MP3 players from the library.
Okay, now back to the books…
By John Ortberg
Who Is This Man? connects the Jesus of Bible stories to the flesh and blood, historical Jesus who undeniably walked the earth. John Ortberg uses the context of society during Jesus’ life to outline the astounding and unpredictable impact he had and continues to have on world customs and culture. Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or not, the way he lived his life and the way he changed the world are worth considering. His influence as a humble teacher and his commitment to love and sacrifice are as relevant when dealing with today’s struggles (enter technology and social media) as they were 2,000 years ago.
5. Mere Christianity
By C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis, Oxford and Cambridge professor, provides a clear, concise, and logical foundation for Christianity in this book. Although he began his life as an atheist, Lewis became one of the greatest Christian apologists of all time. Mere Christianity is a compilation of radio programs broadcast to the British people during the dark days of WWII. Lewis uses logic, reasoning, and life examples to make his case for the existence of a loving God who provides salvation for his people through Jesus Christ. There are a couple of things that I absolutely love about this book. One is that sitting down to read C.S. Lewis makes me feel like I am sitting across the room from him sipping tea and having a chat by the fire. Second is that it reminds me again that Jesus is timeless. We as parents feel like we are “under fire” with all the pressure from social media, etc. We need Jesus’ guidance. Then I think about C.S. Lewis’s listeners – literally under fire from Nazi bombers. They really needed Jesus. He truly is the Living Word for all times and all situations.
By Tim Keller
In Jesus the King, Tim Keller uses the Gospel of Mark to tell Jesus’ story as a king and as a servant who ultimately changed the world. In narrative fashion, Keller dives into various encounters Jesus’ had with people of different races, religions, genders, and social standings. He provides cultural context to help modern readers understand how revolutionary and outside the norm many of Jesus’ actions were. Jesus the King is another fresh look at Jesus as a person and as a savior. It strengthens the idea that Jesus guidance is just as relevant today as it was in the past.
By Dallas Willard
Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart. It has probably had the greatest impact on me as to how I live my life as a follower of Jesus, but it is not an easy read. If you are looking for a meaningful and deep look at what life as a disciple of Jesus looks like today, this is the book for you. It is amazing!
What Do You Think?
Have you read any of these? Are they on your current reading or listening list?
Do you have recommendations for the group? Please share in the comments below!