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I feel like I need to start with a couple of confessions. Confession is not only good for the soul, but it also brings clarity of purpose when it comes to living for Christ. So, here are my confessions. When I first became a dad, I realized I had more shortcomings than I imagined. First, after spending nearly forty years evangelizing and discipling others, I had no idea how to disciple my sons. I became a (single) dad later in life through adoption. (I thought I was a pretty exceptional youth pastor…until I became a dad.) My second confession is that, even as a professor with a doctorate in youth, family, and culture, I do not consider myself an expert. What I do consider myself is a disciple of Jesus Christ still learning how to disciple my sons, and others, inviting them into a deeper journey with Jesus. In other words, I can relate to the challenges of parenting. I truly feel the struggle of parenting and grandparenting to raise godly children in an increasingly ungodly culture.

Do you ever get the feeling that, as a parent or grandparent, you are struggling to raise your children or grandchildren so they can hear from God and make wise choices? Do you feel like your voice gets “drowned out” by so many other competing voices? Do you feel like you are in a constant battle against the world to instill godly morals and values into the lives of your children and grandchildren? If you feel this way, you are not alone. In fact, your intuition is spot on. You are, indeed, competing to be the most influential voice in the life of a child or youth you love. 

A reason you may be struggling is due to the significant cultural shifts that have been happening under the banner of liquid post-modernity. This worldview is increasingly secular and hostile to a Christian worldview. This secular worldview is also very divisive. (If you are wondering why there is so much animosity today, a significant reason is changing cultural worldviews!) 

Every generation has faced challenges when raising children and youth. While today’s society is no different, the challenges parents and young people face are magnified by the number of competing voices that bombard our families, children, and youth. With the advent of liquid post-modernity, the institutions that are supposed to be about raising healthy children and youth are in an identity crisis. They are also isolated from each other by their competing agendas. Today’s environments of family, public education, sports, and even the church, are not only struggling to know their identity in a rapidly changing culture, they are also in significant conflict with each other. Each institution has a voice, or message, it is trying to convey to our young. Many institutional messages that are delivered to our young are heavy laden with adult-driven agendas. Conflicting, and sometimes antagonistic, voices are further contributing to delaying the process of identity formation in our children and youth. While the primary task of adolescents is identity formation, that process is being delayed due to all the conflicting voices. In other words, just as institutions are struggling to find their identity in a rapidly changing world, so too are our young struggling to find their identity. Confusion is created by competing voices that have led to our children and youth experiencing a significant amount of anxiety, loneliness, isolation, and depression.

Along with the variety of institutional and cultural voices, we can add technology and social media to the litany of entities competing for our children’s attention. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and a plethora of other social media outlets are sending messages to our young that are as varied as the number of “influencers” on these outlets. Further, as technology usage increases among our young at earlier ages, these voices are adding to the confusion. (Even if you wait for your child to reach a later age before getting a smartphone, you can never really know what your child is exposed to on the school bus or other places where their friends can show them things we don’t agree with.) So, what’s a person to do? Certainly, sitting around, worrying, and wringing our hands does not help. As a parent, professor, and pastor, and as someone who has worked with youth and families for nearly forty years now, I know the best thing we can do to counter all the negative voices is to have an intentional plan.

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Of course, plans must be very intentional. Having a solid plan requires trustworthy advisers. These advisers need to include other adults who have your child’s best interest in mind. They need to be godly people full of wisdom and who know what Scripture says about a biblical worldview. Surrounding your children with voices that are rooted in Christ-centered relationships makes them feel welcome, loved, and known. This will go a long way in countering the negative voices that corrupt their walk with God.

So, while I do not consider myself an expert who has arrived in discipling children and youth, I have learned quite a few things from hard gained wisdom. Discipling parents who in turn disciple their children has become my passion! This passion has changed what and how I teach as a professor, pastor, and parent. The Bible is clear about mandates to disciple our children as parents and as a faith community. God has distilled wisdom from Scripture, child development studies, social sciences, godly mentors, His church, and personal experience. This has culminated in my book, Voices: Helping Our Children and Youth Listen to Wise Counsel ( In this book, I have strived to help parents, grandparents, and anyone working with children and youth disciple them toward wise counsel and a vibrant relationship with Jesus.

Rich Griffith
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