Blog  /  Parenting, Postmodern Parent  /  The Postmodern Parent | The Postmodern Push for Pre-Modern Religion


Vintage is so in right now.

As a kind-of-hipster parent, I have even caught myself buying vintage toys for my son. Whether it’s the old wooden blocks, the classic jack-in-the-box, or a good old fashioned rubber ducky, I tend to be more inclined to get him something if there is a bit of nostalgia attached to it. I know he’s 1 ½ right now, but I think he appreciates the nostalgia as well.

This might surprise you, but the vintage movement—the desire for something old, pre-modern, pre-bigger, better, flashier—is not merely a fad. It’s not just some hipster trend. The desire for a return to pre-modern things is an important element of understanding raising kids in a postmodern world.

As I communicated in my first postmodern parent post, the postmodern world is characterized by a rejection of the modern movement (amongst other things). It’s not just because rejecting things is cool. The culture we live in has lost faith in modern culture’s ability to do what it promises. Included in this modern rejection are a lot of the current church trends.

I’m going to suggest something that might seem counterintuitive to many parents. If we want to connect our children’s hearts to God, if we want to cultivate a long term, life-directing relationship with Christ in our children, older is better.

Let me explain. For the last 20 years or so, the trend has been to isolate youth culture within a youth group setting for church, to make youth groups feel like Miley Cyrus concerts, and do everything we can to make sure they are doing the things Christians do. Given the amount of time and money spent on trying to reach children, most church leaders now are being met with overwhelming disappointment in the results.

Recent studies, such as Fuller’s Youth Institutes Sticky Faith, have explored this phenomenon and come back with the same suggestion. Older is better. There is a postmodern push for pre-modern religion that we as parents need to take seriously.

Here are three things I think can help us use vintage faith to form our children into lasting disciples of Christ:

  1. Small is the New Big – Our kids don’t want church to be a rock concert. They don’t want to be a nameless face in a large crowd. One of the most significant things we as parents can do to help instill lasting faith in our children is to incorporate them into a smaller community of believers. This doesn’t mean we need to leave our mega churches, it just means we need to be at a church that values breaking the discipleship process into smaller group settings. Our postmodern kids want to be known by the people leading them and know those they are growing with.
  2. A Clear Gospel Basis – When being a Christian means accomplishing a to do list, the postmodern generation loses interest. Behaviorism is subtle. There is the obvious legalistic religion—don’t’ smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls who do—but there is also the spiritual discipline legalism. Read your bible, go to church, pray, serve. All of these things are hopefully things our children will do, but if that is how Christianity is defined they will lose interest. When our children asks us what it means to be a Christian, don’t answer, “Being a Christian means I try to follow Christ in how I act. I read my Bible and pray. I serve in church and give of my time to others.” Instead, answer them, “I’m a Christian because God loved me enough to send his only Son to die a sinner’s death on the cross and conquer death through his resurrection.” The focus needs to be placed back on Christ and away from our response to Him.
  3. Intergenerational Spirituality – Probably one of the most significant and surprising findings by studies like Sticky Faith is the importance of intergenerational spirituality for the long-term spiritual health of our children. The modern push to create an alternative youth religious culture to meet the direct needs of children might be the very thing pushing them away from the faith as they get older. Postmodern children need to see faith working in older people. They don’t care if the truth of the Bible is consistent or logical, they just want to know that it works. Because of that, we as parents need to work hard to involve our children in the religious life of multiple generations. Have them meet with some of your Christian friends, let them observe you in community group, make it a point for them to come to “Big Church” as well as go to their youth groups.

Our children need a vintage faith. They need church practices with nostalgia attached to them. So while we’re considering the 1940’s style Lincoln logs for our children, let’s be sure and throw in some old time religion while we’re at it.

Postmodern Parent. I am a husband, father, pastor, songster, writer, and most importantly, believer in the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ. I write a blog at Shouts from the Wilderness.

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  1. Yes!! Absolutely. And while I agree with your number 2 point, that the Gospel points only to Christ–following what God has laid out for us in the Bible is not legalistic unless we are teaching that it’s the way to be be made “righteous” or “right with God”. These things are commanded of us in the Bible, though, and we ought to be careful to consider what God asks of us.

    Living for Christ is no cake walk–but He has promised to help us and walk with us. I don’t think we ought to make light of the things God has called us to do. We will never do them perfectly, but we’re still called to do, and walk out our faith {with fear and trembling}.

    When we choose to live for Christ, we choose to leave our old life behind. I wholeheartedly agree with youth groups being turned into modern day concerts, with little depth and also agree there is TOO much emphasis on what WE should be DOING rather than what CHRIST DID. Certainly!

    Excellent article, thank you.

  2. i admit, i clicked a link here expecting another one of those Postmodernism is BAD sorts of posts and was happily surprised. as a former youth pastor, i couldn’t agree more that small and intergenerational is so much better. too many kids graduate from youth group and faith altogether because they aren’t truly rooted in faith, scripture, or the Church.

    i worship at a small church that isn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination. there is no real youth group and the congregation is largely elderly–and the teens love it. they are cared for and engage in life and worship together now–not someday.

    i agree that we need to take the focus off a works-based model. our faith isn’t about behavior. your suggested response, while true, is still pretty abstract. i think kids connect with stories of how God reveals himself works in our own lives as we respond to his call to folllow.

    good food for thought.

  3. Cody Kimmel says:

    @Christin – Thanks for the response and I do agree that there must be a balance between focusing on Christ and taking seriously the way we respond to him. I probably could have been more clear, but I was trying to distinguish between cause and effect. The cause of us being a Christian is defined by Christ and thus that is what it means to be a Christian. Hoever, the effect should be a lifestyle living out his desires. Thanks for the insight!

    @Suzannah – I appreciate the encouragement and I’m glad to see you involving your kids in the above mentioned things. Thanks!

  4. Even this weekend, we have a church youth group from 90 minutes away serving and worshiping in Allendale, SC. Last night, I was talking to some of the youth who were so excited to be doing their evening worship in very traditional (and old) church building, with stained glass, pews, etc.

    But as we communicate these truths, we need to remember that just because something is “old” or traditional doesn’t mean it’s better or more Biblical. That’s one of the presumptions of (and one of the main problems I had with) the book “Parenting By The Book.” Though I think there were some great principles in it, I didn’t agree with all of the premises (as I wrote here:

    Regardless, I think your points are right on!