“Deconstruction” has become a prevalent word in evangelical circles. As of February, there were almost 300,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag “#deconstruction”—many of them referring to the Christian faith. However, the term “deconstruction” has such a wide range of meanings, it must be understood within a given context.
According to apologist Alisa Childers, “In the context of faith, deconstruction is the process of systematically dissecting and often rejecting the beliefs you grew up with. Sometimes the Christian will deconstruct all the way into atheism. Some remain there, but others experience a reconstruction. But the type of faith they end up embracing almost never resembles the Christianity they formerly knew.”
Enormous cultural pressure to accept and celebrate the LGBTQ+ agenda has taken a toll on the younger generation. The temptation to adapt your belief system to accommodate the moral revolution is huge. Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor at Redemption Church in Tempe, observes, “Doubt is hip. The desire to fit in with the cultural ethos of our moment is strong. That’s why so many deconversion stories sound like everyone’s reading off the same script—its well-worn clichés signaling conformity to accepted norms.”
Thus, deconstructing increasingly becomes the thing to do. As Kirsten Sanders, writing for Christianity Today, observes, “It’s quite popular to identify as deconstructing. Individuals note that they are deconstructing as if they were heading out to get a haircut or waiting for a load of laundry to dry.” Almost on cue, deconstruction therapy and counseling sites, as well as conferences, have popped up to help youth break free from “religious trauma syndrome” (RTS), a.k.a. orthodox Christianity.
It’s common for many young people who grew up in church to struggle with faith issues simply because they’re transitioning from “mom and dad’s faith” to their own beliefs. The problem is that so many of them are unprepared for the onslaught that awaits them when they leave the nest. Ratio Christi, a leading apologetics evangelism ministry on college campuses across the world, reports that a whopping 75 percent of Christian teens leave the faith while attending college.
Parents must intentionally disciple their children in order to provide a foundation for their faith that cannot be shaken.
What can Christian parents do to help their children navigate the bridge from parental faith to personal faith? With all my heart, I believe the answer to deconstruction is discipleship. Parents must intentionally disciple their children in order to provide a foundation for their faith that cannot be shaken. For fathers this means at least three things:
1. Intentionally teach the gospel.
Unfortunately, many parents rely on the church to disciple their kids. And while the role of the church is important, it can never substitute for dad purposely engaging his children with the gospel. The local church’s part is to reinforce what is being taught in the home. Intentionally discipling your kids begins with accepting your God-given responsibility to teach your children the truth of the gospel.
But obviously, you can’t teach what you don’t know. Your own knowledge and understanding of Scripture and the gospel are crucial to building the faith of your sons and daughters. The biblical illiteracy of parents has become a breeding ground for apostasy in the younger generation.
The biblical illiteracy of parents has become a breeding ground for apostasy in the younger generation.
You owe it to your kids to know God’s Word so that you might engage them with God’s truth, answer their questions, discuss the issues, and meet the challenges of our day with sound doctrine.
2. Intentionally model the gospel.
As the saying goes, “some things are better caught than taught.” Discipling your children isn’t just knowing and communicating God’s Word, it also involves living it out on a daily basis. In the words of Dorothy Law Nolte, “children learn what they live.” A dad who loves sacrificially, lives consistently, and models the gospel is the best gift a father could give his child.
The Psalmist said, “I will ponder the way that is blameless…I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.” (Psalm 101:2)
3. Intentionally lead your family.
Leading your family requires the courage of your convictions. It means you will not compromise your conscience or the standards of your home. And rest assured, you will be challenged in this regard.
Regarding a father’s leadership, John Piper has written, “He is responsible to take initiatives to form and carry out that moral vision of the family. It includes things like taking initiative to decide on where the family goes to church and how they participate and whether they get there or not. It includes things like ministries: what the family is doing in ministry and how they are involved together in the neighborhood and missions.
It includes things like taking initiatives with lifestyle issues for the family, asking questions like this: ‘What are we going to do with social media and television and entertainment and leisure and sports and vacations?’”
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I’ve often told parents that our children come with instructions but no guarantees. They are individuals who will eventually choose what they believe. But a father who teaches the gospel, lives it out consistently, and leads courageously will give his children the best opportunity to build their life on the Rock, Christ Jesus.