How can you spot a counterfeit? Several years ago I read a fascinating article on how treasury agents were trained to spot counterfeit money, and I was actually shocked by the method. They had to study real money. In order to know what was not real, they were taught to become so familiar with the look, feel and sound of real bills that the counterfeit would become easier to spot. In a pastor’s world, we would say, “That’ll preach.”
We are constantly having to assess and determine what is real. In a world of fake news and relative truths, we have to know how to spot a counterfeit. It's even harder being a parent trying to talk with our children and our family members about identifying what is true and what is false. As a parent I understand that conversations around affiliation of the church can seem daunting. There are a lot of voices speaking and information to sift through. Which is real? Which is fake? Where do I start? I believe we have a way to engage our families in conversation, and more importantly, we have a command from God to share the truth that the Bible teaches.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. — Deuteronomy 6:4-7
To engage our families in the conversation, we need to know which voice is the real voice and which is counterfeit. We have generations of young people who are living in a culture that has no problem telling them what they should believe, who they are, and how they should respond. If we want to be a guiding force of truth for our children and our grandchildren, we need to be willing to follow God’s command.
Let me share five tips to help you start engaging your family in conversation.
Be Courageous. Young people who are considered Gen Z are being called the “open generation” because they are open to having tough conversations and they want to be equipped to have a life of purpose. Our students and children are seeking adults who are authentic with their faith and are willing to speak truth, so don’t be afraid to sit down and begin the conversation.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. — Ephesians 4:15
Be FOR Your Convictions. Do you remember when it felt like all your parents said was “no”? It’s easy to be that parent who just spouts off a long list of what we can’t do, what we shouldn’t do, and what we don’t like. Churches can also get the reputation of only being known for what they are against. We need to flip the script. We should be known for what we are FOR. Scripture has a lot to tell us about what we should be for … so be positive, be grace-filled, and be ready to stand up for your convictions.
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. — Titus 1:9
Be Open. The best way to know what our children and family members are hearing from our culture is to be open and ask questions. Let’s not speak at our children, but with our children. They are smart, and we can learn from each other. Let’s equip our children to think critically and ask questions, and then help them walk through the process of assessing if what they are hearing is real or if it’s counterfeit.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:6
Be a Seeker of Truth. It’s OK to not know the answers. That’s good news for you and it is good news for your family, but we need to know where we can find the answers. And guess what? It’s not always found through Google. Scripture is our foundation of truth, so let’s help our family seek truth in God’s Word.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. — John 17:17
Be Consistent. You should have conversations on a regular basis. If we are only speaking about our convictions at times of crisis, we are not teaching them how to live out their faith in daily holiness like John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, describes a follower of Jesus should live.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:9
We are living in a time where the conversations we have with our family will have a great impact on how we move forward in faith. As parents and grandparents, we have a gift to share with our children so they will grow up knowing the truth of the gospel and the grace found in Jesus Christ.