A Pop Culture Parent's Basic Questions

This book is practical but perhaps not in the way you might expect. It isn’t meant to feed you specific reviews and talking points about particular TV shows, movies, or games. Instead, we will give you clear examples of how to explore these stories, songs, and more for yourself, so you can sense how to help your kids do the same. This will prepare you to help your kids grow in the gospel as you train them to engage
their world for Jesus Christ. That way you can help your children better understand their life’s purpose: to live as God-worshiping members of Christ’s church who are called to love, serve, and teach our neighbors in the world that so desperately needs the gospel.

Our approach will often differ from some existing Christian materials. For example, some resources about Christian parenting and popular culture do not usually explore the big question, Why in God’s world are people making and sharing all this culture in the first place? Other resources may respond to human stories and songs as if they’re a hostile force—an enemy that’s dangerous to a biblical worldview and the hearts of your children. Often such resources attempt to limit the damage of popular culture.

Still other books and articles may act as if only we as “professional” Christians should watch, listen to, or play popular cultural works—so we can better connect with our neighbors. Sometimes they reframe the gospel in terms of whatever is hot in popular culture. They may have titles like (we made these up) “The Gospel According to Yoda” or “Finding God in the DC Universe.” These resources assume readers have grown to maturity and can resist the tempting lies and false worship of popular culture without too much trouble (if we need worry about its deception at all). But these materials do not usually address Christian parents or explore how parents can raise children from the training stage to biblical maturity.

This book takes a different path. In the chapters ahead, we will (1) define popular culture according to its original, biblical purpose in God’s world; (2) review our special calling as gospel-centered parents; and (3) propose clear, practical, and biblical strategies to understand these stories, songs, and beyond, asking questions about each cultural work, so we can start guiding our kids to do the same. From there, we will (4) explore how to do this for children as they grow to maturity, providing three age-appropriate examples (from two popular movies and one video game). In this way, we hope to provide parents a way to enter their children’s cultural worlds to talk, to enjoy, and to equip kids for reaching into their friends’ cultural worlds.

As this book’s authors, we’ve spent lifetimes wrestling with these challenges of human stories and songs, particularly in light of the gospel, and relating to our families: As a teacher and parent, Ted Turnau has trained to enter the worlds of anime, television drama, and video games with his three (now-adult) children. Ted and his wife, Carolyn,
have spent years in ministry in Europe. They have also often hosted university students at their home to explore the grace-filled moments and idols in popular movies and  songs.

As a storyteller, E. Stephen Burnett is just beginning his parenting journey. He has spent years not only creating stories but reviewing popular movies and other fantastical stories from a Christian perspective. Stephen and his wife, Lacy, are now facing these cultural challenges with the foster children to whom they have been called to minister.

And as a pastor, Jared Moore brings a uniquely pastoral and parental view to this topic. He and his wife, Amber, are raising four children. Despite their busy lives of church ministry, parenting, and teaching, Jared has a special interest in finding helpful ways to introduce young children to popular culture and train them to explore each story’s graces and idols.