Our friends at Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. have recently started a new Center for Biblical Worldview, featuring resources to help parents, students, pastors, and more learn how they can foster a Biblical worldview.
David Closson is the Director of FRC’s new Center for Biblical Worldview, and he joins host Traci DeVette Griggs on this week’s episode of Family Policy Matters to discuss Biblical worldview, and how parents are integral to forming this worldview in their children.
“There are many scripture verses that point to the fact that all of us are called to be good stewards of everything God has given to us,” says Closson. “And if you’re a parent, you are called to be a good steward of your child, which means … giving them that Biblical worldview, which means you absolutely need to be aware of and active in what’s going on with your child’s education.”
Closson shares about a survey from George Barna—who recently joined us on Family Policy Matters to discuss the survey—that found the average child’s worldview is set by age 13. This means a child’s worldview formation is happening very early on in his or her life, and parents cannot be passive about educating their children, says Closson.
“Youth group is great, Christian schools are great, but at the end of the day, if a parent is the chief discipled maker, they have to take ownership of their child’s education.” By taking just 10 to 20 minutes a day in intentional conversations about faith and scripture, concludes Closson, parents can reinforce a Biblical worldview in their children to last a lifetime.
Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear David Closson share more about FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview and how parents can foster Biblical worldviews in their children.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. Like it or not, we know that parents are the first and primary educators for their children. So what can parents do to not only provide their children with an excellent quality academic education, but also form their children into disciples of Christ who bring a Christian worldview into every aspect of life, including the classroom? David Closson, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council, joins us today to discuss how parents can fulfill these foundational educational responsibilities to their children.
David Closson, welcome to Family Policy Matters
DAVID CLOSSON: Hey, it’s great to be back with you.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: So tell us, where do we get this idea that parents are the first and primary educators of their children? Is that a biblical principle?
DAVID CLOSSON: Well, I would argue that it is, going all the way back to the Old Testament. I’m sure your listeners are familiar with this verse from Deuteronomy 6, but I think it’s what we’re talking about, parents and education. I always say that I think parents should view themselves as the chief disciple makers in their home. Where does that come from? Well, Deuteronomy 6:6-7 when Moses gets the law, it says, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise.” And there’s other scriptures, of course, Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he’s old, he will not depart from it.” In the New Testament, Ephesians 6:4, Paul says, “Fathers, don’t provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” And so again, I think there’s many scripture verses that point to the fact that all of us, Traci, are called to be good stewards of everything God has given to us. And if you’re a parent, you are called to be a good steward of your child, which means raising them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, giving them that biblical worldview, which means you absolutely need to be aware and active in what’s going on with your child’s education.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: Let’s talk about when those worldviews are formed. How early?
DAVID CLOSSON: Yeah, great question. Family Research Council, we just do kind of at the national level what you guys do in North Carolina at the state level. And so we’ve cared about biblical worldview for a long time; we’ve been around since 1983. One of the things that prompted us to actually form this new Center for Biblical Worldview, which I get the joy of leading, is a new survey that George Barna put out that showed that one’s worldview is really solidified and crystallized by the age of 13. Now of course, people can be converted and things can shift and change, but when you look at the average, by the age of 13 is when that worldview is set. So obviously that means that education in these formative years, leading up to 13, that plays a key role in the development and formation of a worldview.
And Traci, let me give you one other stat from the same poll that George Barna did. We know that our culture is no longer what you could call a culture that’s influenced by scripture. Only six percent of Americans have what you could call a biblical worldview. When you go to the church, however, the picture’s not much better. Even though 81 percent of evangelicals who attend church think they have a biblical worldview, only 21 percent actually have one when you measure it based on belief and practice. And so given the state of where we are with worldview, my goodness, how important it is to focus on our children.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: If the number of parents with a biblical worldview is so low, how can we hope that they’re going to be able to pass that along to their children?
DAVID CLOSSON: Yeah, no, it’s a great question because you can’t pass on what you yourself don’t have. And so that’s one of the reasons it’s so critical for groups like FRC and others to be raising awareness and providing resources and tools. But more important than any para-church organization or ministry, my goodness, how important it is for the local church, for pastors, to be taking this seriously and realizing that they need to be preaching expositionally through God’s word to inculcate that worldview.
I’ve used the word so many times, what is a worldview? A worldview is simply just the lens through which you see the world. So a biblical worldview means that you’re seeing your world, you’re interacting with it, you are thinking about the major issues through the lens of scripture. And so where does that come from? Ultimately it comes through a thorough knowledge of what God’s word teaches, and that comes from your own Bible reading, your spiritual disciplines, but it also comes from the church. So I think that these statistics—as alarming as they are—they should be a wake-up call for many people who are leading our churches.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: If a parent is hearing this and saying, “Wow, I don’t even know if I have a biblical worldview,” is there any way to know that for them?
DAVID CLOSSON: Yes. The survey that George Barna is doing, it’s actually 81 questions that surveys belief and practice. We don’t have that available quite yet for people to take themselves, but pretty soon, a couple of weeks from now, I would invite all of our listeners to go to the frc.org/worldview, and we’re going to have tools that you can use to measure it because we have developed rigorous testing. Cause you know, it’s one thing, “Do you identify as someone who has a biblical worldview?” That’s not very precise. What we try to do is measure beliefs and behaviors, so it’s actually a pretty scientific way to do it. And so we don’t have those diagnostic tools available yet, but they are coming, Traci.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: That’s good to know. And of course, parents aren’t immune; if they send their children to religious schools, they have to stay connected, right? What are some important things that parents can do at home to help their children succeed in public schools or private schools or religious schools?
DAVID CLOSSON: Yeah, so I think it’s important to realize an education is not just meant to prepare children for careers, but our education shapes them as individuals. And I think parents do set the tone for those disciplines; they shape character at home. Simple things such as—and I think the way you worded the question is helpful—I think there are a lot of Christian parents who think, “Well, if I send the kid to Christian school, if I make sure they’re going to youth group on Sunday night or Wednesday night, that’s kind of fulfilling my obligation to make sure that they’re getting this biblical worldview. They’re getting trained to think like a good Christian young person.” And youth group is great, Christian schools are great, but at the end of the day, if a parent is their chief disciple maker, you have to take ownership of your child’s education.
And so what that looks like is something simple. I know one thing my family did growing up is at dinner time, we had to leave our cell phones—once we got them kind of in the later high school years—we had to leave those in the other room. And at dinner time, that was a time where my dad would lead us in a family devotional. We would go through, he would ask us about things that we learned, we would talk about current events and he would be able to reframe some of the issues my sister and I had heard at school, kind of through the lens of scripture. And so, you know, this isn’t rocket science; it doesn’t require that you have a seminary degree. My parents don’t have seminary degrees, but they wanted to take a vested interest in what their children were learning. And I’ve heard Christian parents around the country, whether it’s right before bedtime, having a prayer time with their family, doing a devotional or using that dinner time. Making sure that every dinner is not a TV dinner, but we’re going to have intentional time with our family. So again, all in all what I’m getting at Traci, is that parents, that the most important thing they can do at home to help their children succeed is just being intentional and having those conversations.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: So these kinds of character traits, these also help them be good students, don’t they?
DAVID CLOSSON: Well, it does absolutely! One’s worldview is the foundation for everything. It’s how we view, interact, and react to the world around us. You know, that foundation has to be built on God’s word. And I think that the kinds of people that we’re wanting to become, and as we raise children, we want our children to become a certain type of people—people who love the Lord, people who love their neighbors, who love their friends—that boils down to that character development which happens in the home, and it happens when they’re at school. And so again, I think parents need to take an active role in making sure that they’re having these kinds of conversations about what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, love your neighbor as yourself.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: You said that by the age of 13, most children’s worldviews are set, but what about the parents of children that are high school age, or adult? Is it too late for us?
DAVID CLOSSON: No, it’s not. Sure, an individual’s worldview is solidified by age 13—that’s what the data shows—but it can be shaped; it can be recalibrated in later years. That’s why FRC produces curriculum and other materials for adults and for Sunday schools. You know, as Christians, one of the tenets of our faith is that no one is beyond hope. No one is beyond growth. No one is beyond change. It can become difficult in the later teen years, in the early adulthood, but one thing as Christians we believe is that God is all powerful. Nothing is beyond Him and the Holy Spirit can convict and He can change our thinking; He can alter our worldview to be in line with scripture. And so, yeah, if you are a parent or even a grandparent listening to the conversation you and I are having, Traci, don’t despair. God sees your pain. And I’d go to Him in prayer, bring that child, that son, that daughter, that grandson, that granddaughter to the Lord and don’t stop seeking to be a faithful presence in their life. No one’s beyond hope. No one is beyond change.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: So how about some recommendations for parents in ways that they can work with their schools, the schools that their children are in, in a winsome way and a way that will be effective.
DAVID CLOSSON: Homeschooling is obviously an option. But for those who feel led to do the private school route or the public school route, either of those, get to know the teachers. Go to the parent teacher days, make an intentional effort to get to know those who are educating your children. And in some cases, especially if you live in more of what I call a “blue” city or a “blue state” led by Democrats where it’s more difficult to kind of be a Christian and have those views, what that might mean then is discussing and supplementing the curriculum at home with your children. Attend school board meetings; speak up when appropriate; serve on your school board run for and serve on your school board; consider working as a teacher or a principal. At the very least, having conversations with those who are teaching your children, having conversations with the administrators. Consider again what I said, supplementing curriculum. You know, Summit Ministries based in Manitou Springs, Colorado, they have worldview curriculum. I was going through one of the books the other day, it’s written for middle school and high school students. You could take a couple pages of that each day and go through that. We have resources on our website, frc.org/worldview, that looks at some of the contentious issues in the public square. You can download those resources for free and use those in your family devotional time. So again, I’ve said it a couple of times, but it goes back to just using 10, 15, 20 minutes here or there, being intentional and having those conversations with your children.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: All right, well, David Closson, where can our listeners go to learn more about the good work that you do and follow all of the work that is done at FRC?
DAVID CLOSSON: frc.org/worldview is kind of the landing page for all things related to the Center for Biblical Worldview. And again, we only launched this ministry, this kind of new initiative at FRC in May, but already we have resources on there for thinking about religious liberty, life, sexuality, politics. We have interviews that I’ve done, that George Barna has done. We have articles on a whole host of issues, including one I recently wrote on a parent’s duty for education. We have stuff on Critical Race Theory. So, all of those resources can be found at frc.org/worldview, and I would encourage people to come back to that site in the weeks and months ahead as we launch some of our bigger initiatives, such as curriculum and Sunday school material and things like that.
TRACI DEVETTE GRIGGS: All right, great. David Closson, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council, thank you so much for joining us today on Family Policy Matters.