Proceed With Caution - Mansfield Christian School

Proceed With Caution

Dr. Cy Smith March 02, 2021


“Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong, it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”  C.H. Spurgeon

I enjoy studying the cultural differences among our generations.  This is especially helpful as I try to navigate and understand our students (Gen Z), their teachers (Gens X, Y, and Boomers), and their families (Gens Y and X).  Because the culture changes so swiftly (every five years), there are stark contrasts in the patterns of thought and behavior between the four generations represented in our schools.

While it would be easy to point out something discouraging in this context, I would rather draw attention to a positive and critically needed attribute of Gen Z.  Research indicates that today’s students tend to be discerning – they are perceptive, selective, sharp, savvy and cynical.  They may not always show good judgement, but they move with caution before making decisions as they are very aware of all that is going on around them. 

In this complex and anxious age, this is welcome news for parents and teachers.  Why?  Because we can train and teach our children how to be discerning; we can help them develop the skill to recognize the difference between what is right and what is not or “almost.” 

The Barna Group (2018) conducted a study among Christians ages 18-29 to see what they could learn about people who grow up in Christian homes and then proceed one of two directions; either they leave the faith somewhere in their 20s or they become resilient to the culture, hold on to their faith, and live for Christ. 

Researchers concluded that the main reason many Christians fall away from their faith and leave the church is “insufficient discipleship.” In other words, identifying as a Christian and going to church when you can, is not enough to produce a life that is resistant to the pressures of this culture (that are opposite of our biblical worldview). 

On the other hand, those that were resilient (able to withstand the pressure of the culture, stand strong for their faith and continued to walk with Christ) were those who had developed the skill of discernment.  Further, the research showed that one of the best ways for young people to develop this skill of discernment is to learn how to think in company with other Christians who are also learning how to think.  Sound familiar?  This is what we do every day at MCS! 

Recently, we were so impressed by the 7th grade students who listened carefully to a history lesson on the Nicene Creed (325) presented by their teacher, Dr. Stull.  After lengthy discussions, sharing, debating and considering all sides, the students agreed that it was important to be confident of your faith.  So important in fact, that 13 students went forward in a History class to commit or recommit their lives to Christ.  This was no church alter call, this was simply discovering truth together in a community of other believers and having the courage to act upon it.  

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