According to Kenda Creasy Dean, we have not been giving our kids the gospel Paul proclaimed, but rather another “gospel” (Galatians :
“Moralistic Therapeutic Deism has little to do with God or a sense of a divine mission in the world. It offers comfort, bolsters self-esteem, helps solve problems, and lubricates interpersonal relationships by encouraging people to do good, feel good, and keep God at arm’s length . . . it’s thrust is personal happiness and helping other people treat each other nicely . . .
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism makes no pretense at changing lives; it is a low commitment, compartmentalized set of attitudes aimed at ‘meeting my needs’ and ‘making me happy’ rather than bending my life into a pattern of love and obedience to God . . .
Becoming ‘fools for the sake of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 4:10) requires an identity grounded in God’s accommodation to human culture, not ours—namely, God’s choice to become human in Jesus Christ. Foolish faith comes from the security of knowing that we live in God’s embrace, and with that knowledge comes a peculiar kind of courage. Foolish faith flies in the face of the self-fulfilling norms of consumerism and addresses issues of identity and openness, not by avoiding the cross, as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism would have us do, but by clinging to it” (Almost Christian, pp. 29 and 34, bold emphases mine).
If we are to see faith, hope, and love ignite in the next generation we must abandon the do good, feel good, distant god “gospel” and recover the Jesus-centered, apostolic good news of the kingdom that Paul proclaimed.
[This is an excerpt from my article “The MEANS and METHOD of Discipling the Next Generation” at the Worldview Church website.]