samedi, octobre 20, 2007

Interview with Walt Mueller

What does God want for our kids?
By Elizabeth
Published: Oct 20, 2007 12:01 AM EST
Driving home in the dark, I'm blindly surfing my radio presets (the ones that aren't public radio and classical) at my 12-year-old daughter's request.
Soulja Boy's "Crank That" is on the air in Lancaster — neither of us understand the words, but the song is on her iPOD, she tells me. Wilmington is playing a song by Rihanna, the teen that dresses like a refugee from Wisteria Lane. "Under My Umbrella" is on my daughter's iPOD, too.
Back to the Lancaster station and, oh what a relief, a song by Lifehouse — weren't they some kind of a Christian band before they got famous?
In the space of about five minutes, I've gone from suspicious to skeptical to probably misinformed — do I sound like you?
Which is why, moms and dads, teachers and pastors, we need Dr. Walt Mueller and his Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.
Born almost 20 years ago when Mueller was a youth minister in a Philadelphia-area congregation, CPYU's motto is "Understanding Culture to Impact Culture."
His message to sometimes perplexed and often ignorant Christian parents like me is both simple and challenging: Wise up to the cultural messages your kids are taking in a media marketplace that is only growing more sophisticated and diverse.
Criticize culture, don't demonize it.
And keep asking prayerfully and persistently: What does God want for our kids?
Mueller's persistent call to cross-cultural understanding has made him a rarity in the faction-riven denominational Christian world — a man who builds bridges rather than silos. In fact, he has served as a government consultant, and his work on character-building and critical cultural consumption has been "translated" into secular language and is being used in public school curriculums.
In the last year and a half alone, CPYU has produced five books. "Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture," the product of Mueller's doctoral dissertation work at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, lays the theological and biblical foundations for Mueller's practical cram course for youth pastor and parents "Youth Culture 101."
The result of a full-court press to reach high school seniors and college students, "The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness" was written by CYPU staff member Derek Melleby.
On a relatively small budget of $450,000 a year, Mueller's staff sets a high standard for productivity. The CPYU Web site (, which gets approximately 6,000 hits a day, is constantly updated with movie, resource and music reviews, as well as Mueller's blog postings.
A quarterly e-zine, Engage, offers parents perspectives on such popular television shows as "American Idol" and the musical group Good Charlotte.
Even students who attend supportive youth groups and are raised in faithful families aren't making the transition well to college, says Mueller. Many abandon Christian activities once they move away from home. Even those who remain involved tell CYPU staff that they find it hard to keep up with changing media and culture, says Mueller.
Although he travels the country speaking to crowds both huge and small, and has a one-minute daily radio spot that airs on around 850 stations (catch him on WJTL in Lancaster), Mueller is not a charismatic made-for-prime time megachurch wannabe.
Soft-spoken, calm, and reflective, the Elizabethtown-based father of four simmers with a determined passion driven by his sense of urgency and his belief that he is fulfilling a call from God.
He has nothing but respect for today's youth, whom he describes as smart and engaging. But he does have a word of warning for their parents. The complaints he hears most often from teens are: "they don't listen" and "they don't understand."
If you want your kids to be more critical, and more prayerful about buying what the global culture is selling, if you want them to be consciously faithful to God rather than becoming avatars for the latest secular trends, you need to make time to do both things, asserts Mueller.
Recently a driver who had probably fallen asleep at the wheel crashed into Mueller's office, leading him to reflect not only on his narrow escape from the jaws of death but on how to build a CYPU legacy of cross-cultural mission and reconciliation that would last after he had moved on.
In partnership with God and His grace, we have a similar job description: building character and faithfulness in our own kids.
But, as Mueller has made it his life's work to teach us, on-the-job training has to start right here with me and with you — for the sake of our children, and our world, and the Kingdom.

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