Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon
By David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock
Technology is both a blessing and a curse.
There. I said it.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with technology my entire life, but a few years ago our relationship took a turn for the worse when my eldest (who was seven years old at the time) was exposed to pornography while innocently googling her name. Now, that’s a whole other story for another time but ultimately that incident changed my entire mentality about technology, the world we live in, and the children who are growing up in a fast-paced, culture-driven, screen and selfie obsessed post-9-11 era.
Small electronic devices have been influencing children and teens today for well over a decade and I’m not completely sure it has been a positive experience for young, developing minds. In fact, there have been numerous studies conducted and data found that it has not. So the idea of screens “discipling” today’s youth was a fascinating concept to me and I wanted to learn more to empower my children to pursue other influences – biblical influences and specifically, the life of Jesus and the impact He can have as His followers.
Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon by David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock is an eye-opening book that addresses the power of technology on Generation Z and the digital, secular world we live in.
First off, this book is a genius collaboration co-written by Christian author and president of Barna Group (Kinnaman) along with Christian author, minister, youth leader, and former executive director of Youth Specialities (Matlock). Their unique perspectives and personal experiences bring valuable insight to the concept of relating today’s world as a digitial Babylon.
“Ancient Babylon was the pagan-but-spiritual, hyperstimulated, multicultural, imperial crossroads that became the unwilling home of Judean exiles, including the prophet Daniel…But digital Babylon is not a physical place. It is the pagan-but-spiritual, hyperstimulated, multicultural, imperial crossroads that is the virtual home of every person with Wi-Fi, a data plan, or – for most of us – both.” ~ Faith for Exiles, pg. 20
Using Babylon as a link to our modern world today is not an entirely new comparison but is still one that is valid and applicable. The bottom line is that the problems Christians faced in the Bible may be different than what we are experiencing today but nonetheless they are the same in how they are impacting and influencing a generation for better or for worse. Still, like many biblical legends who fought against the currents of culture and proved faithful and resilient to the God of all creation, we can be encouraged today to rise up and proactively pursue a God-centered, biblically driven, counter-cultural life.
Using research and practices observed over the past ten years, Kinnaman and Matlock developed five patterns of intentional behavior that can guide and cultivate disciples in a culture-driven, tech-obsessed world. These practices include 1) experiencing intimacy with Jesus by forming a resilient identity in Him, 2) developing and strengthening cultural discernment, 3) creating and maintaining intergenerational relationships and mentorships, 4) encouraging and training vocational discipleship, and 5) engaging in countercultural mission within an entitled, “selfie”-centered society.
I personally found much benefit from the plethora of research included throughout this book. I also thought Faith for Exiles was authentic in both its findings and in its approach to prepare young Christians to be on mission with Jesus and thrive in a culture where Christianity is not the popular choice. I would recommend this book to youth leaders, pastors, parents, grandparents and anyone interested in discipling, mentoring and impacting Generation Z.
* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review