Sermon Illustrations

iPod Religion

This is right up there with what 10-year-old Joshua wrote to his pastor: “Dear Pastor, My father says I should learn the 10 Commandments. But I don’t think I want to because we have enough rules already in our house.” That’s not as bad as what 11-year-old Ralph wrote: “Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished.”

We can laugh at this but the task of teaching the next generation is even more difficult than just getting biblical names and events right. I recently read a very provocative post called, “Choosing Their Religion.” The subtitle says it all: “Not all teens reject truth. Some are tailoring it to fit their lifestyles. Call it iPod religion.” (

“Today’s teens can program their iPods to play only the songs they like, bypassing record-company executives and radio programmers…It’s hardly a surprise, then, that many teens are forming their religious worldviews with the same mentality—by picking and choosing among things they like and leaving the ‘hard’ stuff behind, largely without the benefit of traditional gatekeepers such as teachers and pastors…It’s a culture in which personal choice is supreme and what’s right for you is right, period.

Christian Smith of the University of North Carolina surveyed more than 3,300 13-to17-year olds throughout the country and made this observation: ‘Religion becomes one product among many others existing to satisfy people’s subjectively defined needs, tastes, and wants. Religious adherents thus become spiritual consumers uniquely authorized as autonomous individuals to pick and choose in the religious market whatever products they may find satisfying or fulfilling at the moment.’ Among the more than 3,000 teens who participated in the survey, the specific phrase ‘feel happy’ appeared more than 2,000 times. Smith believes that teens absorb this ‘what works for me’ view of religion from the adults around them, often in their own homes.”

From a sermon by Brian Bill, Parenting Priorities, 11/15/2009

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