The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ

Theodore A. Turnau, III, E. Stephen Burnett, Jared Moore
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Parents often feel at a loss with popular culture and how it fits in with their families. They want to love their children well, but it can be overwhelming to navigate the murky waters of television, movies, games, and more that their kids are exposed to every day.

Popular culture doesn’t have to be a burden. The Pop Culture Parent equips mothers, fathers, and guardians to build relationships with their children by entering into their popular culture–informed worlds, understanding them biblically, and passing on wisdom.

This resource by authors Jared Moore, E. Stephen Burnett, and Ted Turnau provides Scripture-based, practical help for parents to enjoy the messy gift of popular culture with their kids. By engaging with their children’s interests, parents can explore culture while teaching their children to become missionaries in a post-Christian world.

By providing realistic yet biblical encouragement for parents, the coauthors guide readers to engage with popular culture through a gospel lens, helping them teach their kids to understand and answer the challenges raised by popular culture.

The Pop Culture Parent helps the next generation of evangelicals move beyond a posture of cultural ignorance to one of cultural engagement, building grace-oriented disciples and cultural missionaries.


Ted Turnau teaches culture, religion, and media studies at Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic. He has a PhD from Westminster in apologetics and wrote Popologetics (2012) to help Christians engage popular culture. Ted Turnau authored The Pop Culture Parent. He and Carolyn have three grown children. Ted enjoys jazz and blues, movies, games, and Japanese culture.

Stephen Burnett explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as publisher of Lorehaven Magazine and cohost of the Fantastical Truth podcast. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. E. Stephen Burnett authored The Pop Culture Parent. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin, Texas area, and serve as church members and foster parents.

Jared Moore serves in pastoral ministry. He has a PhD in systematic theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and cohosts The Pop Culture Coram Deo Podcast. Jared also served as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He authored The Pop Culture Parent. He and his wife, Amber, and their four children enjoy popular culture together.

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“When our children were young, I made a bargain with them: I would listen to Police if they would listen to Duke Ellington. The deal was well intentioned. I thought it was rather generous of me to enter into their world. And all was not lost. I still enjoy the erstwhile popular rock group today, while they like jazz. But I wish I had possessed this book. It would have cautioned me against my paternalism. Ted Turnau and his friends Stephen Burnett and Jared Moore have articulated essential counsel for parents struggling to adopt the right attitudes toward guiding their children, and themselves, into being ‘in the world but not of it.’ The book is founded upon nonnegotiable biblical principles: respect for children, the gift of culture, and the gospel against legalism or perfectionism. It is honest, at times painfully so, and real-life examples abound. But what permeates these pages is love, love that is based on God’s grace and reflected in our understanding devotion to the family.” 
William Edgar, Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia 

“In The Pop Culture Parent, Ted Turnau, Stephen Burnett, and Jared Moore not only effectively remind us that the gospel is relevant to every square inch of our lives but also practically equip us to parent our children with wisdom and discernment. A helpful, thoughtful, and encouraging book.” 
Bruce Riley Ashford, Provost and professor of Theology and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of Letters to an American Christian and The Gospel of Our King 

“As parents of four and a wide age range, my wife and I just entered our fourth decade with small children in our home. The struggle to raise children to know and honor the Lord in a fallen world is real! The Pop Culture Parent is a wonderful and welcomed resource to help parents leverage culture as we seek to ground our children in the gospel. I only wish it would have been written sooner!” 
Paul Chitwood, President of the International Mission Board 

“This book gives us clarity of vision on how parents and kids can navigate the confusing and complex works of entertainment around them. If your desire is to give a Christ-centered vision of enjoying and engaging culture, then The Pop Culture Parent is most certainly for you.” 
Mike Cosper, Author of Recapturing the Wonder; director of Podcasting at Christianity Today 

“I currently have the good fortune to be the parent of three teenagers, and I’m always wondering, Have we done enough to keep our children from godless influences they encounter in movies and music? Have we unwittingly given them over to the culture to a point that we’ve abdicated our responsibility to train them up in the fear of the Lord? Have we made Christ shine more brightly than the brightest pop culture stars? As the first generation of parents with children who have smartphones, this is a heavy task. I am grateful this compelling book has come along just in time to provide so much winsome, balanced, gospel-centered wisdom to help parents in shepherding our children’s hearts toward green pastures of godliness even as myriad attractive voices clamor for the throne of their hearts.” 
Jeff Robinson, Author; lead pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky; senior editor for The Gospel Coalition  

“I have always believed the comic con crowd to be an unreached people group, largely overlooked by evangelical Christians who would rather create subcultures than reach the broader culture head on, so I am always pleased to discover books like this that speak to geeks like me. 

Christian parents can neither hide their kids from all forms of pop culture nor altogether ignore its influence on their worldviews. But as Turnau, Burnett, and Moore show us in The Pop Culture Parent, we can teach our children how to engage the culture in such a way that they discover what is beautiful about it, spot its idols, and connect the dots between it and the gospel.” 
Rhyne Putman, Associate professor of Theology and Culture, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

The Pop Culture Parentis a great recipe. Step 1: Take a teacher, a storyteller, and a pastor—all who love Christ, love their families, and love pop culture. Step 2: Shake vigorously. The result? Biblical, wise, authentic, and practical nourishment for all ages.” 
Daniel Strange, College director, Oak Hill College; author ofPlugged In: Connecting Your Faith to What You WatchRead and Play 

“Pop culture is not an escape from the real world; pop culture is the real world, and parents cannot ignore its influence on their children. This gospel-centered book takes a thoroughly biblical approach to deepening Christian parents’ relationships to their children and cultural consumption by instilling discernment through discipleship. Practical personal stories, conviction, compassion, and a clear sexual ethic will ensure you come away grounded not in fear but faith.” 
Chris Bolt, Husband; father; pastor; professor, Birmingham Theological Seminary 

“Here’s an impressive and engaging resource for the church: circumspect (noting rocks on both sides); broadly conversant (with Scripture, Christian commentators, and cultural phenomena); practical (providing an excellent, five-question, analytical tool for sorting things out); and edgy, (with provocative takes, ripe for discussion). All in all, it’s well suited not only for use in the home but also for group study within the broader family of faith.” 
Mark Coppenger, Retired professor of Christian Philosophy and Ethics, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 

“A thoughtful and downright necessary guidebook for parents in this pop culture-saturated age. I lost track of the times I thought, Oh yes, that’s precisely right, and Ooh, what a great way to approach that. But more than anything I thought, So-and-so could really use this! I applaud the authors of The Pop Culture Parent both for their content and their timing.” 
Kerry Nietz, Award-winning science fiction author  

“Popular culture must be engaged, not escaped. Parents must intentionally guide children through the maze of modern cultural confusion. Avoiding culture is not a viable option. Learning to wisely interact with culture, instead of fearing it, is essential. This helpful book is a roadmap for parents on the journey.” 
Jeff Iorg, President, Gateway Seminary 

“I grew up in the church and somehow came to believe that ignorance of pop culture was a sign of godliness. The Pop Culture Parent has caused an oh-so-needed paradigm shift! Who knew that the glory of God was shining from pop culture, that Christians can enjoy Christ while watching Star Wars? This book has given me a biblical and accessible new way to point my children to Christ.” 
TJ Cunningham, American artist 

The Pop Culture Parent is more than a how-to guide. At once convicting and equipping, it challenges Christian adults (especially parents) to engage with popular culture as part of their Christian walks and teach the children and teens in their lives to do the same. This book is essential reading for anyone who desires to navigate today’s culture with a Christian mind and heart.” 
Elijah David, Author of Albion Academy; parent of one 

“This isn’t just a book on culture; it’s a book on Christian parenting. Pop culture parenting is a topic requiring a delicate balance of freedom to water a child’s imagination while simultaneously guiding them toward glorifying God in all that they do. This book struck that balance in a beautiful way.” 
Marian Jacobs, Staff writer for Lorehaven magazine 

“Piercingly insightful, culturally cognizant, and graciously balanced, The Pop Culture Parent provides a much-needed resource for parents who want to enter their children’s world and embody Christ’s example.” 
Cap Stewart, Writer; speaker; author 

The Pop Culture Parent avoids the extremes of similar books by approaching pop culture as neither irredeemable and thoroughly corrupt nor as a neutral vehicle for gospel truth. The authors manage to explore issues as complex as theology, psychology, and sociology while keeping things fun and interesting, but always with an eye toward their practical application for child-rearing parents. Readable, common-sense, and cutting-edge relevant.” 
Mike Duran, Novelist; blogger; speaker  

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4 Reviews

  • 5
    Disciple Your Child in the Midst of this Culture

    Posted by JDewey on 04 21 2022

    The introductory chapters, while almost jammed with too much information, do a good job at explaining how culture is presently shaped by both Common Grace and The Fall. As a result, there are aspects of truth and error mixed into the songs, stories, art, and games that the world produces. An intentional parent will disciple their children to sift through these things, and use what the culture is already producing to point to the greater glory of Christ. This will prepare our children to both overcome the temptations of the world, and to someday/currently serve as ambassadors of Christ to the world. I like how the authors address the dangers of "Hands off Parenting" and also of "Endless Childproofing." I also appreciate their emphasis on gospel parenting and the importance of aiming for heart transformation - rather than just behavior modification. The last half of the book provides examples of how to engage children with pop culture based on their age level - including specific examples. The appendices point to a plethora of additional resources to help a parent disciples their children in the midst of this culture. The authors do go a little overboard, in my opinion, when it comes to their claims that parents "ought to" care/learn about form, structure, and other such aspects of art. I am glad that there are people like the authors who enjoy those things and who can engage others who also enjoy those things. However, I don't think that parents have to become experts on the excellence in anime or the beauty of poetic forms in order to engage their child with the heart issues the art touches on. This is just a minor quibble, but if you are coming from an "anti-culture" past, then this sort of overreach will annoy you - just don't use that as an excuse to put the whole book down! This is a good resource for intentional, disciple-making parents!

  • 5
    The Neglected Role of Popular Culture in Christian Parenting

    Posted by Cap Stewart on 04 26 2021

    In a society infatuated and inundated with pop culture products, how can Christian parents raise their children to be faithful ambassadors in, and wise stewards of, the output of the surrounding culture, with its mix of common grace and secular idolatries? It’s a question the body of Christ needs to be asking, and it deserves a book-length answer. To quote the authors, “As sons and daughters of the King, our Great Commission is to serve as ambassadors of Jesus to people around us. Wise ambassadors get to know the culture of their host country, studying the heart and soul of the people they are trying to reach” (17). This applies to our own relationship to the surrounding culture, but also to how we shepherd our children from within that culture—and, Lord willing, how they themselves can act as ambassadors of Christ once they experience and demonstrate saving faith. The influence of popular culture on our children—including in the ostensibly “safe spaces” of our religious communities—cannot be ignored. Pop culture is to us like the ocean is to a fish. The question isn’t whether we will interact with it or not; the questions is if we will do so actively and directly, or passively and indirectly. One point of the book stood out to me more than any other—the need for us to model Christ’s ambassadorship in our parenting: “[W]e mimic Jesus by being incarnational. That is, just as Jesus entered our world, we enter the worlds of our children, including the culture they enjoy.” (42) The authors model and unpack this incarnational approach in several ways. For example, three rubber-meets-the-road chapters are strategically inserted to guide parents through the process of using pop culture as a training tool. These “practice sessions” examine some especially popular cultural products: the movie FROZEN (for young children), the film STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (for older children), and the game Fortnite Battle Royale (for older teens and young adults). I found the chapter on FROZEN to be especially insightful, demonstrating how to wield the world (so to speak) as a tool for developing a Scriptural worldview. Shepherding our children’s hearts is a challenging task in and of itself. It’s a responsibility that shows us our own weaknesses, our own childish and petty ways—and the Savior which we and our children desperately need to overcome our sin. In His kind provision, God has graced the church with numerous books on the subject of parenting, many of which have proved beneficial to my own family. THE POP CULTURE PARENT earns its place near the top of the list of those books I will likely refer to again and again, for years to come. It may not have been a parenting book we were looking for, but it’s a book we discovered we needed. And dare I say it, my perspective on parenting—and on living the Christian life itself—will never be the same again. That’s about as strong of a recommendation as I can give.

  • 5
    Terrific Parenting Resource

    Posted by Laura on 10 10 2020

    The Pop Culture Parent is a a great parenting resource. It encourages engagement with pop culture rather avoidance and explores fulfilling our role in the Great Commission by serving as an ambassador of Christ in our current culture. The authors did a great job exploring parenting through this lens throughout childhood including the teen year. This one is a winner! While this complimentary book was provided for review by New Growth Press, no other compensation was given. All remarks are my personal and honest opinions.

  • 5
    Helping children navigate and discern in a secular culture

    Posted by SHIRLEY ALARIE on 09 21 2020

    Raising children with a biblical worldview is no easy feat. Add to that today’s secular culture of television shows, movies, and music, and the challenge is even greater. The Pop Culture Parent is written by a trio of authors who describe why it’s important for parents to engage with their children in popular culture. They also discuss why the alternative techniques of avoidance or endless childproofing won’t accomplish a healthy or biblical outcome. Each of the fourteen chapters in The Pop Culture Parent covers a particular aspect of pop culture parenting. Topics range from The Purpose of Popular Culture, to Gospel Centered Parenting, and Five Simple Steps to Engage Popular Culture with Your Children. Subjects include age-specific guidance and real-life examples, such as Introducing Pop Culture to Young Children, Exploring Pop Culture with Older Children and Preteens, and Practice Sessions with Young Children, Older Children, and Older Teens. The authors suggest a biblical perspective for handling discussions about sexual orientation and gender. They also describe the unintended gender stereotypes from a worldview perspective that should be avoided when speaking to children. The focus of Pop Culture Parent isn’t about finding fault with secular television, movies, and music. It’s more about helping your children discern Christian values or lack thereof and finding examples of God’s common grace among those pop culture venues. The book includes examples of what engaging with your children in popular culture would look like and plenty of encouragement to make it a routine part of your parenting and ongoing communication. There are also resources listed for additional support. How this book affected me: I chose to read this book not because I’m parenting a child, but because I think that today’s parents can use guidance for the many challenges they face. Christian parents face great challenges to raise their children with a biblical foundation. I hoped to be able to recommend a positive resource depending on whether I found the book content to be relevant and actionable, and it is both! Who would enjoy this book: The Pop Culture Parent is written for parents who are aiming to raise Christian children of any age. The approach is the same no matter the age of the children. Practical examples are given that describe how to cater the concepts to various ages. Our Christian Book Reviews: The book reviews at Finding God Among Us focus on Christian books – adult and children, fiction and nonfiction. Our specialty is books on faith and new Christian book releases. We’re proud to be included in the Top 50 Christian Book Review Bloggers. Our publisher partners include New Growth Press, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Revell and BakerBooks, divisions of Baker Publishing Group. I chose to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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