Some of you may know this, but I really, really love Andy Crouch. He is one of maybe a handful of Christian voices who writes with confidence and clarity about what it means to live a kingdom-centered life in our present context. His books aren’t filled with wispy abstractions—he genuinely seeks to offer wisdom that can be applied. His latest book is perhaps the best example yet of this admirable quality.
The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place isn’t ultimately about technology—it’s about family. Crouch argues that families play a unique and irreplaceable role in the formation of the human person.
Namely, it is primarily through families that we gain wisdom and courage. While technology—and our educational systems—can provide easy access to knowledge, wisdom takes a longer cultivation of character, a patient acceptance of one another’s foolishness as we grow and learn. That happens in families. It’s the same with courage; we become people with the courage to endure hardships and make difficult choices in the intimate, committed relationships we’ve had with our family throughout our lives.
It is because families matter so deeply to our formation that we must consider seriously how technology changes the inner-workings of a family. Andy Crouch is no Luddite—he praises technological innovation as a remarkable expression of human creativity. We are, after all, meant to bear the image of God through our creative efforts. But we shouldn’t blindly accept every new thing as ‘progress’; instead, we must discern its proper and valuable use. Crouch says, “Technology is good at serving human beings…but it does nothing that actually forms human beings.” For that, we need families.
So Crouch’s book progresses very practically. Incorporating research on family technology habits from the Barna group, Crouch challenges families with ten commitments his own family made. He’s transparent in these commitments, offering up his family’s failings as readily as successes. In fact, Crouch’s teenage daughter writes the foreword to the book.
Over the past five years, I have become convinced that one way or another, we will all come to realize the potentially destructive effects of technology in our personal formation. We can either anticipate these effects and—in the context of community—work to restore balance or we can realize too late how our habits have changed us for the worse. I encourage families to read this book together and take its challenges seriously.