No blog post yesterday. Too much happened, I didn’t plan ahead, so this will make up for it. And yes, I have seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, twice now in fact, so I’ll be blogging about that sooner or later.
Tim Challies, a pastor and blogger, one of the Reformed guys, posted a review of a new documentary called Divided. The basic plot of this documentary is a young man going on a search for truth about why so many his own age are leaving the church. As Challies describes it, the documentary shows teens and 20 somethings at rock shows, having mohawks, seeking fun, etc. The documentarian then pits well articulated leaders of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) against inarticulate and undereducated young people. In fact, the whole documentary is one sided, as the documentarian has been a member of this type of church for years, and the whole documentary is more of a promotion for the NCFIC than a reasoned argument.
(Side comment – when did “reasoned argument” lose all meaning in Christianity?)
I had never heard of this NCFIC group before, but I’ve been exposed to the idea that family members of all ages should be gathered together at the same time for church service, with some exceptions being made for any one under the age of 3. As Challies puts it:
One by one Scott Brown and Voddie Baucham and Doug Phillips and Paul Washer and many others talk about how youth ministry has ruined the church—and not just youth ministry, but any kind of ministry that divides people by age. These men make the claim that the first 1800 years of the church knew no age segregation whatsoever; it is only in the past 200 years or so that anyone considered dividing children by age. They claim that any kind of age segregation stems directly from evolution and has roots in paganism. Any kind of age segregation therefore sows pagan seeds of division.
These leaders claim that the Bible clearly teaches that we must not age segregate. Ever. The classroom is a pagan creation and so too is the Sunday school. Leclerc goes so far as to claim that the mass youth exodus may just be God’s hand of punishment upon the church for our active disobedience in ignoring what Scripture teaches.
This demonstrates a pattern I’ve seen over and over again: taking something good and perverting it by following it another logical or extremist conclusion. The NCFIC conclusion to “fixing the problem” is for men to rise up and start raising their children and stop “outsourcing” childraising to others. You know, that’s not a bad idea! My generation will be one of the worst ever in terms of children growing up without a father figure. I support the idea that dads are needed and should be directly responsible for raising their children.
But the NCFIC perverts such a good idea by backdating the reasons for why it’s needed. Sunday school is responsible for God’s punishment on the church? Um, no. Sunday school was started by well intentioned Christians who wanted poor income working class children to have an education; hence, Sunday SCHOOL. And I agree with Challies: many youth groups have created dozens of Christian young people who love the Lord, follow Him, pay their taxes, mind their own business, and live Godly lives before God.
As Challies concludes:
It is beyond dispute that young people are abandoning the church, but the heart of this problem is not youth ministry or Sunday school. The heart of the problem is that many young people are being raised in homes and in churches where the gospel is absent. They are being raised by hypocrites and are rejecting that life of hypocrisy. I see young people abandoning the church and, though I am saddened by it, I Am Unalarmed.
Now, I think Tim Challies and I part ways here, or at least I’m not fully convinced by his well reasoned argument because I think it’s lacking some very strong proofs. I agree with him that many churches are lacking the gospel, hence many believers my age are leaving. I also agree that many people my age are raised believing they are Christians by parents who also “believe” they are Christians, even if both parties can clearly articulate from Scripture why they saved, how they were saved, when they were saved, etc. Ie, they have a “faith story”, “faith journey”, or “salvation testimony”.
But I also think, and I believe this weighs strongly, that a large part of it is that young believers don’t have any concept that Christianity is a faith and a belief system; we were raised to know, not believe, that Christianity is reality, period. We were never unconvinced of the truth of Christianity, never exposed to Christianity as an idea, never embraced Christianity as a potential belief, never experienced an awakening that Christianity had to be real, never threw off our old way of thinking and accepted this new reality that was presented to us, never then solidly defined reality as being Christianity. Those are all important steps that most people who are converts (key term) to Christianity experience. But those of us who are second, third, or fourth generation Christians rarely go through a period where the truth of Christianity becomes reality to us; instead, it’s just “this is the way it is and has always been from now throughout time eternal”.
Yet this is a point you can rarely bring up to pastors, because often they will just look at you stupidly (or superiorly) and say “but…of course it’s true.” They can’t help it. The possibility that it isn’t is not even remotely in their brain. Christianity is first and foremost a faith and a belief, not a fact that only people who are honest accept and everyone who doesn’t accept is merely lying and deceiving themselves about.
Anyways, that’s my piece. This group, the NCFIC, is dangerous. And yet they are just the latest in a long line of crazies. I’m trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but seriously, the inmates are running the asylum.
And remember, ideas have consequences. It’s ok to have a personal conviction. But to then twist that conviction to say that 99.9% of all born again Spirit led believers are corrupt…you’re full of crap.