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Dialogue with family integrated church proponent Mr. Wolfe

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Shawn Mathis, Aug 8, 2011.

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  1. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Mr. Wolfe of Wolfe Ministries has graciously consented to continue our public dialogue about what exactly some family integrated churches believe with the goal of seeking as much unity as possible. (Please read this to understand where I am coming from; it will help reduce questions).

    Below is my question and then his answers afterward. We plan a back-and-forth to continue in this fruitful vein. Naturally this is an open forum at puritanboard but my hope is to focus on specific questions then responses between myself and Mr. Wolfe as representative of two informed men on this issue. I do not presume that Mr. Wolfe speaks for all FICs.

    Mr. Mathis: "Here are my questions to help me understand your reasoning:
    1. It is odd that you harp on "sufficiency of Scripture" yet allow for nurseries. How does that fit?
    2. Where in the bible is it allowable to let "elder" at "times" "preside" over the "teaching of youth"?
    3. "Systematic approaching the teaching of youth takes the hearts of children from their fathers"--based upon what facts?
    a) What is "systematic...teaching"? Perhaps once a week of eldership instruction about church ordinances for three months?
    4. All the bad things you describe, unqualified instructors, downplaying the pulpit, isolation of children from body, bad influence and subculture are all equally symptomatic of bad family life as well: father is unlearned, mother belittles the pastor, family full of loners, family full of bad influence. This significant fact means that age-segregation can and has been *badly* used depending on the context of the health of the family, church and culture overall. Do you not agree?"

    Mr. Wolfe's answers:
    "1. I include an area where mothers can nurse infants and remove crying children. I see this as good and necessary consequence of corporate worship.
    2. The Bible clearly teaches that an elder is able to teach. My reference to elders teaching the youth is in contrast to youth ministers, who are not elders, holding a position of authority and teaching in the Church. The term at times mean that it would also be improper for an elder to begin a programmatic system for teaching youth apart from their fathers.
    3. This assertion is based on years on ministry experience, discussions with colleagues, and my own personal testimony. I have seen what it looks like when parents have the hearts of their children, and when they do not. I have also seen that this seems to be directly proportionate to the amount of time and effort fathers spend on discipling their children in the Word. Ken Ham's book, "Already Gone" touches on this.
    4. To create a systematic program involves a mission statement, volunteers following that mission, and a gathering of youth at regular intervals in order for that program to complete their mission. Take this quote by Mike Yaconelli, "If we take the yearnings of young people seriously, then we can admit to ourselves that youth aren't interested in our answers (often given in response to questions they're not asking). They're not looking for safe activities. What they're seeking is the companionship of adults who embody a different way of being." THIS is what I am talking about. Successful youth ministers win the hearts of the youth that they teach. This is the only way a youth minister can influence the youth.

    "Youth ministry used to be about forming relationships with teens so that they would come to your programs. Today, programs are not the end goal. Instead, programs serve as open doors for building relationships." - Hank Hilliard

    4. It is a mistake to make a case for well-done unbiblical ecclesiology. That is the equivalent to a well rolled doob. It may be well rolled, but it doesn't honor God. I am not comfortable trying to improve on God's plan for raising youth in the faith. Why in the world does the church insist on this model??? It is unbiblical and it's failing to turn out disciples. It's FIC counerparts are turning out a vastly greater percentage of well saved people. It's madness."
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  2. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Shawn, a Q&A is an excellent approach. To keep things honest is Mr. Wolfe going to be posing questions to you as well?
     
  3. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Mr. Wolfe,

    I want to publicly thank you for continuing this dialogue. I have met a number of defenders who were willing to make vague denunciations of my writings but only one who made any significant effort to talk. Now I can add you to that list of charitable brothers.


    I am glad to hear that. Mr. Brown, however, seems to be against that. If I am wrong please point me to the correction. This is a significant point because it severely limits the rhetoric from the likes of Mr. Konvalin's post which asserts "Sufficiency of Scripture!" "If you deny our age-integration theory you are not following the sufficiency of Scripture!" It means the issue is more nuanced than typical rhetoric would imply.

    I agree that "youth ministers" do not have biblical warrant.
    Please clarify your last sentence: "The term at times..." Do you mean "youth ministries?"


    I do agree that there appears to be a correlation between modern youth ministries (from the worst versions to the best version in the context of non-Reformed churches) but no causal evidence has been brought forth. I cannot argue against your personal experience. And will not. I will note that it is not sufficient to merely point to statistics. It could simply be that these churches are weak with weak families. Likewise, the FIC brought as evidence could mostly be explained as energetic families finally getting involved. The facts have to be interpreted with a priori premises, which themselves must be explicit and not hidden.

    I asked: "a) What is "systematic...teaching"? Perhaps once a week of eldership instruction about church ordinances for three months?"
    You respond with five elements of a "systematic [youth] program": mission statement, volunteers, gathering, regular intervals, completions of mission.
    Question:
    a) If any one element is removed from your definition, does the "systematic program" cease being such? In other words, if my church had no mission statement but had all the other elements (save, obviously, the last) would it be forbidden?
    b) Related to answer 3 above: Are there times that an elder may non-programmatically teach youth apart from their fathers? If so, what parameters are allowed? And upon what biblical principles?


    I will respond to this in a separate post.

    thanks,
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  4. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Maybe a little about who Pastor Wolfe is would be helpful to set the record straight on this point.
     
  5. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Judson, If you know something about him and his connections please inform me. As it is, I know there is diversity among them. I have only studied the big daddy of them all, the National Center for Family Integrated Churches.
     
  6. FredWoilfe

    FredWoilfe Puritan Board Freshman

    a. My effort in pointing out these elements in a programmatic ministry was not to provide a definitive litmus for identification. When I look at modern youth ministry, these elements are some of my observations. Would you not agree that these elements are common in modern youth ministry? If so, would you also agree that modern youth ministries create mini churches who's structures are unbiblical?

    b. This subject is more easily understood in the framework of jurisdiction. And to clarify, I think it is always appropriate to have fathers present and involved in the teaching of their children by the elders. In matters of church ordinances, it is appropriate for the children to be subject to the teaching of the elders of the church. When the father places the child under the teaching of an elder for a specific purpose and for a specific amount of time, no jurisdictional lines have been crossed. The father is still involved and the elder fulfills his function as a teacher and minister of the ordinances. The Biblical basis for this is one of the common objections for FIC. Take for example Paul at the feet of Gamaliel, or Jesus in the temple. These were examples from scripture where these times take place, but we must admit that they are in a different universe than the system put in place with regard to modern youth ministry.

    In conversations such as this, I am faced with the difficult challenge of proving a negative. How can I prove that the scripture is devoid of programmatic age-segregated youth ministry? If this point is conceeded, then we are in a discussion of pragmatism, which leads to a never-ending dialogue of our own opinions. As I have stated in the past this is my thought process considering the Biblical argument.

    1. God his given a sufficient and authoritative source prescribing how He should be worshiped.
    2. That source is the Holy Scriptures, and the scriptures alone. (2 Pet. 1:3-4; 1 Tim 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
    3. If man worships God in a manner prescribed by scripture, he forms that worship in the image of God.
    4. If man worships God in a manner outside of scripture it is of his own invention.
    5. If man worships according to his own invention, he forms that worship in the image of man. (Matthew 15:3,8,9; 2 Kings 16:10-18)
    6. worshipping God in the image of man is unacceptable to Christians .
    7. The scripture specifically prescribes men leading their families, and for wives and children to be subject to them in everything, including worship ((Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7, 1 Cor 11:7-9).
    8. The scripture specifically prescribes men to teach the scriptures in such a way that their children and grandchildren will fear the Lord. (Deut. 6:2; Lk.1:50).
    9. The scriptures specifically prescribe when and how men should teach their children the scriptures, including in multi generational sacred gatherings,(so as to fulfill #8)(Deut. 16:9-14; Josh. 8:34-35; Ezra 10:1; 2 Chr.20:13; Nehemiah 12:43; Joel 2:15-16; Luke 12:42-47; Col 4:14; Acts 20:7; Eph. 6:1-4).
    10. The scriptures do not at any time describe, nor prescribe programmatic age segregated worship gatherings.
    11. Therefore, multi-generational gatherings are the intention of God in our worship, and age-segregated worship gatherings are formed in the image of man and are unacceptable to Christians.
     
  7. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Mr. Wolfe,

    Let us back up a bit.

    It ought to be known that I am a conservative, old-school Presbyterian adhering to the Westminster Confession of Faith. As such, I take the historical practices and writings of my church as expressing (in general) their understanding of jurisdictions, parental authority and Christian nurture.

    Where are you coming from?

    Now for the questions:

    1) I am not asking you to defend a "negative" but to elucidate a positive:I specifically wrote "Are there times that an elder may non-programmatically teach youth apart from their fathers?" Part of your answer, "When the father places the child under the teaching of an elder for a specific purpose and for a specific amount of time, no jurisdictional lines have been crossed." I think that is a "yes".

    a) "If so, what parameters are allowed? And upon what biblical principles?" which is not asking you to prove a negative (as you put it). I think your definition of a "youth ministry" answers that question.

    b) "I think it is always appropriate to have fathers present and involved in the teaching of their children by the elders." The word "appropriate" in common parlance is not the same as commanded. Are you saying that parents may sit in the class and be involved (indeed have the right) but do not have to? Then I agree.

    c) Part of your answer states, "In matters of church ordinances, it is appropriate for the children to be subject to the teaching of the elders of the church." If by this you mean the public means of grace then we are in agreement.

    d) "The father is still involved and the elder fulfills his function as a teacher and minister of the ordinances." I agree. I sometimes think this is a big problem that FICs are trying to deal with. And it must be clear that whatever role non-parents have, parents must always be involved, meaning being minimally informed.

    2) I am not interested in defending "modern youth ministry". What I am interested in is defending the responsible use of non-parental authorities (not limited to church officers either) in both formal and non-formal settings (Titus 2:3). But my position is not immediately before us now but can be discussed further on.

    3) Your last point, the biblical argument, is confusing.
    a) The debate is not about public worship, which you mention multiple times in your syllogism. The regulative principle of worship is adhered to by conservative, confessional Reformed folk (Presbyterian, Baptists and Congregationalists). Unfortunately, Mr. Brown's book creates the same confusion. As does the NCFIC confession, etc. If you are debating a typical Evangelical, then bringing up the RPW against children's worship is a good plan. Otherwise, the debate lies elsewhere.
    b) The debate is about events, teachers, and gatherings outside of public worship.

    With this final clarification, please proceed.

    thank you,
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  8. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    No, I don't know anything about Mr. Wolfe or his connections.

    You stated that you are doing this post so you can know

    But you also said
    How can you do both? Know exactly what FIC believe yet know that Mr. Wolfe does not speak for all FIC's.

    This thread is really just the understanding that Mr. Wolfe has of what FIC is.
     
  9. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Judson,

    You are both correct and incorrect.

    To the extent that people follow what Mr. Wolfe writes on the subject (and people do follow his ministry) and to the extent that he endorses their work (the movie for instance), to that extent this interchange is helpful. Plus, the logic, in my experience, (see other postings this year on this topic), is quite similar anyway.

    But, go ahead and ask what, if any relationship he has with Mr. Brown and the NCFIC.

    thanks,

    PS. If you can get a more popular representative to have a public talk with me, I'm open.
     
  10. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    How would you quantify that people follow his ministry and how does that relate to your point that you know he does not speak for all of FIC. Still seems double speak to me.

    Not interested in that either really. Being anti-FIC seems to be a hobby horse of yours. Not speaking against your character, just the fact that almost every single post of yours here on the PB is about FIC. You also seem to comment on every pro-fic blog that I looked at with the same comments.

    I just wanted to comment that this really is the opinion of Pastor Wolfe and will not lead to the conclusion of
     
  11. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman



    ---------- Post added at 05:45 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:25 PM ----------

    Dear Judson,

    Your point that this interchange cannot speak for all FICs is a given. But since what I wrote was not precise enough I will explicate the implied adjective some.

    This interchange cannot by definition speak for all FIC. And if I had a talk with Mr. Brown, that would still be the case. But I do not think you would consider that reason enough not to have a public dialogue.

    Your comment ("seems to be a hobby horse of yours." etc.) I take as a question (an not an ad homimen) but I am not sure what exactly it is? Perhaps you are wondering why a minister who has encountered this odd movement in his own backyard, discovered some divisive language and beliefs, investigated further the issue to protect his flock, helps them, then others ask him about it, and soon he finds out he is in a unique position to help others understand the pluses and minuses of this movement. (I never said I was "anit-FIC"). One way that is accomplished by someone with no big budget or big name is to go out and pass the word. Besides, everywhere I have been I have been open to correction for any factual errors. None have been forthcoming.

    Lastly, if you have watched and investigated the issue, and I hope you have, then the average reader will discover similar arguments and rhetoric among many of the writers and comments. In which case, this will have been quite productive.

    take care,
     
  12. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Judson,

    Pastor Mathis has done extensive study in other areas also. This isn't necessarily a hobby horse. In fact I have read him in a light where he raises a lot of the same concerns that the NCFIC raises and he readily acknowledges the shortcomings they see and some of the things that remedy them.

    Pastor Wolfe is an advocate for this movement and he does seem to have quite a work based upon this subject. There are some concerns raised about this movement. As you know, there have been some strong criticisms from some Pastors and long time members of this discussion forum directed at this group. Pastor Mathis has written many other blogs also. I specifically posted some of his directed blogs on this topic here and he was kind enough to start exchanging and sharing what he has learned with us on this topic. And he has done quite a bit of research on this topic as a Pastor. It is something that many Pastors are having to work their way through as Pastors.

    As it took years for the Federal Vision to come to some light with its various directions, I believe Pastor Mathis has tried his best to understand this issue as it relates to his ministry as a responsible Shepherd. He is effectively trying to look at the major proponents and spokesmen of this movement. It appears that Pastor Wolfe is one of them. This movement might not be as dangerous or varied as the Federal Vision but some of it does seem to be a little off kilter in my estimation. After all these people are coming together under a banner that would be friendly to all sorts of theologies and soteriological distinctions which is a valid critique also. And I think you would acknowledge the danger in that. Just because someone is on a list, it seems it might give some credence to a visit by a family that doesn't understand or might be dupped into a Church with poor teaching. I imagine maybe that there are some who might hold to the Federal Vision that could possibly even list themselves with the FIC movement without fear of being distinguished as a Church that holds to Federal Vision. After all the important thing is that they are FIC.

    Anyways, I don't consider this to be a hobby horse of Pastor Mathis nor has he been anti-FIC. He has definitely pointed out some of the inconsistencies and historical facts that refute a few of their claims. And I would think that they would be more than willing to want to be on the side of historical evidence and truth. Wouldn't you Judson? After all I think we can both see that Pastor Mathis is humble and willing to do this very thing also.
     
  13. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am not planning on hijacking this thread so this will most likely be my last post in it.

    I posted because of the statement
    because that was an untrue statement of what this thread could accomplish. That statement was changed yesterday to include the word "Some" which is fine with me.

    I am not sure how you could not see 49 out of 51 post on PB about FIC as saddling up the old hobby horse. It was a statement/note and not ad homimen or a question. Making the same comments on blogs that mention FIC and that the only two reviews you gave on Amazon were on a Weed in the church and Divided, and your commenting on other positive reviewers just helped put things in perspective for me.

    Amazon.com: Profile for Shawn C. Mathis

    I just picked up that feeling from some comments made about the leadership if the NCFIC like the one below

    are sunday schools and youth groups not biblical?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  14. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman

    nasa30,

    I was a part of that thread on Karen Campbell's website, and so I have to protest your misuse of that quotation of Shawn. If you look at what Shawn said in context, you will find that we were discussing the misuse of quotations from women like Phillis Shlafly, where they were interviewed and used for films without their knowledge. Karen Campbell specifically called up these women, and asked them about it, and they said they had no knowledge that their quotations were being used in the way they were.

    What I said is that I thought the whole issue was one of incompetence, since many of these folks jump to irrational conclusions. Several others wanted to call it a violation of the ninth commandment. The point is that Shawn and I were actually writing in defense of these folks character, saying that we didn't think they intended any malice, and it was in that context that Shawn gave that quotation from Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Also, as far as the quotation of Shawn where Shawn said, "The movie pulled of a similar sloppy usage of language: it called Mr. Phillips an “historian”! And another guy was a “theologian”!" Do you deny that Mr. Phillips is a trained lawyer, and not a historian? Also, is it not true that some of the people interviewed in the film are likewise not trained in theology, but some other field? There is nothing wrong with pointing out that a person does not have the background to do what they are doing, because they don't have the ability to examine the argumentation fairly. Do you not remember Dave Hunt trying to do a book on Calvinism, when he didn't even have reading knowledge of Greek or Hebrew? I am sure that you would most definitely say that Mr. Hunt was wrong for doing that!

    The difference is that Shawn *is* a historian. He has told me some of the people he has studied under, and they are people who we would all recognize as responsible church historians who teach or have taught at major reformed seminaries. I am not saying that everyone in the movie was incompetent. However, Shawn is exactly right that some people who are not trained in certain areas were lifted to the position of it being their profession, when they have no training in the area whatsoever.

    God Bless,
    Adam
     
  15. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Which is why I posted the link to the site as well. It was not a "Shawn said on a website somewhere". The link was there for follow up if anyone was so inclined.
     
  16. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    This is getting downright silly. The FIC is a growing phenomena in the church. It stands for many good things but it's not without controversy. For the hyberbole cast from both sides a thoughtful Q&A is beneficial. Lets leave it at that. If the thread topic doesn't interest you then move on.

    sent from my most excellent Motorola Atrix.
     
  17. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Always have the fathers involved? Do the FIC's realize they in effect are totally excluding interested "heathens" since their pagan or atheist daddies are supposed to teach them. Which in my case would mean I would NOT have been saved, baptized and married to a Christian. Then there are the abusive daddies and husbands who DO exist in Reformed churches (even FIC's). Pastor Mathis, I wonder if FIC's really consider us first generation Christians (the former Jews, Muslims, Catholic, atheist/agnostic raised, Hindus, Mormons, pagans etc) to be saved or if we are unworthy.
     
  18. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Gail,

    I certainly understand how much rhetoric of the movement gives this impression. Earlier on before they radically modified their online confession, there seemed to be little talk about these questions. Now, as I recall, they allow for "exceptions" and, i think, this is one of them. But the question of how and why of exceptions has not been answered (see here).

    I am hoping Mr. Wolfe can help answer that.
     
  19. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Pastor Mathis:

    Thank you. The things that bother me are the above and the resemblance to mormon teachings. One rather interesting teaching is that covenant children to the LDS were "more valiant in the "pre-existence" than those born to gentiles. I am not saying FIC's are heretics but there are some interesting and disturbing parallels that are hard to miss. And hopefully as the movement matures, the garbage will be thrown away.
     
  20. FredWoilfe

    FredWoilfe Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, Well

    I cannot seem to keep up. I also cannot commit to commenting but every couple days in regard to this issue.

    I would like to clear up a few questions that have been raised:

    I do not speak for all FIC's, nor does anyone else. The cry of this movement is the Sufficiency of Scripture, and that is what they should encourage, as should all local Churches. I am a Pastor, but I am in between ministries at the moment, and I am focusing on the discipleship of my family and serving at the church I now attend. That being said, I attend the Church where Scott Brown serves as an elder, and I moved to this area for that very purpose. I believe that FIC is a good and more perfect expression of the Church, and it is my heartcry to speak about it. As such I have continued my internet presence as an itinerant speaker and teacher, with an emphasis on family discipleship.

    Do we not believe God is sovereign over salvation? Do you actually believe that the salvation of youth are riding on the backs of the youth pastors? If that is the contention, there is much more to talk about than FIC, but a fundamental problem with soteriology. If the scriptures tell us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it...", then we have no better place to go than to the scriptures alone to formulate our framework. Practically speaking, a child with unbelieving parents or the like should have fathers within the church who will bring those children into their homes, and show them how life is supposed to look. At the same time, the elders of the church should be working with those unbelieving parents, sharing the gospel and weeping in prayer over them. This is the opposing approach to programmatic age-segregated ministry, where the influence of the foolish hearts of all manner of children become the overriding theme of gatherings.

    As far as answering the question of exactly how much time a youth spends in age segregated situation, I do not intend to become legalistic by trying to set fraction of time or other such nonsense. It comes down to having the hearts of your children. If you spend a lot of time with your kids, you know if you have their hearts or not. If you don't know what that means, then I will try to be a little more specific. When I tell my family, "Time for family worship!" at night, my kids cheer. There have been times where one of them has given me the, "Awwwww man..." response, and I know their heart is slipping. When I ask if anyone wants to go to the store on an errand and my kids drop what they are doing and fight over who gets to go, then I know I have their hearts. They desire my time and my attention, and as such, I have a much easier time sharing the gospel with them, and talking about their struggles with sin. If the state of your child's heart is not a concern, or something that has not crossed your mind, then I see why spending time with a youth group would not be a big deal. One example from scripture is Rehoboam. David did not have his son's heart, and he listened to the counsel of his foolish peers rather than the ancient ways. You all know how that turned out. This was a failure of David as a father. Another famous example is Jonathan Edwards. He was a brilliant, prayerful and Godly man. On the other hand, he was a neglectful father and husband. This spawned in one generation Arron Burr, who mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton. There are many examples on the other hand of men who spent time nurturing their children, and did not pass that responsibility off to others, and have experience multi-generational faithfulness.

    If there are any further questions regarding specifics, I would ask that they be re-posted so I don't have to sift through all of the posts that have been added. Thanks!
     
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    *******Moderator Note*******


    I think I will propose that maybe we should limit discussion to mostly between the main participants of this dialogue. If you have a question lets try to keep them to a minimum for the benefit of Pastor's Wolfe and Mathis so they can stay caught up with each other. It might be better if Reverend Mathis and Pastor Wolfe have the main dialogue. I hope that is okay. It is only fair to Pastor Wolfe in my estimation. If someone has a question they want to ask go ahead and ask it but try to keep it in direct relation to one of the Pastors so we don't rabbit trail between each other. I will try to think of a way to keep it under control so that Pastor Wolfe and Pastor Mathis can interact the best possible way they can. I may not be perfect at this. And I admit this is going to take a bit of work on my part so please bare with me. I really believe this can be beneficial and enlightening concerning a very important subject. I have noted in other places one of the problems I have seen in the last few decades has been a stealing of the affections of our children away from their God given authority. That is their parents. This discussion is very important to that issue. Our Children need for us to have this discussion without ad hominem and with a lot of concern and accuracy. I really appreciate the work that the guys are trying to do on this subject.

    If you have any concerns or want to communicate with either Pastor Wolfe or Pastor Mathis I am sure they will also be more than accommodating outside of this forum.

    Thank you guys. I know we all love the truth and hope to grow closer to it.

    The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. The Testimony of the Lord sure making wise the simple. May we be humble, loving, and growing ever closer to Him by His appointed means.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  22. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Mister Wolfe,

    Yes, please follow the moderator's advise. I wrote my response (post #7). I will reprint the more pertinent section below to help continue our discussion:

     
  23. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Fred, I'm a bit confused by your response. If a child has unbelieving parents then it is unlikely that they are going to be reached outside the church unless there is some sort of gospel outreach. If they are reached by some type of gospel outreach wouldn't using "fathers within the church" be usurping parental authority (unless, of course, the father yielded his authority)? Of course, you may be assuming that these are unbelieving families who are visiting the church, but I'm not sure based on your response.

    I am not an advocate of organized youth groups led by youth pastors. That said, I think it's presumptuous to assume that a father who allows his children to attend a youth group is doing so because either is not concerned about the heart of his children, or is ignorant of the facts. There are many fathers who view youth groups as a virtue; they are convinced that youth groups will benefit their children spiritually. You and I may disagree with them, but we should be careful not to impugn their motives.
     
  24. FredWoilfe

    FredWoilfe Puritan Board Freshman

    2. Older women are to teach younger women how to love their husbands and children. This is a fine example of age-integrated ministry. My wife may spend time canning tomatoes with an elder's wife, or other Godly experienced woman, and discuss the issues of life. This is a very profitable form of discipleship.

    3a. If we are in agreement with the RPW, then there will be no problem finding agreement that children's church, Age-segregated Sunday School, and Sunday night youth Worship gatherings are unacceptable. FIC does speak to the larger evangelical world, and therefore finds profit in the RPW. The driving issue behind the RPW and all that we are discussing is the Sufficiency of Scripture. It is this sentiment which drives us to also question programmatic age-segregated youth ministry. If an exegetical argument could be formed for this practice, I would immediately relent.

    b. If the debate is centered on events, teachings and gatherings outside of public worship, then I would like you to narrow this to kind of events teachings and gatherings you have in mind. I could speculate, but I think it would profit the discussion to define our terms.
     
  25. "William The Baptist"

    "William The Baptist" Puritan Board Freshman

    Presumptuous, perhaps, but not unrealistic. My father saw youth group as a "virtue" as you put it, and I will tell you what it wrought: fragmentation of my family, discord, disunity, worldliness, etc etc etc. Of course, since I was raised in a whole family, same mom and dad, seven siblings... churched my whole life, it was not as detrimental as it was to many I knew/know. It is a flawed design to let companions of fools thrive. I learned most sinful and worldly things from youth pastors sermons (of course, he was speaking to those "struggling with sin" that only shocked my innocence) and the kids of the youth groups. I would advocate that many parents do not actually understand the dangers of youth group models. My heart was so distanced from my father due to this... and it is only from recent years toils, prayers, and tears, do I strive to build on my relationship with him (most of my siblings could care less and their heart is STILL far from him even though we are older and supposedly wiser).

    Thus, ignorance. I would honestly say, that while I gleaned some good from my seven years in youth groups (various ones too... we visited a few churches), I do not think that I would attribute much benefit spiritually during those years from it. :2cents:
     
  26. Shawn Mathis

    Shawn Mathis Puritan Board Freshman

    Mr. Wolfe, To continue our discussion (just search out my posts for now):

    A. Do you think such is profitable for an older women to teach a few younger women for an hour a week for a few months? If so, why? If so, why not a whole year? If not, why not?

    A. The RPW does not speak to the question of Sunday schools if such SS do not replace public worship (as they do in some churches). As for children's and youth worship services, we are in agreement. Sunday school is not worship and exists in the same category as catechizing outside of public worship (By the way, many Protestant catechizing classes, like the some Puritans, were age-segregated, see here.)

    B. I have no narrow interest outside of public worship. Pick any. But the position of the head of the NCFIC, in his book, A Weed in the Church and in a recent blog posting, as well as the vague language of the NCFIC confession, seems to limit any discipleship and/or fellowship meeting outside of worship to age and family-integrated. Is that your position? If so, why?

    thank you,
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
  27. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    John Calvin, Commentary on Jeremiah, 4:312:

     
  28. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Leah, I do not support youth groups. I have seen many of the same things you mention. My response to Fred Wolfe was regarding the intention/motivation of the parents who send their kids to youth groups. Not all of them believe they do not have the heart of their children, or are doing so out of ignorance. There is intense pressure in many churches for parents to have their children participate in youth groups. In fact, the church planted our current church did everything but initiate church discipline on parents who would not send their children to age segregated Sunday schools. Most of the parents acquiesced to these pressures, believing they were doing the right thing.
     
  29. "William The Baptist"

    "William The Baptist" Puritan Board Freshman

    I understood that you didn't support them. I'm sorry I didn't make myself clear enough then. My father did seem to think it was a "virtue", again, as you put it and thought he had our hearts; he didn't and we were pulled away. My father is a godly man whom I love with all my heart, but that is DESPITE youth group and only because the Lord has done so much sanctification work in me understanding my role as a daughter biblically. Yes, I loved him when I was youth group, but my heart was not toward my father in a practical/tangible sense. I have plenty of examples from my life, that which I have seen in peers, and if you wish I can share them... not to say you base everything off experience (I really don't think anyone ought to do this) but just to shed light on youth groups from a very recent perspective (I'm only 20). That is my point, I really think it is due to ignorance many parents allow their kids in youth groups. I mean ignorance in a sense that they do not understand the ramifications of such an activity/model.

    Another thought: good intentions are not good enough. Due to ignorance many might have good intentions... but it doesn't justify the motivation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Leah,

    I am sorry your experience was so bad. But we have a great group of kids that like to get together and study word under the Authority of our Elders and Leadership. Parents also participate. Recently we have gone through Francis Schaeffer's 'How Then Shall We Live' series. We are right now doing something called the TMS, the Topical Memory System. It is designed by the Navigators. The kids are studying two scriptures a week and memorizing them. But one thing is for sure. The teacher is not to take the place or the affections of the Parents. In fact when issues arise one of my questions to the young men and women are, What does your Dad (or Parents) think? And I lead them to seek their counsel and wisdom and point out how their parents love them more than anyone else and then tell them something I see in their Parents life that reflects how they are shining examples of God's grace. Every parent has something good in them to see for the most part. That way the child's affections and admiration for their parents grow because they see how I admire them also. I see no problem with an organized group of teens and adults getting together and focusing on things the kids need to learn or do as a group. Doing things together does have the one another affect the scriptures so emphasize. The "One Anothers' in the Bible are really important. We can't do that unless we are with one another. And sometimes that just takes some planning. Even Parents need to plan their time together or it gets neglected. So it isn't a bad thing to have an organized time to get together as a group of friends for edification, encouragement, exhortation, and doing good works.
     
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