Family Integrated Church Movement

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Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Some facts:

The stats cited on kids who do not stay faithful are correct and well documented. The interpretation that this must be due to age-segregated programs is speculation, though some of the research does suggest it might be a factor.

The research (Barna's in particular) does show that the extent of parental involvement in a kid's spiritual upbringing is a big factor. Kids who participate in things like regular family devotions buck the trend. But this does not mean all age-segrageated programs at church are bad programs. They only become part of the problem if they contribute to parents becoming uninvolved in their kids' spiritual upbringing. I do not believe, though, that having some age segregation automatically makes parents uninvolved.

In fact, the research specifically suggests it's home life, not church life, that is the deciding factor.

Finally, to blame the youth crisis on how church programs are designed is to place way to much significance on programs. This is a spiritual crisis. If kids are not staying faithful it means they're not being converted. And where kids are not being converted it's a safe bet this is because the gospel has been lost. The gospel is not gettting preached in the church, and it's not getting taught at home.

The problem with churches today, and the reason young people are dropping out, has far less to do with how programs are arranged and more to do with how faithfully the gospel is taught.
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Some facts:

The stats cited on kids who do not stay faithful are correct and well documented. The interpretation that this must be due to age-segregated programs is speculation, though some of the research does suggest it might be a factor.

The research (Barna's in particular) does show that the extent of parental involvement in a kid's spiritual upbringing is a big factor. Kids who participate in things like regular family devotions buck the trend. But this does not mean all age-segrageated programs at church are bad programs. They only become part of the problem if they contribute to parents becoming uninvolved in their kids' spiritual upbringing. I do not believe, though, that having some age segregation automatically makes parents uninvolved.

In fact, the research specifically suggests it's home life, not church life, that is the deciding factor.

Finally, to blame the youth crisis on how church programs are designed is to place way to much significance on programs. This is a spiritual crisis. If kids are not staying faithful it means they're not being converted. And where kids are not being converted it's a safe bet this is because the gospel has been lost. The gospel is not gettting preached in the church, and it's not getting taught at home.

The problem with churches today, and the reason young people are dropping out, has far less to do with how programs are arranged and more to do with how faithfully the gospel is taught.

Now that is something I can agree with.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
However, making a 6 year old sit through an adult sermon, is either #1 A complete waste of time for the child, or #2 The sermon is so dumbed down and basic, that it does not actually instruct the adults.

They get it. They can handle it. Wasn't the WSC written to teach children their catechism? If that is not too tough for a 6 year old, then surely a sermon wouldn't be. A lot depends on the environment at home. A lot.

They may not necessarily get it. It depends on not just family life and training, but also age and developmental reasoning skills. It would be great for a six year old to know the Shorter Catechism, but that takes devotion and time that currently doesn’t exist. In fact I would be impressed with an adult was familiar with it. I think part of the reason why children may find learning the WSC difficult may also be due to our current cultural environment, since neither our society nor our churches reinforce positively and actively the teaching of the WSC. Also another factor of course is the lack of parent interest in the WSC, which in turn is transferred to the child.

---------- Post added at 07:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:53 PM ----------

In fact, the research specifically suggests it's home life, not church life, that is the deciding factor.

I wouldnt agree more.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
The problem with churches today, and the reason young people are dropping out, has far less to do with how programs are arranged and more to do with how faithfully the gospel is taught.

One sows, another one waters, but the LORD gives the increase. End results belong to the Lord. We can program and devise all we want. We can catechize and disciple all we want and the end result still lands upon the Lord. I am not advocating that we shouldn't do things correctly. God commands and we teach, disciple, and raise our kids. We can love and act perfectly but it still won't make a hill of beans without the Lord. My hope isn't in a program. My hope is in the Lord. That is why I pray.

(1Co 3:6) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

(1Co 3:7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

(1Co 3:8) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

(1Co 3:9) For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

The means is important. I am not denying that. We have to do things the way the Lord told us to.

BTW, Kids from age 3 to 10 are really sponges and a lot of their foundations in life are planted during that time. And they do understand more and can relate a lot more than most people give them credit for. I know I am drawing from experience but I think I can prove this by the kids I know and have raised. The kids at my church have a high retention rate. Apostasy is basically unheard of. We have Sabbath School and the kids can stay or leave after the first part of the worship service. They are placed in good hands either way.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
As a youth minister, I say phooey. This is not what happens at all.

Really? I think your experience in these matters may be somewhat limited if that's really what you think.

Not long ago I got to see this play out in an independent evangelical church that in many respects is probably more conservative and is certainly more Calvinistic leaning than most Southern Baptist Churches. Several years ago, their youth pastor wanted to begin holding a youth worship service for 7th-12th grades and the elders agreed to let him do it. Thus those of those ages were not in the worship service 3/4 of the time. Eventually the elders saw the problems with this and after about a year of study, eliminated this service. The response was that some families threatened to leave and argued that people of that age would not be able to understand the sermons! I heard it stated several times that the pastor would have to start dumbing down his sermons. This preacher puts meat on the table but also puts the cookies on the bottom shelf. By the way, this is a church that has contemporary worship and is doing good to sing one hymn per service. One man told me that his 16 year old son didn't want to come to church anymore and that if necessary they would go to another church that had a youth service so that he would want to go to church again and not be bored. I asked him what he thought his son's attitude would be at 18 and the response was basically to give a shrug of the shoulders.

This is all too typical of the evangelical mentality today, and this was in a congregation that is more biblically literate than most.

By the way, while generally speaking I think they represent a correction to the type of youth ministry that we've seen in evangelical churches over the past generation or so, I'm in no way an adherent of FIC and share some of the concerns about it that have been noted here and elsewhere.

---------- Post added at 10:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:14 PM ----------

BTW, Kids from age 3 to 10 are really sponges and a lot of their foundations in life are planted during that time. And they do understand more and can relate a lot more than most people give them credit for.

I couldn't agree more. The families I know whose children are in worship from a very early age have children that are usually far better behaved and generally are far more spiritually minded and sober minded than those who spend a lot of time in youth groups. That's not to say that there are no good youth groups. I think they can in particular be an effective outreach to unchurched kids, especially when the Bible is front and center instead of recreation. But too many parents have too low expectations for their children.

As for me, the first church we attended when I was growing up was a Presbyterian church that was PCA at the time. We went there for a year or two, when I was about 6-7 years old. Later we joined a liberal United Methodist Church.

When I later went to a Catholic high school, once I learned of things like their views on auricular confession and prayer to Mary and the saints, I rejected them. I knew the Bible taught there was only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. I can guarantee you I didn't pick that up at the liberal UMC where we were told there was no literal hell. It wasn't from a childhood spent reading theology or the Bible either. I have to conclude that it was a result of sitting under the preaching at that evangelical Presbyterian church as a child. The pastor at that church then and now is Bob Vincent, who is often featured on Sermon Audio. I would say that he often preaches at a "higher level" than the preacher who parents said their High School age kids would not be able to understand. I think a lot of adults probably can't grasp a lot of what Bob preaches. But I was able to pick up enough to understand at least some of the essentials of the faith although I was not converted until much later.
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Some facts:

The stats cited on kids who do not stay faithful are correct and well documented. The interpretation that this must be due to age-segregated programs is speculation, though some of the research does suggest it might be a factor.

The research (Barna's in particular) does show that the extent of parental involvement in a kid's spiritual upbringing is a big factor. Kids who participate in things like regular family devotions buck the trend. But this does not mean all age-segrageated programs at church are bad programs. They only become part of the problem if they contribute to parents becoming uninvolved in their kids' spiritual upbringing. I do not believe, though, that having some age segregation automatically makes parents uninvolved.

In fact, the research specifically suggests it's home life, not church life, that is the deciding factor.

Finally, to blame the youth crisis on how church programs are designed is to place way to much significance on programs. This is a spiritual crisis. If kids are not staying faithful it means they're not being converted. And where kids are not being converted it's a safe bet this is because the gospel has been lost. The gospel is not gettting preached in the church, and it's not getting taught at home.

The problem with churches today, and the reason young people are dropping out, has far less to do with how programs are arranged and more to do with how faithfully the gospel is taught.





The research (Barna's in particular) does show that the extent of parental involvement in a kid's spiritual upbringing is a big factor.
...
In fact, the research specifically suggests it's home life, not church life, that is the deciding factor.

Amen.
 

Shawn Mathis

Puritan Board Sophomore
Things that must be taught are textual criticisms, outlines of entire books of the Bible (there no excuse for a kid to grow up in the church and not have the entire Bible taught to them), the Proverbs and Psalms, basic systematic theological categories and their application, church history from Acts to the present, and lastly Apologetics. The most important thing being able to communicating the gospel. The biblical languages would also be nice.

The lack of what being taught in our churches communicates to the young people that theology is not important. Especially when parents are not engaged in learning it.

Amen brother! Preach it!

---------- Post added at 10:24 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:18 PM ----------

Where can I read these stats? Is it online? I know in our own Presbytery I have not seen it-quite the opposite actually.

Esther,

It is refreshing to see some critical thinking. I know the 80ish% number has been thrown around in my neck of the woods but it is an SBC number (as I found out later). The Barna numbers should be easy to find by going to their website (I think they are lower but still alarming).

The consistent statics that get closer to the heart of the issue are the Barn numbers over the last 20 years. The book unChristian summarizes their work, pointing out that only 3-9% of professing Christians have a nominal (if that) Christian worldview (as defined by Barna, which includes a vague view of salvation and no Holy Spirit!). Now, is it any wonder that the youth leave?

---------- Post added at 10:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:24 PM ----------

However, making a 6 year old sit through an adult sermon, is either #1 A complete waste of time for the child, or #2 The sermon is so dumbed down and basic, that it does not actually instruct the adults.

Greetings Damon,

Just so you know, your concern will not move some readers since we believe in the regulative principle of worship, which means that God requires the children in worship (short of disrupting everyone). Otherwise, I think your observations are helpful.

---------- Post added at 10:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:28 PM ----------

The gospel is not gettting preached in the church, and it's not getting taught at home.

Amen. Amen.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
However, making a 6 year old sit through an adult sermon, is either #1 A complete waste of time for the child, or #2 The sermon is so dumbed down and basic, that it does not actually instruct the adults.

You are obviously not a preacher. This statement is so foolish as to be nearly unbelievable.

Actually I am. And I have seen children sit under some of the best reformed preachers today, and asked them afterward what the preacher was speaking of...and they couldn't tell me. I am NOT saying that children cannot understand these concepts. I have taught my children catechisms, my little girl can even explain some pretty complex doctrine. But she didn't do it listening to John Macarthur.

And I cannot believe you would make such an offensive statement. Please do not belittle me because I don't agree with you.

Think about what you wrote. You made a blanket statement that the ONLY two alternatives to having a six year old in worship is that it is a waste, or a worthless sermon. Really? So before the early 20th century, no children EVER got the benefit of worship? Really? I preach every week to people from ages 5 (or so) to 85. I work hard (by God's grace) to make sure that the text connects with all of them. I get questions from the sermon on a regular basis from kids as young as six. I have in my inbox right now two good questions from an 8 year old and a 10 year old.

It is not that children cannot benefit from some age segregated teaching. It is not that all age segregated teaching is forbidden by the Bible. But the preacher that cannot connect with all of his congregation on some level at least some of the time in his preaching is not preaching properly.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
Our children learn much more than what is being taught/preached. They learn that they too are Covenant children and have a right to the means of grace. They learn what is expected of them, and will be their whole lives as Christians--that they belong in the worshipping assembly. I try to make it a point in each of my sermons to define more difficult terms, to speak to the children, etc. And, whatever increase the Lord gives is cause for rejoicing. However, as was said above, the Lord has prescribed these means--let us not be wiser than Him. When I see our toddlers singing with us, oh, not in words we might understand, I see that they understand that their place is with the rest of God's people, doing what we do, sitting during the sermon, listening for things they can recognize--they understand at least that they too belong with us, for they are God's people as well. To separate them out of the service is to break that bond to which they have a right with the Covenant people.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
To clarify, I would not assert that age-segregated ministries in their various forms are the direct cause of a high falling out rate. What I meant (and should have said) was that the mindset toward church that many of these environments create and foster (in mine and others' experience) is a mindset that contributes heavily to the problem. That's all.

I'll admit I'm very unfond of the concept of having youth worship services and a youth minister, partly because of the above problem and partly because I do not see them as warranted by Scripture, however, I do not know if this is what you do, Damon, so I am in no place to speak to your position. I know that model is common in the SBC (where I grew up) and I have seen the damage it tends to do, but if you are redeeming the situation and discipling youth well then godspeed! I was only speaking of overall trends.

I am not so interested in convincing people to eliminate age segregation in every form. What I care about most is the worship service. THAT, at the very least, should be for everybody. My main concern here is to make sure we don't throw out long-standing traditional worship practices (where they have better Scriptural warrant) as a reaction to the extremes of a particular organization.

Thank you for your gracious reply brother. In all honesty, I am not sure of my feelings on my own position. I know the separate Youth services on Wednesday night allows me the opportunity to preach, allows the youth an opportunity to be trained in leading worship, and allows the youth a voice that I think they would not otherwise have. .

Why in the world do the youth need to have "an opportunity to be trained in leading worship"? What "voice" do they need besides the ability to sing with the rest of the congregation? Your model presupposes a non-RPW, modern-era egalitarian form of church practice that seems to smack of the idea that if one isn't "up front" being "part of the show" then one isn't participating in worship. Such a notion is unbiblical hogwash.
 

Fly Caster

Puritan Board Sophomore
However, making a 6 year old sit through an adult sermon, is either #1 A complete waste of time for the child, or #2 The sermon is so dumbed down and basic, that it does not actually instruct the adults.

Brother, I don't mean to pile on, but I too have to take strong exception to that. How can it be a complete waste of time for a child to sit and receive instruction by observing the proper manner of worshipping God? If Calvin was correct in that oft-quoted phrase (and I believe he was) that a knowledge of the proper way of worshipping God is of greater priority than all else, what that child learns by observation before he can understand a word will have a tremendous impact on his undertstanding of "Church" for the reat of his life. We've got to get that impressed upon young minds before anything else.

Furthermore, I've watched my children's spiritual progress with other kids their age. Mine sit with me through long and heavy sermons. Others do the children's church and youth program route. I've seen the difference, and it has no resemblance to anything that can be called a "waste of time."
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
However, making a 6 year old sit through an adult sermon, is either #1 A complete waste of time for the child, or #2 The sermon is so dumbed down and basic, that it does not actually instruct the adults.

You are obviously not a preacher. This statement is so foolish as to be nearly unbelievable.

Actually I am. And I have seen children sit under some of the best reformed preachers today, and asked them afterward what the preacher was speaking of...and they couldn't tell me. I am NOT saying that children cannot understand these concepts. I have taught my children catechisms, my little girl can even explain some pretty complex doctrine. But she didn't do it listening to John Macarthur.

And I cannot believe you would make such an offensive statement. Please do not belittle me because I don't agree with you.

Think about what you wrote. You made a blanket statement that the ONLY two alternatives to having a six year old in worship is that it is a waste, or a worthless sermon. Really? So before the early 20th century, no children EVER got the benefit of worship? Really? I preach every week to people from ages 5 (or so) to 85. I work hard (by God's grace) to make sure that the text connects with all of them. I get questions from the sermon on a regular basis from kids as young as six. I have in my inbox right now two good questions from an 8 year old and a 10 year old.

It is not that children cannot benefit from some age segregated teaching. It is not that all age segregated teaching is forbidden by the Bible. But the preacher that cannot connect with all of his congregation on some level at least some of the time in his preaching is not preaching properly.

I am sorry. You are right; I have overstated my case, and that was not my intent.

However, I stand by my statement that Children are much better off learning Biblical doctrine at their own level. Instruction is a building process. Adult believer's should be deep in the Word of God, not swimming in the shallow end. Young children, that have perhaps only recently begun to talk, and take their first inching steps into reading, get lost quickly when listening to an instructional John Macarthur/ Ligon Duncan type sermon.

---------- Post added at 10:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:25 AM ----------

To clarify, I would not assert that age-segregated ministries in their various forms are the direct cause of a high falling out rate. What I meant (and should have said) was that the mindset toward church that many of these environments create and foster (in mine and others' experience) is a mindset that contributes heavily to the problem. That's all.

I'll admit I'm very unfond of the concept of having youth worship services and a youth minister, partly because of the above problem and partly because I do not see them as warranted by Scripture, however, I do not know if this is what you do, Damon, so I am in no place to speak to your position. I know that model is common in the SBC (where I grew up) and I have seen the damage it tends to do, but if you are redeeming the situation and discipling youth well then godspeed! I was only speaking of overall trends.

I am not so interested in convincing people to eliminate age segregation in every form. What I care about most is the worship service. THAT, at the very least, should be for everybody. My main concern here is to make sure we don't throw out long-standing traditional worship practices (where they have better Scriptural warrant) as a reaction to the extremes of a particular organization.

Thank you for your gracious reply brother. In all honesty, I am not sure of my feelings on my own position. I know the separate Youth services on Wednesday night allows me the opportunity to preach, allows the youth an opportunity to be trained in leading worship, and allows the youth a voice that I think they would not otherwise have. .

Why in the world do the youth need to have "an opportunity to be trained in leading worship"? What "voice" do they need besides the ability to sing with the rest of the congregation? Your model presupposes a non-RPW, modern-era egalitarian form of church practice that seems to smack of the idea that if one isn't "up front" being "part of the show" then one isn't participating in worship. Such a notion is unbiblical hogwash.

You do not think we should be training our young men called into the ministry to lead worship, preach, teach, etc.? Tell me, who do you think SHOULD do such things then?
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
You do not think we should be training our young men called into the ministry to lead worship, preach, teach, etc.?

I don't think that's what he said.:think:

Uh, but that's what I said. And I am assuming he was legitimately responding to my question, not just taking a jab at me. Our youth group is about training our young folks in their roles, in proper doctrine, and teaching them to be leaders and proclaimers of the Gospel. I think that is precisely what we are called to do.
 
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toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
You do not think we should be training our young men called into the ministry to lead worship, preach, teach, etc.?

I don't think that's what he said.:think:

Uh, but that's what I said. And I am assuming he was legitimately responding to my question, not just taking a jab at me. Our youth group is about training our young folks in their roles, in proper doctrine, and teaching them to be leaders and proclaimers of the Gospel. I think that is precisely what we are called to do.

That is absolutely NOT what you said. Here is your statement:

allows the youth an opportunity to be trained in leading worship, and allows the youth a voice that I think they would not otherwise have. .

You said "the youth" are to be trained in leading worship, and given a voice they would not otherwise have. Members of the "youth group" is what anyone would reasonably have heard you to be saying. Nowhere did you limit this discussion to "young men called into the ministry" - you just specified an undifferentiated "youth". I can't see how anyone would get from the whole of what you have been saying, least of all the particular statement I was reacting to, to your claimed intent of "our young men who are called to ministry".
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
In all honesty, I am not sure of my feelings on my own position. I know the separate Youth services on Wednesday night allows me the opportunity to preach, allows the youth an opportunity to be trained in leading worship, and allows the youth a voice that I think they would not otherwise have.

Damon:

I wonder if some of us have missed the fact that you yourself are unsure about the youth worship service thing you do. This is a place to learn and challenge each other, so I'm glad you were willing to bring it up... especially as it involves something at the heart of your ministry work. It's never easy to open up one's own ministry—with the satisfaction and sense of value it gives—to critique.

You know I am on your side, so to speak, in terms of believing that age-segregated programs can be helpful if done well and in moderation. But I too am immediately wary when you speak of your weekly youth worship service. The potential pitfalls would seem to be numerous:

- It might add to a belief that good worship is mostly defined by how meaningful it feels to the worshiper—how it resonates with his cultural and generational tastes—rather than by how well it resonates with what God has revealed of himself. If the youth start to feel that the youth service is the main weekly service they look forward to, then it is not only threatening the unity of the church but is reinforcing a self-directed view of worship and a self-directed approach to faith in God. That threatens the gospel, so it's a big problem. If they feel they can't worship as well in a service that style-wise mirrors the larger culture rather than pandering to their own youth culture, that's a clear symptom of an underlying misunderstanding of worship.

- It might add to a sense that the faith life of the kids and that of their parents ought to take different tracks. This is a tricky one because we want kids at this age to be developing a faith that thrives on its own, even when parents aren't around. And we need to give them opportunities to serve the church and learn independently. But home life is still the the most important influence in a kid's life, even during the teen years, and we must be careful not to let a youth service displace whole-church and with-your-parents worship. It is easy for both parents and kids to see the kid trotting off to the youth service and think, "good, the spiritual thing is taken care of." This too is dangerous.

- It might add to a sense that leadership skills are to be developed only within one's own generational enclave. It's good to start training leaders when they're young. But is this a situation where you, either by yourself or with a team of designated "youth leaders", are alone the mentor for a whole bunch of leader-to-be young people? And is it a situation where these young leaders are only leading other young people? If so, before long they will see that whatever leadership or service they develop has little to do with the rest of the church. And then we could hardly blame them if, down the road, they see no reason to be involved in any church except one made up of other people just like themselves.

So... I too encourage you to think about how to make sure these problems don't occur, or how they can be reversed. How might the current program be turned into one that serves the whole church, better integrated with both parents and the church at large? How might budding leaders among the youth be paired with true mentors throughout the congregation who're doing meaningful work for the whole church? How might kids' thirst for independence be channeled into serving in meaningful ways in the corporate Sunday worship service, so that it becomes the church event they look forward to all week? And how might they be encouraged that when they worship alongside people who're both older and younger, offering praise and listening to sermons that style-wise aren't catered specifically to themselves, they are in so doing honoring God?

These are not easy questions to answer. My church struggles with them too. And as both a children's ministry leader and a parent I struggle with them. It's important that we do.
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
You do not think we should be training our young men called into the ministry to lead worship, preach, teach, etc.?

I don't think that's what he said.:think:

Uh, but that's what I said. And I am assuming he was legitimately responding to my question, not just taking a jab at me. Our youth group is about training our young folks in their roles, in proper doctrine, and teaching them to be leaders and proclaimers of the Gospel. I think that is precisely what we are called to do.

That is absolutely NOT what you said. Here is your statement:

allows the youth an opportunity to be trained in leading worship, and allows the youth a voice that I think they would not otherwise have. .

You said "the youth" are to be trained in leading worship, and given a voice they would not otherwise have. Members of the "youth group" is what anyone would reasonably have heard you to be saying. Nowhere did you limit this discussion to "young men called into the ministry" - you just specified an undifferentiated "youth". I can't see how anyone would get from the whole of what you have been saying, least of all the particular statement I was reacting to, to your claimed intent of "our young men who are called to ministry".

It IS what I said...its just not what you HEARD. First off, no, I did not limit the discussion to only those called to ministry. But I (I guess wrongly) assumed that I would be given the benefit of the doubt about certain things. Why on earth would I allow someone not called to ministry to lead our worship service? I think you are just looking for a fight.

As far as having a "voice," yes, I think the youth being able to integrate their faith into their lives, instead of having to be just like mom and dad in all things, is a positive. In the main worship service, at least at our church, certain practices are looked down on, though not banned. These things are positive and worshipful things, that deserve to be expressed. But they make some older folks uncomfortable. Nothing wrong with giving the youth a means of expressing these things.
 

Fly Caster

Puritan Board Sophomore
You do not think we should be training our young men called into the ministry to lead worship, preach, teach, etc.?

I don't think that's what he said.:think:

Uh, but that's what I said. And I am assuming he was legitimately responding to my question, not just taking a jab at me. Our youth group is about training our young folks in their roles, in proper doctrine, and teaching them to be leaders and proclaimers of the Gospel. I think that is precisely what we are called to do.

Has the Church been bereft of adequate ministerial/leadership training before the recent development of the Youth Program?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
It IS what I said...its just not what you HEARD. First off, no, I did not limit the discussion to only those called to ministry. But I (I guess wrongly) assumed that I would be given the benefit of the doubt about certain things. Why on earth would I allow someone not called to ministry to lead our worship service? I think you are just looking for a fight.

The purpose of these discussions is to clarify our views and perspectives. Asking for clarification is not 'picking a fight'. You are assigning motives of the heart to Todd and I think you need to apologize.
 

Damon Rambo

Puritan Board Sophomore
In all honesty, I am not sure of my feelings on my own position. I know the separate Youth services on Wednesday night allows me the opportunity to preach, allows the youth an opportunity to be trained in leading worship, and allows the youth a voice that I think they would not otherwise have.

Damon:

I wonder if some of us have missed the fact that you yourself are unsure about the youth worship service thing you do. This is a place to learn and challenge each other, so I'm glad you were willing to bring it up... especially as it involves something at the heart of your ministry work. It's never easy to open up one's own ministry—with the satisfaction and sense of value it gives—to critique.

You know I am on your side, so to speak, in terms of believing that age-segregated programs can be helpful if done well and in moderation. But I too am immediately wary when you speak of your weekly youth worship service. The potential pitfalls would seem to be numerous:

- It might add to a belief that good worship is mostly defined by how meaningful it feels to the worshiper—how it resonates with his cultural and generational tastes—rather than by how well it resonates with what God has revealed of himself. If the youth start to feel that the youth service is the main weekly service they look forward to, then it is not only threatening the unity of the church but is reinforcing a self-directed view of worship and a self-directed approach to faith in God. That threatens the gospel, so it's a big problem. If they feel they can't worship as well in a service that style-wise mirrors the larger culture rather than pandering to their own youth culture, that's a clear symptom of an underlying misunderstanding of worship.

- It might add to a sense that the faith life of the kids and that of their parents ought to take different tracks. This is a tricky one because we want kids at this age to be developing a faith that thrives on its own, even when parents aren't around. And we need to give them opportunities to serve the church and learn independently. But home life is still the the most important influence in a kid's life, even during the teen years, and we must be careful not to let a youth service displace whole-church and with-your-parents worship. It is easy for both parents and kids to see the kid trotting off to the youth service and think, "good, the spiritual thing is taken care of." This too is dangerous.

- It might add to a sense that leadership skills are to be developed only within one's own generational enclave. It's good to start training leaders when they're young. But is this a situation where you, either by yourself or with a team of designated "youth leaders", are alone the mentor for a whole bunch of leader-to-be young people? And is it a situation where these young leaders are only leading other young people? If so, before long they will see that whatever leadership or service they develop has little to do with the rest of the church. And then we could hardly blame them if, down the road, they see no reason to be involved in any church except one made up of other people just like themselves.

So... I too encourage you to think about how to make sure these problems don't occur, or how they can be reversed. How might the current program be turned into one that serves the whole church, better integrated with both parents and the church at large? How might budding leaders among the youth be paired with true mentors throughout the congregation who're doing meaningful work for the whole church? How might kids' thirst for independence be channeled into serving in meaningful ways in the corporate Sunday worship service, so that it becomes the church event they look forward to all week? And how might they be encouraged that when they worship alongside people who're both older and younger, offering praise and listening to sermons that style-wise aren't catered specifically to themselves, they are in so doing honoring God?

These are not easy questions to answer. My church struggles with them too. And as both a children's ministry leader and a parent I struggle with them. It's important that we do.

Brother, I agree. These issues are difficult. They are made difficult not only by the youth, who tend to make worship about their personal preferences and desires, but by the older people who do the same. If certain older individuals in the church did not complain over everything that the youth did, or try to constantly enforce their own preferences at every turn (at the exclusion of the younger's preference), these things would not even be extant.

I realize your Presbyterian, so this might not be as much of an issue for you. But try to empathize here. Imagine you moved to a new town. There were two churches in town, both of which had excellent preaching, correct doctrine, and an equal emphasis on the Gospel. All things were equal, BUT: at one of these churches, you were not allowed to express your worship of God in any way except quietly singing. Even becoming emotional over what your savior had done for you, and causing you to sing loudly, would literally have people glaring at you, and upset. The people their were always pointing out your smallest faults. Among them (actual complaints that I have gotten about my youth)

> Writing a scripture verse down on their hand ("That is just so distracting" the man told me).
> Placing one's hand over one's heart while singing ("Bunch of 'Holy Rollers'")
> Opening the door to the sanctuary so a little one could go to the bathroom.
> Singing too loud.
> Raising hands.
> Standing up during singing (which is actually a normal practice at our church)
> Saying "amen" (which is also a normal practice at our church...but how dare a youth get into the sermon, right?)
> Sitting in front of someone (only when it is youth...it can be a 6 foot 6 basketball player, and that's perfectly O.K.)

Now, the other church allowed you to express yourself in all of those ways, without complaint. No one was ever "out to get you." Same sermons were preached, same doctrine taught. But one group made you feel wanted, and the other didn't.

Which church would YOU want to go to? Now, how can you expect any different from the youth? The key to changing the "status quo" does not reside with the youth, who have little say in the matter. The key to changing it, is with the older men and women recognizing and encouraging the youth, instead of acting like the "pulpit police."

---------- Post added at 12:40 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:33 PM ----------

It IS what I said...its just not what you HEARD. First off, no, I did not limit the discussion to only those called to ministry. But I (I guess wrongly) assumed that I would be given the benefit of the doubt about certain things. Why on earth would I allow someone not called to ministry to lead our worship service? I think you are just looking for a fight.

The purpose of these discussions is to clarify our views and perspectives. Asking for clarification is not 'picking a fight'. You are assigning motives of the heart to Todd and I think you need to apologize.

Brother, I appreciate that I am on the wrong side of this discussion in many people's minds here. But I don't think that gives people the right to come at me "all guns blazing," in the rudest way possible. The gentleman is being extremely abrasive in his approach. Why would he not ask for clarification, instead of attacking me and calling my ministerial efforts "un-biblical hogwash?"
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
It IS what I said...its just not what you HEARD. First off, no, I did not limit the discussion to only those called to ministry. But I (I guess wrongly) assumed that I would be given the benefit of the doubt about certain things. Why on earth would I allow someone not called to ministry to lead our worship service? I think you are just looking for a fight.

As far as having a "voice," yes, I think the youth being able to integrate their faith into their lives, instead of having to be just like mom and dad in all things, is a positive. In the main worship service, at least at our church, certain practices are looked down on, though not banned. These things are positive and worshipful things, that deserve to be expressed. But they make some older folks uncomfortable. Nothing wrong with giving the youth a means of expressing these things.


Funny thing. My Papa in the faith Pastor Joe Gwynn posted something that relates to what you are saying here Damon.

Part of the reason young men are so prone to foolishness is that our culture places so little value on the wisdom of its elders. Children are often taught in government school curricula to mock the values of preceding generations, thus turning the "teach them to your children's children" program of God (and sanity) on its head.

Let me ask you a question. Because I don't know what your Churches procedure is for determining whether a young man is called into leadership, can you give us some kind of hint on how you all determine this? Are these young teens examined? I am asking as a Reformed Baptist let me remind you. I also think you were read in context. Context does have place in life when you reading someone's thoughts. Maybe you weren't clear enough. I don't think anyone is trying to pic a fight. I think we all want to protect the youth and the Church here. Please read us in context and not impune false motive to us.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
Why do the youth get to have their own service? That boggles my mind.

I've come out of churches that have the youth programs. My family has been in an integrated worship service for 3 months now (with age-appropriate Sunday School before the service) and I will never put them back in a youth program. My kids range from 6yrs down to 6months.

They have absorbed so much in the last 3 months (particularly the 4 year old and the 6 year old) because they get to see Church in action. They get to see Word, Sacrament and Prayer. They see that infants to 90 year olds are there enraptured, and that Christ is relevant no matter what age or station in life you happen to be in.

They got to pray along about our Pastor's son's facial surgery, about the Firefighters battling a blaze in West Texas, they get to hear about the challenges of old age, and of youth. They get to see what goes on in the Lord's Supper, they get to see baptism, and congregational vows.

They pick up on many aspects of the sermons. They hear the 'technical' jargon. They'll understand it soon.

They see their mom and dad on their knees confessing our sins. That we are not holier than them. They see that we will prostrate ourselves before the Lord publicly. That we deserve death. But that God through His great love and mercy has made us alive in Christ.

They get to hear about our Lord's broken body and spilt blood every time we go to the Lord's Table (weekly). They see that the Lord is Good.

They see that mom and dad love to go and be part of what God is doing. They see that the community of Christ is more than a single age range, sex, or race.

They see the love that their uncles and aunts in Christ have for them when they offer to sit with them because my wife is having a tough time. They see their friends in the service, paying attention.

And it gives us so much to talk about after the sermon, and it gives me the opportunity to distill down what our Pastor preached on for them. And yes, parents are the biggest issue in the church today - we do not sit down and spend time teaching them and showing our kids how much we value the Lord.

Anyhow, why would I give up any of that to send them back to the youth program?

---------- Post added at 01:04 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:52 PM ----------

Brother, I agree. These issues are difficult. They are made difficult not only by the youth, who tend to make worship about their personal preferences and desires, but by the older people who do the same. If certain older individuals in the church did not complain over everything that the youth did, or try to constantly enforce their own preferences at every turn (at the exclusion of the younger's preference), these things would not even be extant.

That is so sad to hear Damon, but not unexpected. We had a similar problem (though not as bad!) at the last church we were in (before we became Presbyterian). What does the Pastor of the Church think about this? Is he supportive of having the youth in the service? Can he address this issue with the congregation?

I really feel for you and the youth you are ministering to. As a parent of younger kids, we'd often get the "stare" from those who thought we were interrupting their private time with God while in the middle of corporate worship.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
If certain older individuals in the church did not complain over everything that the youth did, or try to constantly enforce their own preferences at every turn (at the exclusion of the younger's preference), these things would not even be extant.


Yup. In my experience it's usually a whole-church issue. The "older" people are likely missing something, too, and often are just as committed to style preferences and generational traditions as are the younger set. Don't get me started on how children and young people are, in little ways, sometimes not made to feel welcome in the churches I've been part of.

But I still think separating from each other is not the biblical answer, nor one that's healthy for the church. Learning to live with each other and pursuing reconciliation (though admittedly difficult) reaps great rewards.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
If certain older individuals in the church did not complain over everything that the youth did, or try to constantly enforce their own preferences at every turn (at the exclusion of the younger's preference), these things would not even be extant.


Yup. In my experience it's usually a whole-church issue. The "older" people are likely missing something, too, and often are just as committed to style preferences and generational traditions as are the younger set. Don't get me started on how children and young people are, in little ways, sometimes not made to feel welcome in the churches I've been part of.

But I still think separating from each other is not the biblical answer, nor one that's healthy for the church. Learning to live with each other and pursuing reconciliation (though admittedly difficult) reaps great rewards.

Age separation tends to cause these problems for older people. They are not used to dealing with such issues.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Why would he not ask for clarification, instead of attacking me and calling my ministerial efforts "un-biblical hogwash?"

He wasn't attacking your ministerial efforts as hogwash. He was attacking the unreformed view you appeared to be promoting which you have since clarified somewhat.
 

smhbbag

Puritan Board Senior
Don't get me started on how children and young people are, in little ways, sometimes not made to feel welcome in the churches I've been part of.

I know you told me not to, but can I get you started on it? :)

What are these ways?
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Don't get me started on how children and young people are, in little ways, sometimes not made to feel welcome in the churches I've been part of.
I know you told me not to, but can I get you started on it?

What are these ways?

They probably call the kids by the wrong name.;) Sorry, I couldn't resist.
 

Shawn Mathis

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've come out of churches that have the youth programs. My family has been in an integrated worship service for 3 months now (with age-appropriate Sunday School before the service) and I will never put them back in a youth program.

Rom, et.al.,

I am glad to hear that. It does seem the majority on this thread believe that age-segregated (appropriate--I like that usage) Sunday school is, well, appropriate. Presumably if used rightly and in a church that fosters parental authority.

But what do the readers think about:
a) The "desert island test"
b) That family-integrated churches and homeschoolers are "almost by definition" part of a revival?

thanks again for reading my essay,
 
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