Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why do we homeschool?

My wife and I decided to homeschool in 2008 after a proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back".  My daughter was being taught yoga as a practice in her class by the teacher's assistance.  You can read the letter I sent the school on my Intrepid Evangelist blog.  We pulled our children, only our two oldest at the time, out of public school.  We were blessed to have fellowship with a homeschooling family there who provided great encouragement and advice during the first tumultuous year.  We now are only entering our fourth year in homeschooling and know there is still much to learn on our part.  We have been so blessed to encounter ministries such as Vision Forum who have provided vital instructions in this area.  But to be honest, our initial reason for homeschooling is not why we homeschool now.

Over the past few years I have talked to families with children who were homeschooled at one point and decided to send their children back to public school even after years of homeschooling.  This usually happened as their children entered the high school years.  For various reasons they decided that their homeschool journey had ended and felt no conviction otherwise.  Talking with them more, they had some of the same initial reasons we had for removing our children from the public schools but they were solely pragmatic reasons.  What I have come to realize is that our initial reasoning was also pragmatic.  We saw a problem, found a solution, and like the results.  This is not a bad starting point, but problems will eventually arise if this becomes the primary reason.

Please understand though, I believe we should be concerned for what is happening in public schools.  This is a viable starting point in deciding to homeschool.  The movie Indoctrination helps to bring this concern to the forefront by revealing the disturbing history of how public schooling came about, its underlying themes, and its initial opposition from Christians.  No parent who watches this will think it is ever okay to have their children in government schooling again.  The movie has a great starting point to bring forward the concern every Christian parent should have in regards to public schooling.  But it is only the starting point.

The primary reason some homeschooling families cease to be homeschooling is the exact reason why many of us initially start homeschooling.  Simply put, it is because we relied on results to determine whether something was effective or even whether it was biblical or not.  If the results change, or the results we desire change then we can inevitably alter our direction.  A parent who homeschools only for pragmatic reasons may put their child back into public schools for pragmatic reasons as well.  The primary reason we are to homeschool is not because we want our children to be smarter or because we want to remove them from the ungoldy teachings.  They are good reasons, but they are secondary to the teachings of Scripture.  Deuteronomy 6 commands parents to be the teachers of their children.  We are to instruct them in the ways of God, which touches on every subject of life.  We teach them Scripture as well as a biblical worldview of all educational disciplines, which they will not find in public schools.  In his message The children of Caesar, Voddie Baucham says "If we continue to send our children to Caesar for their education, we need to stop being surprised when they come home as Romans".

Secondary issues can lead us to understand the primary reason but we are never to rest on the secondary as our authority.  Parents may remove their children from public schools and when their reasoning changes they are perfectly comfortable sending them back.  Scripture is our resting place.  In it, we find instructional principles for life.  Let it be what we rely on as our authority for homeschooling.  We may point to the results found in secondary reasoning, but we must ultimately come back to Scripture.

This reminds me of the role of apologetics in evangelism.  I have seen and been blessed to minister with some outstanding apologeticists.  They use profound reason and evidence to utterly destroy the ungodly claims of the world and the decisive attacks of the enemy against the Gospel and the validity of God's word.  Yet even they admit that if they have intellectually won the argument but failed to lift up Scripture as the ultimate authority and the Gospel as the evidence of God's saving grace, they have simply shown how clever they are.  This in turn makes it a battle of who is smarter and not simply "Thus sayeth the Lord".  

Over the past year, the Lord has graciously shown us the authority His word is to have even in our obedience to Him in homeschooling.  In case you think I am being too hard on public schooling, please know that I can certainly sympathize with those who do not homeschool.  I know some of the reasons you have, because my wife and I used almost all of them ourselves.  Yet we can find no passage in Scripture where we are ever told to release our children to the teachings of the world.  Homeschooling is not easy.  It is very trying and tests our patience with and love for our children.  You can take the path more frequently traveled with no hills or valleys and the promises of a smoother journey. But when were you ever told that obedience to God was going to be an easy path?

Why do we homeschool?  Because we desire to be obedient to God in all that we do.  To Him be the glory forever and ever!

By grace alone,
Adam (and family)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quotes from the "Sound Doctrine" conference

Well, it is still a little early and my brain is still kind of mushy from the training at the NCFIC's "Sound Doctrine" this past week.  I plan to write a more comprehensive blog on some of the powerful points brought up in this conference.  For now though, I figured I would just share some of the quotes I tweeted during that time.  To God be the glory!

Scott Brown
Don't go to a church without a statement of sound doctrine.

Justification is declared in moment, adoption sustains for an eternity.

Christianity has always been a creed-honestly believed, joyfully received, and faithfully believed.

Steve Breagy
Biblical theology must always lead to doxology.

The conscience is free from the doctrines of man.

Dan Horn
We choose the choice that God chose us to choose.

The Arminian view makes man freer than God.

Get a bigger view of God.

Doing what God commanded us to do is not legalism, it's obedience.

Jason Dohm
When faith is resident it manifests itself into something you can see.

We are not saved by good works, but we are saved unto good works.

Jonny White
The person in the Old Testament was saved by grace alone, through faith, alone, in Christ alone.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A unified assembly

Take the time to watch this clip of a discussion between Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald.  If you don't want to watch the entire clip, at least watch the first 1:58.

I found this while visiting the Grace To You blog.  In it, John MacArthur addressed the pragmatism displayed in the first part of the video concerning the problem of basing ministry success on numerical measurements (i.e. "We had this many saved", "I have this many campuses", etc.).  You will notice that their discussion but it is based primarily around whether a multi-site, multi-service church is "successful" or not.

Driscoll and MacDonald are advocates for broadcasting their services into sites their church has setup elsewhere.  While they give numerous reasons why, none of them are based from Scripture.   In fact, when Dever attempts to biblically define "ekklesia", Driscoll asks "According to who?" as though Dever is appealing to some extra-biblical authority.  Pay close attention to this conversation that starts at :59 and continues through 1:27. The point I want to make here is not to readdress the pragmatism Dr. MacArthur has already spoke of but rather to address the corner Mark Dever quickly finds himself in when he speaks of the "coming together" of the local church.

Let me first say, I appreciate everything Mark Dever has and is doing.  The 9Marks Ministry is a powerful tool in assessing the biblical foundation of local churches.  However, his application of the "coming together" principle he proposes here finds him in a bit of a predicament.

Dever wants to point out that the New Testament says the local church body is to come together under the shepherding of the Elders.  They are to be physically gathered in worship.  He uses the examples of the Ephesus where the believers assembled as the result of the mounting riot to show the unity that should exist.  I am in full agreement with him.  However, as he is making this case, MacDonald point out that Dever's church has a children's ministry thus noting that Dever himself is already violating the principle is attempting to reinforce.  This is a prime example of a proverbial "GOTCHA" moment.  You will notice that Dever does not attempt to defend that point but simply rolls with the punches.

Dever's biblical stance on the unity of the local assembly is now compromised because he is guilty of the violating the very principle he is preaching to them from Scripture.  By referencing the children's ministry, MacDonald is pointing out how Dever's church already divides the assembly of believers.  Although, MacDonald and Driscoll do so through multi-site congregations, Dever is now shown to be guilty of doing so through age-graded ministries.  MacDonald notes that since Dever has already "broken that code" he should just "break it again".

Thus, we have the slippery slope that too often develops when we do not rely solely on Scripture.  I am in no way accusing Mark Dever, James MacDonald, or Mark Driscoll of knowingly and deceptively trying to compromise on the Word in this particular area. My point is simple:  let the Word be our guide in all areas of ministry.

Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Sola Scriptura!  Sola Deo gloria!

Until the whole world hears,
Adam (and family)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

180 movie

Why did these pro-abortion supporters make a "180" and are now against abortion? Watch and see!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Churches Are Abandoning Age Segregation All Across America

Churches Are Abandoning Age Segregation All Across America

WAKE FOREST, NC, September 15, 2011. The film Divided the movie, which has gone viral over the last 45 days, has now been thrust into the national media. The Washington Post (yesterday), the fifth largest newspaper in America, and USA Today (today) ran stories about the film and of the many churches, who are reconsidering the practices of modern youth ministry – and jettisoning them.

Scott Brown, who is a pastor in Wake Forest, NC, the Director of The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, and the Executive Producer of the film explains it this way: “What’s going on? It is a form of validation. It is saying, ‘Look there are other churches doing this. The dialog has reached national proportions.’”

Brown said, “What we need to recognize is that, for many pastors, it is permission to ask, ‘Have we been doing something that is destructive?’” It allows them to say, “It’s ok if we abandon this segregated ministry.”

Abandoning the established patterns of youth ministry is very difficult because they are so entrenched in the fabric of church life. There are so many churches saying, “We’ve always done it this way. We cannot abandon this.” But the reality is that other churches are doing this and are thriving. It’s like saying, “Get in while the water's warm.”

Brown has written a book, A Weed in the Church, explaining the history of youth ministry, the biblical support for age integration as well as what youth ministry ought to look like if all you had was the Bible. Brown explains, “The book shows that the Bible not only communicates the message of the gospel, but it actually tells us how to communicate the gospel to youth.”

“What is encouraging about the recent media acknowledgment is that there are now many churches to point to. If we have an acknowledgment that ‘It’s ok,’ it grants permission for other churches to look at it as well.”

While there are many who are embracing the practice of age integration for the discipleship of youth, there is still a vigorous discussion in the Christian community, especially among those who are against it.

Christianity Today ran a harsh movie review of the film on their website and likened it to “an angry letter-to-the-editor,” calling it “propaganda,” “categorically dangerous,” and “filled with scare tactics.”

On the other side of the spectrum of responses is Ted Baehr of the popular Christian film site, Movie Guide, "Everyone should watch DIVIDED. It is that important. DIVIDED is an interesting and compelling documentary. The point of DIVIDED has to be brought to the attention of everyone in the church - it is critical!"

Another critic of Divided, sounding much like Christianity Today, is a popular, neo-reformed blogger Tim Challies, who recently dismissed the film in an unfavorable review, counseling his readers to stay away from it. “It’s a destructive message wrapped in a poorly-made documentary. The church would do well to ignore it,” Challies wrote. He lobbed several grenades against the documentary, saying it was “not at all fair,” builds a “case on a cliché,” and is “not only uncharitable but also utterly ridiculous . . . complete and utter nonsense.”

Brown acknowledges, “Age integration is a very difficult proposition to embrace. I know how counter-cultural and disruptive it is to dismantle the age-segregated world that dominates not only the church but also all of society.” Yet, Brown categorizes the backlash criticisms in this way, “What is interesting is that many of the negative comments can be summed up by ‘You are ugly and your sister's ugly,’ yet they never come in with biblical arguments for their position.” They’re high on emotionalism, personal experience, and pragmatism and low on biblical support.

To interview NCFIC Director Scott T. Brown and/or to receive a preview copy of the movie Divided, the book A Weed in the Church, and press materials,

media should contact Tyler Dorin: 515-250-6491, tdorin@ncfic.org

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is Perry Noble that far off?

Maybe you are not familiar with Perry Noble...count that as a blessing. Without going into great detail let me simply say he is one of the crudest, foul-mouthed, slanderous, men I have ever seen stand behind a pulpit. His latest rant though has struck up some concern. With some intro commentary from Todd Friel at Wretched Radio, take a look at the video clip below:

Foul-mouth and PG-13 comment aside, note that he only wants children of a certain age in the sanctuary. Why? Because he thinks they are the only ones who can handle his form of lewdness. But I ask you, is Perry Noble that far off from many mainstream churches?

Think of it, how many churches do not want children in the worship service because they can't "handle" the preaching, the singing, having to sit still for period of time, or interacting with the other members of the church? How many insist that Children's Church (also known as Junior Church) is the only place for these kids? How about the babies? Well, they have that figured out to. Just hand your child off to an experienced workers in the nursery because the service is just too much for them.

I propose that Perry Noble's thinking concerning the role of children in regards to the worship service is simply the logical conclusion many have reached because of their insistence on pragmatism and lack of reliance on the sufficiency of Scripture. Unlike Mr. Noble, I know many of them have good intentions but intentions do not predicate Scripture. One can have the greatest of intentions in any endeavor and yet be just as erroneous in their teaching as this man.

So I close with the same question: Is Perry Noble that far off from many mainstream churches?

Thanks for stopping by!

That He might be glorified,
Adam (and family)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Divided and the discussions that follow

Since the movie "Divided" has been released for free viewing online, the question of age-integration has erupted into a storm of discussion. Members of the NCFIC and churches who adhere to the FIC discipleship model have been thrust into the limelight and put up for questioning on many of the statements not only in the movie but from Scott Brown's "A weed in the church". A cursory glace on the NCFIC website will present you with a listing of the numerous radio and, more recently, television interviews of Scott Brown.

I have personally been engaged with several brothers over this issue in the past 9 months as well. Most have been very gracious but others have admittedly been less than open to biblical discussion. To those who have been gracious, I greatly thank you and pray that our discussion and exchange have helped to drive you further into the Scriptures as it has done me.

There are, as I perceive them, two reoccurring themes in most if not all of the discussions. The first is, as a fellow brother noted, that "those who disagree have emotional not biblical arguments". The second is that they appeal more directly to what they perceive as an imbalance in the movie's presentation of the issue.

As a former advocate for age-segregated ministries I can understand the emotional response. I had previously served as a Sunday school teacher for 5th and 6th graders, the creator and Director of a Sunday school department, and the co-creator of a junior church ministry. I served in these capacities and would have vehemently defended them against anyone who questioned their validity. I had even written several research papers for college on the necessity of these ministries and their benefit to the local church. But in all of my writing and defending I never started with Scripture. I based most of what I knew from the writings and articles of others which were peppered ever so slightly with a few verses taken out of context. Because my argument for these age-segregated ministries was found no where in Scripture I would inevitably appeal to pragmatism and fall back on the emotional appeal for validation.

"Look at how these kids enjoy children's church. You wouldn't want to force them to sit with there parents would you?" My intent in saying such was to subtly insist that such ministries would deprive the children of something precious which in turn would tug at the "heart strings" of those to whom I was pleading. I can see the same in many of the statements from those who are now in the same position I once was. Our appeal should always be to Scripture and not to our emotions. Do emotions play a part in the Christians life? Yes, but always in subjection to the revealed Word of God.

A few brothers and sisters have asked why the movie does not interview Youth Pastors of successful, biblically framed youth ministries. I italicized successful because I have heard a spectrum of definitions for the word in relation to ministry. Some saying success is determined by professions of faith or those who are still active in church today, others by the evangelistic drive of the group, while others solely by the sheer size of the ministry. I hesitate to attach such a label because I would rather say whether something is biblical than successful. If something is biblical then outward "success" is irrelevant in light of God's truth.

The supporting issue to this argument is the claim that the movie only focused on the mohawk, head-banging youth and seemed to indicate that they were typical of all youth ministries. However, several other teens were interviewed in the movie and most of them were well spoken and very polite. In doing this, I believe the film gave a good representation of the majority of youth produced from youth groups today. So why weren't more current Youth Pastors interviewed? Would it not seem fitting to give them the opportunity to defend themselves?

To answer this I would point to two other parachurch ministries that I follow and greatly appreciate: Living Waters/Way of the Master (LW) and Answers in Genesis (AIG).

LW teaches the biblical pattern of evangelism in using the Law to bring about the knowledge of sin and death. In making their case, they appeal to Scripture first and then to other prominent Christian leaders of the past who themselves pointed to Scripture. While there are many other evangelism ideas out there, LW does not interview proponents of them to balance their view. They point to the false conversion rate that many of these unbiblical methods have produced but only do so in order to drive home their point of the sufficiency of Scripture in evangelism.

AIG is a far-reaching creation apologetics ministry that unashamedly stands upon the biblical account of Creation and opposes those who compromise with alternate, unbiblical theories. Their stance has even placed their president and founder Ken Ham on the "black list" of the Great Homeschool Convention after his biblical rebuke of Dr. Peter Enns. AIG did not seek to balance their presentations with interviews of other professing Christians who disagree with their position. They rely primarily on Scripture with scientific support sitting in subjection to God's Word.

We would not accuse either of these ministries of not properly representing the other side because they are making their case from Scripture. We instead applaud them for their uncompromising stance and plead with other parachurch ministries to do the same. So why would Divided or the NCFIC be any different? Why would we require something of them that we do not of other ministries? I believe we have become so dogmatically attached to some of our church traditions that we are unwilling to question their biblical validity. We were raised in these age-segregated ministries, our parents were likely raise in them, and even some of our grandparents were raised in them as well. Thus, they have become a generational part of who we are. While some ministries, such a children's church, are newer parts of the age-segregated model they are all a part of how we as modern Christians "do" church.

It is hard to step outside of that mindset in order to critically examine the issue. It was very difficult for me and I personally know of others that struggle with it even today. But if we are to be a people who rely on the Word of God, we must begin asking these questions. We must start taking a look at why we do what we do and whether those things are based in Scripture or not. If they are, then let us press forward in our service to the King. If they are not, then they must be removed and replaced with what Scripture prescribes.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to watch the film Divided. I would also recommend you purchase "A weed in the church" book or e-book available for Kindle or Nook for a more in-depth treaty.

May God be glorified as we seek the light to our path.

For His glory,
Adam (and family)

Friday, August 5, 2011

The focus of our worship

I know I am a little late on chiming in on the following issue but I wanted to see how others approached it before I spoke up. Take a look at the video by following this link: "Special needs child removed from NC church".

I have heard others addressing this video and the deplorable actions of the church in regards to the sensitivity the church should have displayed and the manner in which they addressed the woman and her son. But what I have not heard is how this church is simply following the same pattern that many other churches do elsewhere.

In the church's response they noted that "It is our goal at Elevation Church to offer a distraction-free environment for our guests". Notice what their focus is for the worship service...THEIR GUESTS. They spoke nothing of exalting Christ, worshiping God, preaching the Gospel, or hearing the Word of God exposited. Their focus is on man and not God. Because of this, they will logically want to do whatever they can for man with no regard to God and His Word.

So what does this mean for all of us? Simply stated, more churches are guilty of this than we are willing to acknowledge. Of course you do not hear of the extremes of a situation such as this particular one all over, but on a more subtle level it is happening every Sunday in our services. Church leaders are focused on being sensitive to the people without being sensitive to the Word. They do whatever they can to not only make the worship service attractive for everyone but to make it comfortable and worry-free. Yes, this takes place in watered down sermons and cotton candy music, but it usually happens long before either of these begin.

It happens when those well meaning people meet you and your family at the door to escort you to where the nursery is for your youngest ones and tell you how great their children's church is. They pride themselves on the reliability of the workers of these programs and ensure you that you children are not only safe there but that you will be able to enjoy the service without having to worry about them. If, like my wife and I, you keep your children with you in the worship service you are usually met with furrowed brows and awkward glances. Some take it even further by insisting that children are not allowed in the worship service. They tell you how the kids just can't "comprehend" what the Pastor is preaching or how the songs are not on their "level".

Even after insisting that your children remain with you, you have suddenly been marked. During the service the tiniest peep from your family invokes several turning heads and whispers. Halfway through the service someone again approaches you to offer the other option of escorting your children away. Even when you thank them you have the sense that you are no longer welcomed. There are others though that take this to the next level. They not only insist that children not be in the worship service but that if you refuse their offer for nursery of children' church then you are in violation of their church policy.

"Adam, you're just being extreme. I mean, what church in their right mind would ever make children feel like they are not welcomed in the worship service?"

If you really want to know, please send me an email (adam@doulostheou.com) and I will tell you.

The real issue is what the focus of our worship service should be. If we focus on man, then we will do everything we can to please whoever walks into our doors. We will alter the sermon, change the music, create a concert-style atmosphere, offer prizes, and numerous other pragmatic practices.

However, if our focus is on God then we will not be concerned with catering to people. We will seek songs that glorify our Lord. Songs which the entire congregation sings in beautiful unison to. We will delight in the fellowship with others sitting around us. We will love seeing children with their parents in the service, because this is modeled in Scripture (Nehemiah 8; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20). We will desire to bring children to hear the words of Christ as our Savior Himself desired (Mark 10:13, 14). We will delight in the expositional preaching of God's Word and the centrality of the saving Gospel. We will leave that place carrying with us the continual practice of worship in our personal lives and in our homes with our families.

Before we jump to quickly at this seeker-sensitive church, we must ask ourselves: Who is the focus of our worship?

To God be the glory,
Adam (and family)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watch "Divided" online for free

Last year, I was presented with a Christian film that has helped to dramatically change my family and my ministry. At first, I was leery of what this film addressed. Not because I disagreed with it but because I knew the implications of the biblical teachings. I did not want to resist what I knew to be biblical, but I wanted to tread lightly on what had become "hallowed ground" for many faithful Christians. At that time I was unaware of exactly how much of an impact this would have or how the Lord would show me that I was a part of the unbiblical practices the film addressed.

I would lovingly and humbly implore you to take 1 hour out of your day and view this film. You can click on the banner image at the top of this blog to do so. You will probably still have questions afterwards, so I encourage you to purchase Scott Brown's "A weed in the church", which is also available on Kindle and Nook, for more in depth teaching on this subject.
Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions on this blog. You can also check out the review I posted of the book in earlier posts.

To God be the glory,
Adam (and family)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Keeping them engaged in the sermon

My wife and I are under the strong conviction that the place for children during the Sunday morning service is not in a separate room away from their parents but in the same room, singing the same songs, enjoying the same fellowship, and listening to the same sermon. We beelive this to be a biblical principle that, over the past 60+ years, has slowly and almost inperceivably been lost in the church.

We have been the brunt of much dissention because of this. Not because we ever pressured others to do the same, but because we were not "falling in line" with what the other parents were doing. This inevitably resulted in me stepping down from my last pastoral position and still has us seeking out a Christ-centered church where we can faithfully serve.

Since having our children in the worship service one question has always been on my mind: How can I keep all of my children engaged in listening to the preaching of the Word? I don't want to give them a coloring book or toys just to keep them quiet. They should be active in listening to the sermon.

Scripture gives the responsibilty of training children up in the Word to the parents, specifically the father (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 1:8-9; Ephesians 6:4). The parents take the message of the sermon and explain it more thoroughly to the children after the service. Yet, they also need to pay attention during the preaching.

I came upon a few ideas on how to do this but one in particular rang rather true for me. The suggestion was to give each of my children, who are able to write, a notebook and pen to write out any questions they had about the preaching or things they thought were particularly important. For my 4 year old, I told him to draw pictures of what he heard if he could. This past Sunday I decided to implement this suggestion.

I found that my daughter had written more notes than questions, that my oldest son had written 6 different questions, my 5 year old (almost 6) son had written the book and chapter the Pastor was preaching from, and my 4 year old made sure his name was written clearly on the front of his notebook :^)

My oldest son's questions were very pointed in regard to the sermon. We spent some time going through them until he understood the answers. My daughters notes showed that she was clearly paying attention and even the fact that my 5 years old wrote down part of the passage was encouraging to me.

It has been said that children are sponges, absorbing more than we realize. As a father I must help them to not only absorb what they hear in preaching but to apply its principles and teaching. Keeping my children engaged in the sermon helps to place a greater emphasis on the sufficiency of Scripture and the importance of God-honoring worship.

I look forward to this coming Sunday to see what their new notebooks contain after the service.

In Christ,
Adam (and family)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A wonderful wife and godly mother: Happy Mother's Day to Tracy Gray

To be honest, we all know that both Mother's day and Father's day are commercially created. But they can be used as special times to recognize the godly efforts of parents. This year, in particular, I am going to use this blog to recognize my beautiful wife and loving mother of our 6 children, Tracy Gray.

By the grace of God, my wife has brought 6 of our 7 children into this world. The Lord took our 3rd little to be with Him while still in the womb but the child who followed, Ephraim, was born exactly one year to the date it happened.

As I type this, she is now sitting patiently in the hospital with our recent edition, Silas. He has a rather extreme case of jaundice and his numbers were so high the other day that there was talk of liver damage in the near future. Thankfully his numbers are going down now. Our previous son, Esaias, had the same issue spent almost two weeks in the hospital recovering.

During this and the previous time, my wife has stayed with them, feeding and cradling each of our little boys as the Lord was healing them. Her compassion and love for our children is always evident.

Trust me when I say this, my wife is the smartest person I know. She is a licensed Surgical Technologist and has held positions of leadership in previous jobs. She was even asked to come back and teach the Surgical Tech school here locally. Countless students would have sat under her training over the years. Those students would have gone on directly impact millions of lives as they participated in surgeries in various hospitals. Their hands would have assisted in administering healing to many and the saving of an unknown number of lives as my wife herself had done.

Yet, she has come to understand that the most powerful place for a mother to be is with her children. While the Lord has shown me that my family is my first place of ministry, as it is for every father, so I have watched over the years as the Lord has continued such a work in my wife.
This is her second year homeschooling our children. It was a hard thing for her to begin doing but the Lord sent a family to us back in Juneau, AK to help us get started. She now has their lessons and days planned around the education schedule she laid out at the beginning of our school year. I am watching as our children are reading, writing, and learning at grade levels beyond those of public school children. Our 6 year old, Ephraim, is reading at a level two years beyond his own. My 9 year old, Elijah, hungers for science and thinks in such a logical way that I am often astounded at what he comprehends. My 11 year old daughter, Savannah, has a heart for art and reading beyond what I would think a young woman of her age would. Our 4 year old, Solomon, is able to read a few words and has begun working on math. And our 19 months old, Esaias, is forming words, identifying colors, shapes, animals, and other things rather quickly.

I am seeing the results of my wife's dedication to being a mother in the lives of our children. I make no apology for my biblical belief that being at home with the children is the God-honoring place for a mother to be. My wife and I see many young couples today that have made the errors we have in the past and sacrificed precious time and biblical teaching for the sake of a double-income and secular satisfaction. I know that even though this blog is written to exhort my wife, many will believe "Well, that's nice for them but I think I can be just a successful a mother working outside the home". To such a response I would only say this: Maybe you can! Maybe you can be a successful career driven mother with children who are brought up in the Lord, loving Him and honoring their parents. Many do so even today. But results should never be the foundation upon which the Christian home is built. The foundation should be on Scripture alone with the results being for the glory of God alone.

Next to my salvation, my wife is the greatest gift God has ever given me. She loves, me, honors me, supports me, and treats me as the head of our home. We are not perfect...not by any means. We have our faults and little nuances that annoy each other just a bit. But as we both grow closer to the Lord, we in turn grow closer to one another.

My wife is a fantastic mother to our six children. As I have already stated, she gave up what would have been a phenomenal career to play a much more important role as mother and homeschooling teacher of our children. Her love to our children is not just spoken but expressed in her care and attention to each of them. She knows that our daughter looks to her as the model of how a godly woman, wife, and mother should be. She knows that our boys look to her as the model of how their own future wives should be. She admonishes and exhorts them when needed and her love is evident in both her praises and corrections.

Truly our children rise up to call her blessed and I shall praise her in turn (Proverbs 31:28).

Thank you, my love, for being the mother our children need. Thank you for loving them as God has commanded. Thank you for modeling for them what a woman, wife, and mother should be. Thank for your being patient with me. Thank you for submitting to the Lord's design and for desiring to glorify Him in all you do. I love you more!

Blessed beyond measure,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The fine line between critique and slander

I was recently handed a blog in which the writer critiqued the Family Integrated Church (FIC) model. After reading through it I decided to do a little more digging before writing a critique of it myself. You can read the blogs yourself by following this link www.thatmom.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-the-family-integrated-church

I directly quote her in this blog and cite pages. Some of my comments are interspersed throughout.

Before I continue let me first say everyone is entitled to their own opinion and biblically informed convictions. What follows is in no way intended to question her conviction but is simply a critique of what she has publically published. Read it with as much discernment as anything else. In all things, may God be glorified!

Understand her background

1) Her blog’s focus is supposed to be on homeschooling but:
a) 33 blogs addressing FIC’s
b) 23 addressing Doug Phillips
c) 18 addressing Voddie Baucham

2) She was raised Baptist (American) but the two FIC’s she was a member of were Presbyterian.
a) AB’s similar to SB’s except they believe:
>Baptisms outside their Baptist churches were invalid (known as Landmarkism)
>Non-Baptists should not be allowed to participate in Lord’s Supper
>Non-Baptist ministers should not be allowed to preach in Baptist pulpit
>Mission groups not sponsored by a local church should not be recognized
b) Presbyterian largest areas of tertiary difference are:
>Belief in paedobaptism (baptism infants into their families covenant of grace)
>Elder-rule style of church government

She was raised in a congregational style of church government but her FIC experience was in a elder-rule government. This would account for her misrepresentation of all FIC’s since the church government style she experienced is denominational and not applicable to all FIC’s.

Keep this in mind as you read through the blogs and you will see this bias come out as she strikes out against things such as patriocentricity and how the Pastor of the first FIC was so deceptive and ruling.

3) She reviewed a book called “Quiverfull” by Kathryn Joyce. The blogger says "… it gave me to understand how a secular feminist assimilates the teachings and lifestyles within the patriarchy movement and, more importantly, how an outsider perceives the nonessential lifestyles that are being passed off as essentials of the faith within the homeschooling culture.”

Seeking the opinion of a secular feminist on conservative teachings of the roles of men and women is liking asking a Darwinian evolutionist their opinion on how we should teach Creation during a Sunday night service.

I have only highlighted the particular parts of her background that would have influenced her focus in these blogs.

It is always good to know someone’s biases when reading. I only found this information out AFTER I read the articles.

Good portions of this blog:

1) She admits to worshipping and with those who do not hold similar views and being able to remain in unity with them.
Part 5
“Both of us had grown up in American Baptist churches and had gone to an American Baptist college…We both embraced the doctrines of grace and had been members of a Presbyterian congregation but neither of us was convinced of the necessity of infant baptism although we didn't have an issue with babies being baptized."

2) She admits to the need for churches allowing freedom of conscience (conviction) among its members.
Part 5
“In retrospect, we probably should have had many questions than we did about the direction the other families thought the church would be taking but we had been under the assumption that there would be freedom of conscience in these areas as well as others."

“…there was no pressure to conform to a certain paradigm or a specific agenda that made everyone feel like they all had to do everything in the same way.”

Part 11
“The paradigm that they have established leaves no room for personal convictions of young people in the areas of courtship, dating, college, etc. and many are forced to conform to ideals they don’t believe in.”

3) She also agrees with having children welcomed into the worship service.
Part 10
“We loved the fact that children were welcomed into worship and their participation wasn’t considered unusual or a distraction to the adults present.”

Part 12
“Please realize that most homeschoolers have very strong convictions about raising their children and they want the freedom to have their children worship with them."

Very bad portions of this blog

1) She has only experienced 2 family-integrated churches.

a) The first was considerably not run biblically at first.
Part 3
“…flier had been published by one of the elders who was hoping to turn the church into a family integrated one by filling it with homeschoolers…”

“…the elder informed us, in no uncertain terms, that we were not to ever mention homeschooling in church..”

Both of these examples show deception in the part of the church’s leaders.

Part 5
“…relationships has disintegrated to the point that the pastor told people that his problems would all be gone if all the homeschoolers left.”

b) The second was not a complete failure but they became upset when the husband was not elected to the leadership.
Part 10
“Clay was not chosen to be one of those men and the pastor approached him to tell him why he had been passed up."

2) Only quotes NCFIC once.
a) The only quote she gave was in reference to their mission statement.
Part 1
"the NCFIC mission statement says that they ‘deny/reject two unbiblical extremes of our day, authoritarian, one-man leadership/one-man ministry that impedes biblical functioning of the body, and leaderless house churches that disregard the biblical necessity of elders."

This is a great quote to show that much of what she argues against FIC’s is not what the NCFIC promotes.

3) Only directly quotes a person once.
a) The only quote here is that of R.C. Sproul, Jr. and he is only talking about Homeschooling with NOTHING to concerning FIC’s.
Part 13
“There is, in evangelical circles, a growing divide. On the one side there are those of us who might be called movement homeschoolers. We homeschool because we believe it to be Biblical choice, not because we merely prefer it. We tend to adopt many of the secondary lifestyle issues related to homeschooling, lots of children, modest dress, husbands as the heads of their homes, courtship, denim jumpers. On the other side are different bunch of folks. These typically are homes where moms see homeschooling as a choice, an arena wherein they can excel by helping their children excel. The former are driven by issues of conviction, the latter by more practical matters”.

4) Makes numerous generic accusations against FIC’s and individuals with absolutely no references or quotes.

5) Claims FIC’s to be teaching HERESY but does not quote specifics as why she biblically deems them heresy.
a) Part 13
“…inside there is a battalion of false doctrine the pushes families further and further away from Biblical truth and healthy Christ life towards heresy.”

She notes two: patriocentricity and ecclesiocentricity. Neither are adequately defined and would seem that the latter is only what she experienced in the two FIC’s she was involved in.

6) Claims FIC’s promote racism and bigotry but provides no supporting evidence.

a) Part 5
“It wasn’t until some of the members had participated in wearing black faces for a homeschool co-op production and we also began to see all of the racist teachings in books recommended by Vision Forum…”

b) Part 12
“..some of the worst influences we would like to protect our children from are most often found in the family integrated church model…misogyny (hatred, mistrust, or dislike of women) and racism…”

7) Other false accusations against FIC’s (these may have been her experience at these churches but you will not find them anywhere on the NCFIC website).
a) Infers that FIC’s teach the family as the center of the church
Part 10
“…we soon began to see more clearly the mission of the church and the role that families have as a part of that church, not as the center of the church.”

b) Infers that FIC’s are established just for homeschoolers
Part 1
“…these churches have been established to meet the particular needs of homeschooling families.”

c) Infers that NCFIC only seeks to train men…except that there website contains some non-gender specific material and material geared towards women as well as conferences designed to bring husbands and wives together.
Part 1
“…the NCFIC seeks to provide tools for men training their own families and believes this is the means for seeing future generations of Christians.”

d) Infers that every FIC is not involved in evangelism.
Part 13
“…they do not see the FIC-led message as one of compassion, grace, wisdom, or sound doctrine…forgetting the Great Commission.”

“I would love to take a poll of those FIC churches that move into neighborhoods and find out how many of them have taken steps to reach out to those in their local community.”

e) Says only fathers serve communion.
Part 13
“…practice of father-served communion, as is common in FIC churches…”

In summary

The writer of these blogs has been hurt by those who say they were FIC’s in her past and she writes out of her contempt for them. Her bias is evident and her critique is just a rant against her own misconceptions. I am truly sorry for how she says those churches were run and how they seem to have neglected some of the fundamental biblical elements of leadership. I only pray that her contempt for FIC’s can be cleared up so that she understands these instances do not represent what FIC’s are trying to do.

With that said though, her calling a group heretics, women-haters, and racists without even quoting them is slanderous (Proverbs 10:18). She asserts many things about the NCFIC and other FIC’s just because she was hurt in two Presbyterian FIC-themed churches even though the first one was not an FIC while she was there. This is one of the problems with blogs: anyone can write them and say anything they want with no accountability to those they write against.

I have personally spoken with Scott T. Brown from the National Center for Family Integrated Church. He told me that many people misquote them and speak lies of the fundamentals of the FIC’s. Unfortunately, this woman is among those who have done this. As she quotes at the end of her blog, “be a Berean”. Search the Scripture and do the research. Be cautious not to come to superficial conclusions just because you’ve read a review and perused through a website. Don’t pass judgment on a certain group simply because of your experience with a small number of those who claim to associate themselves with them.

If, in the end, you still do not agree then simply leave it at that…disagreement on a tertiary issue. Do not be the “fool” who is caught in slander. Be the humble brother or sister who lovingly and respectfully disagrees. May the love of Christ and the desire to glorify Him be the sole purpose of our lives.

Thanks for stopping by!

In Christ,
Pastor Adam (and family)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A review of "Already gone"

What has happened to the swarms of people leaving the church? Why have they left? Did they simply decide one morning to stop going or was it a gradual decision they reached over time? These any many more questions were asked by America's Research Group and its founder Britt Beemer to get to the heart of the issue. Their concern was not only the generation coming up in the church but those previous who have become completely absent from the church. What they uncovered and published in the book "Already gone" was that many sitting in our churches today are already making plans on steeping away even during their pre-High School years.

For a while now I have been an avid reader and teacher of Answers in Genesis' material. My family and I visited their Creation Museum in June of 2007 and wished we had spent more than a day there. We have plans in the future to visit again, hopefully during their live nativity in December. I expected nothing short of ground breaking from this latest book and that was exactly what I found.

Its introduction begins with several pictures of former church buildings in England which are now tattoo parlors, clubs, insurance agencies, indoor rock-climbing facilities, and Sikh temples. These shocking and depressing photos paint a sobering picture of what the future of America will be in the next few decades if Christians do not make some drastic changes to how we are operating. Ken says

"(t)he abandoned church buildings are of Europe are really just buildings, yet they are graphic symbols - warnings to those of us who are seeing the same trends in our local congregations: we are one generation away from the evaporation of church as we know it." (p. 25)

I will not spend much time going into their research specifics since it is rather extensive, but I will reveal some of the statistics later in this blog. They interviewed 1000 twenty-somethings, who had been solidly raised in church but no longer attended. The basic results showed that many who have left the church had begun to doubt the applicability and sufficiency of Scripture and how it directly related to tangible reality beginning in their middle school and continuing on to their high school years.

"Most people assume that students are lost in college...Almost 90 percent of them were lost in middle school and high school." (p. 31)

They had, in a sense, disassociated the Bible's teachings from their own lives and seen the Word has simply a collection of stories or "fairy tales". This comes as a shocking surprise to many, myself included. But hold on to your seats because Mr. Ham notes that their

"...research uncovered something very disturbing: Sunday School is actually more likely to be detrimental to the spiritual and moral health of our children." (p. 38)

Now that is likely to be a slap in the face to many but, addressing Sunday School teachers, he also says

"We are not questioning your dedication, intentions, or passion. In fact, we believe that your efforts are far too often taken for granted and never thanked enough. We don't question your integrity and we certainly don't doubt your sincerity." (p. 40) But "(t)he results show that Sunday school is actually having an overall negative impact on beliefs..." (p. 41)

Hard to swallow? Of course it is. Sunday school has been a staple in many churches. But we must admit that Sunday school is not a ministry that was started from Scripture. The book gives a very short summarization of this on page 47. Beginning on page 46 Ken addresses the question "Should we eradicate" as a possible solution to the problem seemingly brought about from Sunday school and Youth ministry. He even quotes from a Reformed Baptist Church blog site "The World from My Window" which is bold enough to take the issue beyond Sunday school and ask

"Has it crossed anyone else's mind that maybe youth ministry shouldn't be fixed because youth ministry IS a major part of the problem?!" (p. 46)

Ken summarizes these two issues up saying "Part of the concern is that the mere existence of youth ministry and Sunday school allows parents to shrug off their responsibilities as the primary teachers, mentors, and pastors to their family." (p. 47)

But before you think this is the solution Ken Ham has come to, he states "It's not just Sunday school, it's the sermon, the VBS, it's most of the teaching programs..." (p. 49) However, this left me scratching my head a little. This statement does not match up with the research. What their numbers found was the issue had noting to do with the sermon, it had to do with...age-segregated "teaching" ministries. Ken believes that

"(r)egardless of what's happening in the Sunday school, youth groups, pulpit, and Bible studies of your church, the responsibility for ministry to our kids has never been removed from the parents" (p. 50)

While it is true many in the church would never believe they are guilty of such, the fact still remains that this is what has happened. Parents are unknowingly on a sort of "spiritual welfare" system where many, well-intentioned believers are doing what the parents themselves are commanded in Scripture to do: TEACH THEIR CHILDREN. Is there ever a place for children to be taught by others? Yes! But it must be under the guidance and discipling of the parent as well. (The sermon is a prime example of this.) This comes as the older men and women teach the younger (Titus 2). However, this is not a license for teaching ministries such as Sunday school and Youth ministry. This speaks of gender specific mentoring and not age-segregated teaching.

The issue is the usurping of the parent's responsibility in teaching their children. A "leave this to the trained professionals" mentality has only served to bring about immaturity and false-conversions with the end result as most of the young men and women in our churches are "Already gone". Should this really be any surprise? No!

While I agree with every aspect of their findings the solution they come to is not what I expected. Ken says the solution is a revitalization of the material used in teaching, a greater emphasis on apologetics, and teaching Scripture as reality with direct implication on life and tangible indication in reality. I agree that we need to be more discerning of teaching material, that apologetics should be a part of teaching and preaching, and that application should reveal the reality and applicability of the Word. But revitalizing something, age-segregated ministries, only serves to perpetuate the evident problem.

Here are a few of the statistics in the back of the book that I found to support this:

If (you) often attended Sunday School-Feel lessons close to/different from (public) school? 70.96% said yes

If (you) often attended Sunday School-Did classes teach how Bible could be defended? 56.77% said yes (This shows that the majority of Sunday schools were teaching some form of apologetics.)

If (you believe the Bible) contains errors-Can you identify one of those errors for me? 10.08% said "Wrong about the earth's age" while 5.29% said that "Genesis is disproved by science" and 2.02% said there "Never was a global flood" (Look at these low numbers!)

If you don't believe (in the Bible)-What made you begin to doubt the Bible? 17.9% said "Science shows the earth old" while 24.37% said it was "Written by men"

But this here are some of the more eye-opening stats:

Believe in creation as stated in the Bible or in evolution? 71.8% said Biblical creation (You read that right; the majority of those polled admit they believe in Creation as recorded in the Bible.)

Do you believe in the creation of Adam & Eve and the Garden of Eden? 74.9% said yes

Do you believe Adam & Eve sinned and were expelled from the Garden? 74.8% said yes

Believe in the story of Sodom and Gamorrah-Lot's wife turned to salt? 61.8% said yes

Do you believe in Noah's ark and the global Flood? 77.3% said yes

Other stats showed that these people were not taught to believe in evolution, millions of years, or anything along those lines from leaders in the church. Ken believes this is because of a disconnect between the teaching and application (they have the head knowledge of the Truth but do not apply it). I agree this is true but I also believe the reason their is no application is because they were only taught the Bible once or twice a week and almost never at home. No matter what is taught on Sundays or Wednesday evenings if the parents are not teaching 5 times as much during the week and living it out daily, they will only see Bible as a collection of "stories". But most parents don't see the need of doing this because teachers in the church are doing just fine. And besides, isn't that why we send there? For someone other than ourselves to teach them while we enjoy some "adult time" teaching?

The book ends with a chapter of application addressing parents, Christian educations, Youth Pastors, and Pastors. The section for the Youth Pastor begins with Proverbs 22:6, but this verse is supposed to be given parents. In fact, you will find not verse anywhere in Scripture given to any positions such as Youth Pastor or Children's teacher. Why? Because neither actually existed until they were created in the last century.

This book brings out incredible research that should shed a light on the more serious issue that has crept into our church. I do not believe it is a compromise solely on the Creation account but on the entire validity and sufficiency of Scripture. While their solution is not what I expected their findings actually were. The more I understand of the problems coming from age-segregation the more I find the principles of Scripture speaking volumes to the solution.

I recommend buying this book and using the findings from it to drive you to the Word for the solution. Be a Berean and search for the answers from the only reliable Teacher.

Thanks for stopping by!

In Christ,
Pastor Adam (and family)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Family worship? Never heard of it!

It is very likely that you have heard of family Bible studies. I struggled for years to find a way to start this in our home. But even after we did, I was always left feeling that I was missing something.

Some time ago I came upon a ministry website called Titus2.com after seeing them featuring in a blog from Answers in Genesis. They produced material geared toward equipping families to biblically structure their homes. Of particular interest at that time was a guide to help manage family chores. My wife dove into this book and since then we have developed a very structured way of handling chores with the kids. Their site has a wealth of great information but the one that struck me the most was their CD set titled "Feed my sheep". In this CD, Steve Maxwell gives helpful hints and tips to develop consistent Bible study time in the home. At the end of the CD he allows you to listen in to a typical study time with his family in which they read verse by verse in John 3.

Then it hit me: expositional study time. I had fought my way through different types of studies and never even contemplated just reading verse by verse. Since we were already in the middle of a devotional study, we finished it over the following months and started looking for a book to begin with. I first contemplated John but it seemed that we were meant to study elsewhere for the time being. I eventually picked out 1 Samuel and we were off. The study proved to be very rewarding and it was a blessing seeing my children ask some pretty in depth questions. But there still seemed to be something missing.

I added a memory verse to our studies and we were amazed how quickly the kids were able to recite verses such as Isaiah 53:5, Ephesians 2:8-9; and Solomon's favorite Psalm 19:1. But again, something was lacking and I just couldn't put my finger on it.

It wasn't until I read a post talking about Family Worship. "Family worship? Never heard of it."

Without giving many details and strict how-to's, some of what I was finding and reading pointed to how the study time could be a full worship time for the family. For example, I had usually been the one to open our study time and sometimes my wife or one of the kids would want to close in prayer but we had not made prayer itself an integral part.

Another point I found I had missed was the blessing of songs in our time. My kids love to sing and have almost every song by the Go Fish guys memorized. My daughter is probably the most inclined to singing but the boys join in if they know the song.

This was one of those "slap to the forehead" moments. How had I missed such wonderful blessings as prayer and song? The first time I introduced these two new elements there were the anticipated brow furrows. "Daddy wants us to pray and sing?" But I had a plan.

My wife and I had previously assigned buddies for each kid. Whenever we were in a store, each of the kids was to pair up with their buddy and help them in whatever they needed. My oldest daughter, Savannah, was buddied with our youngest son Esaias. My oldest son, Elijah, had our second to the youngest son Solomon as his buddy. Our middle son Ephraim was given daddy as his buddy (he was rather elated, I am pleased to say). Daddy was assigned to both Ephraim and Mommy while Mommy was assigned to baby Silas (who is only about 6 weeks from being brought into this world). The last assignment was rather obvious since both Silas and Mommy were inseparable :^)

I decided that since we had the buddy system in place this pairing would serve as our prayer buddy system also. Each person is to pray for their buddy during our worship time and throughout the week. While they can pray for anyone else also, they focus more directly on their buddy. The kids have really enjoyed this and I think it has helped them to see the importance of prayer and truly loving their siblings. What a blessing it is to bow in prayer and hear each of our children lift their praises and petitions to God.

Prior to the prayer time though we break our a few hymnals, which we have borrowed from our church. Each night one child is assigned to pick out an opening hymn and a closing hymn while my wife and I help the younger ones. Since the latest Go Fish album "Kickin' it old school" is almost entirely hymns, the kids were already familiar with several ('This is my Father's world', 'Blessed Assurance', 'The Lord's Army', 'Before the throne of God above', 'I'll fly away', 'Shelter in a time of storm', 'The solid rock', and the 'Old rugged cross'). As we have learned new hymns the kids are always delighted when Sunday morning comes and they get to sing along with the congregation in a hymn they are already familiar with. Again...a priceless blessing.

Family worship time is a great joy for my family and I. Sometimes it is a struggle and there are even times when our schedule just gets in the way, but we are consistent and will prayerfully do everything we can to continue to be. Our studies have become richer, our singing has become more praise filled, and our prayers have become more direct.

How about your family study time? Have you considered turning it into a time of family worship? Find what structure works best for your family. Maybe it is easier for you to set aside time during the morning rather than the evening. Maybe you have a piano and can play along while the family sings. Maybe you can develop a prayer list for the family to pray from. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God and the spiritual enrichment of your family.

Thanks for stopping by!

Soli Deo gloria,
Pastor Adam (and family)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A review of "A weed in the church" part 3

After diving into a book with this wealth of information I am left with a simple but penetrating question: What now? Reading what I have and seeing the potentially destructive results of age-segregation what am I as a Christian, husband, father, and Pastor to do?

This is not an easy answer for me. As you have read, my family and I are members of a traditionally age-segregated church. I am one of the three Pastors and minister more directly in the areas of Evangelism and Education. This book has done more for my family and me than I can express. It has brought me to a more sobering understanding of how I have failed in my role to my wife and family. This in turn has brought me to a place of sincere repentance and diving more deeply into the Word to answer the questions that now plague me. Each of these questions cannot be answered simply because they branch off and affect more areas than just those mentioned. That you may know how difficult this is for me, let me share just a few:

1) Should I continue to send my kids to Sunday School? If not, how then can I continue to teach in my Sunday School class? Even if I do not teach others this view, my absence from Sunday School will be noticed and have an impact. Am I ready to say that I believe Sunday School is not the biblical way the church should operate?

2) How silent should I remain about our church separating children from their parents during the worship service? While the parents who are there evidently have no problem with it, what about those who are starting to come to our church? Should I simply remain silent so to not cause a division? What if they ask me?

3) I have already admitted that my daughter will not be a part of the youth group when she turns 13 in 2 years. Should I talk with the Youth Director now and explain why? If so, should I advise him against youth group?

4) I have already shared this with my Senior Pastor but he vehemently disagrees. While I have agreed just to remain publically silent about it, how far should I take this? If someone asks, should I tell them why and offer them the “Divided” movie and/or “A weed in the church” to review for themselves?

Each of these has reaching implications and are only a taste of what I am wrestling with. Scott gave his book its title for a good reason, of which has become more evident to me over the past few months. In my meeting with Scott he reiterated this point (paraphrased): “Age-segregation is the weed. When you pull on the weed you will find that its roots are tied to everything else in the church. From the immature activities of the youth to the sweet elderly woman in the nursery who has faithfully served there for decades. From the building itself to the entire church budget. When you pull on the weed, expect opposition.”

And opposition is exactly what I have received. This teaching has not been well received by others. While some appreciate the basic intentions of the book they see them as dangerous and supported not by the teachings of Scripture but by narrative. To be honest, the latter point eludes me. But I have tried to explain what seems to be the clear passages from which this is based only to be told I was wrong and am just inferring what is not really there.

This book has caused an upheaval in my own walk but has left me wondering what to do next. At this point my decision is to stay where the Lord has placed me. I am serving faithfully in this church and will continue to do so until the Lord leads me elsewhere. I am and will continue to submit to the leadership and guidance of my Senior Pastor. My children remain with my wife and I during the worship service but still attend the Sunday School classes. This will prove to be an issue in the coming years though since the youth Sunday School class is basically part of the Youth Group. I remain teaching a Sunday School class myself and have decided to not publically speak out concerning age-segregation. .

However, if anyone asks of me I will tell them of the dangers of age-segregation. I will point them to the Scriptures and exhort them to study it for themselves. I will show them the negative effects it has had on the children in our own church. I will show how divisive it is to the family to remove children during worship. I will point out the immaturity of the youth in our church and how the Youth Group cannot help but add to this problem. I will answer if asked but not to cause division. I believe that the Lord will use my family and I in being an example for others. This decision was not reached easily but I believe, for the time being, it is what the Lord would have my family and I do

As always, do not take my word for this book. Get a copy for yourself, review it, and then ask “What next?”

Thanks for stopping by.

That He may be glorified,
Pastor Adam (and family)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A review of “A weed in the church” part 2

As I have already stated, the sufficiency of Scripture is a vital part in all areas of Christian life. There is no particular arena that can be untouched by the revelation of God if we are to call ourselves disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet this is the most common error made in the lives of many professing Christians. We think that the Bible applies in some areas but is either silent or trumped by culture in others. This is just as true when it comes to how we are to conduct our families.

The book delves deeply into this subject and offers a wealth of biblical guidance. But for the sake of this part of the review, I want to focus on a particular area in regards to how the family relates to the church: the congregational worship service. How should we conduct our families in relation to the church and, more specifically, the worship service? Scott Brown’s book helped to extract some, but certainly not all, of these teachings and exposite them in a clear and concise manner. He notes that the Bible “…contains hundreds of passages, made up of commands, principles, patterns and examples, that directly or indirectly address the substance, goals, and nature of youth discipleship” and that “…Proverbs alone contains 915 verses on the subject” (134). By youth discipleship he means the responsibility of the parents to “train up a child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

In Ephesians 6, Paul is continuing his address to relational areas of the church. Colossians 4:16 tells us that the epistles, as well as the other canonical letters, were read aloud in the congregational worship services. When Paul addresses particular groups (husbands, wives, children, masters, servants) this means that they were expected to be in that gathering to hear the direct commands given to them. Thus, as Paul addresses children in the very first verse of chapter 6 (as well as in Colossians 3:20) this tells us that children were expected to be with their parents in the early worship service. This is an important point we cannot miss: children were in the early worship services. In fact, up until about the middle of the 20th century, children were expected to be in the worship service with their parents.

You may believe the Ephesian and Colossian passages are left up to interpretation but you cannot ignore the fact that the early church, up until the latter part of the last century, believed children should be in the worship service. What has changed this? I believe it is due in part to the seeker-sensitive movement. This movement desires to make every area of the church palatable to the lost and especially caters the worship service to be the most appealing aspect. The departure from the teaching of Scripture and the model of the early church is another symptom of the core problem Scott Brown has addressed.

But should we require children to be in the service even through the preaching, especially since they will likely not be able to comprehend most of it anyway? This assumes that all others fully comprehend the message as well. Imagine if there was someone in the service whose job was to ensure that everyone in attendance was able to comprehend the sermon. He would go around and randomly tap on people’s shoulders asking “Were you paying attention to that last part? Do you understand what the Pastor is sharing with us from the Word?” If they answered no at any point he would escort them to another room where they could hear teaching that was determined to be more comprehensible for their level of understanding. Sounds pretty ridiculous right? But that is in a sense how many advocate the idea of children’s church.

The preaching and teaching from the Elders in the early church was given with children in attendance as well. Fathers were expected to explain these sermons and teachings to their children. Should a child become overtly disobedient in the service, the parent is expected ensure proper and loving discipline is carried out (Proverbs 13:24). In fact Brown notes that “(a)n unruly family in a church presents and excellent opportunity to the church for evangelism and discipleship, whichever is necessary” (232). If a family is continually and overtly chaotic in the worship service, rather than escorting them off to a nursery or children’s church they should see this as an opportunity to reach out to the family. If the parents are unsaved, then share the Gospel with them. If they are saved, then offer loving counsel, guidance, and instruction in the Word to assist them in training up their children. One of the most encouraging things you can do is to have them over for dinner and discuss your own difficulties in helping your children to be respectful and attentive during the service.

A family that is separated during the worship service is found nowhere in Scripture and is a recipe for dysfunction in the home. I believe this to be the largest stumbling block for most concerning age-integration. The reason for wanting this age-segregation during the worship service is two-fold:

1) They desire a peaceful service without the interruption of fidgeting kids, the occasional loving correction from the parents, and/or the cries of infants.

2) They want to provide an opportunity for the lost to hear the message without their attention being divided by their children.

The biggest problem with both of these is that their starting point is based in pragmatism and not Scripture. It is based on what they desire rather than what Scripture models.

Before I conclude this portion of the book review I want to clarify something about me so that you do not think I am simply preaching from an ivory tower.

I currently serve as the Pastor for Evangelism and Education in a church that does have a children’s church. However, my wife and I keep our children with us during the service. We are the only ones who do so at this point and have been told that we “stick out” during the latter part of the service. Our children are well-behaved and we are complimented regularly on this. But we have honestly compromised in that our youngest, who is about 17 months old, is still in the nursery. We are struggling with this and praying for guidance but are certain that the biblical model is to keep the family together in corporate worship.

In a later blog I will address some of the other misconceptions and how we have a family have worked through some of these.

In the next blog I will conclude with an overall review of the book and give my current opinions and views on its primary statements.

As always, I welcome your comments and corrections. Thanks for stopping by!

Because He lives,
Pastor Adam (and family)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A review of “A weed in the church” part 1

As I started reading this book, I remembered the need for Scripture to always be the basis for any teaching (1 Timothy 3:16). All too often we can be swept away by right-minded methodology without any reference to Scripture (Ephesians 4:14). Such methods work to influence the mind through avenues such as statistics, pragmatism, and cultural relativity. Keeping this in mind I dove into the pages.

The book begins with the premise that something is apparently wrong in our churches. This is not a new assessment, as many have made this claim over the past few decades. But interestingly, most have attributed the problem to numerous symptoms rather than the root cause. What is quickly noted by the author is that family segregation itself is not the root of the problem, but it is one of the drastic results. “I began to believe that the problem could be traced primarily to one fundamental issue...: our abandonment of the sufficiency of Scripture as it pertains to our philosophy and practice of youth ministry” (28) (emphasis added). Scott Brown also notes that “(t)he most devastating problem the Church faces in any era is the perversion of the gospel…” (45).

So that no one thinks what Mr. Brown points out are given from an outside perspective, he readily admits to being an advocate of such in his early years of ministry. He even states that an age-segregated youth ministry “along with the ministry of my father and that of a faithful church pastor, played an important role in my conversion” (25). But he also acknowledges the biblical fact that “(i)n the everkind and overruling providence of God, He sometimes grants good things in spite of our weak man-centered methods”(55). This is very important to remember, especially if you are an advocate of youth ministry. Pointing out the few instances where godly results have come from age-segregated ministries in no way means they are biblically based. It instead is evidence that God's sovereign will tears through man's pitiful, yet sometimes well-intentioned, attempts. This is not a book bent on throwing stones at a lofty tower (age-segregated ministries). It is instead one that questions whether the tower itself is built on the correct foundation, whether its bricks are laid according to the teachings of Scripture, and whether the tower itself should even exist.

An important point he makes in the third chapter is the identification of the three God-ordained governments of family, church, and state. Each have a particular area of jurisdiction given in Scripture and when any subvert the other they are breaching the clearly defined boundaries which God has established. At first, this may be taken out of context to mean that the church has no authority over the family. However, it is noted later that “(i)n the past, fathers were put under church discipline for not training their children according to God’s Word” (221). The footnote to this statement references the Westminster Confession of Faith from 1646.

I found this point alone to be very telling of the current problem with age-segregated ministries. When the church takes over the place of the father in training up the children they are blatantly disregarding the commands of Scripture given directly to the father. What first came to mind was the way in which most of us cry out about our government overreaching its authority. We scream in rebellion when our taxes are being used without Constitutional authority. We rally against the government when they want to remove a homeschooled child from a home. Why? Because we believe they are overstepping the boundaries established for our Nation and intruding in areas where they do not belong.

But the same thing happens when well meaning children's ministry and youth workers insist that we release our children to be gathered with their peers under the teaching of another. They are sent off to youth groups and junior church while the parents have no idea of what they are being taught. Sure, some of the teachers and leaders encourage the parents to be involved but only to a certain extent. If you dare to tread on the sacred ground of children and youth ministries and you will face the wrath of nearly six decades of tradition.

God established the family in the Garden of Eden and has not given it any supremacy over or above the church. The family is to subject itself under the headship of the father who in turn submits himself and his family to the teaching of the church Elders. Dividing children off into age specific groups is found no where in Scripture.

So what are some examples in Scripture of how we are to conduct our families in relation to the church and biblical teaching? We’ll review this from the book in the next blog.

As always, I welcome your input. Please note that this is just a review and, while I will do my best to present the book in its entirety, reading it for yourself is the best way to understand this important issue.

Thanks for stopping by!

In Christ,
Pastor Adam (and family)