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)

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