"Divided" follows "edgy twenty-something" Christian filmmaker Philip LeClerc on a quest to find answers to why his generation is increasingly turning away from attending church. Recent surveys have shown that as many as 85 percent of young people will leave the church and many never return.In the same way the PS stratifies their student body by age yet fails to produce a "product" that meets quality criteria upon matriculation, so too do churches stratify their congregations by age (e.g., through separate services for the old, the middle aged, and the youth), with the youth programs in particular failing to reliably produce new adherents to the Faith after they graduate.
NCFIC Director Scott T. Brown told The Christian Post that today's modern concept of youth ministry is a "50-year failed experiment." Brown said that when he was a church leader in the '70s and '80s he could have been the "poster boy" for the youth ministry movement in California. However, he said he now feels that dividing children from adults at
church is an unbiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies.
"The church has become divided generationally," Brown said. "It's not doing what Scripture prescribes and is actually doing something [that is] foreign [in] Scripture by dividing people by age or by life stage."
In other words, the Church, by virtue of how it structures its services and programs, appears to self-limit the size of its own Body.
But this problem affects more than just the Church. Indeed, by outsourcing not only temporal education but spiritual education (the province of the father according to Biblical precepts) as well, our culture, to include those who call themselves Christians, has largely forgone and forgotten the model of the father-led family, and what patriarchal leadership that does remain is a hollowed-out remnant of what I think God meant the father's role in the family to be. One pastor interviewed for this article made that point explicitly when he said
"I look back and realize I did more harm to families than I ever imagined," Dellinger says in the film. "I see that more as I look back because I was usurping the authority of parents, especially fathers by having their children's hearts turn towards me - with their permission. Today, I can make more of a difference in the lives of young people through the biblical standards of fathers turning their hearts towards their children...there's something fundamentally wrong with the church's drive to say we can do a better job of raising your children than you can...God has appointed fathers to lead their children; not for someone else to do it just because they have a college degree or some seminary training. That does not qualify someone to all of a sudden become the spiritual leader of your family."Indeed. This is characteristic of the 'certification' approach of our culture to a whole host of issues, in that the only ones qualified for a task are ones who have completed some sort of specialized training. In some cases, certification makes sense, as in aircrew or doctors or others whose skills are difficult, rare, or costly (to obtain or, alternatively, expensive in failure). But in others, certification makes far less sense, as in the case of parenting, the schooling* of one's young, and the transmittal of culture and religion,** all three of which are private matters best left to individual parents rather than self-anointed professionals or worse, government agents.
* Schooling, not education. Public school does little to educate. Ditto with college in many respects.
** Didn't literacy, the printing press, and Martin Luther pretty much take care of priestcraft? Why then the excessive deference to seminary training on the part of lay Christians?
But back to the title of this post, which is "The Church as Rev Limiter". The practice of delegating to others the important work of training ones children in the ways they should go, either via PS, where the "others" are government agents teaching a government-approved curriculum, or via youth programs, where the "others" are usually well-intentioned fellow Believers, limits both the formation of future father-led families as well as the probability of a child remaining in the church after they become an adult. The Church has wondered why so many of those who grew up in its embrace do not return after being released into the wild, perhaps high-quality youth ministries which encroach on the territory of its fathers are a contributing factor.