We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thoughts on Ministry and Discernment

Some more excellent thoughts about discernment, as well as worship and youth group thoughts from Spiritual Junk Food, by Cathy Mickels & Audrey McKeever.  The first citation is by the authors on p.55, while the others are cited throughout the book.  The book is old - I first read it when I bought it in 1999 - but the information is good and should be a wake-up call for those especially in youth ministry.
Today the emphasis has radically shifted from meeting together to worship God and to study God’s Word, to meeting together to learn to relate to others.  Missing in the early church were terms as opening up, mutual trust, affirmation, feedback, and experience. Mickels & McKeever
[A] truly biblical ministry must hold forth truths that are absolute... We must take an unmovable stance on all issues where the Bible speaks plainly... Sound doctrine divides, it confronts, it separates, it judges, it convicts, it reproves, it rebukes, it exhorts, it refutes error.  None of those things is very highly esteemed in modern thought.  But the health of the church depends on our holding firmly to the truth.
John MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern, p. 52
It is vitally important that we think soundly about God.  Since He is the foundation of all our religious beliefs, it follows that if we err in our ideas of God, we will go astray on everything else.  
A.W. Tozer, This World: Playground or Battlefield, p.104
No matter how attractive the movement may appear, if it is not founded in righteousness and nurtured in humility, it is not of God.  If it exploits the flesh, it is a religious fraud and should not have the support of any God-fearing Christian.  Only that is of God which honors the Spirit and prospers at the expense of the human ego.  “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest: God’s Pursuit of Man, p.120
We must reform our view of the qualification for - and even the legitimacy of - a “youth minister.”  The normative pattern in the Scripture implores young people to emulate the values of their elders.  They must respect them, be instructed by them and follow their example.... Thus, older men in the church bear the first responsibility for training youth; the older women to follow “likewise” in their steps.  We must therefore reject the appalling notion of the model of youth minister as a recently graduated extrovert who looks and acts just like a high schooler himself.  If our youth cannot “relate to” older men, then we are seeing evidence of older men having dropped the ball years ago. ...
Ministering to children of unbelievers need not be as difficult as it seems.  These children should be drawn to associate with Christian families rather than Christian youth ministries.
Christopher Schlect, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry, p.15, 22


Drew said...

I don't really agree with that last one. It assumes that the old people are worth emulating, when in reality they may not be. And an inability to relate to older people might not have anything to do with morality, but rather just to culture.

But I do agree that all ministers, youth or otherwise, should teach doctrine and not just try to make everyone have fun. If you want to have fun, you should go play a sport or play video games or have a party, outside of church. Church isn't supposed to be fun. Church is supposed to be productive.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Drew, in the context of the Church, if the older people do not have more wisdom to pass on to the young people, then it is the fault of the church for not teaching that as part of discipling. I am sick of churches segregating by ages. I've seen it too many years in too many churches. Even small groups which meet in homes will segregate themselves by age group.

I don't understand your statement about morality - the word was values, which includes more than just morality. It's a whole worldview.

Drew said...

Well the old people might not have been Christians very long. Or even if they have been Christians, they may have been in lame churches most of their lives and so might not be very wise. But even if you personally don't like segregation by age group, I don't see anything unbiblical about it. Even if both the young people and the old people have excellent values, they still might not relate to each other all that well.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ever thought that perhaps they SHOULD relate? The reason they don't is because they are segregated by the public school system and the church just copied public school.

And I think the Bible does indeed speak to it when it talks of older people teaching the younger.

Our society of age segregation is a construct never know in previous generations. That is why homeschoolers are lots better at socialization - they haven't been peer oriented.

Drew said...

Well yes they do need to be integrated at least on some level, because they are all one church body. So yes, the old people should have at least some opportunity to teach the younger if they want to step up and do that. But I think that's about as far as one could reasonably stretch any Bible passage on the topic. There is still plenty of room for legitimate segregation for various Bible studies and other activities.

In my experience, though, home-schoolers are typically less social. And it's hard for me to see why they would be better socialized. Home school might be necessary in cases where the public schools are worthless, but it definitely has its drawbacks.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I homeschooled my kid; my daughter in her last three years and my son in his last six, due to being fed up with the sex indoctrination and heavy-handed evolutionism. We have been involved with the homeschool movement with friends long since that time, having been 17 years now. There are indeed some homeschooling families who isolate their kids from society to where they are not socialized with anyone other than their family and home-school friends. But the vast majority are better socialized because they are not peer-oriented.

My son is an example. At 12 years old he began learning to play the snare drum and within a bit over a year he had advanced so much he was the drum corporal. When the drum sergeant wasn't available, my son was in charge of the section. So you had a kid just over 13 in charge of guys in their 30s through 60s. He learned to be a team with them and they respected him as their leader. Our daughter had been performing highland dance since she was seven.

Homeschoolers typically are involved in public things like this, and are around adults from the git-go and learn to work with them, to respect them, and to seek wisdom from them. Most homeschoolers we know don't send their kids to the youth groups or Sunday school - they have them in the pew with them as a family so they learn the MEAT from the beginning rather than play silly games and arts and crafts.