Are you a YMA (youth ministry abolitionist)? Perhaps after listening to this sermon by Voddie Baucham, entitled Evaluating Youth Ministry: An Abolitionist’s View, you too will join the growing ranks of those who are abandoning the train wreck known as youth ministry and return to a family integrated model of biblical worship.
In this message delivered at the 2009 Sufficiency of Scripture Conference, Voddie outlines his three main objections to youth ministry as:
1). Age-segregated youth ministry usurps legitimate authority and responsibility.
2). Age-segregated youth ministry has not accomplished its own stated goals.
3). There is no clear biblical mandate for the current model of age-segregated youth ministry; it simply doesn’t exist. We don’t have our current model of age-segregated youth ministry because we went to the Bible and the Bible showed us clearly that this is how discipleship ought to be accomplished.
If you’re looking for additional information on the utter failure of (and the lack of any biblical teaching, example or precedent for) youth ministry, then check out the following sampling:
“Should not every Christian be expected by his ninth or tenth year to know all the holy Gospels, containing as they do his very name and life? A spinner or a seamstress teaches her daughter her trade while she is young, but now even the most learned prelates and bishops do not know the Gospel.
Oh, how badly we treat all these poor young people that are entrusted to us for discipline and instruction! and a heavy reckoning shall we have to give for it that we keep them from the word of God; their fate is that described by Jeremiah: “Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people, because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers’ bosom” (Lam. ii. 11, 12).
We do not perceive all this misery, how the young folk are being pitifully corrupted in the midst of Christendom, all for want of the Gospel, which we should always read and study with them.”
While Jewish kids are memorizing the Torah and Muslim kids are memorizing the Koran, these kids are being entertained to death by singing hot dogs and hamburgers, and their parents, youth leaders, and church think all is well.
Is the Church a Family of Families?
Any church that does not look like the ‘norm’ is always trying to explain itself. This is a fact we know all too well at Grace Family Baptist Church. We explain ourselves to those who visit us, those who call us trying to determine if it is a good idea to visit, those who are interested in finding or starting a church like ours, and those who are sure that we are some kind of “Patriarchy” cult. Sometimes we explain ourselves in painstaking detail. At other times we use shorthand. One example of that ‘shorthand’ is our ubiquitous and somewhat enigmatic statement, “The church is a family of families.”
For some people, this captures the essence of the distinction between the FIC, and the neo-traditional church.1 For others, their presuppositions, and/or misconceptions about the FIC (along with the lack of clarity inherent in the phrase) get in the way. This last group ranges from people who simply wish we were clearer in our statement, to those who find in the ‘family of families’ terminology the theological ‘smoking gun’ for which they have searched in an effort to discredit this “extreme overreaction” to the current crisis in contemporary youth ministry.2
We recognize that this may be an unnecessary stumbling block for those with a genuine interest in the Family Integrated Church concept, as well as those attempting to explain it to others. Therefore, allow me to offer a bit of clarity as to what we mean when we use the term ‘family of families’ to describe the church.