Friday, January 20, 2012

FIC Film Identifies the Problem, offers Wrong Solution

I just watched a video that I found while researching the family integrated church movement. I watched it after writing the last post. This film gave me a clearer view of what this movement believes and what they are promoting. There are some big name guys who are behind this movement such as RC Sproul Jr., Voddie Baucham and Paul Washer whom I respect and admire. So, this movement should not be taken lightly. The film will definitely cause people who are not skilled at thinking critically to think twice about staying in their churches that have children's programs and youth groups. I am not the most skilled thinker out here on the blogosphere...I'd love to hear Bob Bixby's or Tom Pryde's thoughts on this video since they are much more skilled than I am. So, click on the image above and you can watch this film free on their website by signing up for their email newsletter, then come back and read the rest of this......

......No, I mean it! Go back and watch the video before reading the rest of this.....

Ah Shucks, you're gonna do what you want anyway, so here I go...

Where I agree and sympathize with the FIC movement:
1. Worldliness in the youth groups is a problem - At the beginning of the film, they go into some of the worst youth groups and youth ministry venues to show you Exhibit A  about what's wrong with Christian youth today. I actually thought it wasn't a fair analysis however, because most of the FIC churches are reformed and the crazy rock concert youth groups are not. He compares apples with oranges. Notwithstanding, I agree that these youth groups are low on substance and high on style and structure. If I was in one of those churches, I would pull my kid out too. But if the youth group is worldly and shallow, where do you think that comes from? You can trace the problem back to the pulpit (or stool nowadays) where the lead pastor sets the direction for the church. If the youth group is a mess, I guarantee that the adult church is equally sinful, if not more so!

2. Children's ministries are full of fun and games - In the last church that I served in as a lay person, I remember being frustrated with the children's ministry when I would hear them singing the most idiotic, stupid, mind numbing songs that had nothing to do with God. Puppet shows and all kinds of other things meant to entertain the kids who are accustomed to being entertained by Sponge Bob on TV are normal for children's ministries. I don't imagine that Martin Luther taught his children that way when he taught his catechism to them. I agree that children's ministries are a circus meant to keep the kids happy, so their parents will want to return to the church and give their money. After all, I was taught in Bible College, that if you can make the kids happy, that is the bait to catch the parents.

3. Irresponsible parents who are not involved in their children's lives - One of the biggest arguments in the film is that the current structure of Sunday School and Youth Groups gives the parent the unhealthy option to let the church take responsibility for feeding them spiritually so they don't have to do it. I have seen this first hand! Actually experienced it first hand! My dad will admit that this was his mentality while I was growing up. He would send me to church and Christian School so they could better instill the Christian faith in me than he could. He readily admits that was the wrong way of thinking now, but I have to ask myself...If I didn't have a Christian school or Sunday School at the church where I grew up, would I have turned out any better? Probably not, because the entire church was saturated with shallow doctrine and man-centered theology. Sitting in every service, disconnected from the youth group would not have been any better for me considering what was coming from the pulpit. This brings me to the diagnosis and solutions that they offer in the film that I find problematic...

Problems I have with the film's diagnosis and solutions:
1. The structure of age segregated classes is the fundamental problem - I think this is an absurd diagnosis. It  may aid the problem, but it is not fundamentally the problem. The kinds of churches that they caught on film with the crazy punk youth groups have a problem - age segregated classes are not it!!!  Their # 1 problem is their watered down theology and watered down, false gospel of easy believism that they are being taught regularly. The problem doesn't go back to the institution of the Sunday School, the problem goes back to the false gospel of Charles Finney that breeds every kind of rotten means to lure people to make an unregenerate decision to become a false convert! Most of these FIC churches are Reformed people and they should know this! But it's easier to trash something tangible and concrete (youth groups and age segregated classes) than it is to trash ideas in the abstract (Palagianism, Finneyism, Arminianism).  You can see with your own eyes if your church has a youth group, but if you're not theologically savvy, you can't see if your church is preaching Palagianism. Even though the film doesn't advocate for people to leave their churches if their churches have a youth group, they certainly leave that door wide open by introducing the Family Integrated Church as the other option. I see right through this as a divisive way to siphon off discontent people from these churches to make theirs grow. I have to give Paul Washer credit however for answering a guy who asked: "What should I do in my church if I do these things that I know are right? They'll kill me!" Washer answered: "Then Die."

2. That age segregated classes is part of a Satanic conspiratorial design starting with Plato and moving all the way through time to the modern educational system championed by John Dewey. I don't doubt that there may be a direct connection between Platonic philosophy and the Atheistic educational philosophy of the modern education system. But trying to make that connection to the church as if churches adopted evolutionary theory as a part of educating our kids is a stretch. Do you really think you're going to be able to put a 1rst Grade who is still learning his numbers in the same class with a 12th Grade Senior Calculus student? That's ridiculous. But this is what the FIC churches do when they make a third grader sit in a sermon where the pastor is doing an exegesis of scripture and the kid doesn't even have his vocabulary developed yet! That kid needs the milk of the Word dispensed to him in portions he can swallow! This is why we have the kids stay with us during the singing, offering, participate, and then dismiss them for teaching that is on a level they can understand. If you want to call that a pagan philosophy, then....I'll just bite my lip.

If age graded classes and youth groups are responsible for destroying families, and they have been the problem for over 200 years in the church, then why are we only now in this generation having a problem with kids leaving the faith in droves? I really think that attacking the form instead of the substance of the church is naive. This logic is the same as looking at the fracturing of the African American family in modern times and pointing back to the abolishment of slavery as the cause! You could argue that Black families were whole back then! They had a dad and mom in the home back in the Antebellum south! Logically, the FIC calling for the abolishment of youth groups is like calling for slavery again as a social structure to put Black families back together.

3. The historic timeline of educational philosophy that is shown in the film is THE leaven that must be purged out of the church. First of all, in that time line there were huge gaps like 1,700 year gaps!
This reminds me of the arguments by the KJV Only movement who string together a list of less than credible people who had their hands on the manuscript evidence and make the case that ALL Bibles translated from these texts are corrupt and the only alternative is the King James Bible (nevermind the corrupt people who had their hands in that manuscript family...but I digress.)

They portray the modern youth group culture as the only way that it can be done as opposed to the FIC model which is a false dichotomy and is ironically divisive!  Is it utterly impossible for parents to disciple their kids at home if their kid is in a Sunday School class for one hour a week? C'mon! Get real! If dads are not discipling their kids, it's not the youth ministry's fault, it's the fault of the father for not manning up. I agree that the blame can be shared with the church that does not teach the parent to do this. But that is a substance problem not a structure problem. You could hash everyone together in the same room every Sunday and still have ungodly homes if the substance being given is as weak as Willow Creek!

So, in conclusion...I am not against my friends and fellow pastors who want to structure their churches this way. I wouldn't break fellowship over it, but I just think that it is an unnecessary movement that only further fractures the church. Mark my words, the FIC churches will end up becoming their own kind of denomination and they will see themselves as the elite in Christianity and as soon as they do, their pride will kill whatever good they're trying to accomplish. I have seen this in the IFB movement and this kind of elitism is a real temptation for whatever group that thinks they have found the silver bullet.

1 comment:

Chris Stobart said...

Thankyou so much for this clarion call towards a more balanced approach. I think though that we still need to find a good sharp answer to why no such segregation was deemed necessary for the first 1800 years. I'm not speaking as an FIC champion (I'm not one) but they'll drag that one up even after all else has failed so we need to man our arsenal.