13 October 2007

How to Feed the Children

by Frank Turk

Yeah, OK: eventually we'll get back to the question of whether the church is necessary for the sake of the Gospel, but the comments from previous posts keep derailing my nice outline.

Somebody who calls himself "dogpreacher" said this in the meta of the last post:
I agree with Cent about "staying" or "leaving", EXCEPT one thing that I don't think was addressed. If you are "staying" (in the manner prescribed)...you still have the responsibility of your children, and DO NOT think your children are spiritually mature enough to sift through the worldliness that is calling itself their youth group. THEY ARE NOT. Nobody elses are either. WHY would you subject them to such?

Hey, your pastor may have to answer to God for allowing that "on his watch", but as far as your children he will be in line behind you.

Oh yeah...FAMILY WORSHIP!
I have a friend who I have known since college, and he and I have a set of filters we run everything through when people say things. It's a sort of Rube Goldberg hermeneutics machine, used to see if someone is trying to hide bad reasoning under conventional wisdom.

Now, before I explain how it works, let me say something explicitly: there's no question that you personally are responsible for your kids – morally, legally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. You. They are your kids, and God gave them to you – whatever the circumstances – for His glory and your personal holiness and sanctification. Your kids: your responsibility.

Got it? OK – because I don't want anyone reading this post and then hypothesizing that cent thinks that people should be careless or cavalier about their kids.

There are a series of phrases that me and my college buddy look for in someone's very serious moral pronouncements, among them being "safety", "freedom" and "prosperity" or "opportunity". But the one which is probably the most amazing detector of fallacious moral reasoning is the phrase "for the sake of the children".

Because almost anyone will do almost anything if they think their kids' health, welfare, freedom, prosperity, playstation, comic books, or whatever is in jeopardy – we tend to lose our perspective on things when we think our kids are involved. And let me say that we are actually responsible for our kids in a way that most of us are not at all responsible for anything else, so I give everyone a gold star for at least understanding that there's something serious at stake when our kids are involved.

But let's be serious about something else, too: doing something "for the sake of the kids" is not hardly a trump-card moral precept. You shouldn’t break up your marriage "for the sake of the kids". You shouldn’t rob a bank "for the sake of the kids". You shouldn't run up your credit card debt "for the sake of the kids".

But should you leave your church "for the sake of the kids"?

Listen: I want us to start answering this question by understanding something first. At some point, we have to grapple with the statement "I joined a church". To "join" a church doesn't mean I started coming on Sunday morning, and occasionally I drop by for the second-shift service on Sunday night, and I have my name on a roll in a Sunday school class. "Joining" a church doesn't mean "you can find me there from time to time". It means that you are part of the life of that church.

Here's what it says in Acts 2:

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
And before anyone takes this post off-topic, I haven't highlighted all the things this passage says, but I have highlighted the ones relevant for this topic.

And let's also make sure we note that this isn’t the be-all and end-all of passages on ecclesiology – but how about if we did at least this much before we went to the spiritual nuclear option of "leaving" churches because we think the pastor is a pawn of Satan? You know: what if we joined our churches for the sake of the kids before we started expounding about how we must leave our churches "for the sake of the kids"?

See – I think it's a legitimate claim to say, "my kids are in spiritual danger because the church I attend refuses to teach kids that the reason Christ is glorious and beautiful is because our sin is so great, and instead teaches that the point of the story of the loaves and fishes is that you should share your lunch." If that is the only spiritual guidance your kids get, you're right: they are in spiritual danger. I'm just not sure you and I mean the same thing.

If that's how you run your family's spiritual life – that is, you expect them to pick it up at church, primarily at church with only your rubber stamp rather than your example – maybe the root problem is not the church. Maybe the root problem is that you yourself have delegated your spiritual responsibilities.

I taught 1st grade boys for a year at our church, and we were using what I thought was frankly-insipid denominational literature that set its sights way below the capacity of these boys to learn. So I decided to upgrade the curriculum by trying to make some broader-picture applications for the boys by helping them memorize two things and fitting those two things into the lessons: the Lord's Prayer, and the names and identities of the 12 Apostles.

When I told the parents that this is what we were going to do, I got the feedback that there was no way the boys could do that – they just can't. The problem is that when I asked the boys if they could name 10 pokemon and their powers and masters, anyone one of them could name 20 – including the homeschool kids.

Because, as I said in the meta yesterday, there's no problem with them seeing that every day.

Another great example is when our youth pastor started teaching church history [!] to his teens on Sunday morning, and suddenly parents started threatening to "leave the church" because he pointed out that we're Protestants who believe in Sola Scriptura, along with the other 4 of the 5 solas. These being parents who, btw, who couldn’t tell you the difference between Beza and Bozo, and have a casual relationship (to say it nicely) with our youth facility and its activities.

So if you're going to come across with the packaged objection, "I'm leaving for the sake of my kids," make sure that one of the things inside that package was that you actually joined for the sake of your kids, and that somehow your joining was demonstrating your spiritual responsibility to your kids.

And I say that because dogpreacher wants to drive-by with the exclamation "FAMILY WORSHIP" – and I think there's a lot to be said for "FAMILY WORSHIP", almost all of it good. If we are really living as Christians, disciples of Christ, we are sort of 24/7 in the thing. You know: I don't just show up to coach soccer twice a week. I sweat our lineup; I think about drills we can work on which will improve the way our team plays. I have a real abiding concern for the new kids who are only getting the minimum half-game playing time that they will have a good experience, learn something, and not get discouraged but will learn to love the sport even though they are not going to get full-game playing time this year. They may not even score any goals – how can sports be fun if you don't get to score?

But if I'm sweating it, and all the kids on my team –don't- sweat it and never touch a ball except when it rolls past them on the field, have they joined the team – or are they merely spectating from on the field? And "FAMILY WORSHIP" time is –certainly- something we do away from church. But the question has to be, "does that take the place of church?"

Is it really an either/or situation? I mean, do we make church life reductive down to our doorstep where our doctrine and practice never has a chance to rub up against someone who might have some kind of spiritual maturity advantage (let alone spiritual authority) over us – so we only pastor our kids and we call that "church"? Isn't it both/and where we (the Moms and Dads) have one kind of spiritual authority, and then we participate in another kind of relationship outside of the home where we ourselves are held responsible for being inside the boundaries of orthodoxy?

In that loop, we're back to the question of "join" before we can bring up the consequence "leave". If you haven't really "joined" your church in an Acts 2 sort of way where you are a consequential member of a community joined in spiritual unity in truth which lives out in real relationship, I think you have a lot of nerve to say you're "leaving". That's not headline-quality news.

If you're leaving "for the sake of the kids", I say leave – go ahead and go. But get joined to a church for the sake of the kids in such a way that you demonstrate to the what joining means.

And all that said, since we haven't said it in a long time, be with the Lord's people on the Lord's day in the Lord's house because you have been called out to be there. If you're going to do something for the kids' sake, do it for God's sake first and show that you understand obedience before you try to exercise authority.







46 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

Just a thought: when a child has to be salt and light to his own youth group, you know things are in sorry shape. And so: things are in sorry shape.

But staying and training up a child in the way he should [go; relate to spiritual authority; be "in" a church, etc.] might be a golden opportunity to exercise your own spiritual leadership.

There is a point of diminishing insipidness that differs from place to place, though.

Which is why the Bible says you may pray for wisdom.

Valerie (Kyriosity) said...

"...eventually we'll get back to the question of whether the church is necessary for the sake of the Gospel..."

I haven't popped in here for a while, so I don't know whence this discussion came, nor where it's going, but I read that and I thought,
"The church is the sake of the gospel!" As someone commented on my blog this morning, quoting some theologian whose identity she'd forgotten, "Jesus came to win a bride, not a brothel."

Down with individualism! Up with the body of Christ!

phil said...

"To "join" a church doesn't mean I started coming on Sunday morning, and occasionally I drop by for the second-shift service on Sunday night, and I have my name on a roll in a Sunday school class. "Joining" a church doesn't mean "you can find me there from time to time". It means that you are part of the life of that church."

Years ago when wrestling with this question of whether to leave my church I asked a pastor friend (not the pastor of my church) for advice on how to choose a new church that would be a blessing to me and my family. His wise response: "That's the wrong question. Ask where you can be most effective in serving in the body of Christ." The shift from thinking like a consumer to thinking like a useful servant was a turning point in my life.

Brad Williams said...

Cent,

I think I love you.

David said...

HOOOOO-AHHH! Death blow!

The mind-set that church is a place we go to on Sundays to learn correct doctrine from the preacher, affirm it, and go home to live our correct lives just needs to die, die, die. It's an abdication of everything that scripture teaches us.

"Children, obey your Sunday School teachers, for this is right in the Lord."

"Youth group leaders, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

"Besides this, we have had earthly sponsors who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?"

Bruce said...

This is my first time here, but I appreciate your thoughtful insights into what it means to "join a church." The world's consumer mentality has infected the evangelical church today, and until believers adopt the attitude that they are a part of the life of the church, they will continue to shop around for something that feeds their "felt needs" rather than giving them and their children what they actually need, which is God-centered (rather than man-centered) worship and instruction from the Word.

Sewing said...

To truly be a "Rube Goldberg" hermeneutics machine, there needs to be a cat, a bowling ball, a couple of ramps, a parrot, melting wax, three eyedroppers, and a hungry donkey.

SolaMeanie said...

I am aghast (actually, why am I surprised) that a group of parents objected to their teenagers learning the five solas and church history. That in itself is a rather telling thing, isn't it?

Now, if the the teenage Sunday school class began getting jammed to standing-room only because the teacher included a mosh pit, I guess that would get the teacher invited to Youth Specialties conventions.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

A few thoughts:

* Cent: Could the admonition to join be extended not merely to making sure that "you teach [the words of God] diligently to your children," etc. in everyday life away from church, but also to taking a proactive role within the church to try to speak up for the youth classes' going in a more Christ-centered direction?

* David, Bruce: this weekend's sermon at our church is on Genesis 28:10-22, including Jacob's arrogant conditional vow to follow God if God makes life comfortable for him. But it got me to thinking, his prayer is not so different from that of casual/nominal/Sunday/cradle Christians who will pray something like, "If you get me out of this mess, I will..." followed by "go to church every Sunday," "give to charity," "be a better person," etc.

God is not a tap to be turned on or off, and the Body of Christ is not a commodity to be shopped around for, bought, and taken back for an exchange (or worse yet, a refund)! (Nor are denominational affiliations and theological positions mere brand names, for that matter!).

* Sola: Now, imagine if youth classes were getting crammed to the rafters because someone was teaching the foundational principles of the Protestant Reformation! Wow! Wouldn't that be something!?

* Back to Cent, who wrote: "...be with the Lord's people on the Lord's day in the Lord's house because you have been called out to be there." Great, great elaboration on your old injunction! Ever since you pointed out the etymology of "ekklesia," it's a concept that makes such sense, that whenever I'm praying together with other believers now, I thank God for having mercy on us sinners, "calling us out," and bringing us together to serve Him.

Hayden said...

Cent,

Great job! This dovetails with what I have been studying this week in preparation for preaching. 1 Cor. 12 is an excellent companion to what you are talking about. I do not have the time to expound upon this today, but EVRYONE needs to read this passage before they jump on the 'what is Cent talking about?' bandwagon.

Hayden

steve said...
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steve said...

"How to Feed the Children"

Whew.

For a second there, when I saw that headline, I thought the resident curmudgeon had gone all social gospel sappy.

SolaMeanie said...

Frank sappy? Nah. Never. He just might hit you with a sap, but become treacly sappy himself?

That will happen the day he and Philip Yancey co-author a book together. "The Centurion I Never Knew."

Sewing said...

Hayden: Excellent point. Every church should use that chapter in teaching its members that they have been called out to help each other be the Body of Christ.

the postmortem said...

"show that you understand obedience before you try to exercise authority."

Centuri0n,

That statement is such a great principle! Thank you for writing it.

cslewis3147 said...

wow...that's a good post. Convicting and with good graphics to boot.

centuri0n said...

Wow. And I thought this post was going to get me disowned.

VcdeChagn said...

I think you've missed one important point that will kind of tie all this together.

God does not contradict Himself.

This means that if you make a scriptural case for staying in your local Bible believing Christian Church under non-Matthew 18 circumstances (which you did), the rest should fall in line with scripture.

This means God will not give you the choice (can someone contradict this in scripture) between doing one thing (staying in a Bible believing local church) and another (training up your kids in the way they should go).

If God does this, your only choice is to disobey him in one aspect of His will or another.

And to be honest, as my kids get older (my oldest is four), this is my biggest concern, so I do have a "dog in the race" so to speak.

The Doulos said...

Thanks Cent, for expressing some great stuff. I can relate to this, being in a great church where God is clearly at work, but that frankly (no pun intended) has a poor student ministry. With three kids, one who has been through the whole middle and high school youth group experience undamaged spiritually (he's at TMC studying for pastoral ministry), I've paid a lot of attention to what goes on there. But never even once did the thought of leaving the church over this occur. Instead I have done what seemed to be necessary to fill in the gaps. Like modeling for my kids what a servant in the body of Christ looks like (elder, teacher, preacher, mentor, etc). Like doing a Bible study group for my middle school aged son and his buddies at our house. Like teaching theology as a SS class for the high school group, who seemed to have never heard these things before. Even to being the 'council time' speaker for a couple seasons of Awana. (Scary stuff, that.)

In other words, doing what God has called me out and placed me into His church to do - serve her. Not to abandon her, "for the sake of the kids." Maybe if this was all of our mindsets, there would be no churches with less-than-desirable student ministries. Or any other kind of ministries, for that matter.

carolczech said...

johnny dialectic said "...when a child has to be salt and light to his own youth group, you know things are in sorry shape"

and

"But staying and training up a child in the way he should [go; relate to spiritual authority; be "in" a church, etc.] might be a golden opportunity to exercise your own spiritual leadership.">>>

David said "The mind-set that church is a place we go to on Sundays to learn correct doctrine from the preacher, affirm it, and go home to live our correct lives just needs to die, die, die. It's an abdication of everything that scripture teaches us."

and

"Children, obey your Sunday School teachers, for this is right in the Lord.">>>>>

OK, I know that David is being sarcastic here, but there is an element of truth to what he says and a seeming dichotomy with what johnny is making reference to. How do we teach children (or more specifically, older teens) in this situation to be under the authority of their leaders in these churches? When your teen daughter is coming home saying she learned from Rob Bell that Jesus thinks that street preachers are pharisees and they learned in their discussion group that abortion is between the woman and her doctor and the youth pastor said he'd rather have them cuss than be inauthentic.

So, when you have to debrief every week after church, how do you, at the same time, maintain an attidue of authority toward the leaders?

And then there's Luke 6:40
"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher." ESV

Recognizing that the verses that follow instruct me to take the telephone pole out of my own eye, and knowing I've got my own "issues" (lest anyone think I don't recognize that!), how do I protect my child from becoming a "disciple" of the youth pastor without completely demolishing the authority structure of the church?

carolczech said...

And just to add to my post...

We are really trying figure out how to approach this with an attitude of "coming alongside".

These posts have been really convicting and have caused us to begin to pray for some sort of reconcilliation so that we can somehow help bring those with the unsound ideas and methodologies back to a reliance on the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. For us that will mean a whole lot of prayer, humility and uncomfortable conversations with those who have really hurt us (removed us from teaching for not drinking the kool-aid :) - and who look at us as obstacles to their postmodern paradigm, which in their minds, is the only way to "save" these kids. I know they really mean well. And at the same time we must recognize our non-humble attitudes in the situation. As we are in a "mega-church" we have an uphill climb and it will have to be an act of God to accomplish this - literally.

777law said...

It seems to me that the gentleman who was the topic of discussion a few days ago which ultimately gave rise to the topic at hand was in a very bad church situation. If he was removed from a teaching position because he would not "drink the kool-aid, then something had changed, either in his life (good) or in the life of his church (bad)that brought about the crisis. Either way, it appears to me, it was time to go. And I have to believe his first concern was for his children.

If he joined for his children and had experience spiritual growth that prohibited further fellowshipping there or whether things had gone down hill at the church because of increasingly bad doctrine and/or leadership, it is my opinion that he would be exercising sound spiritual discretion by leaving.

777law said...

I become highly suspicious when I hear the term "for the sake of the 'children'" being used. Someone is generally up to something other than the sake of the children when they say this when any other time you hear them talk about children they use the term "kids."

By the same token, I have come to very much dislike the wholesale use of the word "kids." It seems to me to have a derogatory connotation. I am not attempting to castigate anyone else for using the term, I just think that it might be worthwhile to consider whether or not the use of the term tends to dilute awarness, and cheapen public respect for the innocence that children are supposed to possess.

In a culture where our children are innundated with filth, perversion, and crudeness, I think we need to be careful about the language we use to refer to them, lest we appear to have the same low regard for them as does the great majority of society. Jesus didn't say, "suffer the kids to come unto me."

777law said...

Because it is late Saturday night and I don't have anything else to do, and because I rather enjoy doing this I shall post another comment.

While it may seem to conflict with my previous comment, I do have to make the observation that several churches were mentioned in the New Testament that did not exactly have their act together - to say the least - and it appears that there were faithful beilevers in them. This, however, raises the question of whether the faithful stayed with the church, and if they did, why? Was the church of Corinth, for example, the only church in town, or did they stay because scripture admonished them to do so?

I guess I do not have a very good handle on why I should stay in a church that is practicing blatant error, verses staying in one that has tangential "issues," but is remaining faithful to sound doctrine.

a.return.to.christianity said...
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Helen said...

I understand dogpreacher's comment - the things I heard about the church youth groups made me relieved my children never wanted to go to them. They did go to AWANA for a number of years but seem to have survived that experience.

To be fair, parents who cared were doing their best to help. Not everything was bad about my kids church experiences.

This annoyed me: my son learned the word 'pornography' from the church bulletin when he was eight. He read it and asked me what it meant. I can let it go but at the time it was frustrating, because I had no idea how to explain a word like that to him at that age.

When my children didn't like Sunday school they sat in the service with me but I felt the sermon was too adult-oriented; like the bulletin I never knew when something I didn't consider age-appropriate might be talked about.

I do regard my children's character growth as my responsibility. The churches I went to never seemed to focus enough on that so I'm not sorry my kids left church when I did. (And yes I was involved when I went; I was a member and I donated a significant amount of my time to serving the church. And I got my children to serve too on some occasions).

I'd like my children to grow up caring about others and not being overly materialistic. Their current roles in a string ensemble require them to lead others and care about others - at ages 12 and 14 they lead their sections - I think their violin teacher cares more about their character growth than leaders at my church did, although leaders at my church did care about whether my kids were 'Christians' according to their definition of that word. One of them appealed to me to take my children to some church even if I wasn't going. But when I left church I made it very clear I would take them if they wanted to go and they said no thanks.

My husband is a very ethical atheist and involved father and I think he is a very good role model for my kids in terms of character and ethics.

the postmortem said...

Helen,

Thank goodness they were willing to talk about pornography! I'd say to my kid "Pornography is bad pictures people look at in a bad way" if he ever asked me about it. I think if your child doesn't know about it at 8, they're gonna know at 10 in this day and age. Better they learn about it at church and from parents than from a kid at school...

Honestly, sin isn't alleviated by being ignored. Explaining it in simple terms to children in no way takes away their innocence; it protects it. Kudos to your church for dealing with it openly, rather than sweeping it under the rug like so many do.

My father is also a very "ethical" atheist, by the way. For your children's sake, I'm glad your husband is too. An abusive father is a horrible thing to experience growing up.

However, ethical atheism is just as godless as unethical atheism. If anything, it may be even more dangerous because it conforms to the pattern of godliness without giving credit to the Source of all moral truth. See the story of the rich young ruler who has done all the commandments since he was young and yet will not obey and follow Jesus (Luke 18:18-23).

Helen said...

postmortem, thanks for your response. I agree with what you're saying about learning from parents rather than a peer - but I don't think the 10 year olds my kids socialized with at school when they were that age talked about about pornography. I could be wrong...

johnMark said...

Thanks, Frank. I need to pray more about this.

I think your title could be expanded to "How to Feed the Family" or even to self. It's tough when you feel like your are sucking wind spiritually because of not being fed within the local body. I know, it's not that cut and dry and it's not about me. It's still tough!

Mark

Gummby said...

So when Bob the Tomato tells Larry the Cucumber "it's for the kids" so that he'll play the theme song on the tuba, he's just manipulating him?

Why, Bob, why?

one busy mom said...

Cent,

Great post, and so is your whole series on the subject. But I think you're writing from a bit of a bias. You (and Dan and Phil) are Godly teachers, at Godly churches - and if what we see here is a fair sample for all 3 of you- it's unlikely any of you, or your churches stray much from the Word of God. I'm guessing that from your perspective the people who are leaving churches are: the folks who come in, sit in the back, never get involved, never join, see themselves as the latest and greatest spiritual experts, complain incessantly, stir up strife, stay 3 months to 3 years, and finally leave because the donuts in the fellowship hall are powdered sugar instead of cinnamon.
Those folks need a super- heavy helping of what you just wrote!

But.....I think some of the people here are dealing with something different. They have 2 Peter chap 2 type teachers that have crept into their churches (thru the youth wing) and for whatever reason the leadership has refused to take action. Or perhaps even worse, the false teachings have already spread to the leadership.

At some point they are going wonder whether or not they are under the commands of 2John1:7-11.
You've already discussed how staying fleshes out, and clarified that you can't really "leave" if you were never spiritually "there" to begin with, now maybe you can answer the "When do we Biblically HAVE to leave?" question. You know, that kind of really tough - "how much error is too much" question, and the equally sticky "what kind of errors are really serious" question!

philness said...

Youth sports is keeping me and my family out of church. There I said it. Well, Ok since I went there let me rephrase that. I am keeping myself and my family from going to church.

stratagem said...

But.....I think some of the people here are dealing with something different. They have 2 Peter chap 2 type teachers that have crept into their churches (thru the youth wing) and for whatever reason the leadership has refused to take action. Or perhaps even worse, the false teachings have already spread to the leadership.

Exactly! I don't think Cent can relate to what some of us have experienced. Try as he might, he doesn't really understand how little influence a non-blogger, non-elder, non-deacon has in an apostate church. Nor does he understand how many apostate churches there really are, and how apostate many of them have become after having been formerly sound. Or at least, he doesn't seem to understand.

I think Cent mentioned that he once encountered a pastor in his church who was off-base on something or other, and it took two years for the leaders to correct him. There were leaders there who were not themselves in significant error, and could correct this person, so the example is hardly in the same league as what a lot of people have recently encountered as their churches catch the Emergent Flu.

I'm not criticizing him, really, but I do believe he keeps going back to ridiculous examples he's seen of people objecting to minor issues and leaving churches. We are a product of our experiences in a lot of ways, so I understand why he's unable to relate. But I do think he's unable to relate.

I know I'm going to catch heck for writing this, so I should add that I respect Cent a lot, too, but he can't be expected to know, or have experienced, everything. (and please don't write something about how scripture supercedes experience; I already know that!!!) I just happen to believe that apostate churches fall into a different slice of the Bible than well-led churches that occasionally develop doctrinal issues or disputes.

Sewing said...

I can't speak for Cent, although I recall his answer in the past has been something along the lines of this:

Stay and contend for the Word of God, right up to the point that through Scripturally mandated disciplinary procedures, the church expels you. (Begging the question, what if the disciplinary procedures are not Scripturally mandated, or what if there's no discipline?)

And he seems to be well aware of the wasteland that is modern North American Evangelicalism. It was a post he wrote a few months ago that made me even aware that there's a problem!

stratagem said...

Sewing: Yes I agree with that, but in Emergent-migrational churches where tolerance is king, you simply aren't going to be confronted directly on having "wrong" (i.e., right) beliefs, or objecting to the teachings. That would violate the leaders' self-perceptions of open-mindedness. You'll simply be marginalized and ignored.

Plus, every time you walk into your church building, you are going to wonder what new offensive practice or teaching you (or your kids) are going to be assaulted with, this time. Will it be icon veneration, or hyper-preterism? Will you come into your 9 year old's classroom and find out they've been praying, chanting, and burning incense in the corners?

All of the above (and much, much more) happened to us, and objections would simply be met with (amazingly) "we're not doing any of that," or with "you're just looking at the Bible through an Evangelical lens" or other such nonsense. However, we would probably never have been thrown out. But at some point, a believer need fellowship with other believers, and you just can't worship or be refreshed in an environment where your conscience is constantly being violated. I seriously doubt too many of the bloggers have really had to live through that.

777law said...

gummby,

I have been laughing all day at your little joke. Thanks for the lift.

Sewing said...

Stratagem:

I agree with your sentiment and that of One Busy Mom that after seeing so many posts in which Cent has made a biblical case for staying at your church, it would be good to see a biblical case for when (if ever) it's time to leave, if no one actually forces you out.

(Sorry, Cent.)

VcdeChagn said...

Plus, every time you walk into your church building, you are going to wonder what new offensive practice or teaching you (or your kids) are going to be assaulted with, this time. Will it be icon veneration, or hyper-preterism? Will you come into your 9 year old's classroom and find out they've been praying, chanting, and burning incense in the corners?

I don't think this is what Centurion is saying.

See, this is why I forced the issue I brought up to a point where he explained more thoroughly exactly what he meant.

I'm not going to dig it up, but he used Luther as an example, saying that the church effectively separated itself when it refused to comply with Biblical standards. He also cautioned each person who goes this route not to act hastily and to act biblically (Matt 18) in exercising this option.

The situation you are talking about would be a cause to leave (as far as I see it, I'm sure Centurion will correct me if he reads this and I'm wrong) if you've duly exercised your biblical obligation to confront the sinful, heretical or apostate behavior in a way designed to reconcile you with your brother or brothers.

Look at the tags for this post and find the article (and the one on his personal blog) that he wrote in ...March?...of this year. I think he explains himself better in those articles, and they should be a pre-requisite for understanding where he's coming from now.

VcdeChagn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stratagem said...

The situation you are talking about would be a cause to leave (as far as I see it, I'm sure Centurion will correct me if he reads this and I'm wrong) if you've duly exercised your biblical obligation to confront the sinful, heretical or apostate behavior in a way designed to reconcile you with your brother or brothers.

I suspect you may well be right. Part of the problem is that Cent seems to be very hard to nail down on exactly what he is saying, as to when it is OK to leave. This results in a lot of people who have left for legitimate reasons, to question their decisions, which is not bad in itself unless it results in waffling in cases where one should just face the reality of the situation and leave to protect your family from bad teaching, or even to protect yourself from bad teaching. Then he throws in the ringer of a (paraphrased) "it's not an actual church if it doesn't have a doctrine statement", further muddying the waters beyond any real usefulness.

I, and a lot of others, see our responsibility to our family as being more important than our responsibility to an apostate church organization. Is that straightforward enough? I wouldn't leave my kids to be taught in a Hindu temple, so why would I leave them to be taught in an Emergent church?

When we did leave this church I'm talking about, we were admonished that Matthew 18 tells us we had to "reconcile" with the leadership before leaving. When I asked how I would do that while still believing that they were unwise leaders and false teachers, there was no real answer given. We were just supposed to do a group hug and pretend that nothing was wrong. So, I am a bit skeptical of the way Mt. 18 can be used at times.

Helen said...

strategem, I think you're right to take any advice with a grain of salt and decide whether it makes sense for your own situation.

In the end you're the one accountable to God for your decisions, not just the people who gave you advice. Because you made the choice whether to take the advice or not.

(People who give bad advice will be accountable too but it doesn't mean that those who take it are exempt from accountability)

VcdeChagn said...

So, I am a bit skeptical of the way Mt. 18 can be used at times.

Here is how it was confronted in the situation I know best.

This is the same situation I discussed in previous threads.

Situation: Mason serving on the board, and as an elder, serving communion.

Problem: Masonry is a form of idolatry.

Solution:

1. Prayer and discussion with other believers as to what to do.

2. Confront the Mason privately, who responds. "I don't want to talk about it."

3. Confront the Pastor of the church, giving him over 100 pages of documentation on Masons as well as several videos (mostly Ankerburg IIRC) about the Masonic cult.

4. Ask the pastor to confront the issue.

5. Pastor refuses to confront the issue. Thus, HE halted the Matt 18 process by refusing to deal with it, thus ending the attempt at reconciliation.

6. After much prayer and discussion, leave the church.

Total time between inital prayer and leaving...about 2 months, IIRC. Might be more.

That is a biblical example of how to confront apostasy, heresy, or unrepentant sin in a church.

And it ain't easy. Like I said earlier, this wans't me, but someone very close to me who this happened to, and I was the recipient of many questions and scripture searching.

Ann said...

More often than not leaving a church "for the sake of the children" has little to do with the teaching , more like child bored/ not interested/ wanting worldly worship / parent honouring child rather than vice versa. I'm on a bit of a rant , but I've known it happen too often , a few years on the child even those who have professed Christ as Saviour are no longer worshipping God with his people on the Lord's day.Sad but true.

Rob Willmann said...

Being a PIT (Pastor-In-Training), I *love* this post.

I don't post here hardly at all, but Cent, you really nailed it.

I feel convicted that I don't spend more time doing family devotions.

I will admit though, that the Sunday School that my 6 year old daughter attends do a great job. She had to memorize a section and recite it that explained Elohim, and she also came up to me the other day and said: "Dad, did you know that noone gets to Heaven unless their name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life?"

How sobering to hear that from a 6 year old.

777law said...

Frank,

I just found this quote from Calvin and thought it helped shed some light on the aforementioned controversy.

"But if the holy prophets had scruples against separating themselves from the church because of many great misdeeds, not of one man or another but of almost all the people, we claim too much for ourselves if we dare withdraw at once from the communion of the church just because the morals of all do not meet our standard, or even square with the profession of Christian faith."

Sounds like you may have been right after all. But, I think this issue needs more exploring