Part of our home school curriculum is reading and memorizing scripture. I really am being blessed by going through Hebrews 11 verse by verse with a different one each week. We’re on Hebrews 11:3, which shows that even Genesis 1 is in Hebrews. What was in the Old Testament is consistently taught in the New Testament. The Bible is internally consistent.
Just this past Sunday a couple visited our church. They still go to our former church (spiritual formation/transformation church). We were once in a small group together, and we really enjoyed time with this couple. They have two children who are getting old enough to go to the youth group. I commend these parents, they are involved with their children and followed them to the youth group. This is where they have discovered enough problems to begin a church search just to see what else is out there. The complaints I have heard are that the message and all the activities don’t always make any sense. Things are disjointed, and the gospel is not clearly being taught through the activities and fluff. There are so many distractions. Apparently, one Sunday, the youth minister was speaking and there was a video playing in the background. It was people falling, crashing into things, and getting hurt. The mother could see no reason for this, and thought it wasn’t funny at all. The parents have also complained that the youth room is often littered with trash because these teens will not use proper manners and clean up after themselves. I recall the youth didn’t go to their church time with bibles and the girls often wore inappropriate clothing. Rarely, were teens ever in “big church” with the adults. We are so happy we are no longer there, it sounds like it is as bad as I thought.
I am so giddy, and I have high hopes. I love to see people leave that environment. I spoke to my pastor when I saw them at church, and let him know our past with this couple. He knows many people have left that church including our family. He’s always seeing people visit from my former church. He commented something like this, “you’d think they’d try to figure out what they are doing is wrong since they are bleeding out.” Yeah, you’d think.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged church, leaving a church focusing on emergent youth, leaving a church focusing on spiritual formation, spiritual formation, transformation, youth, youth group, youth ministry | 2 Comments »
DJP over at Pyromaniacs reminds us again to start somewhere and read the bible daily.
I want to pick a plan that works well for me personally, and then one for me to read to my kids during the week. I think if I’m homeschooling, there’s no point if there’s not scripture being poured in.
We’ve joined a lovely new small group at church. I’ve written some concerns already. I am now about to burn out. They decided, since it’s new, to just be light. One person, sometimes two give their “testimony.” Then, we might discuss what we learned from the sermon. Then we have prayer requests and prayer. There’s food, there’s talk, and that’s fine and dandy. They’ve been really supportive of us and have helped us already with some problems in our life…stepped up when our prayer requests were tough. We’ve only been meeting since September, only every other week. But now, I’m about to go really crazy. I do not really enjoy the long personal stories too much. I mean, I like getting to know the people, but I am afraid we’ll NEVER get to the bible. This is not what I want in a group. I am so over becoming family in small group. I believe if we get together FOR BIBLE STUDY, the fellowship will just happen organically. I also believe, if we are accountable to a pastor or pastors for what is being taught, that is the BEST model. I think we need to read the bible and if we discuss, it should not be about what we THINK the text means. It should be led by someone who knows what they are doing and has some qualification (not a divinity degree…but some understanding of scriptures) to teach. I came from a fluffy church, and there were some really intelligent people in our groups, but there were also some shallow people. Some of the leadership involved just simple books with simple answers to the questions. There were organized agendas (like get people involved in group service). There were even whole church studies of books (like Purpose Driven Church and such). I hated the simple stuff, and yearned for study. We did get some study…and I’m experiencing this now. I want study. I don’t want us to change what the bible says or to share too much of our personal experiences. I want to study the bible and learn about God. Period.
My husband asked an assistant pastor how to handle a suggested Nouwen book in our small group meeting. One of the first questions I heard from him was, “was it an unqualified recommendation?” In fairness, people do sometimes read and recommend books, but they don’t always agree with everything in the book or everything from that author. Unfortunately, this was actually qualified in that the book was recommended excitedly and whole heartedly. The man in our group shared several concepts openly and offered to let two women in the group be the next ones to read it after someone else outside the group finished his copy. I believe he even suggested that Christians should read it, and I am sure he said it was his favorite book. We shared some of our thoughts with the pastor, that the man seemed to really like the book and was sharing it. I did mention the comment the man made stating that the book opened an idea he hadn’t thought of, that Jesus himself was a “prodigal of the Father” because he left and came back. The pastor’s eyebrows twitched a little bit, and he shook his head, “no.”
The pastor’s advice was not to go all out after this man. He said that we should actually bring this to the attention of the small group leader. He suggested we share why we see problems with the author and that it’s not someone we’d recommend reading. He said that many don’t have the same level of discernment, and some don’t subscribe to the strange teachings but also don’t know the problems with an author’s entire body of work. He said to assume the best about a person at first, and just trust the leadership. However, he did say to keep paying attention and if this keeps coming up, to bring it back up again to the leader. It can also be brought up to the pastors in leadership of the church. He suggested further we truly befriend this man and if the opportunity arises, we can share with him carefully the problems with Nouwen and why we wouldn’t recommend it as a solid book for Christians to read.
This is a very big difference than what happened at our former church when we brought up books and teachings that were questionable. The pastor here acknowledged the teaching from Nouwen was bad (if it indeed was what we were saying it is…he’d never read it before). He mentioned how many people read popular authors, he has been given books from church members of such authors. He said how he has personally tactfully told people how the author is in error and he’d suggest they never recommend the book without some qualification. He personally had quoted authors from the pulpit he doesn’t agree with, but he says he intends to always qualify those quotes as true as far as he sees it but the author has other comments or ideas that are not in line with scripture. And reading works that are questionable can be a learning experience, but it must be qualified as such. He says he’s sometimes shocked at what members in our church recommend for reading on facebook or in person, saying that he often wants to say, “What? Haven’t you been hearing sound teaching in our church for years? Why would you recommend that book?”
At least he acknowledged us, and was kind. He did seem to be bothered by this problem and suggested a way to deal with it and not ignore it. He actually thinks the leader in our group likely hasn’t heard of Nouwen, and may have no clue about it. I find this to be a very good thing. It’s much different than the “oh, that author is recommended and used by many pastors…and we might not agree with everything he says but he has good intentions.” That was our former church, and that was unacceptable squashing. We weren’t told not to be divisive, but to proceed carefully.
We had a child dedication at church. I think it’s a great idea though don’t believe a church has to do these as an official ceremony. It’s just nice to say openly, “I dedicate this child to God.” I am puzzled as to why we’ve been here 2 years and never have had this type of ceremony. I wonder if the church is doing it for the first time? We have had all of our children dedicated, and it was one of my favorite services at church. What I do like about this church is how children are taught. In Sunday school, they learn directly from the bible and from the mouths of teachers. It’s a low tech church. The Sunday school teacher studies his/her curriculum, and then presents it to the children. The rooms are open with full glass windows as well as glass slits in the door, and you see the children sitting down to listen to the teacher. Often, a bible will be opened or the kids will be doing a craft. Coming from a church that used a lot of modern music, videos (like Veggie Tales) and switching activities fast, it’s nice to see a low key, slow paced, old fashioned Sunday school. The kids come home with either a fun craft or a coloring sheet depicting a biblical scene. You always know what they learned right away from the papers they bring out. And, to top it off, my kids can tell me what they learned hours later. The ones younger than 4th grade are all going through the old testament in the Sunday school hour and during a children’s church class (I think it’s up through 4th) they learn from the New I think (cannot recall the themes). The “middle” grades (5th and 6th) learn from a teacher that’s been there for years. He challenges them to study a book of the bible over the time they’re in the class and quizes them. He also gives them points for taking notes in the church service. They can actually win real cash, but even without being near winning, I see kids taking notes during service. I know mine do. And the older two aren’t even in his class anymore. One problem I do have is the oldest kiddo falls asleep during church. I need to figure out how to help him stay awake. We sometimes bring hard candy, which helps. Especially if it’s hot cinnamon or very strong peppermint. I have to admit, song time is slow and long and losses him pretty fast. (not during songs, but it puts him in that mode right away). He eagerly volunteers if they need someone to work with the kids because it’s torture to be poked every few minutes to wake up. And if he’s helping in the kids’ classes, he’s hearing the bible anyway, so I don’t mind at all. Wish we could get the music to be better paced. Not “modern” just different. One particular leader loves to play things really slowly and it makes me batty. I know a lot of old hymns, and he likes to play them twice as slow as they should be…always has too many measures between verses, and cuts out the chorus when it would help break things up. I do like singing all the verses of a hymn, this can be long, but it’s nice. If we’re going to do it though, pick up the pace! We use the overhead for the music (well, computer generated and it keeps the flow going) and I’d rather books because 1. we’re looking at the music and I miss seeing music on the page and 2. It breaks up the songs so you aren’t on a monotone ride that lulls you. I don’t think the long sets intend to put people’s minds into a suggestive state, but I do see a friends’ point (who visited twice I believe) that it can and does do that. We have one leader that is more like a choir director, and I’ve noted that though he’s not doing modern music, he is better at the pace and break ups of songs. It makes it so much nicer. I just think the one leader has stagnated in his ability and we’re all forced to listen to his style. It’s not that the songs need to change, but the quality of the music and the organization of the set needs to change BIG TIME. Have to think of HOW to bring this up tactfully. Don’t need a stage band, but do need some variety and up beat moments to keep people alert. Slow music is not more worshipful.