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Youth Groups: Are They Multiplying or Dividing the Church?

Disclaimer: I have had this DVD a long time, and have been selective about whom I have shared it with. I feel like it’s time to get it out there. It’s time to evaluate what we’re doing with this generation of youth. This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you. I always recommend only the best products that I love. Thank you so much for supporting my blog!

Why are up to 88% of young adults from evangelical homes leaving the church at 18 never to return?

That’s quite a statistic to begin a documentary with, huh? I’m not certain what the current statistics are, and to me, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve seen it myself in my own small circle of friends and acquaintances to know it is a large percentage and only getting higher. Why are 20-30 year olds missing in America’s church congregations?

Twenty years ago, I asked that question, and it took 20 more years to find the answer.

Just a few years ago, I had an child nearing the age to graduate from “children’s church” to “youth group”. I had reservations, fear, and a gut instinct that it was not quite right for our family. Was I just holding on to something I had no control over such as growing up? Maybe I was just overprotective, or perhaps being a fuddy-duddy. Whatever it was, my husband and I were alone on this one. That is until I went to the annual HEAV Convention and came across a DVD in the exhibit hall. Could there really be someone else that thinks like we do? Apparently there is, because they made a 50 minute documentary about it!

A Summary of Divided

The title and caption on the front cover intrigued me. As I picked the DVD up to read the summary on the back, I knew I needed to watch this as soon as I returned home. In the film, Divided, young filmmaker, Philip Leclerc, searches for answers on why the youth of his generation are abandoning the faith. Phillip travels across the country interviewing youth, youth ministry experts, pastors, and more. His documentary reveals eye-opening evidence that modern church practices and the Bible are at odds. In this documentary, discover the dark history of age-segregated education and how the church has adopted this pattern from less than desirable people in history.

If you use Scripture as the basis for the church, we would never end up with what we call youth ministry”

Chuck Bomar/Divided the Movie

There is not much distinction between worldliness and Christianity. If the church is allowing worldliness in and calling it Christian, how can the church be trusted to not allow the brokenness of the world and elsewhere and calling it Christian?

Following God’s pattern, or man’s pattern?

Those are questions that are explored in Divided. Is sound Bible teaching emphasized as much as the music and entertainment? I would venture to say no. The church and modern youth ministry can attract the masses with entertainment, but do they know what to do next? Just follow Jesus? Is that it? One person interviewed said that this youth culture is the most unparented we’ve ever seen in America. They are parented by media and technology, but not their parents. Why? Is it that parents don’t feel well enough equipped? What isn’t happening in many Christian homes is Ephesians 6:1-4.

It’s interesting all through the Bible that there are no age segregated churches. We have gone with a different pattern to follow. Could the youth ministry be turning man’s attention from their real duty, and giving them an easy alternative for disobediance? Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, Scripture teaches us that as parents we are to communicate truth to our children. Could the age segregated church be usurping the authority of parents? What about the kids that come from broken families? That answer is in the documentary too.

It’s obvious that the church has set aside the sufficiency of Scripture for leading the next generation. God created the church and the family and gave them jobs to do. Find out what that is, as well as how to reunite the church and family, not divide it.

What I thought of Divided

There is so much I can say about this documentary, but so this doesn’t turn into what should be a separate post, I’ll stick with the movie reviewed. First, I would like to applaud Phillip for tackling this topic. I was right where his father was in deciding whether or not to let our daughter be a part of our local youth ministry. It was not easy, and often avoided in our case. I can gladly say, I do not regret it. Divided is spot on with the questions and answers concerning youth and the church – with the exception of the segment featuring Ken Ham and the “age old” question in the beginning of the movie. While I don’t care to address my personal opinion here, I feel the more important question to ask to teenagers should have been, “do you believe the gospel according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4?”.

As a homeschool mom, I totally get age-integrated Bible study, rather than segregated. That may seem like a foreign idea to many, because it’s not what we’re used to. Churches have followed the pattern of the public school for years. I think that is one of the missing links in today’s modern youth ministry. Why have a youth ministry at all? Or have a youth group, but keep it for fun and games, and let the Bible study happen together during church time. I’ve always wondered why young people (and by that I mean around age 7 and up) are allowed in services during the announcements, music, and offerings, but as soon as the Bible teaching starts, they leave the sanctuary to do their own thing. I’m getting off the actual review, aren’t I? My final thoughts of the movie are to watch it for yourself with an open mind.

It definitely gets five golden stars from me for topic, presentation, accuracy, and delivery!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Our future youth

I’d also like to note that this was made just over 10 years ago. Our culture has changed dramatically in that short time. For much of the country’s history, the Bible was seen as an obvious resource for a child’s moral and ethical development. Have you noticed things that are creeping in, and churches are accepting and conforming to the nonsense of the world? I read that less than half of millennials find it necessary to believe in God to be moral. I’d say there’s some training missing. Provberbs 22:6

Our youth do not need more watermelon smashing contest, or emotionally charged youth camp festivals. The missing ingredient is Biblical literacy. Getting sound biblical doctrine down in their soul is the only thing that will help them in life! Save the fun watermelon smashing for a Saturday, and trade the youth camp for a weekend of learning God’s Word – preferably make it a family event. Equip parents, especially the men – the fathers, to be leaders as God would have them to. Return the patterns provided in the Word, not the world.

Resources

  • To view Divided, head to their website to watch it for free! It is also available for free on YouTube.
  • To purchase the video, click here.
  • A recommended companion to Divided is A Weed In the Church.
  • I have read much of Family Driven Faith. It is a bold and timely book about raising this generation with a biblical world view.
  • If you’re in, you get it, and are wondering where to start? I highly, highly recommend Through the Book of Books. It is a basic Bible study for young people and adults.

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