Monday, July 18, 2011

YOUTH GROUPS {yes... or no?}

What are your thoughts on church youth groups? What about Sunday School? Are they Biblical? Does that even matter?

My brother in law, a former youth pastor, sent me this link and asked me to share it with you:


For a limited time you can watch the full length feature for free. Personally, I had to watch it twice to really hear what they were saying.

I'd encourage you to watch it with your spouse. Then I'd love to hear what you think...

Blessings to you!


  1. Please comment only AFTER you have watched the entire film. Blessings and thanks!


  2. We have watched it multiple times. Then we let our 14 year old watch it. She knows we have moved from two churches because of the emphasis on youth culture, and the fruit of the lives of the "youth" at those places. SHE is in favor of showing it to everyone we meet, IMMEDIATELY. :)

    Obviously we think the film is spot-on. The question is, why do churches THINK that "youth group" is THE KEY to growing a thriving church?
    I won't even start on the Sunday school issue. :)

  3. My husband and I actually bought this movie a few months ago from Vision Forum. Together we have decided not to participate in weekly Sunday School/Youth Group/Etc. as we feel strongly about keeping families together during the service and worship times.

    Many of the youth groups around here appear to be more like parties than places for worship...which has been disheartening. We have taken tours at several churches and the youth groups always seem to catch our attention the most. One in particular still sticks out our minds; We walked in and they had a basketball court inside the youth group area. The music was blaring and the lights were down low. In several corners we saw teens kissing and holding hands. We were basically speechless at that moment. The person leading the tour shook it off as "well at least they are here - where we can see them". I know many people enjoy and encourage youth groups - our familiy, however has chosen not to participate at this time.

    Where do you and your husband stand on this subject? Blessings to you and your beautiful family!!

  4. The book "Keeping Our Children's Hearts" by the Maxwells also has some interesting discussion about youth groups.

    We recently determined not to have our family participate in youth group, because we did not feel the "fruit" being displayed by the graduating members was the fruit we were cultivating. :)

    I watched the first 8 minutes of the film-- so interesting!-- and will save the rest for later. Thanks for sharing!

    Kansas Mom

  5. I just wanted to say that JUST LAST NIGHT I had ladies in my sweet fellowship circle HIGHLY encourage this movie as well!!! I do already have some thoughts on the above mentioned questions but want to watch the movie along side those. I think it is in support of my currently developed opinion, but I look forward to using this resource alongside my husband!

  6. Wow April- that is a great idea to show the film to our teens. Thank you!

    Hi Kelly- I cannot believe the shrugging off of impurity right before the eyes of church adults. That is shocking!

    I once heard Jonathan Lindvall share that the only time we see a youth group mentioned in Scripture is in 2 Kings 2:23-25 where a group of youth were mocking Elisha. Elisha cursed them in the name of the Lord then two female bears came out of the woods and mauled FORTY-TWO of the youths. Not a strong case in favor of youth groups I suppose. ;)

    My husband and I were saved in a small Bible church where the pastor was always radically conforming our worship to what he saw in Scripture. So early on in our Christian experience we saw the Sunday School program of our church completely disbanded in favor of family integrated worship. At first it was a shock to almost everyone. But very soon the families saw the blessing in doing this.

    We now have a teenager and have considered whether or not youth groups would be a blessing or a curse to our family. We stand with you and feel that youth groups would errode what we are seeking to build in our childrens hearts.

    Hello Kansas Mom- Thank you. We have taken to heart much of what the Maxwell family has shared. And highly recommend their book "Keeping our Children's Hearts." I appreciate your mentioning it here.

    Hello Christina- That is encouraging. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the film!


  7. We don't participate in youth. My oldest daughter (14yo) has chosen instead to serve in our AWANA group. We've had more people (older women in the church included) that try to convince us that she should be in with the youth. We politly decline. She sees the fruit coming off of that tree and wants nothing to do with it. I'm blessed to have her heart.
    But the question becomes what do you do with kids who are willing to come to church? I feel that sometimes those youth pastors give these kids the idea that if they just come every Wednesday night (forget about Sunday morning) and "pray a prayer" on a youth trip they take to the beach (poor suffering souls) that they are born agian. That is contrary to the Word of God on what someone needs to be saved.
    It just seems that churches know the system is broken but they won't give up the youth group system as it currently is. Golden calf? You decide

  8. Hi Rebecca,

    At the risk of being a party-pooper... I think the film rightly identifies a problem (entertainment-oriented Bible-less youth ministry) but too quickly assumes that:

    - the underlying problem is pagan methodologies introduced into the church
    - the ONLY solution is family-integrated church

    Nowhere in the documentary is anyone "in the middle" -- committed to solid, Biblically-oriented, gospel-centered ministry to families and youth -- interviewed. Nowhere is it suggested that the *real* likely reason that these youth are so lost is that their churches and their parents have likely abandoned solid Biblical preaching & teaching and gospel-centered ministry for *all ages* and not just for youth (and not simply through age segregation).

    Instead, the documentary pits naive, worldly churched youth against adult, sophisticated proponents of the family integrated church (Baucham, Philips, etc.). No interviews were made of solid Christian leaders of strong churches who are nevertheless not sold on FIC as the "only way" to do church; but would still strongly oppose the watered-down, entertainment-oriented trend of youth ministry today.

    In short, the piece wasn't a documentary: it was a propaganda piece for the NCFIC. Leclerc pretends that he's "on a journey" when he's actually already decided where he's going to land.

    Keeping in mind I have nothing against FIC, and in fact, really appreciate its contributions to the church today. However, I'm deeply concerned that it considers its methods and approach to church the "only" way.

    Ultimately, my take on the video is that it's helpful in highlighting some of the problems with age-segregated & youth ministry today; but frankly assumes its conclusions without sufficient merit and with overwhelming prejudice. I was not at all convinced by its so-called history of education that, in fact, separating families by age is a product of evolutionary thought.

    Ultimately, I think the movie is worth watching but not altogether fair or unbiased in its contribution to the discussion.

    Is it not possible that there are ways *other than FIC* for bringing about healthy discipleship and nurturing of our children?

    Southern Seminary has a conference titled "Connecting Church and Home" that seems less heavily biased toward certain conclusions, and considers that *both* church and home are crucial for the spiritual discipleship/formation of children:

  9. Hello Allison,

    What a blessing that your daughter has a discerning spirit and is judging things by their fruit! That is fantastic.

    I think- after watching the film twice- the film indicates a major part of the problem is that this generation is basically unparented (not discipled within the context of the family). This seems to be a recurring theme lately and will be the topic of Israel Wayne's upcoming book: "Full Time Parenting" as well.

    On top of that you touch on our modern evangelistic method which is backward to say the least. Are you familiar with the "Way of the Master" website? Their evangelistic curriculum would be a fantastic help to anyone with a heart for sharing the gospel- including youth pastors.

    Hi Evers!

    My friend, I knew you'd point out the few things that caught my attention the first time I viewed this film.

    I too thought we were being told youth groups were THE problem and the only solution was family integration. I had to to watch it again to really hear the other points they were making-- especially that fathers need to disciple their families. And youth pastors aren't always thrilled to have these unparented kids dumped off for them to parent.

    YOU SAID: "Leclerc pretends that he's "on a journey" when he's actually already decided where he's going to land."

    Yep. Quite honestly that was a major turn off for me the first time I watched the film.

    YOU ALSO SAID: "Ultimately, I think the movie is worth watching..."

    I agree. And worth showing our teens- with us as we pause and discuss it.

    YOU ARGUED: Is it not possible that there are ways *other than FIC* for bringing about healthy discipleship and nurturing of our children?

    I would say that we can all site exceptions to the failure of youth groups- some example where one out of a thousand was saved, but I think the point was not that FIC will save the day. Rather I do believe their point was are youth groups Biblical? And if not, should we embrace them in our churches?

    Blessings to you!

  10. Hi Ladies,
    This has been an interesting topic to ponder. My children are still very young, but I know time flies so quickly and it is wise to look ahead and consider these things now.

    I thought that Divided brought up some very interesting points and some very sad statistics, but it did have a clear agenda in promoting FIC. As Challies wrote in his review, "It identifies a genuine problem but attempts to solve it in a way that elevates methodology instead of the gospel message."

    I personally don't think it's age segregation in and of itself that's the problem. I think it has more to do with the fact that many teens are being entertained to death in youth ministries and they can't hear the gospel through all the "noise". That and the fact that there is so little, if any, follow through in so many homes.

    Catherine :)

  11. Hi Catherine!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the movie and on youth groups in general. So, am I right in thinking that your family might lean more toward an AWANA program over the typical youth group setting or are you still unsure?

    Agreed-- follow through in the home is so often lacking. Or maybe just not significant enough. For example, if we let our children watch hours and hours of TV programming that does not exalt God (or demonstrates practical athiesm) and then we have a fifteen minute Bible study with our children at the end of the night- well which is likely to have a more significant impact?

    Since you brought up Challies' negative review of the film, you might also be interrested in some of the responses to that review.

    Scott Brown responds to Challies' review at:

    And specifically to the quote you mentioned. He says:

    "Tim made an unfounded remark when he said that the NCFIC is "making family integration the pivotal and central doctrine for the church. It identifies a genuine problem but attempts to solve it in a way that elevates methodology instead of the gospel message."

    This is completely false and contrary to what we have always maintained rather publicly. In the FAQ section of the NCFIC web site, we make this statement under the heading, What is the NCFIC's Purpose:

    "We DO NOT believe that family-integration is the only—or even the primary—issue in selecting or establishing a local church. But it is unquestionably a defining issue of our day as the modern church has lost the essential familistic culture that we see modeled in the New Testament." (emphasis added)

    Another well stated point by point review to Challies' review is here:

    Just some more thoughts to consider as we work through this issue.


  12. Carmon Friedrich encourages us to consider another point:

    "It was the NCFIC that hosted the "Love the Church" conference, with messages that encouraged accountability and oversight of elders, not cowboy Christians (as my husband likes to say) who go it alone and avoid biblically covenanting with other believers in an organized body."

    If you'd like to read more on the goals of the "Love the Church" conference go here:

    Blessing to you!

  13. Ladies, if you plan to read Challis' negative review of the film, I would encourage you to also read the comments of his readers.

    Many of his readers are surprised at his harshness and question his accusations.

  14. Hi again!
    We're still unsure about whether or not our children will participate in youth group because our oldest is only 5 so we haven't given it much thought. If our children were currently youth group age, they would definitely participate in our church's youth group. It is not a typical youth group though and our youth pastor is completely gospel centered and that's what the kids hear every week. He does not have the entertainment mindset and is not concerned about making the gospel more relevant to teens and teen culture. Many of the teens coming out of the youth group program are bearing much fruit and that's very encouraging! Others have unfortunately left the youth group, but that is going to happen anywhere the gospel is faithfully preached.

    Thank you for including these links regarding Challies. I will check them out as well as the comments of his readers.

  15. I have a question. What are you to do if you do not have access to a Family Integrated church and/or it seems not one in your immediate area supports your views on youth groups? That is our situation. We feel totally alone. Our church youth group is very worldly.
    Thank you and I love your blog. It is so beautiful and full of great info!

  16. Hello Boxbunch.

    I feel like I can relate to what you are saying. There are times when it feels like we simply walk alone in our convictions.

    Looking back I have often seen these times- although painful for the moment are occasions of great growth both personally and as a family. We are forced into the Word for study and must choose obedience to God above approval of man. Good always seems to come of that.

    At more than one church we kept our children with us in church while children around us were dismissed to Sunday School. We were family intergrated before we knew the term. And we were alone in that setting.

    But we sought out friendships that supported and undergurded our path- if it was family friends we drove an hour to see, books that encouraged what we were doing, penpals with friends that were traveling the same way- all those things helped to build into the family and encouraged us to stay the course we felt God was leading.

    We tried not to cause division. When asked if we wanted our children to go, we'd simply say, "No thank you" with a smile. When asked why we didn't do this (and a countless list of other things) we'd simply say, "Our family just doesn't do" this or that- with a smile. People rarely seemed to argue that, although some people would be offended either way.

    At home we would discuss with our children why our family did not attend and share Scripture to explain our convictions. Every decision must be made based on God's Word. Sharing examples of other Biblical people in times past who walked alone can also be an encouragement to all as well. Rarely do we find going with the flow is God's best.

    In one church the youth group marketing got so heavy (video commercials in church etc.) that we did need to leave. But we have always loved the church and kept attending, searching and choosing to gather with God's people.

    You may be interested in an article that RC Sproul Jr. wrote recently titled: "We can’t find a family integrated church, what should we do?"

    I hope that helps dear Sister!


  17. Thank you so much. This does help and I am encouraged by your words. Thank you for the link. I am heading there now!!
    Thank you again!

  18. Rebecca,

    We enjoyed the movie. We walked away with the belief that it is the goal of this movie for us to search scripture to know what it is God has as best for our families.

    We enjoyed the challenge we saw to make many step outside the box of the "norm" and really know why it is you do what you do. It challenges parents and churches to put their programs up against scripture and see how they line up with God's Word. What does God have for our families, for our children.

    We definitely recommend it as a tool for challenge.

  19. Also, in regard to the question posed by "The Boxbunch", I left a lengthy comment on the post that you linked above about our journey in finding a church in an area where there are no FIC's. I though thought it may be of help to her as well. Christina Anderson is the name next to my comment there.