The Home Church
and Her Young
I asked those with whom I discussed these matters, “What would you wish you could tell the leaders of local churches?” The attitude toward the leadership was often one of guarded respect, but almost as often, and I found this disturbing, open rebellion and disrespect. Some even said, “Get with it or get out.” They wondered why, if the church is supposed to be so important, that the leadership moved like it really was not too significant. They complained of those leaders who do not do the work and really hinder those who want to work. While some detested what they called “hard preaching,” there were others who had heard what some call “hard preaching” and wondered why the leadership was so shy, sometimes cowardly, to support preaching that was “right down the Biblical line.” They expressed a concern that the leadership of local churches, generally speaking, did not take their task very seriously, or at least did not show that they did. The correctness of these views may be debated, but this is what existed among them.
As for preachers, they commented on how so many seemed to be so impressed with themselves, and so concerned about their “image,” so interested in their job that they will bow and bend to whatever pressures come upon them to retain their job, image, and especially when they have good incomes. They said they were tired of joke telling, but the inconsistency of all this is how they will flock like birds when one of these charismatic joke tellers are speaking. It was hard to determine what some of them really were thinking. They expressed disgust toward those who they think rely on verbosity and personality to make up for their lack of study and preparation. But again, they will flock to hear and follow such preachers. These kind of comments were both encouraging, but at times very disturbing because it reflected the kind of preaching they had been hearing.
A second major area of inquiry that I made was what those I consulted believed to be profitable activities. I will be highly selective in this section and abbreviated because it would take too long to mention specific programs that were sometimes suggested. But even the young seemed to be aware that much of what many churches are doing is simply busy-work. They want what they believe to be meaningful, although most of the students found it difficult to define what they considered to be meaningful. Great numbers of them did not consider the things the Bible calls for the church to do to be very meaningful. It was evident with some that to be meaningful meant what was exciting, fun, sensational, entertaining and pleasing to their peers both in and out of the church. I found among several state campus works that they try to imitate the denominational student centers, even the fraternities and sororities on campus.
They want to get into parades, put up cleverly worded signs in front of our buildings during school “homecoming,” have rallies before ball games, etc. They obviously have never separated the work of the church from such mundane, trivial and secular matters. They really did not impress me as understanding what it the function of the Lord’s church. Some want the college age people to operate under their own supervision away from the eldership, having their presidents and vice-presidents, having no real connection with the church except for the church to provide facilities, and pay the bills. What was astounding is how many adult workers among these young people go along with that approach.
When you asked them about attendance at Bible classes, worship services, special learning opportunities, they said they usually did that back home. But they are far more lax about this once they are at school. They are restless, but not for coming to a knowledge of the truth.
Church Nearby and at Home
While there were those who expressed the above attitudes, there were others, although fewer in number, who longed for a church near campus that would provide for them opportunities to work among their fellow students, teach the distinctiveness of the church when they brought their friends to assemblies and not just try to make everybody feel good as if they were simply “honored guests,” and act as if the church was so fearful of offending that their friends could come and go and feel all was well even though they remained lost. They sometimes said they were actually ashamed of the services because leadership would allow the most incompetent song leaders to lead singing and it sounded terrible. They asked, "Why can’t we put our best foot forward for others to see what the church stands for?”
What can the home church do for their young people once they are in the college environment? To be sure, many opportunities have already been missed by that time. Once they are away there is less contact and less influence by the home church. But one request repeatedly heard by those who work with the students is that home churches let churches near the schools know their young people are in the area. Students often do not come to the services at all once they come to school, and brethren around these schools never have contact with them because they do not know they exist. They never can find out who they are. Religious preferences are no longer recorded at registration. Word of mouth or chance is the only way to find out who might have some contact with the church unless and until students attend the services, or the home church notifies the church near campus.
We regret that some campus works are not the kind and quality they ought to be, lacking Biblical soundness, and faithful brethren would not even want their young to be connected with the campus work. A major problem the young faithful brethren have today is finding a church reasonably near a campus that still stands forthrightly for the truth of the Bible. So many have drifted with the liberal trends and tides of the world that brethren at home had just as soon their young not be contaminated with what is being served by campus churches.
I made inquiry into what those around all these schools considered to be the greatest frustrations, problems and most destructive influences the young encounter. Youth is a great age, but it is not easy. Social pressure was mentioned by everyone of them. Faith shaking doctrines promoted by unbelieving professors placed them at a distinct disadvantage because they are often not allowed to respond, do not have equal opportunity to state their convictions, and so often are not even prepared to defend what they say they believe. When most of the class laughs at religion and pokes fun at the church it is difficult for the timid and shy young Christian to stand. Teachers play a deadly role. When teachers, fellow students are both against you, and you have a compromised message coming from the campus church, everything is made more difficult for our young.
Even in “Christian” schools this sophistication of “expertise” that some professors exhibit is intimidating to many. Statements are made as if what they say is the last word when the young Christian knows that what he teaches is contrary to what the student has been taught. It is a shame and a disgraceful indictment of the “Christian” schools, in nearly every case, that they do not reinforce Biblical truth the young have learned at home and in their local church, but the teachers seem to think it is their mission in life to change the views of their students to harmonize with the seminary and theological training the teachers have absorbed while obtaining their arbitrarily determined academic degrees. It became obvious how wise it is that parents tell their young as they leave for school, even for “Christian” schools, not to swallow everything they are told. Likely as not, you will encounter false teachers at either place as quickly as teachers that teaches the truth.
Pressure from their peers is so tremendous it cannot be measured for its magnitude. This is why many youths get caught up in using drugs, engaging in immoralities and drinking alcohol. It is because “everybody else is doing it.” Of course, everybody is not doing it, but it seems that way so often.
Intentionally, ideas are often planted in their mind to discount the Bible, question its authority and validity and relevancy to our modem and scientific age. The fact that those who ridicule and discount the Bible know little to nothing about the Bible does not prevent them from creating problems for those who have been taught to love, respect and study the Bible. Home churches sorely need lessons that build confidence in what the Bible claims itself to be, the Word of God.
The young are taught that the Bible is not the standard, that there really is no standard, that “if it feels good, do it,” then bombarded with the temptations to do evil, the pressures to "go along” by their peers. You can see the Christian youth has entered a spiritually savage jungle and needs all the help he can receive.
Some brethren, trying to provide better companionship for Christians who attend the schools, have built dormitories where Christian students can live and maintain Christian standards. Too often the coed dorms at state schools are nothing but state financed brothels. This may sound harsh, but from what I was told I have no reason to disbelieve it. How can they maintain any semblance of decency while living in such environments?
Our young must be assured that for every attack against God and His Word there is an answer. Even though they may not readily have the answer, and even though it may pose a difficult research to learn the answer, there is no objection against God and His Word for which God has not provided an answer that refutes error. Of this our young need to be assured, and therefore, need to not be humiliated nor afraid to stand for what they have been taught by faithful brethren to be the truth. Truth can be defended, and there are those capable of defending it. So often attackers will not allow opportunities for their edicts of error to be questioned or challenged. They make their high-toned pronouncements and demand everybody accept them, even contending that anybody with a brain will readily swallow everything the college professor tells them because he is smart. Our young need to know they have no obligation to accept that sinister attack on truth.
As would be expected there
is the problem of dress and appearance. Some of the worst looking
human beings 1 have ever seen were walking about the campuses of what
were supposed to be prestigious institutions of learning. No only are
so many so sloppy, reflecting a lack of self respect, but immodesty is
the rule rather than the norm in some of the places I visited. One
student told me he had known many students, but never had known a boy
with long hair or a girl with a mini-skirt who did not seriously lack
self respect or a sense of responsibility for their appearance and
influence. Another commented, “You can cut the hair and lengthen the
skirt, but it takes longer to change the heart that has allowed it.”
Just why young Christians wish to ape the lowest and most base
elements of society is inexplicable. It reflects that they did not
learn much of the way of Christ at home or from the home church, and
they are not getting much from the church near the campus. How the
church needs to teach the young to be models of Christianity, not
mockers of it!
Brethren who contend appearances are merely innocent fads and passing quirks are blind to the realities of the atheistic and social revolution in our society and the influence it has had on molding the mind, values, attitudes and hearts of the young, even in the church. We are fools to shut our eyes to the realities of evil that surround our youth.
There are other problems young people face that threaten and upset their spiritual balance. There is the pressure of time, the establishment of priorities, the shock of the large size of the schools they enter, the impersonal qualities of campus existence, becoming a number on a card, the loss of individual concern everybody needs.
This emphasizes all the more the need for establishing contact with faithful churches near campuses, if they exist. If that does not occur early they may soon begin to think it does not matter. They turn to do whatever they wish and get lost in the crowd. Even on campuses of schools operated by Christians they are shocked by things that are wrong. Because of this they are subject to becoming cynical against everything called “Christian.”
No campus is perfect. There are problems on all of them But the campuses where Christian principles are at least verbalized and where they do not condone such things as drug abuse, immorality, profanity and other evils so obvious in the world, may prove worth the cost and effort. The present problem in “Christian” schools is their adoption of liberalism and digression and it is existent in every “Christian” school, and rampant and dominant in most of them.
I found it generally true that concern for the individual
student is more apparent on “Christian” campuses than on state
campuses. Unless you do something that is illegal the administrators
in state schools generally keep hands off. Only when someone is caught
violating civil law do they get involved. All kinds of Satanic
movements are found there, and that some of these are found on
“Christian” campuses is even more disturbing.
Pressures on Them
While the picture is generally bleak and discouraging, we must mention other pressures that make life for the college person rather difficult. He and she face such things as military service, who to marry, life’s profession, even what will be their major, as well as meeting the financial responsibilities of getting their education. All these things make an impact on their attitudes and lives. Decisions regarding money, jobs, friends, acceptance, convenience, family, the world generally takes its toll. The young must learn to include God in every choice in life, usually in an environment where God is declared irrelevant.
The impact of coming into an environment where immorality is often so prevalent and accepted is greater than folks back home realize. There is the accumulation of youthful passion, a sense of independence and freedom from parental supervision, escape from preaching against the wickedness of immorality, and the urging to “do your own thing.” I got the distinct impression from those I interviewed that on some campuses it was almost a wide open society where anything goes. Placing youths in that setting who has been taught to have respect for right and wrong can be a very tremendous shock to them.
Often their problems are created, or at least aggravated, by their home. Family conflicts, complaints about money, making the young feel guilty like he is imposing on parents because he is costing so much, only adds to his frustration. Cars, money and late hours have proven deadly to many students. Young people are like springs coiled to expand. Hold them down until the moment you must let go and they spring out of control. Let them expand gradually, and under control, and when the time comes to remove your hand, they stand on their own.
You be Different?
I never did discover why another two problems exist and are so demanding, but almost all of the young mentioned them both. There is pressure to (1) conform to the crowd around them, and (2) to be sure you become different from people back home. This is neither wise nor reasonable to think either pressure brings good necessarily. Whether one should conform to others must be determined by the truth. Whether to be different from folks back home should be determined the same way. But they are brainwashed into thinking they are not really educated unless they throw away whatever those who love them most have taught them in the past.
Advisors of the young told me there were five very vulnerable types of young people being knocked off track once they get away from home into the college environment. (1) Those who have been overprotected and never given opportunity to exercise the power of choice, how to choose, what to choose, seldom trusted, and given few responsibilities, everything done for them, and escaped discipline. (2) Those who were forced to do this or that, even regarding the church, without ever being benefited with explanations and reasons why. (3) Those very subject to pressure, who lack personal conviction because of lack of knowledge. (4) Those who have been prominent in high school activities and are often disillusioned because they are not so suddenly prominent on college campus. They often pay a terrible price seeking that prominence. (5) These who have been granted too much freedom at home, being either allowed or forced to be an adult before they were capable of dealing with adult situations, physically, intellectually, financially and spiritually.
Now that we have considered some of these matters, what do we do with all of this? Only a portion of information I learned has been included, but enough for us to draw some conclusions about what we must do in the interest of the young and their relationship to the church.
Is this information merely interesting to us, or do we care enough to want to do something for the young that will really help keep them faithful to Christ? This is an important decision each congregation must make, and this means each individual should be concerned.
I pursued this investigation with the lofty
expectation that we all can profit from what is discovered. I would
hope that the local church would make better efforts to provide a
solid, grounded spiritual foundation for the young under its
influence. We desperately need people who will give themselves to the
task of devising courses of study that will prepare the youth for what
is before them. We must provide qualified teachers for them so they
can teach and show the young what Christians are supposed to be.
We need those who will guide, plan, promote activities that are truly effective. This takes time, thought and money. It cannot be done haphazardly.
We must get an "away-from-home" department for our young. This must be overseen by dedicated and informed people. The home church must keep in touch with them and the churches near the schools also.
More than anything else, possibly, we must put an emphasis on teaching the home regarding parental responsibility for the young and teach the young “thus saith the Lord.” Our teaching and preaching must be the kind God wants, as Scripture reveals, in message and content. We must expose them to the truth and warn them of the error, if we expect them to believe and obey truth. How can they take convictions to school with them if we have not shown them the right way?
We must learn to listen to what they tell us. They can inform us of their needs sometimes far better than we can know by mere observation, or trying to recall how it was when we went to school. Today's students face things the older generation never faced, at least not as openly, defiantly and rebelliously against God as things are today. Our task is before us. Our young are depending on us. We need parents and home churches that really care and will act aggressively. Can you think of any other way we can keep from losing our most cherished possession, our young people?
1. What do young people want to tell leaders of the church?
2. How have “Bible chairs” and student centers tried to fix the problem?
3. What can the home church do once the young person has left for the campus or some
4. How do professors take advantage of young people?
5. Are there answers to the questions and problems young people face?
6. What damage does atheistic influence have on young people in their educational
7. Why are some young people convinced you must somehow become different from
what they left back home?
8. What advantage does the “Christian” school have over other places of learning?
9. What types of young people are most vulnerable to being swept away once they
10. What major steps can the home church make to improve situations for young people