Florida Megachurch Ends Age-Segregated Worship

 

We have observed that there is broad discussion in the mainstream church regarding age segregation. Pastors who now embrace at least some of the principles of the sufficiency of scripture are questioning the practice like never before. I believe that in the next decade, we will see thousands of established churches abandon age segregation. I don’t believe that this Florida church has abandoned age segregation in it’s normal programming or youth ministry, but have at least on one level, have addressed it in the main worship gathering of the church.

The church, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, “recognized that many churches in the U.S. are following the lead of the advertising world by targeting specific age groups and employing the separate contemporary and traditional worship services model.”

‘That may be good business but it’s bad worship; it’s bad church,‘ he stated plainly.

Outlining what we believe is the most important problem of age segregation in the church, he spoke of the unity of the body of Christ,

He listed some of the drawbacks of segregated worship. In a traditional worship service, the church inadvertently communicates that God was more active in the past that He is in the present, he said. In a contemporary service, the church communicates that God is more active in the present than He was in the past. But a church must communicate God’s ‘timeless activity,’ he indicated.

It was interesting that he made an unusual connection with racial segregation,

The megachurch pastor also said he doesn’t view separate worship services by style or age as any different from racial segregation, except that it’s more subtle.”

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Hymn Writer Cowper – A Poem Against Age Segregated Public Education – 1784

 

William Cowper, friend of John Newton, the great hymn writer and poet was against age segregation and the rise of public schools. He wrote a VERY long poem in 1784 called, Tirocinium: A Review of Schools. Here he declares himself against public age segregated education. In the poem he identifies the foolishness of the kind of education that contradicts the Bible.

Here are some excerpts to give you a general feel for his message,

And, common sense diffusing real day,
The meteor of the gospel dies away. Such rhapsodies our shrewd discerning youth
Learn from expert inquirers after truth;
Whose only care, might truth presume to speak,
Is not to find what they profess to seek.
And thus, well tutored only while we share
A mother’s lectures and a nurse’s care;
And taught at schools much mythologic stuff
But sound religion sparingly enough
Our early notices of truth, disgraced,
Soon lose their credit, and are all effaced.
Would you your son should be a sot or dunce,
Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once;
That in good time the stripling’s finished taste
For loose expense, and fashionable waste,
Should prove your ruin, and his own at last;
Train him in public with a mob of boys,
Childish in mischief only and in noise,
Else of a manish growth, and five in ten
In infidelity and lewdness men.
There shall he learn, ere sixteen winters old,
Tha authors are most usful pawned or sold;
That pedantry is all that schools impart,
But taverns teach the knowledge of the hart,
There waiter Dick, with Bacchanalian lays,
Shall win his heart, and have his drunken praise,
His counsellor and bosom friend shall prove,
And some street-pacing harlot his first love.
Schools, unless discipline were doubly strong,
Detain their adolescent charge too long;
The management of tyros of eighteen
Is difficult; their punishment obscene….

For public schools tis public folly feeds.
The slaves of custom and established mode,
With packhorse constancy we keep the road,
Cooked or straigh, through quags or thorny dells,
True to the jingling of our leader’s bells.
To follow foolish precedent, and wind
With both our eyes, is easier than to think;…

That youth takes pleasure in, to please his boy;
Then why why resign into a stranger’s hand
A task as much withing your own command,
That God and nature, and your interest too,
Seem with one voice to delegate to you?
We hire a lodging in a house unknown
For one whose tenderest thoughts all hover round your own?

Alas poor boy! – the natural effect
Of love by absence chilled into respect,
Say, what accomplishments, at school acquired,
Brings he, to sweeten fruits so undesired?
Thou well deserv’st an alienated son,
Unless thy conscious heart acknowledge – none;
None that, in thy domestic snug recess,
He has not made his own with more address,
Though some, perhaps, that shock thy feeling mind,
And better never learned, or left behind….”

And seems it nothing in a father’s eye,
That unimproved those many moments fly?
And is he will content his son should find
No nourishment to feed his growing mind
But conjugated verbs, and nouns declined?
For such is all the mental food purveyed
By public hackneys in the schooling trade;
Who feed a pupil’s intellect with store
Of Syntax. Truly, but with little more;
Dismiss themselves when they dismiss their flock,
Machines themselves, and governed by a clock.

To form thy son, to strike his genius forth;
Beneath thy roof, beneath thine eye, to prove
The force of discipline, when backed by love;
To double all thy pleasure in thy child,
His mind informed, his morals undefiled.
Safe under such a wing, the boy shall show
No spots contracted among grooms blow,
Nor taint his speech with meannesses, designed
By footman Tom for witty and refined.
There, in his commerce with the liv’ried herd,
Lurks the contagion chiefly to be feared”

Pull down the schools – what! – all the schools in the land;
Or throw them up to livery-nags and grooms,
Or turn them into shops and auction rooms.

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Voddie Baucham Weighs in on Andreas Kostenbergers Chapter on FIC

Voddie ends his piece with these words,

One day someone is going to write an accurate assessment of the FIC. They are going to visit actual churches, talk to actual members and leaders, listen to actual sermons, and interact with actual statements. Unfortunately, today is not that day.”

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Absolute Dependence

Jonathan Edwards points out one of the wonderful effects of true awakening on people in the church – a sense of absolute dependence.

The drift of the Spirit of God in his legal strivings with persons, has seemed most evidently to be, to make way for, and to bring to, a conviction of their absolute dependence on his sovereign power and grace, and universal necessity of a Mediator, by leading them more and more to a sense of their exceeding wickedness and guiltiness in his sight; the pollution and insufficiency of their own righteousness, that they can in no wise help themselves, and that God would be wholly just and righteous in rejecting them, and all that they do, and in casting them off forever: though there be a vast variety as to the manner and distinctness of persons convictions of these things.

(Pg. 70, 71, The Jonathan Edwards Reader, Yale Nota Bene)

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Two Effects of Awakening

Jonathan Edwards who personally experienced unusual seasons of awakening shows two effects as a pattern for awakenings,

These awakenings when they have first seized on persons have had two effects: one was, that they have brought them immediately to quit their sinful practices, and the looser sort have been brought to forsake and dreaded heir former vices and extravagancies. When once the Spirit of God began to be so wonderfully poured out in a general way through the town, people had soon done with their old quarrels,backbitings, and intermeddling with other men’s matters; the tavern was soon left empty, and persons kept very much at home; none went abroad unless on necessary business, or on some religious account, and every day seemed in many respects like a Sabbath day. And the other effect was that it put them on earnest application to the means of salvation – reading, prayer meditation, the ordinances of God’s house, and private conference, their cry was “What shall we do to be saved?” The place of resort was now altered it was no longer the tavern, but the minister’s house, that was thronged far more than ever the tavern had been wont to be.

(Pg. 68, The Jonathan Edwards Reader, Yale Nota Bene)

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Marriage Weekend Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow we start our marriage gathering and I am getting more excited by the hour. At this gathering we promote an intentional lifestyle that, prepares children for Gospel centered marriages. We begin the conference at the beginning – with the biblical doctrine of marriage, and how knowing and living it is the best marriage preparation you can give to your children. Once this is established, we answer dozens of practical questions regarding the marriages of our sons and daughters.

For example,

How do you make a marriage for the glory of God?

How do you equip children to be ready for marriage?

How do you help children identify potential spouses?

How do you connect with others who may be potential marriage partners?

How should young people should treat one another in the church?

How do you encourage young men to ready themselves during their single years?

How do you deploy and encourage your daughters during their single years?

How to prepare sons for headship in marriage?

What principles should be followed before the wedding day or before what people refer to as “courtship,” “engagement,” and “betrothal?” What do these terms mean and how should we think about them?

How do you conduct yourself while planning the wedding?

How do you become a godly in-law?

We pray that the legacy of our time together would result in the strengthening of our marriages and the forming of marriages among our children for the glory of God for many generations.

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Nations are Nothing but a Collection of Families

In a day of extreme individualism and neglect of family life principles, it often helps to hear voices from the past. J.C. Ryle, in his commentary on the gospel of Matthew, writes about the extreme importance of families.

It is difficult to overrate the importance of these two subjects. The well-being of nations, and the happiness of society, are closely connected with right views upon them. Nations are nothing but a collection of families. The good order of families depends entirely on keeping up the highest standard of respect for the marriage tie, and on the right training of children. We ought to be thankful, that on both these points, the great Head of the Church has pronounced judgment so clearly.” J.C. Ryle

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Check Justin Taylors Blog – Kostenberger on the Family-Integrated Church Movement

Justin Taylor recently posted an excerpt from the new chapter on the family integrated church movement in Andraeus Kostenbergers latest revision of God, Marriage and Family.

“While we share a deep conviction as to the importance of the family, we are committed to the biblical foundation for marriage and the family, and this includes a sound grasp of the New Testament teaching regarding the church. It is our tentative assessment that the family-integrated approach as defined below has elevated the family to an unduly high status that is unwarranted in light of the biblical teaching on the subject and that its view of the church as a “family of families” is not sufficiently supported by Scripture.

Statements like this come from people who have not done their homework and who disregard the true positions of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches. Read the Comments thread in Justin Taylors blog for illumination.

The truth is, the family-integrated church movement is being led primarily by confessional baptists and Presbyterians who understand and preach the centrality of the gospel, the importance of the local church and who also who are attempting to honor the only explicitly biblical pattern of discipleship which is age-integrated.

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Not so Pure Yet…

Jonathan Edwards notes that no matter how wonderful and transforming awakenings are, there is still resident sins and the common human weaknesses that follow us, which may cause stimulate scorn among onlookers,

“We are not so pure, but that we have great cause to be humbled and ashamed that we are so impure; not so religious, but that those that watch out for halting may see things in us whence they may take occasion to reproach us and religion: but in the main, there has been a great and marvelous work of conversion and sanctification among the people here; and they have paid all due respects to those who have been blessed of God to be in instruments of it. Both old and young have shown a forwardness to hearken not only to my counsels, but even to my reproofs from the pulpit.”

(Pg. 86, The Jonathan Edwards Reader, Yale Nota Bene)

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Man Abased and God Exalted

We want nothing but to behold the glory of God and to see him exalted by all, and everywhere, to be happy. When I read the descriptions of the heavenly world, I see nothing so prominent as these two great truths: Man abased and God exalted….Behold! ‘what hath God wrought?’ – Gardiner Spring, quoted in Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858, p. 345

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Life of Washington Tour, Sept. 6 – 11

In September, Hope Baptist Church is traveling to study the history of this country around the time of the founding fathers by considering the life of George Washington. By putting people on a bus together, we have an opportunity to encourage and fellowship together as we examine God’s providential hand in history. Because we still have some open seats, we are opening it up to other people who would like to join us. It is an opportunity to see places like Philadelphia, Trenton, Mount Vernon and much more. The trip is from September 6th to 11th. We leave early Monday morning from Wake Forest and return Saturday afternoon. The cost is $200 per adult and $175 per child. Lap children are free. This does not include the hotel which is approximately $65 per room per night, but it does include all transportation, entrance fees and all the meals except for three dinners. If it would be beneficial to you and your family, please come join us. You can view the schedule or a brochure and sign up here. The deadline for registering is August 30.

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The Unbiblical Morass of Modern Youth Ministry

Tracking the downfall of modern youth ministry is regularly in the news today, and even mainstream news outlets seem to think that it is big enough news to report on it. Today, the Wall Street Journal helps to chronicle the unbiblical morass that characterizes much of modern youth ministry. Of course there is a reform movement in youth ministry that seeks to be God centered and so you can’t lump all into one. But the WSJ piece entitled, “The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity,” reveals the philosophical center of much of youth ministry that is disconnected from biblical government. The author declares,

“‘How can we stop the oil gusher?’ may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.

Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn’t megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.

Increasingly, the “plan” has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called “the emerging church”—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too “let’s rethink everything” radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity’s image and make it “cool”—remains.”

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Teens Tell Churches – Bye Bye – Forget your Pizza Parties

The collapse of modern youth ministry is reaching legendary proportions and people want to talk about how to fix it. Nearly everyone agrees it is severely broken, but not everyone has the same answer. USA Today reporters Cathy Lynn Grossman and Stephanie Steinberg have an article documenting one of the current challenges – shrinking youth groups and a shrinking youth summer camp industry.

They report, “Only about one in four teens now participate in church youth groups, considered the hallmark of involvement; numbers have been flat since 1999. Other measures of religiosity — prayer, Bible reading and going to church — lag as well, according to Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif., evangelical research company. This all has churches canceling their summer teen camps and youth pastors looking worriedly toward the fall, when school-year youth groups kick in.

Seemingly, even the high octane entertainment is not enough, “‘Talking to God may be losing out to Facebook,’ says Barna president David Kinnaman.”

The problem for churches, who have built their ministries on youth groups is significant. “Sweet 16 is not a sweet spot for churches. It’s the age teens typically drop out,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, which found the turning point in a study of church dropouts. “A decade ago teens were coming to church youth group to play, coming for the entertainment, coming for the pizza. They’re not even coming for the pizza anymore. They say, ‘We don’t see the church as relevant, as meeting our needs or where we need to be today.’

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A Nation In the Jaws of the Culture of Death – 2% of all Dutch Deaths Caused by Euthanasia

In a startling report, the Globe and Mail says that death by euthanasia has risen 13% during the last year and now makes up fully 2% of all deaths in the country. They are now considering “End of Life Clinics” or dedicated euthanasia hospitals.

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How Sovereign Is God?

Here Spurgeon speaks on how sovereign God actually is,

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—

that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—

that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.

The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—

the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

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