Churches On A Detour
There is an alarming increase of our brethren who want churches to provide recreation for their families. It is not uncommon now for one to see new church buildings with gymnasiums in them , nor is it unusual for men to want to hire "youth ministers", mainly to see the children are taken care of "socially".
Is this the work of the Lord's church? Are we better off now that "we are finally catching up with the denominations in how to win young people to Christ?"
I hereby raise an objection! I listen to those who would persuade me the church's work ought to include fun and games as they say: "the Christian life includes fellowship," "Christians who work togeter ought to play together." "We must minister to the whole man," and "You cannot separate the spiritual and the social.".
And you know, I agree on their emphasis! Yes, I agree: That children need to know how to be spiritual when they play; I agree one must not leave spirituality out of the social; I agree Christians need to be together and show their love and joy together; I agree teens need to know that being in Christ is "fun".
Yet I disagree that the churche's work is to provide this! Conspicuously absent from all such argumentation is anything from the Bible. I still believe God's people are to act with instruction from the Lord, such as a COMMAND, and EXAMPLE, or an INFERENCE. But I hear none of this. I say in the absense of such instruction, let not the church be charged with such work.
There are some obvious problems when churches get into the recreation business.
1. A church acts without Biblical authority. "I still believe in book, chapter, and verse," and I have none that so authorizes me to act.
2. A church is detoured from the main thrust of Jesus. He wants us to be in the soul-winning business. (will one say this is the way to win souls, by recreation? Better check John 6:44-45 first! Do we win them by ball games, OR by teaching the word?)
3. A church cripples parents by taking from them a responsibility God gave them at the birth of the child. Theirs is the responsibility for social behavior.
4. A church confuses church action and individual action. A man cares for his family, and the church is not to do so (1 Timothy 5:16). An individual pays his bills (Ephesians 4:28; Romans 13:7-8), but that is not the church doing so. (Anyone who can see the difference between a man's checkbook and the church's checkbook can surely see the difference between the church doing something and the individual doing something). So, parents can act as individuals in providing recreation, and this is not the church doing so.
5. A church confuses the teens. They are asking, "isn't there something more than games to being a Christian?" Sadly, we underestimate our kids; they are ready for work and service, not just fun and games. Would it not be tragic to give tham a false standard of what should be first and second place in their lives? (1 Timothy 4:8 seems to indicate the secondary nature of bodily exercise).
Yes, I am for fun, recreation, and games among God's people. I believe such things can deepen impressions for good in all our lives.
AND, I am also for parents providing these fun and games for their children. It is so useless and unnecessary for churches to be involved in providing this recreation. Everything that needs to be done for our recreation can easily be done through our homes.
Let us not detour the church; let us not get on the sidetrack; let us not diver the church from it's noble challenge.
If any man can come forward with Bible teaching for churches to get into the recreation business, I would welcome him with open arms. If man and churches cannot find such Bible teaching, I strongly plead that they get back into scriptural workd for wich they have explicit Bible teaching.
By Roy H. Lanier Jr
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