Educate Me

Thank God that we do not need to have a Ph.D. in Psychology, Sociology or Anthropology from Fuller Seminary, in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people, and serve Him according to His will.

Don’t get me wrong. I love education and I have a lot to learn. In the bible we see examples of the apostles and disciples of Jesus knowing and understanding something of the cultural and religious background and customs of the people to whom they were led by God to bring the gospel.

To the Jews I became a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as though under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 1 Cor. 9:20-23.

Missionaries study the cultural context of the people they go to live among. Likewise, we should do our best to know about the many worldviews and cultural backgrounds of the people that surround us in order to be as effective as we can be in our witness. It goes without saying that this contextual knowledge does not change the message of the gospel that we are to communicate.

So, when I saw the glossy church posters, advertising a seminar to help me understand a particular (so called) sub-cultural group, I decided to go. “‘Hurt’: Understanding the hearts and minds of youth today”, by Chap Clark, based on the book by the same name. There were two reasons I wanted to go and glean the wisdom of the professor: one, I would eventually have three teens living in my house, and two, if I get the chance to witness to teens, it would be a good idea to be up to date on the current teen sub culture so that I would be relating in a wise, sensitive and understanding way.

So I paid my five bucks and went in to the church auditorium, the place of worship. That was not too bad; other churches were charged ten bucks a person to get in to this seminar. Dr. Clark spoke to a packed house- hundreds of people- from several churches and people from the surrounding community. He spoke for three hours on pop youth culture. Everything I learned in college Psychology and Sociology was reiterated: the Secular Humanist theories of Freud, Maslow and Skinner. The only new material was the newer social construct of the “social clusters” that replace the “cliques” of my generation. New information! Now I was getting my money’s worth.

The thing that bothered me was, although I thought the purpose of the seminar was to teach Christian parents, he actually spoke to two audiences at the same time: “people of faith, and people not of faith”, as he called it. I felt like I was listening to Oprah. There were a few scattered verses thrown in here and there; maybe three verses in the three hour talk. He spoke “to the middle”, never instructing Christian parents in the Word, and never saying anything that even came close to sharing the gospel with the “seekers” that came into the church because they were drawn by the “community interest” event. Then, he said this:

“I advise you parents not to encourage your teens to share their faith in God with their friends in their social clusters, because if they do, and the friends do not like it, it could jeopardize your kids’ standing in the social cluster, and that is the worst possible thing that could happen. ”

Friends, this is the exact opposite of what the Lord has told us to do. We parents should teach our youth to boldly stand for Christ, to love Him more than the world, to identify with Him publicly, to speak of Him without shame or fear, to be ambassadors of Christ to their generation. We should teach them that they may stand alone or face ridicule and rejection, that these things are the normal Christian life, and that God will care for their needs. Clark was teaching that the social cluster is imperative to the survival of teens; that it is more important than family or anything else. It seems the point of this event had nothing to do with God or the gospel or biblical parenting(the teaching was mostly secular, focusing on self esteem); it was apparantly just about getting people to come in the doors so they could know that the church relates to the world. Jesus related to people where they were at, but He revealed Himself to them, He preached the gospel to them and He instructed believers in God’s Word. The apostles did the same.

I’ve had a little bit of missions and cross cultural training. So I know it can be done without practically denying Christ. Thinking of evangelism and parenting, I thought this seminar would be kind of like cross cultural training, but it was not. It was athiestic Secular Humanism, and it denied Christ and His commandments to us. We must choose if we are going to learn about the world, so we can go and reach the world for Christ, or if we are going to join the world.

Let us compare Clark’s advice with the Word of God.

Concerning parental duty:
We will not conceal them (God’s Words) from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. Ps. 78:4.

Concerning sharing our faith in God:
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. 1Chron.16:23-24.

Concerning rejection by the world:
Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you and cast insults at you and spurn (reject) your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. Luke 6:22-23.

Concerning loving Christ vs. loving the world:
For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God? Or am I still striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Gal.1:10.

For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. John 12:43.

So, concerning that Ph.D. in Humanism that you don’t have, don’t worry about it. Save yourself the five bucks and stay in the Word. God has given us all we need to know in His Word, and the Word is Christ. This is the one thing we need to know.

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
1 Cor.2:2.

By: Jars of Clay

Arms nailed down,
are you telling me something?
Eyes turned out,
are you looking for someone?

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

Blood-stained brow,
are you dying for nothing?
Flesh and blood,
is it so elemental?

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

Blood-stained brow,
He wasn’t broken for nothing.
Arms nailed down,
He didn’t die for nothing.

This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.

8 thoughts on “Educate Me

  1. The goal of our parenting is (by God’s grace) to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to teach them all He has commanded, and to teach them to be ambassadors of Christ to their generation. At the end of the seminar, Clark said the goal of our parenting is to create “Change Agents”. I’m afraid the only change agent in that church building that night, was him.

  2. Great article… can’t believe a church would hold a parentng conference that encourages parent to persuade their children against sharing their faith with thie “social cluster”… EEK!!@# Okay, it’s sad, but I really can and do believe it!

    Thanks for the link to our blog… you’re setting such a high standard here with posts like this, not sure we’ll offer your readers anything half as good!

    By the way, behind the scenes of our blog is a forum where around 70 men & women discuss theology and evangelism without being hostile to one another (that’s rare with message boards). If you’re interested, check out:

    Really enjoyed your blog!

  3. Pingback: Change Agents in Your Church? « Witnessing. Encouragement.

  4. Pingback: Car Conversations « Witnessing Encouragement

  5. “He didn’t die for nothing.” Amen! Thank you for sharing your ‘learning’ experience. I thank God for you and others who spread the Gospel in their cars, neighborhoods, stores, school campuses, etc. because a lot of churches don’t want to preach the true Gospel anymore!! God bless you!

  6. Pingback: Exit Churchianity « Now What?

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