Thoughts on Evangelizing Children: A Glorious Minefield

by Dave Miller on July 2, 2013 · 140 comments

Let me start this by setting out my assumptions.

1) Children, because of their natural sinful state, need to be evangelized. It is imperative that we proclaim the full truth of the biblical gospel to children. Their eternal souls depend on it! (No, that is not an invitation for a TULIP food fight!)

2) Evangelizing children is a minefield with some very real dangers of which we must be aware. Children are often eager to please and susceptible to inducements. The possibility of a false conversion which gives a false sense of confidence to someone unconverted increases by orders of magnitude as the gospel is shared with younger children.

3) There is no discounted gospel for children. That truth (or Truth) which saves a 43-year-old alcoholic is the same that saves a cherub-faced 8-year-old girl.  We cannot offer children a gospel any different than that which is offered to a full-grown adult. The words and presentation may be different, but the substance is the same. Too often, though, we not only simplify the presentation of the gospel for children, but discount the gospel itself.

Years ago, a young relative of ours came home deeply disturbed from Sunday School. He was about 8 years old. The evangelist who was there for the weekly revival spoke to his class. Now, in fairness, I don’t know what the evangelist actually said; we only know what this kid came home thinking. He was under the impression that because he did not respond to the evangelist’s message, there was a black spot of sin on his heart that would never go away!

A church in my city held a VBS-type sports camp and one of our church’s families took their kids. They got a letter a couple of weeks later congratulating them because their child had “asked the Big JC to be her best friend.” There is just too much wrong with that to speak about!

At our annual Upward Awards Celebration, we had a well-known speaker who came in and “shared the gospel” with the hundreds of children and their families who were in the local high school gym. Somehow, his gospel presentation never mentioned the death of Jesus Christ. Can there be a gospel presentation that doesn’t mention Jesus and his death on the Cross?

Of course, we’ve pretty much all heard about the firetruck baptistery at an SBC megachurch whose children’s wing was designed to mimic a Disney set. The firetruck baptistery would fire off a confetti cannon when a child was baptized. Of course, there was no inducement to profess faith there, right?

I would hazard to guess that in each of those situations sincere people with a sincere desire to reach children with the gospel did what they thought was right. I do not question their motives or desires. No one acted out of a desire to falsely induce children to false conversions. People who loved Christ wanted kids to come to Christ. I do not question motives.

But I do question the wisdom of their behavior and their .

We have to be incredibly careful when we are evangelizing children. We must not slack in this duty, but we must navigate the minefield carefully. Here are some suggestions that I would put forward as we evangelize children in our families and churches.

1) Immerse children in the gospel story. 

My daughter called it “the story.” “Daddy, tell me the story.” She was struggling with the gospel and her need for salvation. As a bedtime story, I would tell her the story of the Bible – the whole truth. I started with Adam and Eve, the first human pair. God made us for himself and his glory. I told her of the fall into sin, and the judgment that came as a result. I shared about the Law of God which told us how to live, but how each of us failed to obey that law and therefore stood guilty before God – condemned by our own actions. Then I told her about Jesus coming to earth, living a perfect life and never sinning, doing great works, but dying on the Cross for our sins. I told her that Jesus rose from the dead as Lord of all and that anyone who believed in him would be saved. I even told her that Jesus would come again one day to establish his kingdom on earth and to judge the world.

Over and over again we told “the story” at bedtime. We took her to church where that same gospel was taught in classes and from the pulpit. She was in a Christian school. Long before she was ever immersed in water, she was immersed in the gospel story.

When you plant a garden, soil preparation is important. The seed will sprout and grow if the soil is properly tilled and fertilized. Children’s hearts must be carefully prepared for that moment when the seed springs to life. Immerse them in the gospel story from an early age.

2) Be careful with invitations and inducements.

“Bethany, mommy and daddy would be so happy if you just trusted Jesus. Won’t you do that now, please?” My guess is that if we had ever said words like this, she would have “prayed the prayer” and put our hearts at ease.

But it is not about putting the parents’ hearts at ease; it is about a child counting the cost and making an informed decision to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They must understand the essentials of the gospel and they must respond in faith – not in obedience to the their parents’ wishes or to pressure from anyone else.

  • Children tend to wish to please their parents (except when they don’t!) and it is easy to get them to make a decision they think will make their family happy.
  • Children tend to want to fit into the group. When there are public invitations and other kids raise their hands or do whatever it is they are asked to do, children will sometimes follow along with the crowd and do what everyone else is doing.
  • Children tend to respond to pressure or manipulation, even doing things they don’t want to do if the pressure is high enough.
  • Children will do things that are fun and exciting even if they do not fully understand what they are doing. “Hey, if I raise my hand, they will shoot off the confetti cannon!”

Because of these characteristics, invitations to children must be without pressure of any kind, without inducement, pressure or manipulation. I am not saying that we should never invite children to believe. I am saying we should be careful when we do it.

3) Let the motivation come from within, from the Holy Spirit.

One of the things I looked for with my kids was a desire for Christ, a sense of conviction and need that came from within. Old, young or in between – we are saved when we recognize our sin and become aware of our deep need for Christ. The Spirit of God creates that sense of need. When we are dealing with kids, we ought to continue to proclaim Christ, live out the message, and wait for the Spirit to bring the child to the place of new birth.

I’ve met with children in my office who, the parents tell me, have put their faith in Christ and been saved. When I question them, they either do not understand or cannot articulate the truths of the gospel story. It is my suspicion that sometimes, the motivation for these experiences comes more from the parents than it does from the children.

It is what I would call a premature new birth!

When a baby is birthed prematurely, it causes problems. Sometimes, the baby does not survive. Sometimes, there are defects or physical challenges to be overcome. It is best when the baby reaches full term and is allowed to come in its own time.

Is it fair to use that illustration to describe the salvation experience (at least from the human perspective)? There is a moment of conception when the soul is opened to the gospel. Then, there is gestation, in which the person considers the claims of Christ, counts the cost, and contemplates his or her response. Finally, there is the exciting moment when a new life is born, quickened by the Spirit and made alive in Christ.

We must be careful not to try to shorten the gestation period by artificial and humanistic means. Rushing a child to new birth is not a good thing. We must preach the gospel, let the Spirit work, and gently guide children to respond.

4) Be careful of fictionalized, simplified or watered-down gospel accounts. 

I remember a musical my oldest son’s Christian school performed one year at Christmas – a sort of Star Trek meets the Gospel of Matthew. It was funny (and since my son had the main part – the Spock counterpoint – it was incredibly well done). But it trivialized the gospel, making a farce out of the gospel story.

My children loved the Hanna Barbera animated Bible stories series back in the 80s, in which some modern kids traveled back in time and witnessed (and became part of) those stories. They even tackled Samson and Delilah – standard fare for children’s movies, right?

These are not, in my opinion, sinful or evil. But they are dangerous, especially if they trivialize, simplify, or (especially) water down the hard truths of the gospel. We need to be careful of such things. The gospel is not just another story like the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. It is a true story of sin and love and grace.

Should the church evangelize children? Absolutely.

Should the church evangelize aggressively, directly and forcefully? Yes.

But it must do so carefully. We must immerse our children in the full story of the biblical gospel. We must make sure that we offer no fleshly inducements, use no manipulative tactics, exert no pressure and simply let the Holy Spirit accomplish the miraculous work of new birth. Birth is a natural process that must not be rushed. New birth is a supernatural process which also must be allowed its proper time.

1 David Gallimore July 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

“We must immerse our children in the full story of the biblical gospel. We must make sure that we offer no fleshly inducements, use no manipulative tactics, exert no pressure and simply let the Holy Spirit accomplish the miraculous work of new birth.”

Well said Dave.

2 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Dave,

Excellent article….very good insight. Reach out to children with the Gospel, and be very careful in dealing with their souls. Make sure that they understand the Gospel….amen!

I agreed with you about most everything but your dislike of Hanna Barbera. What do you have against Mokey? He was nice and funny.
:)

David

3 David Gallimore July 2, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I must have missed out on the Hanna Barbera Bible stories.

But one of the biggest debates my wife and I have ever had has been over Veggie Tales, LOL.

4 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I LOVE Veggie Tales….tell your wife that I’m on her side.

“Oh, where is my hairbrush? Where is my hairbrush? Oh, where o where o where….is my hairbrush?”

David

5 David Gallimore July 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Yes David, my girls still sing that to me LOL

6 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm

:)

7 Dave Miller July 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

We had them all, and when I teased the kids, I was likely to call them Mokey.

But, I used that as a illustration of the danger. Sometimes, they simplified and even made serious Bible stories silly.

We ought not do that with the gospel story.

8 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Okay, Mokey.

David

9 Doug Hibbard July 3, 2013 at 8:25 am

I kind of like portraying David and Bathsheba with duckies instead. Fewer awkward questions from the youth group.

10 Dale Pugh July 3, 2013 at 8:46 am

I see a Biblical soap opera in the making–”Duck Dynasty”. Oh, wait, that one’s taken……

11 Doug Hibbard July 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Well played, Duckman….wait a minute ;)

12 Dale Pugh July 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Quack!

13 Andy Miller July 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

I remember watching those Hanna Barbara videos one summer on vacation in Iowa. For some reason, I remember a friendly 10-year old cousin debate about whether there would have been dogs on the ark.

14 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 11:32 am

Andy,

lol. And, are you, perhaps, related to Mokey(Dave Miller)?

David

15 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Yes, he is. He’s my brother’s wayward son.

16 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Did he carry on? Is he from “Kansas?”

David

17 Dale Pugh July 3, 2013 at 11:12 pm

If there were such deep theological debates over dogs on the ark then obviously there was no peace when he was done.

18 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm

after he got thru discussing the dogs on the ark, he had to lay his weary head to rest…

19 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm

And, Dave said to him, “Dont you cry no more.”

20 Dale Pugh July 3, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Waiting for the awesome guitar riff……..

21 Tim G July 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Dave,
You are correct. I know in some places this is an issue – not out of hunger for numbers, but out of desire for no one to perish. I think you have framed the subject much better than others and have produced something of a great reminder with this post.

I just wish people would cease from using blanket assumptions with this subject. We should celebrate salvation and we should seek to share more with passion and caution. It is why the Bible clearly says “work out your salvation with fear and trembling!”

Nice job!

22 Matt July 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Tim G, does Philippians 2:12 refer to salvation or sanctification? Context seems to say that Paul is talking to believers. Seems sanctification is the meaning. I’m not sure how to square your use of that verse with the subject at hand.

23 Dale B July 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Dave;
Good words. And I could not agree more with the delicacy of invitations for children; especially remembering Jesus’ word about offending same.
(On the other hand, I have been offended by equally egregious invitations/pleas for adults. At least they were not children; but, I don’t respect the ‘pleaders’ notching their guns with adults any more than if they had been children.)
I have counseled several hundred children (one at a time) in 16 years of bus ministry and I believe that I could count on my fingers all of them who did not understand sin- frequently more eloquently than adults IMHO. I do remember an innocent faced little blonde who knew what sin was; but when I asked if she had ever done any of this, answered so politely, “Oh, no sir”. Good for you Sally and we can talk about this again some time in the future,,,,.
But 99+ % both knew what sin was and immediately confessed that they were guilty- again, more openly than most adults. One of the reasons was that our invitations were always very low key:
o No music
o “Everyone bow your heads and close your eyes.” (I think that I did this pretty forcefully, because I frequently had to remind our counselors that ‘they’ were Not supposed to close ‘their’ eyes.)
o The adults (bus captain/driver, usually both) who knew the children best were in the room and had some insight into whether or not this child had shown signs of spiritual concern recently.
o And only with ‘all eyes closed’, raise your hand if you want to pray with one of the adults ,,,,,
o And we tried desperately Not to encourage children to do this until after they had attended for several months (hopefully years)- which I believe helped with their understanding of personal sin and redemption.
So have any of these children grown up to be ‘wee Bobby Moffat’? Not that I am aware of- yet.
And were they completely faithful to their Lord? No, about equally with adult converts in my experience.
Conclusion: the only greater sin than a bad invitation for children’s salvation, is NO invitation for children’s salvation.
(And I was saved in my small, rural Baptist Church’s VBS, a ‘few’ years ago, following a rather low key invitation; re: recent posts/comments.)

24 Frank L. July 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Dale, good post. Thanks.

25 Bob Cleveland July 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Thanks for smacking this head-on.

I can recall a well-known evangelist who specifically asked people to bring all the children to be in the second Sunday morning service. His sermon was all the reasons the devil didn’t want you to walk the aisle. I recall very little sin, guilt, and no repentance. But a lot of kids walked the aisle and everyone declared the service a huge success.

I recall one extremely special moment on a church mission trip .. we had a block part the last evening and one of your younger teens was counseling a child of perhaps 7. Our teen just couldn’t “close the deal” and they asked me to go talk to her and the 7-year-old. It was disappointingly obvious that the child simply did not understand sin and its consequences. But our teen was convinced she’d done something wrong because … goodness … everybody knows children ought to walk the aisle and all that.

From what I read in “Lost and Found” .. Ed Stetzer’s book .. it may be the most important result of VBS and the like may be the child’s receptiveness to the gospel later in life. That percentage is much more impressive than the percentage of children who keep the faith when they go to college.

The Philippians passage serves to underscore the necessity of getting it right, for believers. And by inference, in how we influence others.

26 Frank L. July 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm

“””I recall very little sin, guilt, and no repentance”””””

Bob, you use the measure of “guilt and repentance.” I have no problem at all with that.

What I have a problem is “measuring it.” How much “guilt should a child of 10 have compared to an adult of say, 55? Also, how do you measure repentance to know if it is enough to pass a threshold for salvation?

Is there a certain amount of emotional response necessary?

My problem isn’t in regard to requiring repentance, but in how to determine if it is there, if it is genuine, if it is enough?

As I said, I agree wholeheartedly with your post (though of course it is anecdotal in nature). I’d be interested in how you evaluate your standards.

PS–If being slain in the spirit is requisite, please outline how you train your catchers :)

27 Bob Cleveland July 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Frank, it’s a long way from an exact science. But you have to talk to the child about sin and righteousness and judgment and use your best senses and Spiritual perception to see if that conviction has taken place.

That’s my imperfect answer, and what I did there in Winfield.

28 Bob Cleveland July 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

And, I was talking about sermon content re: guilt and repentance.

The only time I’ve ever prayed for someone and they fell over, no catcher was needed. It was perhaps the most mysterious sight I have ever seen.

29 Frank L. July 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Bob,

I think that is an excellent answer.

My whole emphasis is on my “imperfection” in this regard. I want so much to fulfill every bit of God’s decree as He has revealed it to us.

Sometimes, I find that imperfection is unavoidable (See ICor 13:12).

30 Tarheel July 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Dave, you have absolutely nailed it here!

We cannot water down the gospel when presenting it…or we are presenting something other than the gospel.

Veggie Tales are not my favorite either…mainly because they spend more time telling kids how to “act right” instead of telling them the gospel clearly so they can respond and “be right.” Too moralistic for me.

We must share the gospel with children, but we gotta be real careful.

Great post!

31 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Tarheel,

Of course, the Gospel is of the utmost importance….

But, what in the world is wrong with teaching chldren good morals? or, good manners? or, anything else that’s good? Chldren have to be taught how to act and behave themselves….if you don’t teach them these things, then watch out! Well, just go to Walmart on a Saturday, and you’ll see it in action.

This should be a both/and thing….it’s not an either/or thing….

David

32 Matt Svoboda July 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm

This last comment shows why the “gospel-centered movement” is so vital and necessary.

33 cb scott July 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm

When since the resurrection of our Lord has there not been a “gospel-centered movement”??

Seriously, was it a recent discovery? Did God just recently give illumination to the minds of a few, while past generations perished in darkness?

34 Matt Svoboda July 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm

There are a lot of people throughout the centuries that have rightly applied the gospel to all areas of life… but yes, this was definitely an area of weakness in the last generation… which is why a “movement” was needed.

We have a lot of pastors in the SBC and within evangelicalism that aren’t very fluent at applying the gospel to every area of life. Many probably don’t even know what I mean when I say that (perhaps a blog series is in order).

Too many pastors have this thought of, “We preach the gospel to get them saved and then we teach them morals so they know how to live Christian.” There has been a recent, serious disconnect from how the gospel drives all that we do.

P.S. your first question also shows that you don’t at all know what I or others mean by “gospel centered movement.” I suggest reading some people who are leading this charge. The gospel centered movement has nothing to do with people preaching the gospel to lost people. It (in short) has to do with teaching people how the gospel affects every aspect of our lives and motivates us to Christ-likeness. We must continually preach the gospel to ourselves.

35 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

“Too many pastors have this thought of, “We preach the gospel to get them saved and then we teach them morals so they know how to live Christian.” There has been a recent, serious disconnect from how the gospel drives all that we do. –

Matt Svoboda,

Those who would teach such are in every generation. They are from my generation and they are of your generation. Since the founding of the Church, so has been the case.

And Matt, before you were born, I and many more knew, practiced, taught and preached a what you now describe as a “gospel-centered movement.”

In general, many of us have never taught anything else.

You also stated:

“The gospel centered movement has nothing to do with people preaching the gospel to lost people. It (in short) has to do with teaching people how the gospel affects every aspect of our lives and motivates us to Christ-likeness. We must continually preach the gospel to ourselves.”

There is error in that statement, gross error.

The “gospel-centered movement” does involve preaching the gospel to lost people. If not, then it is not gospel centered. For if one is living a “gospel-centered” life all of his “movements” are centered around and in the gospel.

All that he does and is will be about the gospel. His life if of the gospel and for the gospel. He will proclaim the gospel to the lost in a multitude of venues. He will teach people how the gospel affects all of life and the living thereof.

And BTW, David Worley, Volfan 007, has been part of the “Gospel-Centered Movement since the day he was redeemed of Christ. Your shot at him with your comment above has no merit. None.

And as for “preaching the gospel to ourselves,” tell me, when was that a new discovery?

36 Matt Svoboda July 3, 2013 at 12:29 am

CB,

I fear you are misunderstanding me. I apologize if I am not being clear.

First, obviously, I believe we should always be about proclaiming the gospel to lost people. My point was only that “proclaiming the gospel to lost people” isnt the primary emphasis of the gospel-centered movement. That isnt to devalue it, but simply to bring attention to something that I believe has been somewhat neglected.

Second, no one ever said it was a new discovery. I am not sure why you keep making comments like that. In every generation there are things in which are done very well and things that are done very poorly… Therefore, there are many little “movements” that typcially happen to simply bring emphasis back to a needed area.

Third, I am not sure why you carry an attacking tone with me, for I am certainly not carrying that some tone towards you. I am not acting as if I am a part of some perfect generation, we have all sorts of issues.

Now, I should not have said “the last generation.” Primarily because this has been in issue in the last several decades. Also, because most of the people leading the gospel centered movement are in “the last generation.” This isnt about one particular generation. It is about evangelicalism as a whole re-emphasizing something that was apparently somewhat neglected.

This will be my last comment on the matter. You are free to have the last word on the matter. All of my discussions with you in the past have been very good. I am not sure I understand why the tone of this one is so different.

I appreciate you, CB.

37 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 1:31 am

“I am not sure I understand why the tone of this one is so different.”

OK, Matt. That is fair. I will tell you.

Your shot at Vol, David Worley, was unfair. Maybe it was you who misunderstood him. Or maybe you think he, being of an older (not that much in his case) generation than yours, is lacking in understanding or is theologically and biblically ignorant.

I don’t like that. I don’t like it because I know that not to be the case.

David Worley is a man of God who ministers by and of the biblical gospel he proclaims faithfully in a part of this country that is hardened in cultural Christianity. He is a godly and humble man, married to a godly and virtuous woman and together they have reared true followers of Christ. David Worley is the kind of believer who would help a man who had spit in his face get that man’s ox out of a ditch before the spit on his own face was dry. That’s David Worley, a godly man, a “gospel-centered” man.

I admire men of true humility like David Worley. I, on the other hand, and to my wretched shame, am not like him. I do not have that kind of humility. My first reaction to someone who spits on me is to want to throw them in the ditch with their ox and drive my truck over the both of them.

And you have some of that in you also, Matt Svoboda. So that is why I took you to task. That and because I have reared many sons and I tend to take young men I care for and like to task when they are out of line and remind me of me.

I would rather my sons and young guys like you to be like such guys as David Worley and Bob Cleveland and David Rogers and David R. Brumbelow and William Thornton, James Willingham, and Dave Miller.

So there you are, Matt. Now, maybe do you understand? That’s “why the tone of this one is so different.”

38 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 10:11 am

CB,

Thank you, Brother, for what you said about me. It is indeed very humbling.

Matt, as CB said, I have preached the Gospel since 1981. I have preached that the Gospel makes us a new creation in Christ, with a new heart…a new want to. I have preached that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and that He is the reason that we even want to live for Christ. I have preached that when we fail God, and fail to be all that God wants us to be, that we can confess it to the Father, and repent. I have preached that our obedience is motivated by the love of Jesus inside of us, and our love for the Lord stirs us to obey. I preach that the Gospel has the power to change the heart of man. And, that the Holy Spirit is the only reason that we can keep saved.

Now then, Matt, I also taught my children to behave….and to mind their manners….I taught my children how to act….I tried my best to teach them to be kind people, who work hard. I tried to teach my children to not be lazy, good for nothings, who lived off of society. And, I will not apologize for teaching them that….I am glad that I taught them that…..and, I wish that all parents would teach their children how to behave themselves. To not teach them to behave is a low down, dirty shame; and our society is reaping the consequences of it.

Also, I would like for you to know something about my children. My oldest son is saved….married a saved girl….and, he’s a Youth Pastor….he loves the Lord, and he is faithfully serving the Lord, today.

My daughter is saved….married to a saved man….they both work at a bank…he is also a Youth Pastor…bivo….and, she helps him in his ministry…they’re inbetween Churches at the moment…just finishing a 3 yr stint with a church….leaving for good reasons, not bad….and, they love the Lord.

My youngest son is still in college…he’s dating a wonderful, Christian, young lady…been dating her for 2 years…so, maybe wedding bells are coming soon…I dont know…but, they are both very active in Church….they both love the Lord….

So, God has blessed me….even though I’m an old, fuddy duddy, who doesnt keep up with all the new lingo and fads of theology, and calling things “Gospel driven” and “Gospel centered” and Gospel this, that, and the other…. But, Matt, I was Jesus centered and Gospel centered and Gospel driven, before all of that became cool.

David

39 cb scott July 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Vol,

There is nothing wrong with teaching the benefits of moral virtue. The Book of Proverbs is devoted to such teachings. Anyone who would state that it is not is foolish and unlearned.

Of course there is nothing wrong with teaching children good manners. For that matter, it is good for anyone to be taught good manners if they lack therein.

This is right and proper and pleasing unto the Lord as the Scriptures plainly teach.

However, and I know you know this, the primary issue of all of life is the Good Story of Jesus Christ, the Gospel.

For if we fail to teach our children the Gospel or if we fail to live the Gospel out before them, we have, with great misery, failed.

Even if our children are of the most proper behaved among both their peers and ours, yet they know not the Christ, they shall perish as surely as the worst gutter rat who ever jack-rolled an old lady for her Social Security check as she retrieved it from the mailbox.

Yea, and may we know this and I know you, Vol, do; If that same gutter rat, having jack-rolled a thousand old ladies for their Social Security checks hears the biblical gospel, repents, and embraces the Christ as Lord and Master, he shall be among the children of God forever just as surely as is the apostle Paul himself.

I think surely that is the point of this post and many of these comments in this thread, is it not?

40 Matt Svoboda July 3, 2013 at 12:07 am

CB,

There is sooo much great stuff in this comment. Well done.

One point of contention: the Bible never espouses moral virtue for the sake of moral virtue. Which it seems you believe, yet your point about the book of Proverbs suggests otherwise to me.

Proverbs is devoted to teaching wisdom, as it can be found in Jesus, it is not devoted to teaching people how to be good moral people. If we can’t see that we might as well be moralists or Jews.

I highly recommend Ray Ortlund’s commentary:

http://www.amazon.com/Proverbs-Wisdom-that-Works-Preaching/dp/1581348835/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1372824446&sr=8-2&keywords=ray+ortlund

“The strength of Ray Ortlund’s study of Proverbs is its Christ-centeredness. The wisdom of Proverbs loses none of its practical value, but rather is given its ultimate fulfillment as an expression of the wisdom of Christ.”
—Graeme Goldsworthy

41 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 12:45 am

Matt Svoboda,

The teaching of Proverbs or any other writing within the Scripture is going to bring any reader to the reality that all (“all”) wisdom, virtue, and truth is of Christ and without Christ no true wisdom, virtue, or truth can be obtained of eternal value if (a big if) he allows the Holy Spirit to open his mind and teach him truth as he reads. Otherwise the Bible is no more than a “Good Book.”

I am familiar with Ortlund, but I must and will state that I do not have to, nor do I need to read his commentary to know that the value of Proverbs is only fulfilled “as an expression of the wisdom of Christ.” That is true with any of the wisdom writings of Scripture.

Matt, you are guilty sometimes of superimposing upon those of us who are of an older generation a mind-set that is not as prevalent as you might think among those of us who are older and claim the name of Christ. It is a form of bigotry your generation practices and is as wrong and as demeaning as was the putrid racial bigotry of my generation.

Do you think we do not read? Do you think we have not read? Could it be possible that some of us have read far more than you and those of your generation simply because we have always done so and we have been doing so for many years longer than you?

Could it be that there are just as many theo-dwarves among your generation of believers as they are in mine?

Could it be that the history of error in my generation is exposed more than that of the history of error of your generation simply because my generation has been around longer than yours and there is more exposed evidence of ours than yours simply because your generation’s error is not fully exposed yet? Could that possibly be the case?

Matt, don’t cuss all the old fiddle players. It was us who taught you the songs and it was us who taught you how not to play out of tune.

42 Matt Svoboda July 3, 2013 at 12:52 am

CB,

Perhaps you are right.

I simply find it hard to believe because 95% of those I read and listen to are of your generation. I’m not sure how I could be “cussing all the old fuddle players” when that is primarily who I listen to and learn from.

It has less to do with what generation and more to do with content. As I tried to clarify in my last post- which generation has very little to do with the “gospel centered movement” discussion. It supersedes generations and it is the content that needs dealt with.

43 Matt Svoboda July 3, 2013 at 12:55 am

Again… Im not sure why you are acting as if I hold my generation up with some type of high esteem. I have never indicated such, at all.

The primary people I listen to and read are over the age of 55. John Piper, NT Wright, Graeme Goldsworthy, Ray Ortlund, and Tim Keller. Hmm…

44 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 10:14 am

CB,

That’s what I’ve been preaching ever since I got saved in 1981….maybe before Matt was even born…

Matt, I preach a relationship with Jesus. I’m no moral, be good, do good, be religious Preacher. I preach Jesus. But also, children and people do need to learn what is holy, and good, and moral.

David

45 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 9:36 am

I was kind in my post implying that they (veggie tales) do present the gospel.

They only present how to act right, giving the message that this is salvation. There’s nothing wrong with that in its place – but it’s not gospel proclamation.

Problem is, unless the biblical gospel (God rules, we sinned, God provided path of reconciliation , Jesus Gives life by his death and ressurection, and we must respond in faith) is clearly articulated then, whatever other “good” we might present, we’re not presenting the saving news of Christ.

Vegge tales, while not bad in its place, is not gospel centered material. In fact other than the “creative retelling” of bibke stories to teach morality, I’m not even sure it’s overtly Christian. It’s place is to teach morals, and good behavior to children, sure that’s a good thing – but so do some non Christian cartoons/children’s programs, and we, I’m sure, would agree and never say that Dora the explorer, or Franklin (talking turtle and his friends) teach Christianity.

As for both and….OK.

Our church played veggie tales (for the fun of it) on the screen as parents pick up children after VBS…but that’s only after they’ve heard and read and duscussed the above proclamation of the gospel over and over throughout the week.

46 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 9:42 am

*i was too kind…..not simply I was kind.

*Bible stories ….bibke stories…lol.

47 Bob B. July 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Good words Dave. I would like to offer what is hopefully a “well, duh!” statement for most of us though.

Since I think most folks represented here are seriously opposed to easy-believism and would never want to be caught sharing a shallow, watered-down, half-gospel with an adult, how much more seriously should we take the responsibility of evangelizing our own children?

I really like Dave’s advice of telling children “The Story” at bedtime. I pray that discussions like these will – by God’s grace – help us to raise up a generation of disciples that will be sold-out slaves of Christ.

48 William Thornton July 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm

1. Do any of my pastor colleagues have a lower age limit below which they will not baptize a child?

2. What is the youngest age you have baptized?

I’ll answer my own questions:

1. Yes, but I don’t state it. I would be very reluctant to baptize anyone younger than the youngest, which was…

2. Seven, I think.

On some occasions I have had discussions with a younger child and then have advised the parents to continue to be positive, share the gospel, answer questions as they are asked, but hold off on baptism until more comprehension is evidenced.

49 Frank L. July 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm

William,

I am very comfortable with your approach, though I don’t have an arbitrary limit at all.

The youngest I have baptized, however, is five. My son was also baptized when he was five. My daughter I baptized when she was seven. My son and daughter are both strong believers, though my son struggles with “church”–particularly those that have deacons.

50 Dale Pugh July 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Youngest I’ve baptized was 5. She is my niece. And she is a fully devoted follower of Jesus to this day, ministering to junior high students in her home church. She never ceases to fill me with joy over God’s grace that has been at work in her life for the past 15 years.

51 Frank L. July 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Dale,

I think too often we focus on the one’s that walk away (the three seeds in bad soil) and not the one’s that grow and produce.

God bless your niece.

52 Dale Pugh July 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Hadn’t thought of it that way, Frank. Good point.

53 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I go more by what they understand, more than I do by age. If they can really understand sin, repentance, and faith, then they’re old enough….

David

54 David Rogers July 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm

For those who read this comment here without having first read the comment stream of Jared Moore’s “Easy Believism at VBS” post, there is quite a bit of background context to what I am about to say, which, in order to understand it better, you should read in my comments over there first.

Dave,

Strictly speaking, I do not think I disagree with anything you say here in this post. Where you and I probably differ on this has to do specifically with how we should deal with the issues of assurance and baptism, which I feel should be handled differently when dealing with children below the age of 12 than with with those over age 12 and with adults. And, though I still need to think this through a little more, I think I would probably say the same thing with regard to public professions of faith, as well.

55 Jess Alford July 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Dave,

It’s imperative for us to agree with you here, souls are at stake. Thank you for standing up and telling it like it is.

I disagree with your use of Gospel story, because the Gospel is not a story.
The Gospel is actual events as they took place.

56 Dale Pugh July 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Have you ever sung the hymn “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”, Jess? Great hymn. Full of the Gospel message.

57 Jess Alford July 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Dale,

I don’t call a parts list, or assembly instructions a story, but I do call them instructions on how to make something whole. I’m not going down that road. This post is too important to hijack. Dave done an excellent job on bringing “easy believeism” out, and the dangers thereof.

One of the biggest problems that kids face is the parents, the parents want to be satisfied at the expense of the children. They want to be able to say, my child is saved.

58 Jess Alford July 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm

One more thing, many times the Pastor will face angry parents if he doesn’t baptize the child.

59 Dale Pugh July 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Who cares? I’ve refused to baptize several children who weren’t ready for baptism. I’d rather baptize a bird dog. At least it would acclimate him to the water for hunting season.

60 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Dale,

I’ve had parents get upset and mad at me, before, too….because, I told them that their child wasnt ready. I would rather parents get mad at me, than to displease my Lord.

David

61 Dave Miller July 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Or, I Love to Tell the Story.

62 Dale Pugh July 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

All of this has me wondering if we really need to be ringing our hands over the 50 year decline in baptisms. Given the recent discussion in the comment streams over the past couple of days I would say that churches were getting it wrong 50 years ago since so many of the baptisms were probably the result of VBS, manipulative invitations, and a wrong-headed approach to children’s ministry. Maybe the decline in baptisms is actually a more truthful and accurate view of what’s really been happening all along. People weren’t really getting saved and baptized. They were just getting baptized. Now, with a correction in our Gospel presentations, maybe people are making their commitments in proper order.

63 Frank L. July 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Dale,

I think it is a very big stretch to blame a 50 year decline (that has not been incremental) on VBS.

I’m not buying that at all.

64 Dale Pugh July 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I don’t think I did that. There are many factors involved. I’m simply stating that maybe the decline is really a decline at all. If people were baptized but not truly saved because of various faulty approaches, then they are just as much lost as if they’d never walked an aisle, shaken the preacher’s hand, or prayed a sinner’s prayer.
The hey-day of baptisms was during a time I remember well. And all the methods that are now being decried as faulty were in full force back then.

65 William Thornton July 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm

We could do a better job with VBS and most every other church program, age grouping, etc. but the long slow slog downward (I’d ask Frank to check a graph and notice it has been incremental as a trend, although some years have shown marked ups or downs) is attributable to the usual suspects, chiefly demographics, a large number of mature churches, and other things.

It couldn’t possibly be due to unfaithful pastors, could it? ;)

66 Dwight McKissic July 2, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Dave,

This post represent the thoughtful & careful reflections if a seasoned saint and an experienced pastor. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

67 Dave Miller July 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Thank you, sir.

68 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Yea, way to go, Mokey.

David

69 Dave Miller July 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

You are going to make me sorry I shared that tidbit, aren’t you?

70 volfan007 July 2, 2013 at 9:31 pm

lol

71 William Thornton July 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Dave et al, I liked the SBCV home page much better the old way.

72 Dave Miller July 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm

William, it was not a choice we made.

The previous blogroll was run by Google Reader, which, for reasons I certainly don’t understand, was blown up by the good folks of Google.

For those who don’t know, Tony Kummer owns the site and keeps it running technologically. I run the content side only. So, anyway, the good Dr. Kummer (well…) tried to figure out how to keep the blogroll without Google Reader, and this was what he came up with.

I don’t really know anything about any of this. I know how to run my mouth and tell others to shut up. That’s about it.

But, the changes on this site were not made by choice.

73 William Thornton July 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Got it…thanks

74 dr. james willingham July 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Some astute and valuable remarks, David. Adding to them from history, I think of Phoebe Bartlett, the four year old who is one of the examples from the ministry of Jonathan Edwards who gave evidence of a real conversion. What is most remarkable about her conversion is that one day, years ago, I stumbled on a pamphlet (?) from a Sunday School Convention in the 1800s, probably around 1880, and it had in it the testimony of one of the speakers at that convention, the Great or Great great grand daughter of Phoebe Bartlett, who told about her noted ancestress that she had continued in profession and as a credit to until she died, sometime in her eighties. Her descendants likewise experienced conversions, and the Great Grand daughter, or Great great (I forget which), gave her testimony to that Sunday School Convention. On the other hand, I am sure we all know of folks who were converted in childhood, who gave up their profession in adulthood, thinking it did not amount to anything. Still, children have souls, and even at a very young age they can come to a realization of their need. I was once preaching a revival, when our son came up to me after the service, desiring to talk with me. Too make a long story short, his story was that the Lord had touched his heart, but it took 2.5 years in order for me to realize that there was really something to that phrase, “the Lord touched me.” While he did get away from the Lord during high school and college, the Savior did get him back via a sermon on gratitude and the preaching of a pastor where he attended after college. For 14 years now, he has been pastor of a church, and he baptized his own 12 year old daughter after she went forward in state convention youth meeting.

He also wrote one the most delightful letters to the Traditionalist pastor of the church where his mother and I were members, thanking them for their help in getting us moved and for ministering to us during that period and during the years we were members there. That move which was done under great stress brought a heart attack which put me in the hospital for about five days. Children are a gift from God who have their problems, but who are worth the price involved.

So I thank you for your encouragement of a careful and thoughtful evangelism of children. Like us, our son did not high pressure his daughter; he wanted what we wanted a commitment to Christ freely given, one springing from a true work of the Lord in the heart. I take it that your blog here was intended to encourage just such efforts. God bless.

75 Robert Vaughn July 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Dave, I agree with much of what you have written above, but…

…what’s this business with “tweets” at the top of the home page instead of links to really good blog posts???? Arg!

76 Christiane July 3, 2013 at 12:47 am

“New birth is a supernatural process which also must be allowed its proper time.”

‘new birth’:
conversion?
transformation?
baptism?

?

77 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 3:33 am

Dave,

Much of what you said is found in Deuteronomy 6:7; “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Since we must totally depend upon God’s calling of the lost, all we can do is teach the child the truth. The Holy Spirit takes the responsibility of the calling.

78 Jim Pemberton July 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

Great post, Dave. I couldn’t agree more.

79 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 10:42 am

CB, when you said,
“Matt, you are guilty sometimes of superimposing upon those of us who are of an older generation a mind-set that is not as prevalent as you might think among those of us who are older and claim the name of Christ. It is a form of bigotry your generation practices and is as wrong and as demeaning as was the putrid racial bigotry of my generation;” you spoke the truth.
Some of these young fellas, running around, out here, right now, think that they invented the Gospel. They think that they’ve discovered something new and exciting that the older crowd just didnt know anything about. lol. They seem to think that any Preacher over the age of 40 was just trying to get people to be religious and moral. I believe the phrase for such an attitude is “youthful arrogance.”

Good grief.

I’ve seen a lot of young preachers, out there, right now, who have the theological mind of a kitten. And, yes, while some of the older fellas were/are moral, be good, do good Preachers….many older Preachers were Gospel driven and Jesus centered before most of the young crowd was ever even born…but, they have all the answers……well, I guess when I was younger I might’ve thought the same way. Young people like to think that they’re doing something new and different and exciting that the old boys dont know anything about….lol.

David

80 Jess Alford July 3, 2013 at 10:43 am

cb scott,

I have some bad news. On our local TV station, last night, and this morning, a local Baptist church is having major problems. A 32 year old youth minister was having sexual relations with a 16 year old girl at the church. He is jailed, where he belongs. This goes along with your post that you put on voices last week. Also goes along with what we are talking about today. Too, many are only playing church, and are not really saved.

81 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

Jess,

Why aren’t you at the jail with him? He was wrong, but he needs us to work with him through this. Help his pastor do what Christ would do. Many do play church, but we need to find out what we can do to help the fallen to recover. Get your hands dirty and help a fallen brother.

82 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 10:55 am

Jess,

Where do you live? I saw that on the Paducah news, as well. That’s one of our local stations, here, in NW TN.

David

83 Jess Alford July 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

Volfan007,

I live just South of Paducah, between you and Paducah.

84 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 11:38 am

Lone Oak? Clinton? Fancy Farm? Mayfield? Hickman? Fulton?

David

85 Jess Alford July 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

Bruce H.

I think, at this point, the little girl is the one that needs help. The minister done what he wanted to do.

86 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

Jess,

That goes without question, however, the brother in Christ needs to be addressed, too. If he does not respond accordingly, he needs to be dealt with according to Matthew 18:15-17. But if he repents, we need to forgive. That is how we deal with these things.

87 Jess Alford July 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

Bruce H.

I’m sure this is how you deal with things of this nature, I deal in a different way, If guilty, vote the minister out, let his church membership cease, let him be known as a heathen and a publican. Then deal with him accordingly.

The little girl being under age, requires special attention.

According to the news, the sexual relations took place at the church. Although, it matters not where they took place.

The world needs to know the church is a safe place to be, well,
so much for that.

88 Robert Vaughn July 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Bruce, Matthew 18:15-17 is about a personal offense between brethren. I Corinthians 5 is more applicable to this situation, except that evidently both people there were consenting adults. In unrepentant moral offenses, the church puts the person away from church membership. In a statutory rape case, even if his does repent he will also be dealt with according to criminal law as an offender. The thief on the cross was forgiven, but still had to pay his debt to society.

89 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

Jess,

We need to assist the girl if she was raped. However, we need to determine if she instigated the relationship. Know the facts before condemnation of the brother. He is wrong, no doubt. She may also be wrong, too. Our laws are mixed up and we need to deal with that as well.

90 Bill Mac July 3, 2013 at 11:42 am

“However, we need to determine if she instigated the relationship.”

We do? Why? Blame the victim?

91 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

I know this is not what the post is about, but I’m with Bill Mac on this one….the girl is 16 yrs old. The Youth Pastor is 32.

IF it is true….IF he really did this….IF he’s guilty…then, they should throw the book at him. AND, he needs to also know that God can forgive him…

Nuff said.

David

92 Jess Alford July 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

Bruce H.

This is a 16 year old victim, an under age girl, I think your reasoning is a bit twisted.

93 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Bruce, comments like this are completely UNACCEPTABLE.

Of course, a 16-year-old girl can be seductive. But no amount of seduction ever, in any way, at all, in any sense justifies a man in power or authority taking advantage of her.

Your comment is shameful.

94 Doug Hibbard July 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

An underage person canNOT instigate a sexual relationship with an adult.

If there is a relationship, it is the responsibility of the adult who did it. That responsibility is a one-way street–

End of story.

95 Joe Blackmon July 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

We need to assist the girl if she was raped.

We already know she was raped. A 16 year old cannot legally give consent

Even taking your repugnant hypothetical that she instigated it, he was the adult and should have shown restraint. The responsiblity is on him.

96 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Yep,

The profile continues to grow. Some things are so putrid, they even emanate a smell through the internet.

97 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Gentlemen,

Jess said that this youth minister was having sexual “relations” with a 16 year old. To me, that means more that once. It is our laws that draw the line in the sand at 18. Even though the law states that a person under that age has no responsibility, they really do. My youngest daughter is 15 and knows very well what she is doing when she sins. You mature pastors should know that as well. I am against the youth pastor’s actions as much as anyone else. The only thing that is different in my approach is that I would hang with him if he was repentant. Reread my comments and see what I said. Each of you need to understand what a forgiving heart is about. You emanate a worldly approach to those who sin in the camp. We are not living Old Testament anymore.

98 Joe Blackmon July 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Bruce

Since aparently you didn’t read Dave’s comment the first time…

Bruce, comments like this are completely UNACCEPTABLE. Of course, a 16-year-old girl can be seductive. But no amount of seduction ever, in any way, at all, in any sense justifies a man in power or authority taking advantage of her. Your comment is shameful.

99 Frank L. July 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Bruce,

I think you are way out in left field on this one.

You are making some arbitrary argument that seems to think that the laws of the state regarding consent have no bearing on the matter. I most certainly does.

Second, regardless of the age difference, this was someone under the counsel of an older man and he absolutely violated his trust.

Third, he is an adulterer.

Fourth, you have no evidence he has even repented and sought forgiveness so your cart is way out in front of your horse.

You make yourself look very bad taking up the cause of a pedophile and adulterer. If I had been the pastor of this church I can guarantee you this youth minister would not be coming to my office for “counsel.”

His repentance would be overseen by the chaplain of the prison.

100 Jim G. July 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Bruce,

Yes, I will forgive him if he is repentant. But repentance in this case is a MINIMUM of pleading guilty, serving his time, registering as a sex offender pedophile, and NEVER, EVER having the opportunity to serve in “professional” ministry again, especially where children are involved. If he indeed committed this, he is in violation of a trust and, even though forgiven, can never be trusted similarly again. He needs to be made an example for both the church and the world to see.

A better way of handling this is locking him in a room with her daddy for 15 minutes. Then throw whatever is left of him out of the church.

Jim G.

101 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I think Bruce is only trying to say that we do not know if this was a pedophile situation or one of really bad judgment, sinful adultery/fornication type action.

Certainly the two are not the same.

I did not take his comments as “shameful” nor condoning/justifying of the youth minsters actions….in my reading he was simply saying lets not label the man a pedophile and essentially condemn him to hell (as some here have done) without knowing a few more details. Is this a consensual situation (fornication/adultery) or is it something of a more perverted nature?

If he has had sexual relations of ANY kind outside of his relationship with his wife – Should he be fired. Yes. Should he lose his ordination. Yes. Should the police investigate to see if he is legally guilty. Yes. Should he be held to account under state law, Yes.

Should he be ministered to? Yes. Is he entitled to the protections afforded elders in scripture that accusations must be proven before church discipline taken? Yes.

I do not know Bruce, but I’d like to think y’all may have misapplied motives to him…at least I hope so. I hope that he was in no way attempting to justify the actions this youth minister is accused of. I truly did not get that impression anyway.

Maybe I am shameful too.

102 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Tarheel,

The grown man had sex with a 16 yr old girl. That is rape in the state of KY. In fact, he is also charged with sodomy. But, it is rape…no matter if the 16 yr old girl consented, or not…that’s the whole point of statutory rape….the CHILD is too young to consent, if they wanted to have sex with the adult. The adult should not have allowed it to happen.

The Youth Pastor is wrong and guilty….IF he really did this. The court will decide if he’s guilty, or not….and only him, the girl, and God know if it’s really true….but, IF he’s guilty, then he should go to prison….God can forgive him…but, he should pay for what he’s done…

David

103 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

FYI….

I just checked the age of consent in Kentucky….it is 16.

104 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I think Tarheel has brought my comments into perspective here. Many want to destroy the Youth Pastor. He has done enough to destroy himself. No, he will never be able to minister in any capacity, unfortunately. IF, he is repentant, he needs to be assisted and he needs to be forgiven and he needs a friend. I have taken my stand to hear the hearts of the pastors on this blog. I really do not like what I hear. Many sound like common SBCer’s. We really need uncommon pastors and church members in these situations. This must be the unforgivable sin. Read your bibles, it’s not!

105 Jim G. July 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Tarheel,

I don’t think anyone has condemned the man to hell.

If he’s 32 and she’s 16, it IS a pedophile situation. There is NO consent. She is underage. That is not up for debate. If he does confess or if he is tried and found guilty, he will be a sex offender for the rest of his life, unless TN law says otherwise.

Unless he own up to what he has done (if he indeed has done anything), there can be no repentance. (The church cannot give him a great deal of help without repentance) But owning up to it involves admission of guilt, doing the time, and going on the sex offender registry.

Jim G.

106 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Vol said;

“The Youth Pastor is wrong and guilty….IF he really did this. The court will decide if he’s guilty, or not….and only him, the girl, and God know if it’s really true….but, IF he’s guilty, then he should go to prison….God can forgive him…but, he should pay for what he’s done”

I agree 100% that is exactly what I said in my post above.

Either way…he is wrong. Either way he is a sinner.

My question is – do we get to pick and choose which sinners are worthy of pastoral ministry?

107 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Bruce, you need to renounce your comment and apologize for it, not try to explain and justify it.

108 Jim G. July 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Bruce,

I agree with your sentiment in (what is now) comment 95. We have all seen too many church authorities use their position to prey on others. I agree he needs a friend, but he must first be repentant before that can happen.

Tarheel,
I thought it was TN rather than KY. If the consent age is 16, then it is not a pedophile situation legally. Morally it is, but that is another matter altogether.

Jim G.

109 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I’m sorry…I think the girl is 15, and this has been an ongoing thing….happened over a period of time in the past months…

David

110 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

JIm G,

It was in KY….and, the sex occured when the girl was younger than 16….in fact, it was allegedly an ongoing relationship…the Youth Pastor is charged with rape and sodomy…multiple counts….

So, he was arrested.

David

111 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

“Should the police investigate to see if he is legally guilty. Yes. Should he be held to account under state law, Yes.
Should he be ministered to? Yes. Is he entitled to the protections afforded elders in scripture that accusations must be proven before church discipline taken? Yes.”

Tarheel,

I agree. I agree on all counts. Yet, there is a point here in this particular case that is going to become very hard for the church involved.

1). If the fellow is convicted, who should minister to him? I tend to agree with Frank L., who stated, “His repentance would be overseen by the chaplain of the prison.”

2). There is also the question of the youth person involved. How does the church minister effectively to her? One question that will be necessary in order to give her adequate help is to find out how old she was when it started. If she was younger (and she could have been) when it started, she will need a particular type of ministry. If she was actually 16 when it started, that brings about the possibility of a different kind of ministry all together.

It may be that the church is not equipped to do either on its own. Actually, this is most likely the case. This child and her family may desperately need to be referred to a ministry source outside the local church. There are many prayerful considerations that must take place in a situation like the one Jess Alford has reported here.

Sexual crimes against minor children are, for the local church, very hard to navigate. . . and the damage is almost unpredictable. . . but there is always damage. However, we who serve the Lord must be faithful and obedient to Him and allow Him to handle the consequences of our faithfulness.

112 Tommy Rucker July 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

Dave, With our VBS set to start on Sunday, this issue is an annual struggle for me. I tend to be very cautious when a child approaches me and says, “I want to be baptized.” I usually talk to the child with the parents present and ask the pertinent questions, testing for understanding. I also openly inform the parents that, while I am eager to baptize the child, I DO NOT want to do so prematurely. I then wait for a while, looking to see if there is evidence of repentance and asking the parents if they see any evidence, too.
I know many pastors who insist we should baptize them immediately, but it seems to me that genuine faith is much more important than getting wet.
Excellent post, brother.
Thanks.

113 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Thank you, Tommy.

114 Clark Dunlap July 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

SOmeone said:
“What I have a problem is “measuring it.” How much “guilt should a child of 10 have compared to an adult of say, 55?”

I think this was an excellent post whose comments went crazy. But it seems to me when held up to the Holiness of God the guilt and repentance of the 10 y.o. and the 55 y.o. are not very different at all, if any.

115 Frank L. July 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Clark,

You are using “guilt” in a different context. You are using it in the penal manner as an affront to God’s laws. I agree, in that sense the guilt is absolutely the same.

I was using it in a personal, psychological sense as it was presented in the post I was responding to.

I know that as a 18 year old young man I had a lot more “baggage” when I came to the cross than I would have had when I was five.

That was how I was using the term “guilt.”

This whole post is about finding some “measurement” for when it is appropriate to baptize a child (or a person in general). If you know what that measurement is, please feel free to share it.

So far, most of us are coming up empty in that regard.

It’s easy to “point fingers.” Point the way. I’m open to what you have to say because as I’ve said, I struggle with this every time I baptize anybody.

116 Frank L. July 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm

“””I just checked the age of consent in Kentucky….it is 16″”””

Not if she’s my daughter!

Tarheel, I think this is absolutely missing the big picture. He’s 32. He was in a position of trust and authority and he violated that trust. Even if this young lady does not realize it now–and she may not–this will have huge consequences for her later in life.

The problem with discussing “the age of consent,” or “victim’s instigation” is that it plays right into the charge that churches are soft on sexual abuse.

Discussions about “forgiveness of the perpetrator” right out of the gate bolsters the charge that “cover-up” is the default position of the church.

Adultery is bad enough. Adultery with a barely legal child by an adult is worse. Adultery by a person in a position of trust and authority is rape, morally if not legally.

This is bad. Very bad. Let the Prison chaplain do the ministry–assuming this man even admits to doing anything wrong.

117 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Frank,

She wasnt legal when the sex occured….she was under age….I’m not sure if she’s 16 now, but was 15 when it all started, or if the girl is just 15 now…but, the Youth Pastor was arrested in KY for multiple counts of rape and sodomy.

David

118 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Dave,

You said, “Bruce, you need to renounce your comment and apologize for it, not try to explain and justify it.”

I will apologize for any comment that is not accurate or true or hurtful. Please copy and paste what I have said that has offended you and others. Not what you have misunderstood.

119 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Bruce, you said, “However, we need to determine if she instigated the relationship. Know the facts before condemnation of the brother. He is wrong, no doubt. She may also be wrong, too. Our laws are mixed up and we need to deal with that as well.”

You basically blamed the victim. You hinted that she might have instigated it. A girl who was not yet 16 seduced a 32 year old youth pastor?

That is a shameful intimation.

If he repents, he should be forgiven – by Christians and by the church. The government should give him what he deserves.

But to blame the victim as if she caused the trouble – that is simply wrong.

I’m not playing with you, Bruce. I’m not going to provide a forum for “blame the victim” thinking.

120 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Bruce, for too long the church has tolerated sexual abuse – with comments like yours – siding with the abuser and showing grace to him while heaping condemnation on the child who is abused.

It’s sick. It’s sinful. It needs to stop.

121 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Dave,

That was never my intent. Most of the comments here lean the other way. We destroy the sinner instead of trying to healing the sinner. If anyone tries to assist the one who sinned, he is seen like you see me. You put me in the same category of the sinner. That may be why ya’ll do not want to help or comfort a repentant sinner. If they are not repentant, then they need to be turned over to CB Scott and you.

We must approach the sinner, first, as if he is going to be repentant. If he repents, then remove all of his responsibilities and take the necessary measures to restore him to a useful servant again in some capacity. If he goes to jail, we need to be there for him as well. The girl? Find out what she did and why she did it. Apparently, this was ongoing. She was not innocent in this. She needs to be handled accordingly and restored if repentant. Don’t make her a victim and do not allow her to assume she did nothing wrong, either. She would need the same love and attention as the man if this occurred in the church.

I think you cowboys want to go straight to the OK Corral and shoot up the town before focusing on repentance and forgiveness. That is a big weakness in the SBC today. We jump on the legal side and not the grace side. Yes, some break the law, but we do not throw them under the bus and walk away. We must walk with them through their punishment as well. Of course, that does not preach well.

122 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

No one has talked about destroying the sinner. No one. We’ve talked about letting him go to jail.

My fear is that you seem to want to ameliorate his guilt and blame the girl. Perhaps she “instigated” it.

You need to just stop.

123 Frank L. July 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm

“””We must approach the sinner, first, as if he is going to be repentant.”””

This is simply not biblical. When a person is caught in a fault he is first confronted with that fault. “If” (and this is a big part) he repents then he can be forgiven. Luke 17 is clear.

The man must initiate forgiveness by asking. We do err when we step in and try to provide forgiveness before repentance has arrived.

I think you have this whole issue backward and have been backward from the first post. Perhaps you should step back and see if you have some responsibility for the response you have received.

We all may need to do this from time to time and there can be no better time to reevaluate our approach than in regard to sexual abuse in the church.

Remember, we are not talking about gossip or suspicion in this case.

124 Frank L. July 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm

“””She would need the same love and attention as the man””””

I find this statement absolutely unbelievable coming from a leader in the church.

I’m going to bow out of this conversation before I say something I’ll regret.

125 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm

“Find out what she did and why she did it. Apparently, this was ongoing. She was not innocent in this.”

“Don’t make her a victim . . .”

Bruce Harp,

If she was not a consenting adult, she was a victim. She was the victim of a sex crime. Surely you know that any form of sexual activity with a minor child is a crime. Bruce Harp, there is no such thing as a victimless crime when sexual activity with a minor child is perpetrated by an adult.

You do not display rational thought in any of these dialogues about sexual abuse. You always vilify the victim or the various law enforcement/ government agency involved. Why is that?

126 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Dave,

Some of the comments above state that the sinner is in jail “where he belongs”. Jail destroys a person who has sinned like this. He has lost his identity and may never recover. We cannot assume that there is a jail chaplain that could help either. He may even be Catholic. Who knows. If he is a member of your church, then your church must minister to him in or out of jail.

If I approach this with the thinking that the girl may have instigated it and you approach it as if she didn’t and we find out the truth, it doesn’t matter. When the truth comes out, we must minister to her based upon the truth. She either repents or confesses she was raped. I am not going to point my finger at her the first time I would talk to her. I would be gentle, kind and understanding. I would need the truth in order to know how to minister to her. I do not know how you think you would be neutral in this. Both sides have to be open territory to establish truth.

127 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm

cb,

All I am doing is pointing our thoughts into a different direction from condemning the sinner to helping the sinner. That is what we do no matter if he goes to jail or not. Let the law do their work, we are not involved in the law like you want to be. We also are to help the girl. She needs to know that what she has done, if she is 15, is a sin, too. If we are at the age of accountability (3 thru 12) we should be accountable for our own sins, too. Isn’t that what we have to repent of to be saved? If she was raped, she should admit it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Regardless, she will need help by the church.

128 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Frank L.

How do we approach a brother who sins? Maybe everyone has their own way of approaching a fallen soldier. Many see Nathan pointing a bony finger and a scowl on his face saying to David, “Thou art the man…” but I do not see it that way. I see an humble Nathan delivering a message he really did not want to deliver. To each his own, but to everyone grace.

129 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Bruce Harp,

I think there are a multitude of things that you do not understand about sexual abuse, sex crimes against minor children, the minor children who are victims of sexual abuse and sex crimes, and you really know little to nothing about the kind of people who commit sex crimes against minor children.

You are also near to completely without understanding as to the consequences for a local church wherein a sex crime against a minor child has taken place in a real world setting.

You simply have no concept of reality relating to such matters. Or, you, for some personal reason, have buried your understanding of such matters deeply inside the crevices of your mind and locked them away behind prison bars of fantasy.

130 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm

cb,

Dave said to go back to the topic. Disobedience is a sin, too.

131 cb scott July 3, 2013 at 4:34 pm

“Both sides have to be open territory to establish truth.”

Are you just crazy?

Bruce Harp,

A very important “truth” has already been “established” if the adult in this case had sex with a minor child. The truth would be evident that the adult involved has broken both the Law of God and the law against having sexual relations with a minor child.

Therefore, he must be arrested in compliance with both the mandates of God (God ordained government) and the law of the state.

132 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Question.

If the state age of consent is say, for example, 16. A 32 year old member of your church has an affair with a young lady starting when she was 16 years old…would you label him as you are labeling this man, who happens to be a minster, who is alleged to have had sex with a 16 year old? Would you want him to go to jail? Would you identify this as just common adultery based on state law?

What about if a state completely did away with consent laws? What about in other nations where it is completely legal and accepted to rape women of all ages?

In other words….is your argument a moral one or a legal one.

Morally we are all (Bruce included, I think) on the same page…but is it possible that y’all are resting too much on the legal side of the argument.

Regardless of the law….if this guy is guilty of what he is accused of it is wrong on a multitude of levels….

I see what y’all are dong and where you are coming from…I just think you are using the wrong rationale.

There are so many inconsistencies in the law that it is typically a really bad standard by which to access morals.

Some states say (Kentucky included) that a 16 year old can consent, and some states say 17, still others 18. Some have a “close in age clause” making it no longer illegal to have sex with a underage person if the older person is within so many years of the younger person.

So is our morality tied to the law? Its only immoral and wrong if the law says so?

Rape, incest, sex by intimidation, taking advantage of a retarded person and the like is a different moral and legal matter altogether…

Do you realize that some of you are saying that a 5, and 6 year old can understand the fullness of the gospel (including the idea of sin), but….never-mind.

My contention would be that this joker (who may truly be a believer) is an immoral sinner and in need of pastoral ministry no matter what the law says.

The govt. does their thing….the church does ours.

133 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Tarheel,

The Youth Pastor had sex with a 15 yr old member of his Youth Group….IF he really did this, then it is morally wrong in the worst kind of way….He is her Pastor….he committed adultery/fornication…she was just 15 when this all started….IF he is truly guilty of this, then he should have told her that he was not going to do something like that….SHE is just 15!

Secondly, he did break the law, and he knew he was breaking the law…if he didnt know that he was breaking the law by having sex with a 15 yr old girl, then he’s pretty dumb. So, he willingly broke the law of the land…for another thing…..IF he’s guilty of this.

So, he broke God’s laws, and he broke man’s laws….he broke the trust of his Church….he did a terrible thing, no matter how much spin someone tries to put on it.

David

134 Tarheel July 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I agree 100%.

I am not saying any different.

I am just saying that perhaps leaning so heavily on the law is not the answer we need to be seeking.

What this man did (if he did it) is wrong regardless of what the law says for the reasons you mentioned above.

Lets assume it happened, and lets also assume for discussion that she was not raped or forced in any way.

If the young lady of 15 did in fact consent (again; by this I mean not legal definition, but assuming he did not rape her) then she too has committed sin.

If the man is married…she willingly engaged in sex with a man she knew was married. That’s adultery. If he is not married she, again assuming she wanted it, engaged in sinful acts herself as well.

We are not talking about a child that is molested….we are most likely talking about a willing participant…regardless of what the law says (as I posted above, it may not in every state be in line with this)…she is culpable before God as well…and any pastoral help offered to her must include that. No?

Any pastoral help offered to him must also include dealing with his sinful acts. No?

Or is he the only sinner, and therefore not worthy of pastoral ministry?

I’m not sure any of us are qualified to determine any sinner not worthy of pastoral ministry. (strike that – I know that is above our grade and rank.)

135 Dave Miller July 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Could we get back to the topic?

136 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Dave,

Veggie Tales? Hanna Barbera? Mokey?

David

137 David Gallimore July 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

No more talk of Veggie Tales! That stupid hairbrush song has been stuck in my head ever since yesterday….thank you David! LOL

138 volfan007 July 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

David Gallimore,

This one is for you and Dave….

http://youtu.be/LtHr7gluh08

David

139 Bruce H. July 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

When I walked the isle at 6 I had an abstract view of salvation. I just never knew how faith worked. I went through the motions and the first thing I was told was “once saved, always saved”. That was the essence of discipleship I received before I went back to Sunday School and Training Union. It was at the age of 25 that the Holy Spirit quickened me in such a way that I understood clearly what it meant to place my faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I guess the Holy Spirit can do that at any age of a person. I just think it can be detected and revealed as the days go by.

140 Greg Harvey July 4, 2013 at 10:22 am

One of the itches I’ve been wanting to scratch is that discipleship in the Great Commission occurs before profession of faith, during profession of faith, and after profession of faith…

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