As a 75-year-old Christian, I was very interested in "When Are We Going to Grow Up?" [June]. But the term "adults" didn't seem to encompass the wide, wide gulf between us senior Christians and the juvenilized services we are asked to "put up with."
Our needs and our abilities are virtually ignored by the church. The Word-based sermons and the hymns that spiritually fed us are gone or jazzed up almost beyond recognition, certainly beyond any worshipful satisfaction. I grieve for the middle-aged adults who are knee-deep in a world gone mad, with scarce biblical knowledge to sustain them.
My husband and I have left our noisy Baptist church for a small, struggling Anglican church consisting of mostly older folks. The deeply Word-based sermons and the reverence that surrounds us feed our souls and fill us with joy as we anticipate the finale of this earthly life and prepare to enter the glories of heaven. I wonder if our youth have ever heard a sermon on heaven. Or even—shhh—hell?
Ruth Ann Arnold
While we appreciate the heart behind the June cover story, we respectfully disagree with the portrayal of Young Life. Young Life founder Jim Rayburn never said, "It's a sin to bore a kid." His exact words were, "We believe it is sinful to bore kids with the gospel. Christ is the strongest, grandest, most attractive personality to ever grace the earth. But a careless messenger with the wrong method can reduce all this magnificence to the level of boredom …. It is a crime to bore anyone with the gospel."
It is curious that ministries like Young Life and Youth for Christ are targeted as major contributors to the juvenilization of the church. For more than 70 years, the efforts of both organizations have helped produce countless pastors, missionaries, business leaders, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who today follow Jesus with a faith that's anything but juvenile.
President, Young Life
Editor's Note: Young Life itself has used the truncated form of Rayburn's quote. Young Life and Youth for Christ have had a marvelous impact on youth, much for the good, and Bergler notes this as well in his article.
Learning to Grow
It's a good point from "When Are We Going to Grow Up?" and then David Zahl's response ["By Grace You Are Mature," June] that we, as Christians, are still trying to figure out how to live in the world/culture. But to diagnose our problem as "the way we relate to culture" is to miss the Bible's diagnosis that our problem is not that we need to learn how to relate to culture. Rather, we need to realize that we are dead in our sins.
The gospel gives us the freedom to struggle with our maturity and also to experience the grace and freedom that allow us to relate to a fallen world with which we have so much in common. Finding out how we relate to culture can only happen when we are in the gospel, aware of our own immaturity, and simultaneously aware of the sufficiency of the solution to the real problem.
Regarding June's Under Discussion ["Should denominations be organized geographically?"], I see this as part of a larger trend in Western society. For decades, we've been moving more towards nongeographically defined tribes. Often we can't name more than two of our neighbors, let alone consider them friends. The advent of the Internet has accelerated this by allowing us to seek out groups based on common interests, and by more recent changes in web services that tailor our online experience to match our search history and stated preferences.
Take this to religion, and it isn't difficult to understand why we'd have very low tolerance for differences and a greater willingness to form our denominational structures around shared details of the faith rather than physical proximity.
Excellent article by Alister McGrath ["A Bridge Between Two Worlds," June], which I have already recommended to others who are wrestling with these issues.
But as someone once observed, there is more than enough evidence for biblical faith (including the Resurrection) for anyone who has not already closed their mind to the possibility. There is not enough evidence in all the world to force into the kingdom of God a man or woman who simply doesn't want to go.
The trips we at Cord Ministries International put together intentionally avoid the pitfalls spotlighted in June's Village Green ["Should churches abandon travel-intensive short-term missions in favor of local projects?"]. Short-term assignments are for training and exposure for the person we are sending as much as for the impact "over there." I am far too aware of many trips like the ones Brian M. Howell questions.
I think that part of the problem in short-term missions is the perception that looking busy is the goal. Pastors should teach that the value of a project is not going to be rated on how many kids went and how many good pictures of activity are on the PowerPoint. This is not a performance seeking applause. One kid going into the ministry as a result is much more important than 30 going on an expensive trip.
What got the most comments in June's CT
53% When Are We Going to Grow Up? by Thomas E. Bergler
10% The Village Green: The Dilemma of Resource Stewardship by Brian M. Howell, David Livermore, and Robert J. Priest
7% Mostly Right! by John Ortberg, David Kinnaman, and David Zahl
The most praised piece in June's CT
The Village Green: The Dilemma of Resource Stewardship Brian M. Howell, ?David Livermore, and Robert J. Priest
Worth RepeatingCompiled by Elissa Cooper
"I have found that most of these discussions tend to produce more heat than light."
Ben Johnston, appreciating the irenic and helpful conversation between David Brickner and John Piper regarding claims to the land of Israel.
"Do Jews Have a Divine Right to Israel's Land?," by David Brickner
"If it's promoting healthy dialogue, isn't that a good thing?"
Tom Nash, questioning how the salvation statement by the Southern Baptist Convention—decried by some as near heresy—will affect Southern Baptists.
"As Baptists Prepare to Meet, Calvinism Debate Shifts to Heresy Accusation,," by Weston Gentry
"I can't judge whether President Obama is a Christian or not. That is above my pay grade and belongs to the Lord. But I can judge his behavior."
Corky Riley, debating with others on the President's faith and his actions.
Speaking Out: "Barack Obama: Evangelical-in-Chief?," by Judd Birdsall
"If the universe began with the 'Big Bang,' then God was the 'Big Banger.'"
Pete, discussing how science focuses ?on the "how" instead of the origins amid readers' arguments.
CT Liveblog: "Why Scientists Don't Like the Term 'God Particle' for the Higgs boson," by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
"My kids are his kids because of him, not because of me."
Tim, crediting God for his children's faith rather than his own flawed parenting.
Her.meneutics: "Prodigal Children: If It Can Happen to John Piper, It Can Happen to You," by Marlena Graves
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