Monday, June 1, 2015

Without The Fun, Such Great Joy

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The Lord brought me to salvation in 1971, at the height of the Jesus People Movement, which Kent A. Philpott chronicles in his book, Memoirs of a Jesus Freak. A few months after  my conversion, I began attending the Bible Studies that Kent led, and he baptized me in 1972. I wish, of course, that my involvement in the group hadn't led me into Charismatic theology, but I don't want to address that topic today. Instead, I want to praise the Lord for using Kent to give me a passion for God's Word.

Those Tuesday and Saturday night Bible Studies consisted primarily of high school students (like myself), 20-something hippies (most of whom had been drug addicts) and a few recovering alcoholics in their 40s, though other people also came. The youngest attendee I recall started coming before she had completed 8th grade, if memory serves me correctly.

We all sat in a huge circle, without age dividing us, as Kent taught verse-by-verse through various books of the Bible. Admittedly, we also liked the contemporary music as opposed to hymns, but most of us loved learning God's Word enough to sit through hour-long teachings. Aside from the pot-luck dinners preceding the Saturday night Bible Studies, I remember only a few organized fun activities. Sure, we'd do social things on smaller scales and  apart from meetings, but Kent saw no need to entertain the teenagers. He treated us as adults, and we behaved accordingly.

So the present-day trend of segregating kids into youth group and then spending so much youth group time playing games or going to paint ball establishments, bowling allies and the like baffles me. Why not make youth groups voluntary, and then teach the Bible with the expectation that the kids want to study it every bit as seriously as adults do? I've heard that kids today are "different" than they were 40 years ago, but I have to question that line of thinking. I can't help believing that if we treat high school kids with the type of respect that Kent showed us, they will hunger for God's Word and want to study it.

Kent didn't do everything perfectly, and, as I said earlier, I regret that we got involved in Charismatic teaching. Yet I appreciate the way he instilled a love for Scripture in me. Had he entertained the high school kids in our group instead of including us with the adults and expecting us to rise to their level, I doubt that I would have developed such a reverence for Scripture. I pray that churches will learn to give their teenagers a diet of God's Word rather than the cotton candy of fun and entertainment.

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