The Case Against Lads to Leaders January 5, 2009Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs, church.
Tags: church of christ, competition, Lads to Leaders, Pharisees, role of women, worship
Disclaimer #1: Those of you who are not Church of Christ-ers may think the following blog entry pertains to an issue that seems quite alien in today’s world….and you would be right.
Disclaimer #2: This is in no way meant to be derogatory to anyone in our congregation. I dearly love all of our fellow members and would never seek to harm any of them. This is only my personal opinion and does not represent that of anyone else.
My Facebook status yesterday engendered a bit of a response among my fellow cyber-citizens. There were a few who posted on my wall, some who sent personal messages, and even some who posted rebuttals on their own pages, so, that being the case, I felt the need to again step out of the shadows and make my views known. For those of you in the dark, my status yesterday evening read: “Matt is continuing his silent protest of Lads to Leaders,” which I guess, for all intents and purposes, means that my protest is no longer silent. So, I wanted to take a moment to clarify my reasons for despising the program to the extent that I do. If you are reading this note on Facebook, I ask that you please comment on my blog so that I will not have to go back and forth between the two sites to answer.
As a teenager, I was a participant in the Bible Bowl portion of the Lads to Leaders program for two years at the church in which I grew up. At the time, I found the organization to be quite helpful in gaining more Bible knowledge and the annual convention to be an enjoyable experience, but little did I realize the sinister nature lurking beneath the surface, behind the Christian façade. Now, some fifteen years later, I look back and shudder, appalled at the very thought that this institution continues to pollute the minds of young people. Below there are three reasons for my aversion to the program that I have outlined. Feel free to correct or criticize as you see fit.
Issue #1: Competition
I realize that we live in a society where contests create kings and winning takes precedence above all, but the question must be asked whether or not this mindset has a place in our spiritual lives. At the annual convention, young people ranging in age from elementary school to upper teens gather together to compete in such activities as preaching and songleading, striving to best their peers and to earn the good graces of the ultimate judge of talent, God. The judging is subjective, with winners being chosen on the basis of personal preference and others sent home to wonder why their worship activity was not worthy. Young people are left clutching their worthless certificates of participation and asking tearfully, “Why?” Why is it that these individuals deem themselves the arbiters of what constitutes good worship? When the adoration of God becomes a competition, everyone loses.
Issue #2: Devaluing Females
As the father of two young girls, there are few issues closer to my heart than those affecting them and the obstacles that lay before them in life. Historically, the Church of Christ has been an incredibly unfriendly place for females who have gifts outside of cooking, cleaning, and birthing babies. In accordance with this wholly false view, Lads to leaders has strove with all of their organizational might to show young ladies that their spiritual gifts are of little value except to be quarantined away, shielding the eyes and ears of any masculine figures that may be nearby. Flexing their Pharasaic muscles, they turn away the prying eyes of all men, even the fathers of the young ladies who only wish to show their support. The role of women may be debatable to some, but that in no way excuses the actions of those who would bar a father from watching his five year old daughter read a Bible verse. There are few things more deplorable than the degradation of young children.
Issue #3: My Experience
As Rachel began her kindergarten year in 2007 and became eligible for the program at our congregation, I approached it with some sense of trepidation. I knew from my previous experiences and from that of my good friend Mark who clashed with them the prior year that Lads to Leaders, as an organization, held views that conflicted somewhat with my own, but I did not realize just how deep the fissure between us was. So, as a concerned father and fellow Christian, I wrote to them, earnestly asking for some clarification of their policy, specifically that regarding fathers and five year old girls reading a Bible verse. Their terse reply, dripping with condescension and revulsion over the fact that I would dare question them, was all that I needed to forever block them out as a possible activity for my children. In essence, their answer to my query was that this is how it is and if you don’t like it, we don’t want you. That was all the answer I needed.
So, that is why, for some six months of the year, my family has nothing to do with Sunday evening services at our congregation. Because our church is so small (150-200 on Sunday mornings), there is no reason to offer an alternative for children on Sunday evenings (a decision for which I do not fault them), so we choose to remain at home and enjoy each other’s company. This has worked for the past two years, but judging from the peer pressure that Rachel already receives, I can tell that it will soon become an issue that we will be forced to deal with. We will just continue to swim against the tide and work to raise our kids in the best way that we know how and to make things hospitable for all.