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The Case Against Lads to Leaders January 5, 2009

Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs, church.
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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.

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Comments

1. Whitney - January 5, 2009

Matt, those were our sentiments exactly! I’m so happy that you spoke up about your feelings. Kudos to you for speaking out about the degredation of women in the church. I’m probably going to anger a lot of people saying this, but you’re probably the 1st church of Christ male that I’ve come across other than my father that doesn’t view a woman as a baby making machine/homemaker.

2. Brenta Joy - January 5, 2009

Hi Matt, I rarely read blogs. However, Whitney brought yours to my attention. We were faced with the problem of there being no Sunday night for our girls when they were younger because we chose not to participate in Lads to Leaders. Like you we stayed home. Unlike you, I didn’t agree with the rationale that the church was small so it was more effective not to offer an alternative. I still don’t agree and I guess the whole idea remains a burr under my saddle. Initially we did not participate because the convention was held on Easter Sunday Weekend. We did not want to spend the special family time at a convention. Later, we resented our children being made to feel less faithful because we chose not to be affiliated with the program. My husband and I tried to use the negative situation to teach strength in character. I felt then and still feel now that the foundations of faith can be taught to children in a way that does not exclude any child from Sunday evening lessons.

3. Matt - January 5, 2009

Thanks for commenting, Whitney and Brenta! My problem is not with anyone in our congregation (I’m sure they are all doing what they see as right), but with the whole program itself. I wish that there was an alternative on Sunday nights, but I know it is hard for them to find teachers for the young children. It’s a job that I definitely wouldn’t want to do, so I can’t fault anybody else for not doing it.

I just wish that we weren’t involved in L2L at all.

I have a feeling that I’m going to get some angry emails after this post.

4. Anon - January 5, 2009

I too have a problem with L2L. First, I wanted to address a previous (sarcastic) comment about being a homemaker. Read Titus 2:4-5. We live in a society that looks down on the homemaker; they are treated like lazy bums watching TV all day and eating bon-bons and have no skills. My wife, for one, works extremely hard and is very talented. In fact, she used to teach bible school and was by far a better teacher than the college-educated teachers who did it for a living! You can see the results in my children, especially compared to other kids. I am not saying there is anything wrong with a women working, just don’t knock the women who make the decision to raise their own children. I honestly believe 98% of all women would stay home with their children if they could (that means giving up the new house, new cars, latest & greatest toys, etc.). The whole “keeping-up-with-the-Jones’” mentality has crippled this country, and now many women have to work to have anything remotely as nice as the neighbor—or better yet, keep the family from drowning in debt like most Americans.

Anyway, let’s get off that soapbox and jump on L2L. I don’t like the competition. Where in the Bible did we see that example? Was Paul and Peter in competition? I also don’t like teaching young girls how to LEAD in worship. Why are we doing this? Are we training them to be preachers, deacons, elders in the Church? I hope not. Why not teach them how to lead the Lord’s Supper? This is just feminism (a women can do it just as good as a man) creeping into the Church. Hello people! God designed women and men differently and to fulfill different roles. That doesn’t make men better, just different. I think L2L is a desperate attempt to try to retain our youth. The Church needs to focus on spiritual growth in everyone—if you train the parents, they will train the children. Unfortunately, the parents want the Church to train the kids while they sit back like a bunch of zombies warming a pew (not participating, not engaged) and wonder why their kids fell away when they turned 18—could it be you didn’t do your job!

It is sad to see how this manmade program is tearing Churches apart. I cannot believe so many Churches label people who are concerned about this program as “troublemakers.” If they stopped drinking the kool-aid for half a minute and evaluate this program they may reconsider using it. If we get back to the Bible and stop trying to outdo God, we may see growth return to the Church.

5. Matt - January 6, 2009

This is a joke, right?

6. Patrick - January 6, 2009

LOL, maybe not. just another perspective Matt. let’s be tolerant.

7. Matt - January 6, 2009

If I was being intolerant I would have deleted Anon’s (If that is their real name) comment. Tolerance is allowing someone to have their say and then making snide remarks…. :)

8. Lisa B - January 6, 2009

Our girls have never been involved with the program, but only because it wasn’t available. Probably we would have tried it if it was an option.

I agree with you about the whole female thing-especially about fathers not being able to watch their daughters perform. I’m not completely sold on the “competition is negative” aspect. Competition can be very good, especially as a motivating factor for some children. For instance bible bowl motivates them to study. Maybe worship activities shouldn’t be involved in the competition, but the kids would see through that… Now that I think about it this probably just feeds the problem church members have with being more concerned about what fellow members think of their attendance, dress, worship, etc., then what God thinks of it. (sorry to ramble, not like me)

I would love for you and Diana to come visit our church when you’re in town sometime. Very “liberal” : ) Women lead prayers, songs, speak from the front (facing the congregation!) We don’t even have a Sunday evening service, which we love.

9. Matt - January 6, 2009

Really? Where do you go now?

10. Lisa B - January 6, 2009

the official name is Covenant Fellowship Church, a church of Christ. We keep pretty quiet about the CoC part, LOL! Its in Searcy, we meet in the Carmichael Center

11. greg - January 6, 2009

I’m somewhat familiar with Covenant, as my sister and bro-in-law were part of the original group that started that church in the mid-90’s (although they are no longer in Searcy). All I’ve heard about it is good.

12. Matt - January 6, 2009

I remember hearing of it when I was at Harding back in the late-90’s. We may have to check that out sometime.

13. Brian Pannell - January 6, 2009

hey buddy-

I am a youth minister in the CoC…and I too LadstoLeaders program, for all of the same reasons. What a terrible message it sends when a kid “loses” for teaching or singing. We’re in a world of trouble when our worship becomes a contest. The final straw for me was one competition in which kids were told to pray…and then their prayers were “judged”—-HOW DISGUSTING! What about the command to not pray standingin the synagogues and onthe street. corners to be seen by men.?

Stand your ground man….

14. Patrick - January 6, 2009

Instead of “hating” on Lads to Leaders, let’s think of an alternative. I’m all for LTC (Leadership Training For Christ), but their conventions are much farther away for our congregation. Both seek to prepare children with more skills. From what I know of LTC, it “allows” fathers to watch/support their daughters.

Y/Our objections to L2L might end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater…

15. Whitney - January 6, 2009

I’m going to disregard Anon’s comment. I’m familiar with the verse in Titus. Don’t sit here and tell me I’m in the workplace to gain material possessions I.e. Luxury car, huge house. In my comment I was speaking about how men in the church view women. In my comment, I didn’t infer that homemakers are lazy. I know their job is difficult. My mom worked and I turned out just a good as the people who were raised by a stay at home mom, maybe even better. Sorry I swayed from the topic, Matt. This guy really riled me up. It’s people like him that sway people away from staying in the Church of Christ.

16. shannon - January 6, 2009

Forwarded this link to someone who has been deeply involved in LTC in Texas for years. Here is his response:

Interesting, thought its about Lads to Leaders and not LTC which are pretty different in the issues that he addresses.

#1 Competition, LTC, at least ours in Houston has worked very hard to remove the competitive aspect to our convention. It has met with some resistance from the adults who thrive on that kind of thing but we maintain our emphasis on a striving to meet a standard, not beat someone else. Everybody wins something, depending on how hard they work.

#2 Devaluing females. We’ve worked hard on this too and we allow the girls to do virtually everything males do and in mixed company. For which we have taken a good deal of heat as well and eliminated some folks who would participate because they believe that’s “unfaithful.”

Got a scathing email from a guy who threw a fit because we had a mixed praise team lead a Friday night devo. HIs group probably won’t be coming back this year.

LTC certainly has its haters, mostly from those who allow it to “wag the dog” as it were and that does occasionally happen. It can become all consuming if its not handled well, and a real burden on some Youth ministers who have it thrown into their lap. YM are our biggest haters, mostly because LTC takes dedication, organization, and work, for months at a time.

17. jwisdom - January 6, 2009

Can’t we all look at what’s important here? The Lads to Leaders convention is in the Opryland Hotel, and you get a discount to stay there that weekend.

18. Patrick - January 6, 2009

You might even get a really nice room!

19. Matt - January 6, 2009

I would just like to remind everyone that personal attacks on fellow readers will not be allowed. It is especially deplorable when one chooses to do so anonymously. Healthy discussion is welcomed, but insulting or offensive comments will not be tolerated. Failure to abide by this bit of common decency will cause your comment to be deleted, just as the last one was.

This aggression will not stand, man.

20. Chris - January 6, 2009

I didn’t make personal attacks. I just pointed out the example that was provided. It’s always “aggression” when it goes against your beliefs. I guess Whitney and your comment was “aggressive,” too. I think I made some good points…too bad you deleted them from your other readers

21. smokey - January 9, 2009

I find the critique about competition to be the most legitimate of the ones that you raised. It is not, however, the biggest problem I have with LtL. That would be their contempt for real words and their abandonment of common sense. The program is called “Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes.” Obviously “Leaderettes” is not a real word, and leaders is gender neutral. The program should be called “Lads and Lasses to Leaders.” Perhaps they abandon this obvious solution in order to avoid making it sound like they’re making women leaders in the Church. :)

I’m actually starting up a lads to leaders program at church right now despite my concerns with the competitive nature of the the program. As I look back on my expereince with it, I don’t remember the competition all that much, but I do remember developing the ability and courage to lead in the congregation. It’s not a perfect program, but, overall, it was very positive for me and for our church IMO.

22. Matt - January 9, 2009

There were people who became well educated and went on to accomplish great things in segregated schools, too, but that doesn’t make it right. Haven’t we learned yet that “Separate but Equal” is a bad idea?

I don’t buy the argument that it may be imperfect but it is all we have. Change it. Make it better. Our children deserve better that the status quo.

23. Patrick - January 9, 2009

Matt, it seems that you are equating L2L with evil. Some people have a different interpretation of scripture than you do. That doesn’t make them evil. I don’t know if this is such a clear cut issue. Maybe there is a lot more gray here than you are allowing. There are positives to the L2L program, even though the girls are not “allowed” to demonstrate their skills in front of men. I’d have no problem letting the girls do their thing in front of the men at church when we have our L2L “demo” Sunday. Think about the girl who has only practiced in front of women for what ever reason. Now she is at the convention and men are present. That could throw her off and make her more nervous.

I just don’t think the issue is so black and white. There are lots of things to consider. Even if you didn’t participate at convention, might it be a good thing for your girls and son (someday) to participate in your local congregation? They’d learn the skills at least.

24. Matt - January 9, 2009

Though I think the organization is terrible and wrong and based on poor theology, that does not necessarily equate to evil (belive me, I’ve already been accused of comparing them to Nazis).

By the way, when did you discover the existence of nuance? I thought you were a Republican… :)

25. Patrick - January 9, 2009

I see certain things in black and white and see some things as gray. You see certain things in black and white and see some things as gray. We see the things differently. What I see in black and white you see as gray. What you see as black and white, I see as gray.

I don’t see myself as a Republican. I am an avowed conservative, but that does not equate to Republican. And, you know that on some things we agree. Very little, but on some things. Through our “rose-colored” glasses, we probably both see ourselves as independents who are moderate and reflect the mainstream. The truth is probably that neither of us is moderate nor are we mainstream…

26. Travis - January 9, 2009

As a gold-winning Song Leader and Puppeteer, a Silver-winning “Mass Media Speech-giver”, a Silver-winning Centurion of Scriptures, an OUTSTANDING Bible Reader, and a two year participant in Bible Bowl, let me say that I disagree! Lads to Leaders has helped me become the bigoted, competitive, Easter-avoiding, burnt-out, young church leader that I am today!

But seriously…I agree wholeheartedly. I was thoroughly reared in L2L and I thoroughly despise it now, for the reasons you share and many more.

27. Matt - January 9, 2009

You would make a great L2L spokesperson, Travis…

28. smokey - January 9, 2009

L2L = segregation? That’s the kind of extreme language that Jon Stewart would mock on TDS.

29. Matt - January 10, 2009

Me?! Use extreme language to make a point?!

30. Chris - January 10, 2009

Travis–are you still a member of the Church?

31. Chris - January 10, 2009

The problem with this program is that we are not consistent. In all that we teach we must be consistent. (Col. 3:17) Everything we do must be by Christ’s authority. The bible is very clear on what the role of a woman is in the church. In I Tim. 2:8-12. Males are commanded to pray and in vs. 11 where women are commanded to learn in silence with all subjection. Then in vs. 12 Paul states.. and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
·Are we not fooling ourselves, by teaching our young girls in the leaderettes program? When is it told to them that they will never use this training in worship assembly? At what point does the little girl that she once was become a woman and decide it is time for her to find a place where she can lead? It is happening all around us. This world is putting more and more emphasis on the power of women and the oppression of them and it is very dangerous considering how many examples we have in the Word of God about a woman’s role. In this day and time it is hard to take a stance on something but we must be willing to take a close look at all aspects and what it may lead to.

·Gender Justice: This is some of the false doctrine that is being taught in the church around the country. If you refer to http://www.gal328.org you will find a whole website dedicated to the recognization of men and Women and their gifts. This is a group of people trying to promote women in the church. One must not be so naïve to believe that this cannot creep into the church in such programs that allow our little girls to have seeds planted in their minds and to be trained on how to perform and lead!

·Competition has no place in learning about our Lord. This program is designed to teach children to be better singers or speakers and then we reward them with 1st and 2nd place trophies. This violates what God had demanded for us. In Eph. 5:19-20 : Col 3:16) We are to give thanksgiving and glory to God. We must not teach our children that they are better than anyone else because Jesus said we must deny self and take up our cross and follow him (Mt 16:24).

oYou are not putting others before yourself. Phillipians 2:3
oWhere are we commanded to have excellence of speech?
I Cor. 2:1-5

·We are to be humble as Christ was. The definition of humble is : Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly. Is this really what we are teaching our youth when we reward them with places? Pride? Hab. 2:4, Pr.1:12. many more scriptures.

We must be willing to step back, take a look, and examine if we are leading our youth down the right path. There is a responsibility to train our children and to teach them how to serve God (II Tim. 2:2) Is this something that is really good for our Youth? Can I be a part of something that may cause one to stumble? Is it really good for our children or are there other ways that we can train them to be the servants God expects us to be?

If this program were wrong on even just one point would it not be enough for Christians to step back and not participate in such? This program is not CONSISTENT on what the bible teaches.

We are to be pleasing to God… this is what our focus should be about. (Rom. 12:1-2)

32. Matt - January 10, 2009

In the end you have to make the decision whether the psychological damage done to young girls is worth teaching boys an ultra-conservative and ultimately poor theology.

33. Matt - January 10, 2009

Last year I considered going to the convention and having my then-5 year old wear a burka. I thought it would be appropriate given their regulations.

34. Chris - January 11, 2009

I suppose I Corinthians 14:34-35 is a poor “theology?” How do you, and L2L, get around that passage? Let’s train our young girls to speak publicly in church when they are commanded to keep silent. How inconsistant!

35. Matt - January 11, 2009

Hold your horses, dude. I’ll get there.

36. Patrick - January 12, 2009

This is an interesting line of conversation. It sounds like you both dislike L2L but for different reasons. Very interesting.

Matt, you make the most outrageous statements sometimes. A burka for Rachel. She’d still look so cute in it, but come on…

37. Karen L - January 13, 2009

Thanks for this. I found this by way of PC.
I have to know…Do they still make everybody walk in a big circle around the ballroom to “Chariots of Fire” at the end of the convention? Why not adopt a non-competitive program like AWANA? I must say that this discussion only confirms my decision to leave the Church of Christ a few years ago. I suppose that I’m just a dirty feminist that thinks that if I woman can command a space shuttle or run for leader of the free world, she should be able to balance a tray of grape juice in her incompetent little hands. Some of the comments are so priceless. I really got a chuckle.

Chris, why does the CoC enforce the passage about learning in quietness and submission and being silent, but not the previous verses about wearing braided hair, gold, pearls and expensive clothes? How is it that you get to cherry-pick what passages you interpret literally or not?

38. Matt - January 13, 2009

Chariots of Fire? Really? I sure hope it was done a capella :).

And those are good points you make about the church cherry picking what “regulations” they want to follow. I was actually planning another blog entry on that very thing.

39. Stephanie E. - January 13, 2009

I grew up in a small, ultra-conservative church, one that would never have participated in L2L because it would have been considered “too liberal.” But setting all talk of female leadership aside, the most painful thing to me was the feeling that I just wasn’t worth much to God because I was a woman. I truly believed this for a long time, well into my adulthood, and it was indescribably painful. It was also guilt-producing: who was I to presume? I’m not talking here about “what I didn’t get to do”; I’m talking about not feeling valued in the eyes of God.

40. Matt - January 13, 2009

Thanks for commenting, Stephanie! I guess I never really thought about the fact that there were some congregations, as evidenced by you and Chris, who thought of L2L as a liberal oranization. That almost makes them seem moderate between the far right and my side of the spectrum on the left where we believe women should have the same authority as men. It’s an interesting perspective.

41. Stephanie E. - January 13, 2009

I’m always interested in the conservative/moderate/liberal spectrum. Coming from the background that I did, I’d probably now classify myself (if I had to) a moderate, but I’m sure the people in my old congregation would think I’ve “gone liberal.” I don’t really like these labels at all. I like to think that I’m on a journey rather than stuck in a category.

42. R-Liz - January 13, 2009

Matt– I’m in full agreement with you. But I also feel like the issue of “women’s role’ should be OLD news. How much longer are you willing to try to dialogue with folks until you decide it’s just time to move on from the CoC? Sorry if I sound a little fatalistic, but I feel like Karen L has done what SO many still in the CoC should do. The CoC has a ton of baggage, and this constant arguing about the “right” or “wrong” way to do a 90-minute Sunday/Wednesday service totally takes away from why in the heck Christ came in the first place.

Folks like Chris/Anon are a dime a dozen out there, and you will CONSTANTLY be facing these guys as you continue down the CoC road. And I must admit, it’s not so much the Chris/Anons out there that get to me, it’s all the other shades of grey that absolutely drive me crazy. So a woman can lead a song, pass communion, and say a prayer– but what about preaching or shepherding? I’m not satisfied with these little milestones when they continue to give the message to women that they’re less-than-men.

I wasn’t raised in the CoC, so I don’t have a long history that would keep me invested. Harding was my first exposure to the CoC, and it was the first time in my life that I was told I couldn’t/wasn’t allowed/shouldn’t because of my gender. Total bone-head men were at times given the reigns of leadership while intelligent, competent women were made to standby and watch. It’s wrong, and I have really mixed feelings on folks that full-out disagree with many premises of the CoC who decide to stick with the CoC. What messages are being sent to others, your kids, etc.?

I mean no disrespect. But like Stephanie, I can testify to the fact that it’s extremely painful to be told (overtly and covertly) that you’re not worth as much to God as a man is. And I am so tired of feeling like some ‘bad’ person because I long for gender-equality to be more fully manifested. I just want to worship and fellowship in freedom and peace.

43. Stephanie E. - January 13, 2009

You’re right. It is overt and covert. When I finally explained my pain to my husband (who was raised in the same congregation), he was shocked and saddened at how deep my pain and anger went. Many of those covert messages flew right past him. But, you know, now that I think about it, many of those messages came from OTHER WOMEN, which, of course, he wouldn’t have heard.

44. Matt - January 13, 2009

I actually have left the CoC before and would probably still be gone if it were not for our congregation, which I dearly love. I love it for its diversity and its opportunities for service, two things that have always been absent from every church I had attended before.

Who knows what the future will hold? I’d like to think that we may be able to help enact some changes, but at the same time I hate to make things harder on my girls.

While I’ve expressed my feelings on some issues with a few friends in our church in the past, this post is really my coming out party and I know that there are several members of our congregation who have read this as well. We’ll just have to see what comes of it.

But in the meantime, let’s see how far we can push the envelope.

45. Patrick - January 13, 2009

I think one of the strengths of our congregation (I go to church with Matt) is our diversity. What amazes me about that diversity is the number of spectrums it crosses (race, politics, theology, economics, education, etc.). One of the things that allows us to be so diverse is the understanding that we accept each other as we are and love each other as family. One thing that I think would cause problems is for someone to start trying to “upset the apple cart” instead of lovingly accepting everyone for their diverse and differnet opinions. I guess I think it is humility to love each other instead of “having our own way” whatever that way is. It distresses me very much that there are those who have left our congregation recently because of our midweek practices or who have not joined due to our teachings on women (they thought we were too liberal). I think our elders try to steer a middle course trying to maintain the family atmosphere without driving away the more conservative and more liberal members.

I guess I’m just saying that pushing the envelope may be the less loving thing to do because you may cause more harm than good. Be wise with what you do. Please.

46. Patrick - January 13, 2009

Oh, and one other thing. With respect to L2L, I agree with you. If I didn’t say it somewhere else up in the post. I think it is insane that a father cannot encourage his daughters at the convention. I just don’t think it is worth withdrawing from the organization as a whole because I think there are other benefits. I also agree about the competition comments. But only because they do with church. Competition will hit our kids in life and we’ll be better off if we don’t shield them from it. But, it doesn’t have to come in a church format. Like I said much earlier, I’d be willing to go to another “event” like LTC or something similar if one were available and the parents wanted to do that instead. The closest LTC to Holmes Road are in Tulsa, Indy, Dallas, and Mobile. Much farther away than Memphis or Nashville.

47. Becca B - January 13, 2009

I did Lads to Leaders when I was in high school, but it was mainly because I enjoyed being able to go spend a few days in Nashville at the gorgeous Opry Land Hotel with a group of my friends.

I had a lot of the same issues with it you do. It baffles me how so many people absolutely adore the program.

Thanks for writing this. I haven’t waded through all the comments yet, but I enjoyed the post. It needed to be said.

48. HUAlaska - January 13, 2009

As an LTC participant for 8 years, I agree with all the LTC supporters. When my family first moved to our current church which participated in L2L we chose not to participate for some of the same reasons you mentioned in your post, especially the competition factor. We did not feel that the competition aspect promoted brotherly love. In LTC students still have a goal, but they are not competing against EACH OTHER. All 3 of the LTC conventions we’ve attended each participant/team is judged using a rubric. The awards are given based on the score of the rubric. (i.e. in Bible Bowl 75-100 correct answers = gold; 50-75 = silver; 25-50 = bronze; 0-25 = participant (copper colored?)) Therefore, students are not competing against each other but are rewarded for their hard work.

Also, if you live in Searcy, Dallas is only about 20 minutes further than Nashville. That’s the one my family and a few other families from our church have been going to for the last 2-3 years.

49. Matt - January 13, 2009

Competition is fine if your kids are playing baseball, but not if they are leading singing in church (or in some secluded backroom surrounded by people who happened to be born with the same type of body parts as would be the case with my girls).

And I find it offensive that you think I would say these things out of purely selfish reasons. There is a bigger picture here than just me (and my kids), you know.

50. Matt - January 13, 2009

No, HUAlaska, I live in the Memphis area, so, like Patrick said, it would be hard to convince the leadership to drive several hours when there is another convention much closer…regardless of whether or not it is the right thing to do.

51. McMurdo - January 13, 2009

Hi Matt,

I agree with HU Alaska and Shannon. We participate in LTC rather than L2L for the first two reasons you cited. My three kids (now all teens) love it–it is the highlight of their year and they still love coming home with all their medals. We started attending when we lived in Naperville, IL and some people who moved to our church from TX “brought LTC” to our congregation–we attended the one near Purdue (W Lafayette, IN). When we moved to AR, no one in our town attended LTC–the congregations here all did L2L–so we attended LTC in Dallas and Tulsa on our own as a family (and now a few other families join us). We’ve even met families at LTC who fly to attend a different LTC every year just to try them all out as a fun family thing to do! : ) There is no reason why you can’t go just as a family to the one in Birmingham (or is it Mobile?), or Tulsa, which I think is about 5 hours from you–though it’s now held in Rogers, AR–maybe even closer for you.–though I THINK the one in Rogers is a bit pickier about the women/men thing (you’d have to check the manual on their website) than the 3 held in Dallas and the one in W. Lafayette. The other two cities let your conscience be your guide about such matters. : )
I understand your frustration about not getting your leadership to switch–like you and Becca B said up there, so many people get hooked on a something and won’t even consider an alternative, even if it would be the right thing to do. We’ve encountered some of that here when trying to encourage people to try LTC.

52. Patrick - January 14, 2009

Matt,

This might set a record for number of replies to one of your posts. You certainly have stirred up a lot of conversation.

Was your post 49 directed at me? If so, I’m not sure how I implied that you are doing this out of selfish reasons.

53. Rich - January 17, 2009

Greetings from one who is working to light a fire within the frozen chosen,
The biggest problem within the CoC is that when it comes to gender (and other issues) we forget that there are multiple contexts for each passage. The following is an example taken from this list where the only context acknowledged is the immediate passages:

(Col. 3:17) Everything we do must be by Christ’s authority. The bible is very clear on what the role of a woman is in the church. In I Tim. 2:8-12. Males are commanded to pray and in vs. 11 where women are commanded to learn in silence with all subjection. Then in vs. 12 Paul states.. and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Let us look at the first in light of

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

First, there is the issue of BROTHERS and EVERYONE. If we accept that both of those words are there by Christ’s authority (which I do believe), then we have the following situation: 1. those who are responsible for oversight of what takes place when we gather are the men, 2. EVERY individual member is to come prepared to offer a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation for the purpose of strengthening the church.

Second, EVERYONE is there for a reason beyond, “equal opportunity for the genders.” We have stunted the spiritual growth of the body because we have ignored the full impact of the EVERYONE. Instead of powerful, God given life impacting words of edification based on how God has touched a life in the past week, we accept solo performances (feel free to thing about L2L worship competitions) which tend towards lecture lessons instead of worshipful encounters with a powerful living God.

Lastly, there is a consequence for ignoring this teaching. If we follow the authority of God’s teaching, he says it will strengthen the church. So, if we are not following him in this area, then I am certain our practice is not strengthening the church.

Ok, second set of passages:

In I Tim. 2:8-12. Males are commanded to pray and in vs. 11 where women are commanded to learn in silence with all subjection. Then in vs. 12 Paul states.. and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

The simplest passage to throw into this mix is

Acts 18:26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

Again, if we are acknowledging the God’s full authority in scripture, then both Priscilla and Aquila teaching Apollos needs to be brought into perspective with the teaching of 1 Timothy. Before we do that, let us take a step back and look at the impact of improper teach on 1 Timothy in history. Until about the 1400’s (I think, Gospel Advocate also references this point in their covering of 1 Timothy), the silence of 1 Timothy was treated as absolute–no singing. The change was brought about when the church of England (king of England) decided to snub the Pope by saying that women could be actors in passion (religious) plays. Later, in snub number 2, the church of England decided it was acceptable for women to sing in the assembly.

Ok, now that we have thought about the impact of bad teaching based on a single set of verses, lets consider the full context of the passage. In the case of each letter, Paul is writing in response to a problem. This makes understanding the true meaning of Paul’s letters a task we should approach with great care. Think about the conflict that exists between Acts and 1 Timothy if all we are looking at is what each says individually instead of in the light of all scripture. First off, Paul is writing to a very immature congregation. They are so worldly, that he has to instruct them in verse 8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. The position of lifting hands in the air to God was to show that they were lifting their own life/soul before God. This is said in contrast to praying in wrath against others in their own congregation and doubting because prayer was a petty sick part of their infighting. Keeping that picture of failed worship in mind, if you do a study of the Greek in this passage, the authority and silence passage is occuring because the women in this congregation were the worst when it came to mouthing off in worship. One of the words used in this passage is on the level of murdering with words. Given that context, it is easy to understand that Paul was telling Timothy that for that group, the answer was shut-up.

Just to muddy the waters a little bit more, let us consider the issue of authority. When I lead a song, what is leading the thoughts of the congregation? Is it the tempo of the song, the good/bad skills of the one up front, or is it the words themselves? When a person reads scripture, again what is leading the thoughts of the congregation? The answer to both of these is runs against what is commonly taught in CoC and L2L. God leads through his words and through the thoughts of those who have experienced his direct working in their lives. That is why each of us is expected to participate.

It is because of weakness and error that God gave the responsibility of oversight in services to brothers, just like he did with Adam in the garden. Unfortunately, just like Adam, real responsibility has been left out. Instead it has fallen to human false forms. Those forms are a big part of weakening and internal struggles that regularly occur in CoC.

Just some thoughts from a deacon of youth education, a co-leader of a men’s Bible study group, a father of two boys and two girls (one adopted), a loving husband, and last, but most importantly, fellow member of the body of Christ.

54. KW - January 18, 2009

From what I gathered from the scripture in Acts 18:26, Priscilla and Aquila pulled Apollos aside and taught him a more perfect way. Then didn’t usurp authority of Apollos by correcting him openly in the synagague.

55. Matt - January 19, 2009

Thanks for commenting. I’m going to continue my “A Place at the Table” blog post series on expanding the role of women soon.

56. Rich - January 20, 2009

I agree that there was not authority usurption (new word). The problem is, there are still many who believe, any female teaching a baptized male is a female usurping male authority. Remember, the keep silent is inconsistently applied to 2 or more gathered (Apollos + Priscilla + Aquilla > 2).

The other part of the inconsistency is that the submission word used in that passage is the same as is used with reference to the young men learning from the older men. Again, usually a major inconsistency.

57. C.G. - January 23, 2009

So are we saying that it is better to stay home or start your own church than it is to participate in L2L? Hello! Sounds like someone may be confused. Yes, I have 2 kids, a boy and a girl. We all love L2L and we all learn so much in preparation for the convention. I haven’t seen anything in the program that God would be displeased with. Obviously he wouldn’t want us sitting home and having “family time” instead of worshiping on a night the elders have set aside for us to worship. No, I do not think L2L should control our Bible program for 6 months, or even for 1 month. I think L2L should be an extracurricular program that we choose to participate or not participate in. What is wrong with most of you people? I don’t live to compete, nor do my kids. I live to please God. L2L has so many programs. How could God not be pleased and glorified by our participation? Wake up people!! It’s simple, if you don’t like it, don’t participate. I think we should be warned not to forsake the assembly simply because we don’t want to participate in an extracurricular program!

58. Matt - January 23, 2009

What? I should go to church on Sunday nights because the elders say so, but I shouldn’t participate in the only program offered for children if I disagree with it?

I’ll take my chances staying at home on Sunday nights…

59. C.G. - January 23, 2009

No, I am not saying you should participate if you don’t agree with it. As I previously stated, L2L should be extra. Our curriculum should not be planned around it. Where I worship, we meet before or after worship. It is not in place of worship. If that is the only program offered for children where you worship, maybe you could attend elsewhere on Sunday evening.

60. Matt - January 23, 2009

The problem is that anywhere else we might be interested in attending has already moved into this century and no longer offers Sunday night services.

61. Matt - January 29, 2009

We will be having some fellow L2L outcasts to our home on Sunday to watch the Super Bowl, as opposed to inflicting undue emotional distress on our children by forcing them to go for one week so that we can attend the church’s get-together which doesn’t actually begin until sometime in the second quarter, and anyone else that is interested is welcome to join us.

In addition to that, we are making plans to begin attending another type of gathering with different group the following Sunday evening.

62. Patrick - January 29, 2009

Have fun.

63. Matt - January 29, 2009

We will, even though we will miss the time with everyone else. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices to do what you believe to be right.

64. Patrick - January 29, 2009

lol, exactly, which is why I’ll drop off the food at the Richardson’s house and conveniently forget to go to church so I can see the whole game at the Richardson’s house. :-)

65. Matt - January 29, 2009

I’ve been told that I have to be at the building at 5:00 for a meeting about the 50th anniversary stuff…hope they don’t plan on me sticking around very long.

66. Patrick - January 29, 2009

lol, yeah, amazing that someone planned a meeting for that time. Must show that we are spiritual and not beholden to that heathen ritual “The Super Bowl”.

67. Stephanie P. - March 12, 2009

I am a woman and professional. I live in a very small town in northwest Florida. I am the only female lawyer in my church. I can honestly say that I have NEVER felt that I have less value in the eyes of God than a man does. God chose a woman as the vehicle through which his Son would come into this world. God’s word is clear and precise regarding the role of women in the church. I accept God’s word at face value. I don’t feel that I am less of a person because I cannot take a leadership role in the church. The skills girls learn from participating in L2L are valuable and can be used. For example, women lead singing at Women’s retreats. I must admit that the competition aspect of L2L is somewhat troubling to me and struggle with that part of it. I also do not feel that the cheering for ones congregation that goes on is appropriate. After all we are all part of the Lord’s church.

68. Stephanie P. - March 12, 2009

Just wanted to follow up and say I have a son in kindergarten who is just getting involved in L2L. I am also a single parent. If one is uncomfortable with the competition aspect of the program, there are events that your child can participate in such as Good Samaritan. While I whole-heartedly support L2L, I don’t think fathers listening to their daughters read the Bible, debate, or deliver a speech is unscriptual. After all, women read the Bible with men present during Bible studies. For me, the value my son will receive from the program is outweighed by the few concerns I have.

69. Matt - March 12, 2009

Actually, I don’t believe it to be that clear, Stephanie. I’ve written a good bit dealing with that very issue in other entries, so I am not going to rehash all of that now.

70. rene - March 14, 2009

As a mother of 2 who participate in L2L, I must say that I wish it
had been around when I was young so I would have the courage my
son and daughter both have to lead songs, speech, etc in public.
I, as a Christian woman, feel that I am very important in the Lord’s
work even though I am not given the position to preach, etc in the
presence of men and actually very grateful that God gave that
responsibility to the men. I am wondering about those of you
who are so concerned about competition, do you keep your
children home from school and sports events so they don’t have
to know what it feels like to not always come in first place? The Lord
himself compares the Christian life to “running a race”, does not
a race have winners and loosers? I agree, sometimes L2L gets
too much emphasis when serving God should be the number on emphasis, but the scriptural knowledge my children have gained
and the experience that they will be able to use in the future
is priceless.

71. Matt - March 17, 2009

So, in your mind rene, we have to compete with others to earn God’s favor?

72. Patrick - March 17, 2009

Matt, that’s not what she is implying. I think she is saying that competition is not bad, it is a fact of life.

73. Matt - March 17, 2009

I still hold firm that competition has no place in the Christian faith. This is not a game. It is not some selfish business venture. It is something else entirely and there is no room for competition.

Again, these are my reasons for not supporting Lads 2 Leaders and not allowing my children to participate. Even after 72 comments and many condescending, insulting, and some borderline-threatening (threats of God’s vengeance, hell, and being kicked out of “the” church) emails and unpublished comments later, my mind has not been changed. If anything my resolve has been hardened and I am more convinced than ever that the program is wrong, just plain wrong.

74. Stephanie P. - March 18, 2009

I don’t think anyone is trying to change your mind; at least I hope they aren’t. I also think it’s sad that anyone would threaten you because of your opinion.

This debate over L2L is a sign that there are some legitimate concerns about it’s place in the Lord’s church. And, those of us who choose to be a part of it should study God’s word for ourselves to decide whether this program should have a place in the lives of our children. I for one have done so and I am comfortable with my choice.

I honestly believe that L2L was born from an earnest desire to train our children to work in the Lord’s church. And I further believe that some of the rules (such as prohibiting men from watching girls lead singing) were developed out of an honest desire to follow God’s word regarding the role of women in the church. However, as we all know, any time man develops anything (even with noble intentions) it is bound to be flawed in some way since we are not perfect.

Matt, I for one am glad that I came across this site. With convention being right around the corner, it has been interesting to read and consider the opinions of so many others. While I don’t agree with you about L2L, I applaud you for having the courage to stand up and express your feelings about this matter. Likewise, I think it’s important for those of us who support L2L to speak up.

75. Matt - March 18, 2009

Thanks, Stephanie. I appreciate your comments.

76. Mark - March 18, 2009

Well, I guess that it is time that I chime in on this one. I’ve read the blog post numerous times and have carefully read each post. I think that everyone has very valid things to say and everyone seems to be speaking from the heart. For me and my family, if we continued to live in the United States, we would probably continue to participate in L2L. Matt, Patrick, I so appreciate you guys and your thoughts on this and all your posts (Patrick, sometimes I feel like this is your blog too…Hear me, I think that is cool). The reason that I would allow my daughters to continue to participate (while I would continue to wear my button) is rather simple. However, I would like to propose the simple scenario… If a group of Chinese Christians who had worshiped the Lord their entire lives in underground, illegal churches, arrived at L2L not knowing anything in advance, would they call the people there Christians or would they call them Americans? I think that they would call them Americans. I think that the Chinese Christians would shrink away when they heard people at L2L advocating their First and Second Amendment Rights before they ever would consider following the “whole counsel of God” (yes, I heard this quite a few times). I think that the problem with L2L, and most culturally American churches, is that they do not have a working paradigm that allows them to manage change within their organization or church community. What kind of reception would a puppet show at L2L receive which dealt with school friends who were growing up in a homosexual environment? Not believable? My daughter had to deal with that question one day at school. Would the leadership of L2L encourage their participants to openly deal with issues like that through the medium of puppets? or other events? I can understand the reasons that Dr. Jack Zorn (one time I stood right behind him in the ice cream line) created an event like L2L which would promote Christian growth in a seemingly secular world so that future generations would be shielded from the general cultural and religious malaise of the 1960’s.

So, why would I allow my daughters to continue to participate? Well, first of all, they enjoy it. Secondly, it is a good reminder and conversation starter between myself as a father and my daughters. Is it not good to discuss with our children of how we need to be much more than what they promote at L2L? Do I really care about competition? I agree with you Matt, competition has no place in the Kingdom of God. I would much rather see my daughters be concerned with values like justice and mercy rather than competition. Do I see these values promoted at L2L? Sadly, No. Do I see these values promoted in our American churches? Sadly, No. In the end, what does it matter? If my kids go to L2L and win a prize for memorizing a Bible verse (that, No, I wasn’t going to barge in on), I can deal with that. Is there a greater problem when a kid wins an award for puppets and then goes to school the next day and beats up the nerdy kid in class because he wants to celebrate Pi day? There we have a problem.

There will always be organizations like L2L that promote ideologies that I do not agree with. However, as a parent, I’m reminded that God spoke to Moses in Deut. 6 explicitly about the role of the parent in the life of a child. I take this verse very seriously. Will going to L2L screw my kids up? Probably not. Unless I blindly allow L2L to do the parenting and thinking for me and for my child.

Herein lies the problem.

77. Matt - March 18, 2009

But, if we continue to support a terribly flawed program, it will continue to exist and continue to perpetuate these terrible, flawed ideas. Personally, I’d rather my kids have secular influences than false ones. It’s not easy to explain to little girls that they have worth when they are not able to lead a prayer in public. But I do tell them that. I tell them that the people who do not want women to lead in Christian worship are wrong, dead wrong, and that we are going to work to change things.

To tell the truth, my hope is that the program will just die out at our congregation and then maybe we can replace it with something worthwhile.

78. Patrick - March 18, 2009

Matt, I think many people are open to something different. Do you have any ideas? That may have been a point of mine early on in this stream of messages. It’s okay to throw rocks, if you have an alternative. No alternative, quit throwing rocks.

As far as the worth of a girl being tied up in whether or not they can pray in worship, I think there are bigger issues. 1) are they told they are worth less like one of your posters was? That’s wrong! 2) should our worth come from whether we can do something in worship or not? Our worth comes from God who loves us, not from the acts of service that we are “allowed” to do. Should I be concerned about my worth in God’s eyes since I am not married? Should Mark be concerned because he doesn’t have any male children? Should you be concerned because you don’t have … etc. Tieing our daughters’ worth to whether or not they can lead a prayer in worship, speak the sermon, or lead the singing is teaching our children the wrong thing to which to tie their worth.

Mark, This is definitely Matt’s blog. I try to stay silent as much as possible to keep any friction from developing. Or, when I do say something, I am just trying to provide an alternate point of view. I appreciate Mark’s posts on many things.

79. Matt - March 18, 2009

Well, I have garden that will need working…

And, believe me, it’s not easy to explain to a little girl why she heard that God doesn’t want her to lead singing. If that doesn’t sap one’s self-worth, then I don’t know what does.

I’m very thankful for our good friends the Joys (two of whom commented way back at the beginning of this string) who faced this situation and chose to keep their daughters at home. They offer me a lot inspiration in that we can coexist as family while not having to participate or support the activities that we stand firmly against.

80. Matt - March 18, 2009

Besides the garden, I would suggest there be some sort of service project. Go to the Union Mission or get involved in a benevolence ministry in the city. There are hundreds of good deeds going undone while we try to earn more Jesus trophies for the mantle.

81. Patrick - March 19, 2009

Good ideas to handle the service side of the program. Any ideas on the rest of the needs? I think we do focus on service with our children at church. You’ll see Cameron doing a lot with them throughout the summer and I know that Paula focused very much on it this year with the K-2 group. By the way, was thinking about approaching the elders to see if we could let all of the children this year give their “demonstration” Sundy to the whole church. (with all that implies)

82. Stephanie P. - March 19, 2009

Matt,

I have to agree with Patrick on the issue of where our girls should be getting their self-worth from. As a successful female, it troubles me that you feel that your daughters’ self-worth is directly connnected to whether they can take a leadership role in the church.

Although I have been attending the church of Christ for most of my life, my father was not a member of the church when I was growing up. Although he did not play a role in my spiritual development as a child, he always made sure that I knew that I could do anything with my life that I chose to do. Thus, even though I come from a lower middle class background, I attended both college and law school by obtaining student loans and scholarships. I have worked very hard to get where I am and I just don’t accept the word “can’t.”

As I said in an earlier post, I have NEVER felt that God values me any less than he does a man. I am very active in the work of the church. Among other things, I am involved in our prison ministry, and in mission work. There are so many opportunities for women to work in the church that it baffles me that any woman would feel that there is no place for her. I think I feel this way because I accept God’s word at face value and I honestly believe that he works all things for the God of those who follow his word. Also, I have been a prosecutor for over 15 years and I KNOW that I am just smart and capable as any man and I don’t need to lead the congregation in singing to prove it to myself or anyone else.

God has defined the role of women in the church very cleary in his word. There is no ambiguity. Women are not to take a leadership role over men in the worship service. I don’t know why God wants it that way, but I just accept it as His will. It doesn’t mean women don’t have the ability to work for the Kingdom. When I hear people take issue with this it seems to me that those people are questioning God’s infinite wisdom. Do we know better than God how best to worship him?

God, not man, has defined the role of women in the church. Although we do not have instrumental music during our worship service at the congregation I attend, I can see where there might be room for interpretation regarding an issue such as instrumental music since God’s word doesn’t directly prohibit it in the worship service. But this is not the case with the role of women in the worship service.

Throughout our history on this earth, we have always thought we know better than God. That attitude repeatedly got the Israelites in trouble and it continues to cause division in the church.

I for one continually pray for the wisdom to understand God’s will and apply it to my life. I think that’s the most any of us can do.

83. Matt - March 19, 2009

Other needs? I don’t think there are any needs more important or Christ-like than service to others. In my opinion, that should be our focus everyday and all through the year.

84. Matt - March 19, 2009

Well, Paul defined it….sort of….

85. Patrick - March 19, 2009

So, Matt, you feel there is no value in teaching a child how to put their thoughts together to provide a devotional comment. No value in knowing the bible through study of it for Bible Bowl or Debate (which I can’t stand, but recognize some value). No value in learning to express themselves through artistic means in sending a message. No value in being able to communicate a message through simple ways like puppets (which I’m not the fondest of, but the kids like it). No value in the Bartimaeus events that give people who would NEVER serve in worship the chance to do something.

There is more to Lads to Leaders than competition and degredation of women. Can you see any good that comes from it?

86. Matt - March 19, 2009

Did I say that?

Sure, there is some good that comes from it, but that doesn’t excuse it from the terrible, wrong and ultimately un-Christlike things that it perpetuates.

87. Patrick - March 19, 2009

So, what would the good be in your eyes?

88. Matt - March 19, 2009

You got me, but I’m sure something good could come out of it occasionally.

I actually like the Bible Bowl and think it could be a good program, even though I fear that the questions are probably skewed to fit their extreme views and poor theology.

89. Patrick - March 19, 2009

How much do you know about L2L? Do you know of all of the events that can be done?

You use such explosive language (terrible, extreme, un-Christlike, terribly flawed, etc)

90. Matt - March 19, 2009

I participated in it for two years as a teen. The way I describe it is just my perception of it, stemming from my own experience and from people who I respect and admire.

And, come on, you know I always use explosive language on here when I’m tring to make a point.

91. Patrick - March 19, 2009

but what do you truly feel, explosive or less so. you to too much a master of the English language to have to resort to extremes to make a point. I know you are a great writer and you know words! I think you could use less controversial words and make a stronger point.

92. Matt - March 19, 2009

Lads 2 Leaders = bad

93. Matt - March 19, 2009

Hey, I was just called a false teacher by someone in Calhoun, GA. Thanks, I appreciate it. :)

94. Patrick - March 20, 2009

False teacher? That’s a bit over the top. Bit is certainly an understatement.

For whoever said that, while I disagree with Matt on many things, I don’t doubt his love for God and his desire to do right.

95. Matt - March 20, 2009

Yeah, I don’t always post every comment that I get. Some people are just asking to be thrown in the spam heap.

96. Steven - March 24, 2009

Sorry, didn’t read all the comments, but I thought I would comment. Take it as you will.

I use to attend L2L when I was a kid, up until about age 14/15/16. I really don’t remember. I guess since I never cared if I won or lost, it didn’t affect me negatively as much as it has some people.

I’m pretty much lumped in the preacher’s kids category (Dad was a preacher for a bit, then a deacon, then an elder/Sheppard, so I had to idea that I had to be perfect ingrained in me, even if my parents didn’t mean to.)

L2L for me helped me get over my fear of speaking in public. That’s about it. I did song leading, got silver I think one year, because I liked singing. Did a speech once and got so nervous I forgot 1/2 of my speech. Did puppets a lot.

Really all it was for me was a chance to go have some fun, and spend some time with my fellow believers.

Now getting to the heart of my post, I believe L2L is a power thing for some people. It helps them grow closer to God. I have also known people that have become disenchanted with God because of L2L. I believe that should always be used as a resource to help the youth grow in their abilities to serve God.

Do I think there is some wrong with L2L? Yeah to some extent, I think the focus shouldn’t be about winning, it should be about growing closer to God. It is as much the parents, church leaders, and church members fought as it is L2L. We create the atmosphere that “demands” perfection, and trying to impress God with our skill, rather than showing it in service to him.

I do feel that the conditions set on the young ladies that attend are wrong in our current day and time, but it holds true to the majority of “doctrinal” ideas we have created for ourselves. We the CofC created the environment where women are placed as lesser then man. It not just in our denomination, but in others as well.

It’s a hard barrier to break down, and we justify yourself by quoting verses at each other on both sides, without realizing the meaning behind those verses or the spirit they were written in. They were written in love to strengthen our sisters and brothers, not limit them or tear them down. It’s something I feel like we are lacking in most of the CofCs out there. Until we stop trying to justify how right we are because THE Bible says so, (in our own interpretations) and learn to love each other, there will always be some type of barrier that will harm someone, and will lead us back to being a people of condemnation, rather than the Salt and Light of the World.

Sorry I can’t quote book, chapter, and verse. I never did Bible Bowl, but I also don’t think it’s needed. Hopefully I didn’t sway too off the topic, which I think I did… sorry. You could just say that I’m rambling. Hope it helped someone, if it didn’t then it just additional bytes floating around the internet.

L2L has it problems, but it also has its benefits. If we the followers of Christ can go to something like L2L and use it as it should be used, to sharpen and strengthen each other, then maybe down the road it will help lead other to Christ.

Any ideas expressed in this, are just that, my ideas, my quandaries about God in the Church today, and in our world. I’m going to stop typing here, cause if I don’t I will go on for a few more paragraphs.

97. Hugh Scroggins - April 2, 2009

I wonder if some of the blogers not only can’t quote the Book, they don’t know the Book. Some of you may be much more happy some where else beside the Lord’s Church. If you do don’t like what is in the Book, you should go where the Book is not used as a guide.

98. Patrick - April 2, 2009

Hugh, that is very unfair to Matt. Without knowing him, how can you question whether or not he knows the Book? I know Matt personally and he is a man who is searching and wrestling with how to be the best man of God he can be. Obviously he and I disagree, but I don’t question his desire to do God’s will. His focus is still a Godly focus on serving whereas yours and others are on other Godly things.

99. Matt - April 2, 2009

Thanks, Patrick. Do you think it would bother Mr. Scroggins that I’m a deacon at our church, you know, “The Lord’s Church”?

100. Patrick - April 2, 2009

I get to be post 100 on this thread!!!

Just don’t tell him where you go to church. Don’t want the church to be written up in any journals.

101. Rich - April 3, 2009

I find it interesting that the side that says,

I wonder if some of the blogers not only can’t quote the Book, they don’t know the Book. Some of you may be much more happy some where else beside the Lord’s Church. If you do don’t like what is in the Book, you should go where the Book is not used as a guide.

Is the side that has brought the least scripture to this discussion.

Within my own local congregation, those who squeak the loudest have never responded to my scripture based views. They will condemn me (only once to my face), and they will go to the elders to attempt to silence me. But just as with this discussion, when there is scripture given, those who imply ownership of “the Lord’s Church,” are silent and do not respond.

There is a difference between quoting scripture and being able to understand scripture in the context it is given. One is knowledge, the other is wisdom. For too long, the denomination of CoC has been focused on knowledge to the exclusion of wisdom. The truth is there needs to be both.

When faced with the context of scripture, the most telling response given to me by a scripture quoter was, “I know what the scripture says, I just don’t believe it means what it says it means.”

102. Leah Jonas - April 4, 2009

Matt,

I just stumbled across your blog today. I do not normally feel the need to read or respond to blogs but yours is an exception. I read your protest. I hope you will read my complete response as I read your complete protest.

I, for one, am disappointed on your stance. In a time where our country needs to turn to spirituality and encourage the same in our youth, if properly used, the Lads to Leaders/Leaderette program is a wonderful program.

Our congregation will be participating for the fourth year in Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes (LtoL). In the LtoL booklet handed out each year is the following “…we want to remind you to always keep a Christ-like spirit in all that you do. That includes competition. Winning at whatever event we compete in is not our primary reward. Rather, our goal should be eternal life and the satisfaction of being a good servant for the Lord.”

When we first started the program I had reservations about it too. I had never heard of such program and I was unsettled at the thought of competing in areas of reading scripture, of all things. But, I chose to be involved before I critisized.

The first thing I learned was children do not compete in reading scripture. They receive a certificate for participating. Okay, I can handle that.

We teach our children it is not about competition or winning. It is about doing your personal best no matter your abilities compared to other participates. We teach them that it is about following the rules. In essence, we teach them to have a Christ-like spirit and do their best no matter the outcome. We teach them to step out of their comfort zones without pushing them. We encourage not force participation.

Our children look forward to participation at convention not only for the functions provided by the convention but they look forward to hanging out in a hotel all weekend with their friends. I wish I would have had an opprotunity like that when I was a kid.

Motivating children is not an easy job, however, competion of any type does motivate children. Why do we sign them up for little league baseball, football or any other sport. We do it to motivate them, teach them to follow rules and to be a good sport, win or lose.

The children that participate in LtoL at our congregation look forward to coming to our classes. When we tell them we are breaking for the summer they groan and ask why.

As for your opinion of devaluing females…I appreciate that LtoL takes a conservative approach to the participation of females. They do not attempt to dictate to congregations what they do at their locations. If you and others at your congregation what to gather and have your five year olds read in front of males there is nothing stopping you from doing that. However, there is a rule for the convention that males are not allowed into the room. Again, it is called learning to follow rules and parents should be the supreme example.

If the LtoL program at your congregation is not teaching these Christian life skills to the children there…motivation, following rules, being Christ-like…perhaps you should become involved and make a change instead of critisizing.

So in closing I have to say I feel sad for your Rachel. She is not only missing out on learning some valuable skills she is missing enjoyable time with friends and other Christians during the preparation process.

103. Matt - April 4, 2009

My children get a fine Christian education without having to resort to exclusionism and bad theology. Don’t feel bad for my girls – I’d rather them be anything than Pharisees.

104. Patrick - April 4, 2009

Matt, Pharisees? I don’t think so. Do you believe that those of us who participate at church are Pharisees? I think you continue to go overboard.

105. Matt - April 4, 2009

I’m talking about the LtL organization and the false ideas that they push on children. Like many in the CoC they have taken it upon themselves to elevate and, dare I say, create laws and rules that ought not be.

And again, I stated way back at the beginning that I am not speaking about anyone from our church.

106. Matt - April 4, 2009

Two Observations:

Over 100 comments in and hardly anyone has disputed my first two points, instead almost all of those on the side of L2L say something akin to “Yes, but there are some good things too.”

Secondly, I don’t think anyone has addressed my third point. I guess nobody wants to touch the actual behavior of those running the organization.

107. Leah Jonas - April 4, 2009

Matt,

First, I never meant to imply your children are not getting an excellent Christian education only that they are missing a wonderful experiance and that there are skills not learned most places for girls that they do learn at LtoL. If your congregation is typical of most that I know of, you can ask most any woman in the congregation how “easy” it is to get women to lead singing or a prayer or read at a ladies day function. If this is not a problem at your congregation then perhaps your blog would be of better service giving positive ideas on how to work with our young women to encourage our young ladies instead of tearing down others who are doing it the best way they know how.

Second, I in know way attached you personally or your opinion. I only expressed disappointment in your view yet your response sounded to me as a personal attach implying I’m a Pharisee. I’m sorry you felt the need to attack.

Third, I would be interested in knowing what the “false ideas that they push on children” are. You also said “Like many in the CoC they have taken it upon themselves to elevate and, dare I say, create laws and rules that ought not be.” Which rules would those be?

Fourth, you said “Over 100 comments in and hardly anyone has disputed my first two points”. I believe I am one of the ones that did as I addressed the competition and the so called devaluation of females.

Lastly, you said no one has touched your third point so please allow me. I have had several communications with the LtoL organization and have never been treated in such away and yes I have questioned rules. It maybe the person who responded to you had an off day or may not have refined communication skills. But I have never had any one treat me with a “terse reply, dripping with condescension and revulsion over the fact that I would dare question them”.

I am not going to change your mind (which was not my intention in the first place) nor are you going to change mine. My only desire was to give you a different perspective of the program. I’m sorry I have come to the conclusion that you really don’t wish to see anything good about LtoL only bad.

Should you like to make any further response to my remarks I respectfully request that you address them to my e-mail address instead of here on your blog. It is not for any other reason than I do not wish to “air” any further discussion of this in a public forum.

108. Matt - April 4, 2009

I should have also said that we’re over 100 comments in and this conversation is going nowhere.

I actually do channel myself into positive works. At our congregation on the south side of Memphis I worked with others to start a community garden project last year, which has now spread with the help of Memphis Urban Ministries to other places in the city. My humble suggestion is that we involve our children (and adults) more in actual service to others. I know that’s what mine will be doing.

109. Jack - April 5, 2009

Dear Matt, as I read your thoughts, I am reminded of a childhood memory. The kids in our neighborhood were all very poor, except for one – Lynn. We had a basketball goal but no basketball. Each day Lynn brought his basketball for all of us to play with. However, if everything didn’t go his way – he would take his ball and go home. You remind me of Lynn.

110. Matt - April 5, 2009

As I said before, I think this conversation is over and will no longer be productive. I’m firm on my side of the fence and you are on yours.

Thank you all for helping me despise the program even more than before.

111. Patrick - April 5, 2009

Matt, I spoke with one of the elders this evening after service and mentioned that in a few weeks, after convention, we need to sit down and discuss the future of Lads to Leaders at church. I’d appreciate it if you would consider coming to the meeting. I would like to have a productive meeting that focuses on what we can do to teach our kids and help our kids grow in all areas, not just service. I think you could add insight.

Also, I’m having a hard time understanding the context of your last sentence. “… helping me despise the program even more than before.” It seems to me that many, not all, and you have certainly seen posts that we have not seen since they have been less than nice, but for the most part, the posts I have seen have just tried to give you an alternate point of view (stephanie p, and Leah Jonas). Could it be that you are overreacting?

112. Matt - April 5, 2009

I would feel kind of strange at a meeting about the future of L2L since we do not participate in the program. If it is specifically about L2L, I’ll let those of you who actually hold a stake in the program take that on. If it is specifically about other programs for children, then I’ll gladly join in.

Secondly, you’re right. You aren’t getting all of the comments.

113. Matt - April 5, 2009

And I think I’m just tired of this whole discussion and it’s starting to show, so I may be shorter than normal with people.

114. Rich - April 6, 2009

Discussion point #1, competition.
When Sesame Street has attempted to create programs dealing with the issue of divorce, they fail every time because the kids never get past the question, ‘what did the children do wrong?’ With L2L we tell our children worship is not about competition, but what is the motivational influence? Plain and simple, L2L lives the smoking parents lie of “do as I say, not as I do.” If it is not supposed to be about the competition, then drop the competition aspect. Why not just give the kids constructive criticism for improvement and give them the medal for participation? Then there is no mixed message.

Discussion point #2. Devaluing females.
Plain and simple, this is not an issue that should be decided by L2L. It should be dealt within each local congregation. L2L is just a para-church organization with its own goals and objectives. Right now, I would say their methods are flawed to out-and-out failures. The simplest criticism is they do not give the children constructive criticism. Closely behind that is that they do not seek out individuals who have knowledge in the areas being judged (song leading, speach, debate, etc.)

Discussion #3. The experience of a concerned father and fellow Christian

Your experience is not unique. As I said previously, L2L is not church, it is para-church. They are answerable only to themselves. As a customer, you either buy or you don’t. Next year, if we go at all, my children will not be involved in any of the competitive, “acts of worship.” Bible bowl is fine, competitive art is fine (weird, but fine). Competition and the lack of corrective criticism is a minimum flawed and a worst is non-biblical (I can just picture the Paul vs. Peter preaching cage match).

115. Terry (Yes, that is my real name) - April 8, 2009

Everyone is missing the point of Lads to Leaders. Everyone wants to say remove the competition factor and all will be well. Just give the kids constructive feedback or a participation medal. The competition is the culmination of the constructive feedback. The kids are not being judged on their worship abilities, but the ability to present an argument for or against something, their ability to direct a room of singers, or their ability to create a constructive speech and present it to a room full of strangers. These are important aspects of LIFE. At least the speech and debating is. Let’s not make L2L out as the enemy here.

As for the women. It was explained to me, when I asked, that L2L would rather ere on being ultra conservative than making the vast majority of their member congregations leave and go somewhere else. I don’t agree with them, however, I do understand the business standpoint they are taking. So, I have to abide by that rule if I want to help with the program and my local congregation.

My church has never canceled or changed our Sunday evening services for our Lads to Leaders program. That is a point you need to address with your Elders. If you feel the Elder’s are not leading correctly, then try a different church.

I lived in Memphis for a number of years and attended Southwind Church of Christ on Shelby Dr. They have 3 elder’s who lead with distinction and a level head. They also have an outstanding set of ministers. No, they do not participate in L2L. David Anguish, their pulpit minister, has developed a program called Future Leaders for the youngsters of Southwind. Check it out, you might like it.

By the way, I now live in Nashville and found this blog accidentally.

116. smokey - April 13, 2009

Did you realize that this post is now the number 2 link on a google search for “lads to leaders”? Your notoriety continues.

117. Matt - April 13, 2009

My friend Patrick told me that it was number two a few weeks ago as well and I know my hits on this post have really spiked in recent weeks.

Hey, I don’t mind a bit of notoriety in CoC circles, but my small piece of infamy is still far behind that of ME and GKB…

118. Riley - April 13, 2009

Many flaws in your thinking.

1) 22 of the events at L2L are not competitive.
2) Girls are encouraged to participate so they can train to be Bible school teachers.

It really sounds like you just have a beef with the program because you can’t get your way. Over 200,000 young men and women have grown from this program.

Do your research before you complain.

119. Stephen - April 13, 2009

This blog is not even worthy of an intelligent response; nevertheless, here are my comments!

Your reactions to L2L are exactly what “Satan” wants you to do to destroy the church from within and without! Numerous scriptures address this issue…if you haven’t read them; then, maybe you not as strong a christian influence with your child(ren)/spouse as you should be!

Parents are primarily responsible for the godly spiritual development of their child(ren). Is there a parent out there that can “honesty” say that they have never used an element of competition within their own family? Why should God’s family be any different!

If you focus solely on the competition aspect of L2L rather than a child’s learned benefit of exploring and developing their creativity, public speaking skills, development of a rationale thought process, teambuilding, motivated learning, and social development skills that are dearly needed in life, then maybe you (the parent) needs to examine your priorities in life, first!

My 9 year old son has been involved in L2L for 4 years and greatly enjoys the experience, the hard preparation work, and yes the rewards. So long as you focus on doing the best for God, there is no shame in receiving a reward for your hard work in pursuit of pleasing God. It’s only when you lose focus of God for earthy rewards that is shameful and wrong.

Has God ever rewarded you for your hard work? Is not every job in life a competition of sorts? If so, was your reward as undeserved as your spiteful comments concerning the success L2L. For every one person who dislikes L2L there are 10 or more who share the opposite viewpoint.

I am so glad that God created children without the human biases and baggage that most adults carry in the brain, on the shoulders, and speak through their lips.

120. Matt - April 13, 2009

You’re right. I must be in league with “Satan”…

121. Patrick - April 13, 2009

Wow Stephen. I’m not sure that you’re doing much good there advancing a case that would try to convince Matt to accept L2L. Implying that he is in league with Satan is not going to endear him to anything you have to say after that.

Basically you’ve called him a minion of Satan, bad parent/husband, poor christian, a man with priorities out of order, and a biased individual. All in the hopes that he will listen to you openly and see the error of his ways. Let me know if that works with the people you come into contact in person.

Wouldn’t it be better to examine his argument and see what could be done to help change the situation? There is no reason that fathers should not be able to see their daughters “perform/compete/etc” at the convention. These rooms where kids “do their thing” are not worship settings. Competition does motivate some, but it has the opposite affect on others. Matt has a point, are we competing for God’s favor? Does Matt have room to grow, probably. Do we have room to grow, sure. Digging trenches to defend each position does not cause brothers to exist in love.

122. Riley - April 13, 2009

There is no reason that fathers should not be able to see their daughters “perform/compete/etc” at the convention.

And what authority do you have to declare this?

123. Riley - April 13, 2009

“Thank you all for helping me despise the program even more than before.”

What a great attitude.

124. Patrick - April 13, 2009

Riley, what authority does one have to say that fathers should not be able to see their daughters. Aren’t fathers responsible for the spiritual development of their children, both male and female? Couldn’t it be said that fathers have a duty to see that their daughters are teaching biblically correct things? The demonstration/competition at convention is not a worship time. Does the fact that a father is in the room give the female giving her speech leading her song authority over him? Can you give a good reason why they should be barred from encouraging their daughters? I don’t think this is a biblical issue here. The reason that L2L does not allow men to watch girls is so that the more conservative churches of Christ will participate in the L2L program.

I don’t often find myself in the role of defending Matt, but his comment about despising the program could be understandable if you had been compared to Satan, or seen some of the other posts that I’m sure have not shown up here. I bet that he’s been called the anti-christ, and all sorts of other names by “well meaning” individuals who want to show him the “error” of his ways. Attacks are not the way to convince.

125. Krissi - April 13, 2009

WOW.
Lots of comments! I have not read them all, but some of them are… interesting…
I am a 28 year old mother of two (ages 6 and 3).
I have concerns about the program also. However, we still choose to participate. Both of my children participated this year (Good Samaritan, Non-Competitive Art) and Lord willing, they will participate next year.
Like you, I am not a fan of the competition aspect of the program. My daughter was upset because she did not get a trophy – just a medal. That’s when my husband and I explained to her that it’s not about the trophy, it’s about learning and helping others. The problem is, not every parent is going to say that. I have seen other parents push and push and PUSH their kids to be the best and crush the competition.
I sponsored a 12th grade puppet team this year and we did not place. A couple were upset, but most were ok with it because we really did have a good time working together.
As far as devaluing females goes….
I think the program has helped some girls find their voices – taking on leadership roles with various Ladies’ Day programs, teaching Bible classes, etc… I do wish that at least their daddies could watch and offer support and encouragement. And the way they responded to your request does not seem to be a very Christ-like response.
It just upsets me that this program seems to be dividing congregations. I think it’s really sad.

126. Matt - April 13, 2009

Ahh…vindication…

127. Patrick - April 13, 2009

Vindication?

128. Steve - April 13, 2009

Matt,

Forget the programs. Take your family overseas for a couple of weeks on a mission trip. When you even mention CoC mostly the response will be – Mormon? When you have a child able to teach another person about salvation (service) and have them see the response from a stranger who usually says I have never seen the Word of God presented this way then you will know why I used the L2L program for my boys now 21 & 25. I know it doesn’t work for everybody but it did for me. But God directed me not L2L to train my children. And so I did. Would put them up against anybody for ‘service’ in His Kingdom. My hope and prayer for you is that you find a way to direct your girls to be what is best in your eyes for them. Even for an old fat man I wait to see the fruits of my labor.
May there be a way for you to do just that.

129. Matt - April 13, 2009

Patrick, some of the recent comments make me feel pretty good about my position….I mean, even you are defending me now!

130. Patrick - April 13, 2009

sort of… :-) I think you are right on substance wrong on results. I tend to agree with Mark on this. Instead of entrenching yourself in opposition, see the good and influence your daughters while allowing them to participate. Their worth should not come from whether or not they can speak in front of a man or not, but they will gain a lot from the program in other ways. I would oppose having a woman lead in the worship service; (I’d leave a church that did) I have no ideas that these events are mini-worship services and think it’s crazy not to let fathers watch their daughters. I think that most of the comments that have been complementary of your position have still said there is good to be had in the program. I defend because of the mean-spirited posts that are not beneficial. They don’t know you. I do. I know that your heart is in the right place. (misguided sometimes, but no doubt that your desire is to serve God!)

131. Patrick - April 13, 2009

Let me clarify one thing. I would leave a church that had a woman preacher/song leader, etc. but that in no way means that I feel that I don’t have something to learn from a woman. I know that there are many things that can be learned from everyone, young/old, male/female, white/black/asian/hispanic/etc. I think that a man who does not listen to his wife when making decisions is a fool. So, before I get flamed for saying that women are second class citizens, understand that I do not feel that way.

I just think the scriptures are clear on the worship issue, but that’s another post… ;-)

132. Nic - April 13, 2009

Matt, I went to your blog recently at the suggestion of a friend. I’m a little older and hopefully wiser than I was in my 40’s and 50’s. I don’t have much advice, but what I do have, I what to share in a sincere and kind way. I’ve raised sons and daughters; some in L/L, some not. They’ve all turned pretty well. They’re not perfect, but they’re good and loving. So, regardless of your respect for me or not, at least consider the following advice. I offer it from the heart and soul. >We have little precious time here on earth and so much of it is spent in useless tasks. The most important use of our time is for our soul and the souls of our family and friends. Regardless of the method you use (i.e., L/L, LTS, Timothy and Pricilla program, etc.) in training your children, focus on THEM, not on the strengths or weaknesses of a PROGRAM. The reason – you might wake up one day and realize that how much time you have spend on this blog could have been spent reading the Bible with your girls, serving someone in need, encouraging the discouraged, praying together with your family, teaching the lost or meditating on the message of God. Reality – your blog will come and go. 15 minutes of fame is about all we get. So, let me offer this advice. Focus on your family. That’s more important than what a bunch of people on here will say in agreement of disagreement.

133. Matt - April 13, 2009

Thanks, Nic, but I’m not ignoring my family to blog…it’s almost all during my lunch break…

134. Discouraged Believer - April 13, 2009

I also happened upon this blog on accident while googling LTL, and have read every post. I’m also a CofC-raised Harding alumna who’s pursuing graduate education, and I’d like to offer some brief comments on what I’ve read so far, and to ask all of you some questions. Hopefully, the two are at least somewhat related to each other.

First, I’ll speak/write on the issue of LTL in the best way I know how. I am very discouraged in my faith right now, and reading some of the posts on this site have made me even more discouraged. If some of the “strong” words posted on the site are any indication, I can imagine the unadulterated ugliness directed toward Matt in the posts he deleted. I find this so unacceptable from fellow believers. When will brothers and sisters in Christ learn to disagree with each other in a way that still reflects respect and Christ’s love? If competition has no place in God’s family, then that kind of disrespect certainly has no place.

I also observed a strong “I’m right/you’re wrong” type of communication from several posters. If we truly believe that God is as big, omnipotent, etc. as we profess to believe, how can we actually say that we really know, beyond what God specifically speaks to, what is exactly right and wrong in these nearly impossible situations? The best we can do is use scripture and prayer to make the best decisions we can, and observe the outcomes of our decisions carefully to see whether or not they were the right ones- all the while praying for guidance and wisdom. Yes, we risk making less-than-ideal decisions. Otherwise, why would we really need the grace He provides?

Regarding LTL, which I participated in as a child, maybe the program benefits some and isn’t positive for others. I know I enjoyed it- preparing for it, learning skills that I’ve used in Ladies’ Days, and spending time with other young Christian people considering Christian material. I honestly don’t remember whether or not I ever won anything, and I’m certain I don’t carry psychological or spiritual scars from the experience. I’m discouraged in my faith, but LTL isn’t the reason for that. I remember it as a happy, Christ-filled time, where our leaders encouraged us to grow in our gifts and gave us the tools to support that growth. However, I can understand how the program could be structured in a way that could discourage growth. Parents should consider the operations of their own congregational programs before they allow their children to become involved. If someone truly disagrees, please give them the room to do so. If you disagree, please know that your brothers and sisters are most likely doing the best they can. In these gray areas, members of the body of Christ will inevitably come to different conclusions. In those cases, I firmly believe it’s best to give each other grace. We should be careful to keep the humility that reminds us that our human judgment isn’t perfect, and we’re actually fairly likely to be wrong. Compared to God, we’re wrong all the time. Like I said, the best we can do is to keep seeking the truth in study, prayer, and careful observation. The minute you think you’ve figured “it” out, things are guaranteed to change.

I’ll close with my question, and welcome your comments on this and anything else I’ve said. My question regards Sunday night service: from my own study, I’ve learned that Sunday night service was instituted by church leadership in years past for convenience in rural areas (some farmers couldn’t make it to morning services during planting season, so leadership offered them another option, and some people traveled long distances, before cars, to get to church, so it made sense to make a day of it). I could be mistaken about this, but I’ve learned that Sunday night service is not a scriptural mandate, so the judgment many people pass about “forsaking the assembly” because a family chooses to worship or study together in the evenings, or watch the Superbowl, or whatever- seems pretty Pharisaical to me (please pardon the judgmental wording), as it is a man-made tradition. I can’t imagine the first century Christians even having the opportunity to meet together as a whole congregation three times a week! Would like input on this.

135. Matt - April 14, 2009

I think you are right about Sunday night services, DB, and I know several people at our church that would agree. It is a relic from a time of agrarian past that has little bearing on today’s world. I often joke with others that I’m not a “Sunday night Christian,” for that very reason.

136. Patrick - April 14, 2009

DB, thank you for a great perspective. Regarding your comments on Sunday night, I agree. I don’t think there is any “command” to meet. Let me give a different perspective. I don’t have any family in the area where I go to church. The body of believers with whom I meet are my family in this area. I miss seeing them and every chance I get to see them I want to see them. I don’t think there is any sinful behavior in not going to church “every time the doors are open”, but I hope that we as a family want to spend time together. I’m in a different situation than some. I’m an older single Christian. Most of my age-peers are married with kids. Most of my life situation-peers are 10 years younger than I am. I don’t fit in either place. Couples tend to do things with couples and the young singles tend to do things with those that are the same age. The only place I get to spend time with my family unless I throw the get together is with people on Sunday. We don’t even meet as whole group on Wednesdays anymore, we meet in small groups.

137. Riley - April 14, 2009

but I’ve learned that Sunday night service is not a scriptural mandate Wow, what a discouraging attitude. Justifications don’t work.

It is evident on the blog that many people have forgotten that WORSHIP IS NOT ABOUT YOU IT’S ABOUT GOD!

138. Patrick - April 14, 2009

excellent point Riley. Worship isn’t about us, it is about God. I think the question at hand is not who worship is about, but whether we are supposed to be at the church building on Sunday nights. Me, I like being there, I miss others when they are not there, but that doesn’t allow me to mandate that they be present. We have no “pattern” to follow regarding Sunday services in the New Testament. If we were following a pattern, we’d meet in homes for an extended service, but probably NOT meet at night.

139. Matt - April 14, 2009

There is no such thing as a “scriptural mandate” outside of human interpretation…

140. Discouraged Believer - April 14, 2009

Some previous posts are exactly why I’m discouraged in my faith and haven’t attended the Church of Christ in some time. I agree with Patrick (forgive me for reading between the lines here a bit, Patrick) in that we want to go to church for the right reasons. When I’m there, I want to be there because my heart is searching for Him, not because I feel I’ll be judged by others for not being there. I want to place myself in a spiritual environment defined by encouragement, love, and edification, not argument, judgment, and dogma. In the end, it matters to me whether or not I’m doing something because God wants me to and communicated that through Scriptural authors, or whether I’m doing something out of fear of not being loved and accepted by others- that’s why I’m discouraged with the Church of Christ.

It’s not about being right. It’s about following the spirit of God’s word as God intended it, not like man has shaped it (to the best we’re able to differentiate the two). So, even though I somewhat disagree with Matt’s objections to LTL and also see a lot of good points in his objections, I’m much more concerned with why Matt is asking the questions- and I believe it’s coming from a true concern of following the spirit of God’s will for his family.

141. joseph - April 15, 2009

With all due respect, i think you all are a bunch of self-absorbed ingrates. The perfect Son of God Jesus Christ died for your sins and all you can do is belly ache about me, me, me. Why don’t we go out and convert some unbelievers so they won’t perish in the fires of Hell with their divorces and their homosexual behaviors. This world is not our home. We need to thinking about eternal life at all times. This world is horrible and sinful. I can’t wait to die and be with my Creator forever and ever. I hope none of you backslide and lose your prize.

The church of Christ salutes you!

142. Patrick - April 15, 2009

is this a joke?

143. Matt - April 15, 2009

Hopefully…

144. joseph - April 15, 2009

Maybe I was a little hard edged last night. I am sorry if I came off as too passionate for my Lord and Savior. The Bible is clear when it says we are in a Spiritual war with Satan. People may want to sugar coat Absolute Truth with their liberalism, but I think we need to defend the cause of Christ with the Bible.

Patrick, what on earth can I be joking about? That the world is full of sin? That Heaven and Hell and God’s Judgement await us all? I love talking about the glories of Heaven, but we also need to talk about the pits of Hell! I love to speak the Truth of our Lord and Saviour but I also am not scared to talk about the other side of the coin.

God is Love! But God is also a God of Wrath and will destroy all that is immoral!

Isaiah 65:15 says “You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones, And the Lord GOD will slay you. But My servants will be called by another name.”

Lads to Leaders is a man made organization. If it teaches the beautiful little children that Jesus is the supreme sacrifice for all of our sins, than PRAISE JESUS!! If it teaches that the Bible is very clear about the role that women are to play in God’s Holy church, then PRAISE JESUS!

Hopefully this is a joke, Matt? Is the truth of God funny? Does it make you laugh? It makes me weep for joy that we have an Awesome God who loves us and will destroy all that is wicked!! Where is the humor in that?

145. Patrick - April 15, 2009

Joseph, Ironically, on most points, you’d find that I agree with you. Matt and I disagree on a lot. My comment was in the tone of your comments. Let me quote: “with all due RESPECT, I think you all are a bunch of self-absorbed INGRATES.” How does calling someone a “self-absorbed ingrate” show any kind of “respect”. I also found the last statement you made “The church of Christ salutes you!” to be about as big a turn off to churches of Christ that I’ve ever seen. I go to a fairly conservative church of Christ and would not want to go anywhere else. Can you explain how anyone would be attracted to you and your church if this is the tone of your conversations with them? Like I said, on most of your substance, I agree, on your presentation, I could hardly disagree more!

146. joseph - April 15, 2009

I said in my last post that I may have been a little too hard edged. That was me saying “I am sorry”. I ask that you accept it.

However, I stand by my statement that we are ingrateful if we do not trumpet that Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. My heart is convicted that when the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes riding on a cloud, I want to be clear in my speech that He is Lord of All. This life is way too short to be debating about Lads to Leaders. As I write this, hundreds of souls are slipping through the cracks!! People are sliding into Hell as I type this. We have the Truth to save them. PRAISE JESUS!

The church of Christ salutes you is Biblical! Patrick, I am not concerned about turning people on! Did Jesus turn people on when He was talking about eating flesh and drinking blood? No, the crowds left him! If Jesus was concerned about making he gospel attractive don’t you think we would his style would have been a little more friendly? Let’s reason together, Patrick.

Were people attracted to Him when he said “This people living today are an evil generation. It craves a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” in the Gospel of Luke 11:29

He might have said, “God loves you and you are making some poor choices.” He didn’t.

Patrick, are you more concerned about form or function? God did not put me here to sugar coat the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and you will perish in the pits of Hell if you do not believe it. I can try to be all incognito with the gospel but what is written is really plain and simple. I am just pointing to what is written in the Absolute Truth of the Blessed Words of God.

How should my presentation be? Covert? In riddles? All I know is what the Holy Spirit says to my heart! I am sorry if I offend but I can’t help the way God made me.

God did not provide us a book on HOW to preach the Gospel. He gave us a book on WHAT the Gospel is. PRAISE JESUS!

147. Holland - April 15, 2009

Cry, cry, cry – whiny, whiny, whiny – me, me, me! This BLOG is hilarious – I’m lying in the floor laughing my head off. You guys are so funny. This is the best comedy and entertainment I’ve seen in ages. PLEASE, keep it up – this is better than Seinfeld – OPPS – it’s exactly like Seinfeld – “About NOTHING!” LOL

I’m Baptist and can see why you Church of Christ people aren’t growing – look at the way you treat each other. Matt, you should be ashamed.

148. Matt - April 15, 2009

Ashamed of what? Ashamed of pointing out something that I see as wrong?

149. Holland - April 15, 2009

Matt, you’re so funny! Way to go bud – say it again – The Church of Christ is “wrong”. I’m having so much fun with you – LOLOLOLOL!

150. Matt - April 15, 2009

I guess it must be Spring Break for Holland’s middle school. Thank you. You are now officially spammed.

151. joseph - April 15, 2009

Holland. Are you mocking the children of God with your self righteousness? You should be ashamed. Christ died on the cross for your sins, not so you can point fingers and think that your denomination is the right one. God slayed and destroyed people in the Holy Words of the God Most High for mocking. Remember Elisha? God destroyed the children who mocked his prophet! Read 2 Kings 2:23-25 Don’t you think our Mighty and Awesome God can still call swift judgement on the wicked? He can! PRAISE JESUS!

152. Nic - April 15, 2009

Matt, I’ve been reading the comments on here and wonder why you would “spam” someone for giving their thoughts. You give your thoughts, therefore, why can’t everyone give their thoughts. In reading some of the last few comments – it seems you’re picking and choosing. Now, I don’t agree with Holland, but doesn’t he/she have the right to speak, just like you do. After all, if you (Matt) dish it out, can’t you take it? Oh well, I’ll probably get “spammed” for speaking my mind on a blog set up to speak your mind by someone speaking his mind.

153. Matt - April 15, 2009

I can take it. You didn’t see the comment I spammed.

154. Nic - April 15, 2009

Matt, may I ask what State your from and where you work? Someone told me who you were and I don’t really beleive them. I wanted to see for myself. It’s you’re who that said – I actually know you, if not, oh well.

155. Discouraged Believer - April 15, 2009

I seem to have started something that I never meant to, and for that I apologize to Matt for having to deal with it on his webspace.

Please forgive me if I speak strongly here, but I think the time has come to speak openly and clearly. Yes, some, if not all, of my statements are focused on my own struggle with faith at the moment. I do not apologize for this in any way. My heart is searching for what is righteous, and I am searching for my place in His plan. Again, I don’t apologize for it. I am interested in following the Lord with my whole heart, soul, and mind. I’d like to point out that this is also quite biblical, which seems to be many individuals’ issue with my statements and the statements of others here. I do not see anything ingrateful, self-absorbed, or whiny about trying to follow God’s “greatest commandment.” The moment I stop searching is the moment I’ll be ingrateful, self-absorbed, and whiny. There is nothing indulgent about the spiritual pain I am experiencing now.

In this search to follow God wholeheartedly, I am earnestly trying to separate what is GOD’S will from the WILL OF MAN. I respect the judgment and insight of many wise men I’ve met over the years, including many faithful men in my family, but I am not interested in following a mandate that a human being, in his/her imperfect judgment, decreed to be necessary in order to follow God. I am interested in following the LORD, and the LORD ALONE. I would hope that all of you would join me on this!

We heavily criticize other faiths (and may I add, the Pharisees) for “adding” their own mandates to what God decreed to them as righteousness. I agree that it shouldn’t be all about what we want. If it was all about what I wanted, I wouldn’t care. I am simply trying to discern what God actually wants me to do versus what other people want me to do in order to support their own interpretations of the purity God communicated to us. I know that even as this process continues, and I mature in my understanding, I won’t get everything correct, but that’s where God’s grace comes in. However, that won’t stop me from searching to follow HIM in the purest, most unadulterated way I can muster. Again, I would hope that all of you are searching for the same thing.

I turned to the people in this blog for insight, because most of them seemed to be searching in a similar mind, and please- those of you who are, take no offense. However, I hope that many of the reasons for my discouragement and disillusionment have become clear through previous posts.

156. Patrick - April 15, 2009

Thank you DB. Great points. I think that there are many who are searching and there are many who post on this blog who are looking as well.

157. Matt - April 15, 2009

Nic, I’d rather not say where I work, but I will say that it is in Tennessee and that I’m originally from Arkansas.

DB, no apology needed. I appreciate your perspective as one of the more level-headed commentors. Myself and others tend to turn to hyperbole far more than we should to make out point.

158. joseph - April 15, 2009

What are you guys searching for? Do you know that Jesus is the Son of God and the Bible is Absolute Truth. What more do we need?

How amazing is it that God loves us so much that He let his Son be murdered. PRAISE JESUS! We serve a graceful God that could have chose for us to die and become separated from His holiness but he gave His son as an offering. It makes perfect sense.

DB…God loves you! Just say this prayer with me right now.

God. I am a wretched beast. I deserve eternal damnation and destruction. I believe that your Super Son Jesus rose from the grave so that I can sing you praises for ever and ever.

Amen.

159. Patrick - April 15, 2009

Joseph, did you say you were a member of the church of Christ? I’m beginning to suspect you are pdx in a different name again.

160. joseph - April 15, 2009

Patrick. I suspect we are both members of the church of Christ. Is that true? All I know is that I happened upon this blog sometime back and am grateful for the chance to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with whomever will listen.

In a previous post you said you agree with what I am saying? Am I saying anything that isn’t Biblically sound? If so, please tell me so we can search the scriptures together and know God’s pleasing and perfect will.

I think David said it best in Psalm 149:6:

“Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand”

PRAISE JESUS!

161. Discouraged Believer - April 15, 2009

The only thing I can say is a repost of one of Steven’s points from earlier: “They (Scriptures) were written in love to strengthen our sisters and brothers, not limit them or tear them down. It’s something I feel like we are lacking in most of the CofCs out there. Until we stop trying to justify how right we are because THE Bible says so, (in our own interpretations) and learn to love each other, there will always be some type of barrier that will harm someone, and will lead us back to being a people of condemnation, rather than the Salt and Light of the World.”

I have felt for some time that many Churches of Christ have become houses for condemnation instead of faith and grace. Hence the “discouraged” in the poster name.

162. Frank - April 20, 2009

Wow, after reading this blog I feel I must say something. First of all, I believe Matt is fudging on the facts a little bit…maybe a lot. I know the administration of L2L and “condescending” is the last word anyone who knows them would use to describe them. It appears that his feelings about L2L are causing him to exaggerate.

Also, let’s say L2L allows men to observe the girls’ events. Can you imagine how many more people would be upset with that than there are who are upset with the way it is now? And, by the way, I’ve never talked to a man who didn’t understand why he couldn’t be in there with his daughter. It’s not degredation. It’s trying not to cross lines and making sure everyone is comfortable with what is going on. Degrading girls would be to not let them participate at all. And yes, deal with it. Everyone else does. Maybe I now sound condescending, but those are the rules. Do you complain like this at work when things don’t go your way?

About competition, yes, some congregations take it too far. I will agree. But, spiritual competition in itself is not wrong or sinful. There are several biblical examples of it. We strive very hard where I worship to teach our children and parents that competition is not why we participate in L2L. When our kids lose or don’t place in a specific area, their reaction is always to say, “Maybe next year.” They’ve never cried or complained. Maybe your leaders need to have a talk with your congregation about this attitude.

Finally, I worry about someone’s soul and heart when they deliberately stay home from services when other Christians are together worshipping God. I love and care for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and want them to be faithful in everything. What are you teaching your children by holding them out of services. I can tell you…1. That it’s okay to miss church for some things. 2. That when we don’t like what our elders are doing, we can just stay home. 3 Division in the church is okay. Have you thought about that?

Be a part of Lads to Leaders or not. It makes no difference to me. My problem with this blog is your attack on the administration of L2L and double standard of staying home from worship because of it. Come up with something better to train young people, then maybe you can complain. Until then, you really can’t say much.

163. Chad - April 20, 2009

WOW!!! I have just spent the last 35 minutes reading through this blog and I have got to say I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed in my brothers and sisters in Christ.

First, I will start off with background info so everyone understands where I am coming from. I am a PK. I was born and was raised in the Church of Christ. Although we moved around a lot as kids. I am now 27 and go to the church my father preaches at today. I was not raised in the LTL program. I had never even heard of it until 3 years ago when we moved to the south. I am married, have a wonderful wife, and a 6 soon to be 7 year old daughter. I am also a deacon in the church. I am not the youth leader, but my wife and I, along with several others help with the LTL program at our church.

Matt:

I am going to start with your 3 Issues.

#1 Competition

There are 22 non-competitive events and 11 competitive. No one is forced to compete. So if someone has an issue with competition they have more than enough events to participate in. If someone is being forced to compete, then that is a problem within that church or youth group not LTL. Never should a child or teenager be forced to participate in any of these events.

You said the following:

“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?” ”

I have no clue when and where you participated in LTL, but I can tell you now, that in no way have I ever seen anything remote to this. First, “striving to best their peers”, again in no way are our students taught to “best” their peers. This is also not something that anyone part of the LTL organization would promote. We teach our youth to do the best they can, but that it isn’t about winning, or beating someone else, it is about getting up there, even though you are scared to death and giving the Lord your best. Some of our students go and compete knowing that they probably won’t win, but for them it is about getting up there and saying they did it, and bettering themselves for the next year. They are proud of their “worthless certificates of participation”.

Second, “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”. I have judged events for 2 years now and many of the adults that go up with us judge events. I can tell you for certain we do not judge on “basis of person preference”. One, you are not allowed to judge one of your students, and second when we judge we do it by what is on the judging score sheet, and we do our best to be as fair and as Christ like as possible.

Third, “Young people are left clutching their worthless certificates of participation and asking tearfully, “Why?”” REALLY??? You don’t think this is a little bit of a stretch. One, they are not worthless. They are something to be proud of, because they are doing something, that I myself didn’t have the courage to do when I was that young. I have never seen one child cry because they didn’t win. Almost all the time they cheer and clap for those who did. Showing a true Christian attitude. It teaches children that winning isn’t everything, that you are going to be good and some things and now others, and it does it while they are learning about Christ and how to be Christ like. Or should we only save lessons about competition and winning and losing for the area of sports, where 90% of the time I guarantee it isn’t done in a Christ like manner.

#2

Devaluing Females

Again to quote you.

“Historically, the Church of Christ has been an incredibly unfriendly place for females who have gifts outside of cooking, cleaning, and birthing babies.”

I am not sure what “Church of Christ” you attend, or have attended, but I have attended on a regular basis or been a member of over 6 Churches of Christ, and I can guarantee you that everyone single one of them have been a very friendly place for females. Even those “who have gifts outside of cooking, cleaning, and birthing babies.” Everywhere I have gone Eph. 5 25-33( Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.) is the way that is taught. Not your suggestion that we are a bunch of barbarians running around treating women like dirt, commanding them what to do. This verse doesn’t just apply to our Wives, it applies to all women and they way they should be treated. Now has the Bible defined certain roles for Men and Women. Yes it has, if you have a problem with those, then you dispute should be with God, not a church that is trying to follow God’s law to the best of its ability.

Another quote:
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 Pharisaic 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.

This is just an out right lie. In no way has the LTL organization act or support anything like this. I myself was not able to go in and watch my 6 year old do her bible reading. Did I wine and moan and cry because I didn’t get my way? NO!!! I understand their reason behind this, and I accept it. Now, did I have my wife video tape it so I could watch it later? You bet!! Anyway, LTL does in no way degrade women. It supports them in all the works they do and encourages them to be strong well rounded women.

Issue #3: My Experience

Personally, I have no clue what your experience has been. It sounds to be that you went into this with a negative view and haven’t given it a chance. I would love to see this letter that you wrote to the LTL Organization, and I would love to see “Their terse reply, dripping with condescension and revulsion over the fact that I would dare question them”. The LTL Organization has been nothing but helpful and nice with any questions that I have seen. Could you please post these letters or email them.

Now this is the part that really bothers me. “So, that is why, for some six months of the year, my family has nothing to do with Sunday evening services at our congregation”
Currently the church we go to has no evening service for children at all. We have a nursery, but that is it. So do I get upset because I have nowhere to stick my kids during service? NO!! My child comes with me to Church and sits with either me and my wife or her Grandmother, and she does it without talking, running around and being disruptive. The biggest problem with this I have, is that you are a Deacon in the church. As deacon, you are supposed to be a role model and a leader. You are teaching others with your actions that it is ok to miss church if you don’t get your way, or if there isn’t something there for you. If I am not mistaken, we are there to worship God, and give praise to him. Not see what we can get out of it for ourselves. Second you are teaching your children that it is ok to miss church, again because you either didn’t get what you want, or there isn’t something in it for you. This hits to the best point I can make about the LTL program and its proven results. I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but the youth of churches that use the LTL program are MUCH more likely to stay in church once they go to college and graduate. That alone is reason enough for me to continue to use it and participate in LTL.

So, Matt, here is what I would like to see. Besides the letters that you wrote to LTL, and their response. Since LTL is obviously so flawed and has so many problems. I want to see the better program that you have. Then I would like to see you put it together and organize it in 5 different cities across the U.S. Then get all the awards and all the programs and all the judges together and scheduled. Then do it so well that no one has any problems with it and everyone thinks it is perfect. Until you can and will do this. It would be better if you spent the time and energy you are wasting complaining about LTL, and use it to better the Lords church instead of complaining about it all the time.

164. Matt - April 20, 2009

I’m “fudging” the facts? What gives you the right to call me a liar when you did not get the same email I did?

Actually, I do have other ideas that I am implementing. If you would actually take the time to read before asserting your opinion, perhaps you would know that.

165. Matt - April 20, 2009

Chad, I erased that email long ago, which I’m sure you will think is quite convenient. This post is over three months old and I don’t tend to hold onto things that long.

I am involved in many good programs so, like I’ve said over and over again, do not judge me, my character, and my ability to be a father and deacon. It speaks much worse of you than it does of me.


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