“Divided” Lives Up To Its Name

"He that is not a son of Peace is not a son of God. All other sins destroy the Church consequentially; but Division and Separation demolish it directly…"

Richard Baxter

 Mondsee Abbey
Location of The Sound of Music wedding

(Taken by Deb)

How ironic that a documentary lambasting age segregation in the church is itself causing division and separation among God's people.  Have you heard of a documentary appropriately called "Divided"?  The caption atop the promo states: “One of the most controversial films of the decade: Is modern youth ministry multiplying or dividing the church?”

Looks like the film’s producers were correct. Divided is so controversial that Ron Hunter, executive director and CEO of Randall House, which sponsors the D6 Conference, banned the film. Here is how Charisma News covered the development: (link)

“Divided, a documentary film that raises probing questions about dangers associated with modern youth ministry, has been thrown out of a major conference. Having gone viral with over 100,000 online views, Divided has generated an enormous response in the blogosphere since being released on www.Dividedthemovie.com.

The film's message—that churches should follow the Bible's pattern of ministering to young people, not disregard it—has been deemed as too controversial by organizers of the D6 Conference. That opinion prompted conference organizers to disinvite the film's co-producer, the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, from attending its annual family ministry event in Dallas this week.”

According to the Charisma News article, Hunter wrote the following in an August 29 letter:

"The New DVD Divided does not fit the D6 Conference venue, created for sharing conversations about various biblical methods. Bringing together different biblical models requires grace and acceptance, as we share the path of generational discipleship." Hunter also stated that the NCFIC is the first group D6 has ever disinvited, even as he admitted that he had not viewed the film Divided before coming to his decision.”

I have taken the time to watch Divided more than once.  As the video begins, the logo National Council for Family-Integrated Churches shows up in white letters on a black background.  Then the Leclerc Brothers names follow.  I wanted to find out who they are.  Here is how they describe themselves: (link) 

"Philip and Chris Leclerc are the co-owners of Leclerc Brothers Motion Pictures. In addition to creating national award winning commercials, they’ve produced several films some of which have received top prizes at the SAICFF including the Jubilee award. Whether it’s filming deadly sharks in the Galapagos Islands, film expeditions exploring the Amazon rainforest, or shooting with disaster relief teams in earthquake struck Haiti, their variety of production experience lends insight for aspiring filmmakers young and old. As owners of a rapidly growing film company, Philip and Chris work from their studio space in Sheboygan, Wisconsin where they’re currently producing the controversial film “Divided” which addresses a problem with the failure of youth ministry within the modern church." 

Hmmm…  If you go to the SAICFF website, you will see the words " Copyright 2004 – 2011 Vision Forum Ministries. All Rights Reserved." at the bottom of each web page.  And the Galapagos Islands and Amazon Rainforest videos were done for Vision Forum.  It seems that the Leclerc Brothers have been involved with filming for Vision Forum for a number of years.

It was fascinating to see some familiar names in this 55-minute propaganda video.  Here they are in the order of their appearance (not an exhaustive list).  The most interesting names to me are in bold.

Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis)

Britt Beemer (co-wrote Already Gone with Ken Ham)

Brett McCracken (Hipster Christianity)

Tryg Jacobson (founder of Jake's Cafe and Jackobson Rost Advertising and Producer of Divided according to Leclerc website)

Scott Brown (Director of NCFIC and author of A Weed in the Church)

Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr.

Doug Phillips, Esq. (Vision Forum)

Dr. Voddie Baucham

Craig Houston (Westside Baptist Church)

Kevin Swanson (Generations With Vision)

Paul Washer (Heartcry Missionary Society)

Geoffrey Botkin (Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences)

Boyd Dellinger (Heritage Bible Fellowship)

As the credits rolled at the end of the video, Scott Brown was listed as the Executive Producer and Geoffrey Botkin was listed as an advisor.  Then I noticed an interesting name — Peter Bradrickwho wrote and produced Divided. Here is some interesting information about Peter. (Scroll down to find his name)  (link)

"Peter threw his efforts into developing various farm enterprises after high school. In 2004, his heart to learn more about Godly leadership and ministering to people led him to serve as a Vision Forum intern and later as an assistant to Doug Phillips, president of that ministry, for a season of service, training, and discipleship. In August of 2006, Peter married Kelly Brown. They currently make their home in Wake Forest, NC, where Peter is Director of Operations for the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) ministry there. Peter also continues to serve on special missions with Vision Forum. God has blessed Peter & Kelly with three precious sons and they are expecting their fourth child in May 2011."

Yes, Peter Bradrick is married Scott Brown's daughter Kelly, who served on the Logistics Team for Divided, along with one of Peter's brothers.  Looks like this promo for family-integrated churches really is all in the family

In the upcoming post, I will review the documentary Divided and provide my insights about this propaganda piece that promotes FIC to the exclusion of everything else.  How can they possibly claim that this video is objective?

 

Lydia's Corner:  1 Chronicles 11:1-12:18     Acts 28:1-31     Psalm 9:1-12     Proverbs 19:1-3

Comments

“Divided” Lives Up To Its Name — 19 Comments

  1. It sounds more like what some people in media studies euphemistically refer to as “advocacy journalism”. 😉

  2. “In August of 2006, Peter married Kelly Brown. … God has blessed Peter & Kelly with three precious sons and they are expecting their fourth child in May 2011.”

    Cranking out a quiver full pretty fast, aren’t they? I think that’s about 1 every 16 months, assuming they weren’t multiple births.

  3. Junkster

    There was a pastor at a local church who caused quite a ruckus when he proclaimed that his wife had been pregnant for 50 months out of a 72 month marriage.And this meant she was a “blessed” woman. He then went on to imply that everyone else in the church should go and do likewise. It was not well received.

  4. While I have not seen “Divided” and don’t expect to take the time out of my schedule to see it in the near future, from what I’ve heard it holds to a pretty extreme view of things. Now are there issues with how youth ministry is done today … most certainly. I suspect the answer to this problem will not be found in the extreme points of view on either side, but rather somewhere in the middle.

    What would really be nice and helpful would be to see someone posting information about youth ministries that are actually good and working well. Of course good news doesn’t sell in today’s market. So, I’m not holding my breath. (Was that too cynical?)

  5. CitationSquirrel,

    “Extreme” doesn’t even begin to describe the points of view of the FIC crowd that produced this video.

  6. Citation

    You are not being cynical. We just go with the flow and follow stories of interest to us. My kids did well in a youth group at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Texas.

  7. When “God” is at issue, opinions flare. Even to the most reasonable, fair and open-minded of us, unfortunately.

    However youth ministry is done, perhaps caustic opinions can be traded in for appreciation and thankfulness that someone is making the time and energy to do it.

    (I’m not addressing anyone in particular here)

  8. Can this wonderful film actually be viewed over the interenet?

    Just Google “Divided” and it comes up?

  9. Elastigirl,

    Excellent point! I don’t believe youth leaders are trying to do the jobs of the parents. How many hours per week do they spend with the youth of their church anyway? I am grateful that they are trying to make an impact for the glory of God.

  10. I watched part of the film. Personally, it left me with a sad and sick feeling because of its condemnation of youth ministry. Youth pastors, workers, and programs aren’t perfect. But I agree with Elastigirl – we should appreciate them for what they DO offer our kids. They come alongside us to teach and train our kids in God’s Word. In my experience, I haven’t seen many godly parents, whose children participate in youth ministry, giving up their primary role to teach their children.

    The film got me thinking about my own youth group, our SS classes, our trips to Carowinds and the beach, church lock-ins, and so on. I have a hard time believing the statistics in the film. And I have a hard time believing that age-segregated church programs are what’s causing any percentage of kids to leave the faith. It’s more likely that several factors in the lives of individual kids result in kids leaving the faith.

    My father abandoned us when my brother and I were teens and our younger brother was 5. It wasn’t because the age-segregated programs at our church had given him “permission” to delegate the job of parenting to the church. It’s because he was/is a selfish and evil man who struggles with alcoholism. He simply didn’t want to be a husband and father any longer and he CERTAINLY didn’t want to be “exhorted and supported” by the church to be a godly man and father. He wanted to do his own thing. That was true then and is true now. Quite frankly, I believe his abandonment of us was God’s protection, because he was dangerous.

    Voddie Baucham said in the film that parents are the only ones who have the tools to correct and shape children. I disagree. My husband and I are dedicated to raising our children in a godly home, teaching them God’s Word, using appropriate correction and discipline, and using the tools God has given us to allow Him to shape them. Right now, God has given us the ultimate authority in their lives, and I exercise that authority by making sure the adults in their lives are quality people and at least share similar values. While we’re the ones with this job, I appreciate what the other adults (teachers, church leaders, grandparents, and friends) add to my children’s lives.

  11. Wendy,

    I’m glad you watched part of the film and saw some of the fallacies put forth. Did you notice how much time they spent talking about fathers? Mothers are NEVER mentioned! Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever heard Doug Phillips mention his mother, but he brags about his dad whenever he gets the chance. I especially feel sorry for the daughters trapped in this patriarchal system. How would you ever get out?

  12. @Wendy,

    I am grateful God kept you safe and am sorry about your father. Can relate–our mom abandoned us when we were 9, 12 and 15 to become an artist. My dad did his best to take care of us on his own. I also believe God protected me from her gaining custody of us…perhaps even protected us by the divorce in general.

    Deb,

    Thanks for this article. I also appreciate the good influences other sdults have in our 13 year old’s life. I wish there were more…not less. If people wish to limit these influences and adhere to this view they certainly are free to…just please do not mock or belittle those of us who do not, or call us unbiblical, or rebellious, or not fearing God, or not obeying the roles God has ordained for our lives…etc. I watched a short 4 minute youtube clip of Voddie Baucham speaking at a recent Christian home education convention in Oregon (June of this year) and he did a lot of mocking and joking about those (me) who do not homoeschool and send kids to the “government school.” Crowd was cheering…everyone laughing at us who don’t “get it.”

    FYI–There is an interview by a Kevin Swanson at Generations Radio that he did recently,(I am sure you know who he is but I am not familiar)that discusses youth groups, FIC and the D6 conference.

  13. One thing that I have heard regarding this topic that does make sense is that if you have a youth program that is overly segregated when the youth get out on their own and they go to look for a church and they have to be a part of the church and they don’t get to go off in their own world, they don’t know what to do because they have no experience with any other aspects of church. So, there is nothing wrong with a segregated youth group, but the church needs to make a concerted effort to find ways to plug them into some of the other ministries of the church. Get them involved in something other than youth group so that when youth group is done they have something else to fall back on.

  14. I just don’t get this type of closed-off thinking. Seemingly putting God in a very small box. Do they have widows and orphans and singles and homeless and prostitutes (hopefully not practicing) and fishermen and tax collectors and widowers and etc. in their churches? This is just NOT the Jesus I see when I look at the bible. Jesus said to let the children come to me/him. He didn’t say to make the family unit an idol and the children can come to Jesus by way of their parents (additional priest necessary in this group?). It seems like another overreaction to a cultural (and sometimes church) issue of parents not parenting. And it’s scarry to see the practices that are extra-biblical becoming the main focus of a church.

  15. I come from a difficult background with parents who were emotionally absent during my teen years–you can read my story here: [blockquote] http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fthewartburgwatch.com%2F2011%2F08%2F22%2Fno-professional-counseling-advised-one-womans-sad-story%2F&h=jAQD9UfWD%5B/blockquote%5D

    God used youth ministry to keep me connected. Without the influence of godly friends in the youth group and some direction from youth leaders, I probably would not be walking with God today. These guys are so inward focused, they forget that a big piece of youth ministry is for the church kids with strong families to be able to minister to peers who need to hear the good news. When I was a teen, a parent-based youth program would have reinforced my shame of having a mentally ill mother who could not be the parent I needed. These guys need to stop looking inward and follow the example of Jesus.