The Church of Christ Youth Movement
Hoyt H. Houchen
In the fast pace to keep in step with the denominations, there has developed within many churches of Christ a gigantic youth movement, and the church sponsored activities that are tied with this movement are of such nature that twenty-five years ago they would have been only thought of in connection with the Baptists, Methodists, Christian Church, etc. Scarcely anyone then would have dreamed that this movement which has characterized the denominations would have invaded the Lord's church. But the movement has caught hold and it is sweeping the liberal churches like a prairie fire. These churches have hired their youth directors, their youth ministers; they have their camps, youth choruses, youth meetings, youth rallies, youth magazines, and now a youth newspaper. So rapid has the accent upon youth taken over that brethren who would have objected to such denominational fanfare only a few years ago have been overwhelmed and are gullibly eating it up without so much as a shrug of the shoulder or the bat of an eye.
It is past time that sincere brethren stop and take a look at what is taking place. Instead of the gospel of Christ as God's power to save (Rom. 1:16), brethren have turned to a social gospel, an appeal to social needs throughout entertainment. It is an appeal to YOUTH, as if youth is some special problem in the church. As examples of the youth movement which has struck with lightning speed, we point out some specific cases.
Printed on the stationery of the Anson church of Christ, Anson, Texas, and dated April 8, 1965 is an invitation by the young people to attend a GIANT YOUTH RALLY. It was not to be regarded as a "run-of-the-mill" type of youth gathering but it was to include a 45 minute concert by the "BEL CANTO" singers of Boles Home, an evening meal and (hold to your seats) the rally was to be climaxed by a lakeside cross-burning and devotional service. A cross-burning! One would suppose from the announcement that it was a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan. Who sponsored this? The young people! A special group in the church. To arrange the affair, the young people appointed a publicity committee, the names signed at the bottom of the letter . . . .
From the Johnson Street church in San Angelo, Texas comes the announcement that the congregation sponsored a youth rally there on November 6, 1965. Among the activities for youth and sponsored by the Johnson Street church is listed an evening meal and entertainment. If any church, supposed to be a church of the Lord, is authorized to provide entertainment for youth or anyone else then where is the scripture that authorizes it?
This item has been sent to us from Hobbs, New Mexico, and it appeared in the Hobbs Flare. "An area-wide youth rally, featuring fried chicken,-, folk singers, guitar pickers, and a speaker, is planned for the Taylor Street church of Christ Friday, August 6, at 7 p.m." This program was planned by the college class and the news item states that "The church is expecting about 500 young people from Clovis, Roswell, Midland, Odessa, Lubbock, and all points within those cities." There was to be a worship hour followed by dinner and a hootenanny. What a shame that the church of Christ has been turned into a house of fun and frolic and that brethren have no more regard for the teaching of God's word than to allow such to be carried on in the name of the church! Anyone with an ounce of respect for God and His word should be shame-faced.
As the youth movement parades itself, we see youth choruses. From the Hobbs, New Mexico Flare, August 1, 1965 is the following: "A Teen Age Chorus will be initiated at the Taylor Street church of Christ this Sunday, September S. Open to junior high school, high school, and college age students, the church chorus will have regular practice, and will put on programs at various places including other towns with churches of Christ and devotionals at PTA programs." Does this sound like the church of Christ that many of us once knew? We have drawn the line in the past between the church of Christ and the Christian Church. One of those differences was that the church of Christ does not have choirs. Now this cannot be said in all places. Here is the full-fledged choir of the Christian Church. A youth chorus! No, these brethren are not drifting; they have already drifted. What more is needed for a church to lose its identity with the Lord's church?
The time is late but it is never too late for brethren who are enmeshed in this denominational push to call a halt by lifting up their voices in opposition to this as well as all other practices that are unauthorized by the word of God. They can join the rest of us who have been standing up to be counted on the Lord's side and who have been lifting our voices to be heard.
How far will the youth movement, institutional craze, and missionary board for churches of Christ (Herald of Truth) go? They will go all the way. Their leaders and motions are aligned with the denominations and like a giant vacuum, they are sucking in those who will not take the time to think and study. What scriptures can be given to authorize these projects? There are none. No appeal is made to the scriptures by these promoters. The appeal is to emotions, the same appeal which has always been relied upon by the denominations. These are some of us who remain who yet are appealing to the scripture for all that we do. "To the law and to the testimony" (Isa. 8:20). We shall continue to call upon our erring brethren to defend their practices by a "thus saith the Lord." They will not do so because they cannot. Let the church be the church. May we always keep our feet upon solid ground, contending for the truth and standing against all error.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 6, pp. 12-13