Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Do the Passion 2013 members know who the real slaves are?

I know I've written abut the mega-conference called Passion held annually in Atlanta in January three times last weekend, thoroughly examined some of the things that were said and compared those things to what the bible says. I thought I was done with the issue, and by the amount of traffic and comments, many perhaps wish I was done with it, too, lol. But there are two things that have come up I'd like to look at briefly, and they are intertwined. The Holy Spirit won't let them go in my mind so in obedience I'll address them publicly in addition to prayerfully.

The first is the social issue of slavery that the conference set the kids upon. It is a global cultural ill that existed at least since Abraham's time and exists today. The conference leaders choose a cultural ill to ask the youth attendees to work toward. Last year and this year the social problem they have focused the kids on is sex trafficking and slavery in the world. They raised over three million dollars to donate to various partner groups. Here is the link to Passion 2013's campaign "Freedom."

I'd said that doing good is good, but that ending slavery is an unrealistic goal. I'd said that Jesus could have ended poverty or slavery, but He didn't. Revelation 18 shows us that in the Tribulation there will be a healthy slave trade in men and their souls that Jesus Himself stops at the very end. So this campaign will fail, because just by looking a the bible we can see its futility.

That is not to say we don't try. But the focus is all wrong. I'll explain why in just a minute. Now I want to bring up the second issue that has been niggling at me. Adult attendees are not allowed. They are banned. They are not allowed to attend Passion conferences. Here is what the Passion website says

CAN PEOPLE OVER 25 ATTEND PASSION 2013?
If you are 26 years of age or older, you may only register to attend Passion 2013 as the leader of a group of students attending the conference or as a Door Holder. Leaders must have a ticket to attend. If you are a leader, we ask that you come with your students. Otherwise, we will need thousands of Door Holders to serve over the days of the conference. If you would like to serve, please fill out a Door Holder application here.

HOW MUCH OF THE CONFERENCE WILL I BE ABLE TO ATTEND?
Serving at a Passion conference does not allow for much participation in the conference itself. Please come willing to serve and fully aware that there may not be time to attend the conference at all.

For all the speakers' talk of "community" the Passion conferences, they do much to divide it. They forbid parents, senior pastors, elders, and elder siblings from attending with the youth. Church community is a community of people from all ages. Yet I hear so much from the Passion people about "this generation." There is so much emphasis on "this generation" that for all the world it looks like they are being separated from the herd. Read Titus 2.

We are instructed in the bible that pastors, teachers and elders teach the young and that children must obey their parents. Now it is true that Youth Pastors attend with their flock, and that the youths attending are not children, but are of college age, but I maintain that any religious endeavor that specifically takes time to split the generations and deliver messages to youth only is not a good thing.

This conference does much to divide the church by capitalizing on a natural youthful zeal and diverts their attention from quiet submission in service to a local church. This co-opting of their zeal to solve a cultural or social ill is not biblical.

Youths haven't had time or seasoning to determine what their spiritual gifts even are, let along set them on fire to spend money and energy in using them in what are vain attempts to solve an unsolvable social issue. Young adults of aged 18 -25 (the demographic of the Passion conferences), have not served in church long enough to have become seasoned by the Holy Spirit. They may not even know what their spiritual gift is. Even if they have a mere few years of service under their belt and have settled on their gift in ministry, they have not learned self-control in diverse circumstances yet. Frankly, they are too young to be ambassadors for Christ - absent senior oversight.

As to the issue of stamping out slavery in the world, here is what John MacArthur has to say about Slavery--
Although slavery is not uniformly condemned in either the Old or New Testaments, the sincere application of New Testament truths has repeatedly led to the elimination of its abusive tendencies. Where Christ’s love is lived in the power of His Spirit, unjust barriers and relationships are inevitably broken down. As the Roman empire disintegrated and eventually collapsed, the brutal, abused system of slavery collapsed with it—due in great measure to the influence of Christianity. ... New Testament teaching does not focus on reforming and re structuring human systems, which are never the root cause of human problems. The issue is always the heart of man—which when wicked will corrupt the best of systems and when righteous will improve the worst. If men’s sinful hearts are not changed, they will find ways to oppress others regardless of whether or not there is actual slavery.
In Titus 2, Paul speaks about each of the generations that labor in the home church, and he issues exhortations to Titus as pastor on what each generation's responsibility is. The responsibility is not to split the generations and to give the youth a charge separate from the elders outside their home church. It is to labor lovingly in quiet service within the bounds of their revealed spiritual gift. The young learning from the elder so that the young can learn submission and how to control their youthful zeal in appropriate ways with a proper model and parental oversight. That is how the church is set up.

I said above that I'd share why the focus of the slavery issue at Passion 2013 is wrong. There are not millions of slaves in the world. There are billions. Eight billion to be exact. Every person on this planet is a slave to Christ, or a slave to satan. If we are converted and saved by His grace, we are slaves to His righteousness, (Romans 6:18). If we are not saved, then we are in bondage to the devil. (Romans 6:16). The focus which the Passion people set the youth toward is all wrong because as MacArthur said above, the first priority of each Christian is to set humans free from satanic bondage. Cultural ills are solved through Christ's love, not Passion conference money.

Just imagine of 60,000 youth were taught the powerful Gospel truthfully, and were set forth with focused zeal to evangelize in the real Jesus's name back in their home spheres!

"For many Christians today, as throughout church history, the most important and fertile field for evangelism is the place where they work. That is their mission field. As in almost no other place, unbelievers have the opportunity to observe believers in day by day situations and activities. They see whether the believer is patient or impatient, kind or uncaring, selfless or selfish, honest or dishonest, clean or vulgar in his talk. They have the opportunity to see how well the Christian lives up to the faith he professes and the principles of the Scripture he claims to hold dear." (Source)

The upshot is that there is a cumulative negative effect. No, giving money to a cause is not bad. Attending a conference is not bad. Being a volunteer and serving is not bad. But in my opinion, Passion 2013's cumulative effect is bad. Look at it this way: the attendees were drawn to a large event with the tantalizing enticement of rock music, separated from senior pastors, elders, and parents for several days, drenched in a fishbowl of adrenaline fueled zeal, given half-truths to feed on, told by adored celebrity musicians and pastors they were a special generation, diverted their focus from service in church or campus to solving a global problem, encouraged to sacrifice their money, and turned back to their home churches or campuses as new leaven.

Let's pray that the more kids than not, released back to home churches after Passion 2013, learn who the real slaves are: themselves, to Christ, and their unsaved community members, to satan.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Elizabeth, what a great group of posts.... I would also suggest listening to Brannon Howses' radio show about on particular leader's view of faith... a mix of Hinduism and Christianity.... it's very informative. I do think it is a bad idea when adults are not allowed. Once you start segregating an event like that, red flags out to go up.

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    1. Thanks for the nudge toward Howse's third part in the series. I read the summary of the Hindu-karma thing, and it says that Gary Haugen is a director on the board of the anti-slavery organization, and *another* member of that same board has these Hindu views. It's not Haugen who believes that, as far as I can tell. I agree about limiting adults attendance. Red flag.

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  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    These were all great posts on passion 2013, and it is very disconcerting that Adults are not allowed. I dare say it is creepy. Can you imagine what is being told to these young people? Since they are so malleable, I am sure it gives Satan a perfect opportunity to corrupt and mock the gospel.

    By the way, I just read a wonderful post over at Do not be surprised's blog that will uplift you. Here is the link http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/01/thank-you-lord-reader-is-led-to-truth-i.html

    Blessings,
    Marrell

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    1. Thank you so much Marrell for the encouragement. This conference made quite a lot of waves, and the resulting discussion on all the blogs and radio has offered opportunity for the concerns to be raised but also the blow-back from supporters of the conference and its participants has been vehement, too.

      I had read Erin's piece the other day and I'm so happy that positive things have come of it!

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    2. You are very welcome. I am very thankful to know that there are discerning writers in these end times. You and the people on your blogroll are needed now more than ever. I see things changing for the worse daily (the queen james bible comes to mind) but I am holding tight to God's promise and standing in prayer.

      Marrell

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  3. Elizabeth, you are right on the mark!!! I hope your blog reaches many and I will pray that it does.
    God be with you.

    Pam

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  4. Elizabeth,
    I thank you for your hard work with all these posts.

    Yesterday, when I wrote one of my "Random Apostasies and Heresies" articles, I linked your your series, as well as posts from Ken Silva and Erin Benziger. I wanted to have a good summation of what went on there, as a warning to people about the lack of discernment and the bad teaching encountered by our young people. I think this information needs to be on as many sites as possible!

    Keep up the good work!

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  5. Yes these two focuses are very troubling. First leaving out the older adults. Now what is to be gained by that? You could say they are "targeting" the younger generation. Yet targeting would not seem to be a legitimate strategy for any Christian leader. Everyone needs the gospel, young and old alike. I can see where these types of things set up a division in people's minds and hearts (and some megachurches do this too) about worship - that the older folks have their worship and we younger folks have "our own" worship. And to target young people with the idea that if they give millions of dollars that is going to solve a huge international problem. Uh, does anybody know how much money has been given, how much work in building homes, etc have been going on for years and years and yet we still have poor people? Is this why they didn't want the adults around? Because we've been around the block a few times and wouldn't be as quick to give to these groups? It is sad and a little shocking that these young people and their parents and church leaders were o.k. with this whole enterprise.

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  6. One other thing, if you have to be over 25 to attend Passion, then why are the speakers all over 25? Hmmmm...guess they are "cooler" (or more passionate) than the rest of us....

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  7. Hello Elizabeth,

    I actually came by this blog by accident, but I'm glad that I did because it needs a perspective by someone who attended the conference. I am 24 years old and I am just beginning my first full-time youth director position in a church. I attended Passion 2013 and I remain filled with excitement at what God is going to use our generation to do to further His Kingdom.

    Adult attendees were not banned from the conference. Yes, the suggested age is 18-25, but I came in contact with countless people who were over that age--all the way into their 30's. At Passion, twice a day, they divide the 60,000 into "small group" of 5,000, and then divided again into small groups of 8. Once attendees are past age 25, they are put into a "leader's group" where all the leaders of the conference are in one room. These are adults ranging in age from 26 to 66. I COULD NOT BELIEVE the age of the leaders and how many there were! I was accidentally put into the leader's group, but it was a blessing for sure. So to say that adults are banned is not true.

    I need to highlight the intentionality of the Conference leaders in these Leader Community Groups as well. We had a pastor leading our discussions, but also the main speakers (Chan, Piper, etc.) would address us as leaders at the beginning of each session. Without students in the room, these speakers opened up to the attacks Satan was making on them--feelings of pride, fear. One speaker showed an extreme amount of humility in that he was driven to His knees as he spoke to us of how we've been abiding in our flesh as leaders instead of abiding in Christ. In these groups, HEAVY emphasis was put on the importance of the leaders debriefing with the students, helping them understand how the content applied to their lives individually, and what they could do to keep the fire alive with their students when they got home.

    There's much more I'd like to say, but I feel led in the Spirit to simply end with: Elizabeth, do you see the irony in this blog post? You write, "I maintain that any religious endeavor that specifically takes time to split the generations and deliver messages to youth only is not a good thing." Is there a possibility you could've just reversed this?

    At age 24, by your standards, I am "unseasoned by the Holy Spirit", "don't know my spiritual gift", and I "lack self-control."

    So are you daring to insinuate that deep, passionate, Biblical truths should not be entrusted to someone until they reach a certain age?! What if I got in front of my Youth Group and quoted you, "You are too young to be ambassadors of Christ?!"

    I believe you should take a step back and analyze if your blog is achieving the results you're intending. As a young person, I read this and I feel of little worth to you. We as young Christ-followers LONG for older Christians to speak truth into our lives, but don't just tell us how misguided our generation is--tell us how we can learn to appreciate each other's differences and love the world together.

    No, I am not complete, I won't be until the day I get to heaven, but I am filled with the Holy Spirit and He has given me a passion to lead a new generation of ambassadors that will go out, Christ will make His appeal through them, and hearts will be changed. Ephesians 3:20-21: like Giglio said during the conference, "God is a God that does immeasurably more than we can ask for." You can point out all the shortcomings in this conference that you want to, or you can become excited that 60,000 young people got off the couch, worshiped together, expanded their view of God's power, and are passionate to reclaim the world in His name.

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    1. Hi Cory,

      I am glad you feel you gained something from the conference. I hope it blessed you in real ways, and not emotionally but that a lasting spirituality will emerge from it.

      I’m glad you read article and that you wrote. I feel led to quietly mention a few of the oversights you made in your comment. As gracious as it was I feel perhaps you overlooked several things.

      It is true that people over the age of 25 cannot attend the conference. It is not a “suggested age” as you write. The website clearly denies adult attendance to the arena. I pasted a direct quote from the Passion website and used the link so you could check. If the conference people publish in the internet that over 25 adults have aged out, I take that as truth. Further, though there are older adults volunteering, again as a direct quote, the Passion organizers state that you will not get to hear the main speakers at the arena. That is what they said, and I take it as truth. This means that as I wrote, elder siblings, senior pastors, or parents may not attend with their students or their child. This is a fact.

      I said that youths are not seasoned- **absent adult oversight**, and I put that last bit in italics so no one would miss the point. I did not say that they are not seasoned, period. I said that oversight is critical. I used Titus 2 as the proof text, as well.

      Their mere presence at the conference of Giglio-Piper-Chan does not indicate that the Gospel is correctly shared, and indeed it wasn’t. If they don’t share it correctly in the main group just the fact that there are little groups doesn’t mean it is shared better there, necessarily. If it is, that is a problem too, because why would the doctrine be solid in the small groups and not solid at the main event?

      I believe you also missed the point as far as the generations go. I am glad you remain “filled with excitement at what God is going to use our generation to do to further His Kingdom.” However, remember, you are not a special generation. We all have that excitement, from age 6 to 90. God is doing something great ALL THE TIME in EVERY generation. You don’t need an expensive conference to puff up young ones in false and unbiblical expectations and works based slactivism.

      The point of a solid Christian life is not to ignite youth apart from their home churches and spread them out in the world to stamp out a cultural ill. I used several verses to indicate what a multi-generational church should do and that is based on what the word tells us.

      You quoted Mr Giglio, "God is a God that does immeasurably more than we can ask for." and I addressed that statement in the part 2 of the series as well. Please check it out if you wish, for better context on why that statement means nothing, biblically, when it is ripped from context, mishandled, and repeated like a mantra so that the watered down version ends up just being a "glittering generality" (Defined in part 2).

      I'm glad, as you say, heavy emphasis was spent "helping them understand how the content applied to their lives individually" but if the content isn't good then all the emphasis in the world won't help. And the entire milieu is a concern, the Jesus Culture band which is absolutely demonic (part 1) the atmosphere of entertainment but calling it worship, and the emotional manipulation of kids who are separated from seasoned adults...not optimal and very problematic.

      If you care to read a different view, Frank Turk over at Phil Johnson's Pyromaniacs blog did a good job explaining the flaws in the conference from a slightly different take: whether what happened at the GA Dome was Jesus or religion. http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2013/01/consider-your-calling.html

      Suffice to say, there are enough concerning things about the conference to have raised a flag about it. Yes, the intent of this blog is to raise the concerns in light of scripture and converse with people about them. In that, I thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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    2. Cory,
      The fact that you are only 24 and beginning a full-time position as youth director is quite troubling to me.

      Throughout my almost 40 years as a Christian, and experience with numerous churches as I moved from town to town and state to state, I have to say that someone so young directing our youth is one of the major problems of the church.

      What I see continually is the youth director/pastor becoming more of a "buddy" than a mentor to young people. With very little appreciable difference in life experience between high schoolers and the average 24 year old, it is no wonder our youth groups are so immature as the thrive on "spiritual junk food."

      Is it possible you can be a better youth director than most I've experienced? Of course. I dare say when I was 24 I was much more mature than the average 24-year-old, having spent five years in the Army, worked other jobs in different venues after leaving service, and was married. So it is possible that you are mature enough for the job.

      However, your comments demonstrate a lack of biblical discernment as to the issues at hand, which to me would raise a very red flag having you in a position directing youth ministry.

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  8. As a mother, I am so careful as to whom my children listen to. My husbandand I decided after coming out of a chaismatic church in WV that we would not let our 2 children go to any youth groups at all because of what we had observed.
    We moved from West Virginai to Wisconsin and we are now in a Baptist church. My daughter is 12 and my son is 13 1/2. The youth group leader keeps asking me why my son is not coming to youth group. I have avoided the question until recently.

    After much prayer at to what to say to him with offense, this what my husband and I told him. There are two reasons..(1) We feel that the LORD wants us to train our children by God's word and we want our children bonded to us not a youth pastor (2) We see to much seperation between Father's, mother's and their chidren, so we feel the LORD wants us to keep our with us until they are of age. Also, we want our children to set under the expository teaching by our pastor and not thinking that church is all about fun and games. I want to hear what is being taught to our children to make sure it is correct biblical doctrine and not something that is false. The women are to teach the girl's and the men to teach the boy's to become leader's and so forth. There are people who strongly disagree with us but we are certain that the LORD want us to protect our children who can easily misled.
    There is a group of families that homeschool in my church who have children the same age as mine. We meet every Friday night at one couple home and we do Bright Light's. We are teaching the younger girl's to be caretaker's of the home and so forth and the men are teaching the young boy's to become leader's of their home and so forth. We have so much fun and we see the fruit of what the LORD has entrusted to us.

    thank you Elizabeth for your excellent article and for letting me post a comment. god's speed to you. teresa

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    1. Hi Teresa,

      Thank you for reading and for sharing about your children. I applaud you and your husband's thoughtfulness on the stand you are taking. It sounds reasoned out and biblical. Best of luck to you and your Godly family.

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    2. Elizabeth,
      When reading your article, I thank the LORD for people like you who speak the truth and follow the Word of God. Your article is comformation that my husband and I are doing the correct biblical thing, when it comes to our children. I do not want to loose my children to every wind of doctrine that blows in.

      I haven't but one chance to teach and train my children the way they should go and i pray that they do not depart from it, only the LORD knows.

      I have said this before and I will say it again. When God's word and what Christ did on the cross is not enough for us, we will go looking for more, more, more. When it isn't enough, there isn't but one alternative and that is deception.

      Quote from Charle Spurgeon...“Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

      I love that quote. Our children and our youth have to be in truth, to even know what isn't the truth.

      I like your discernment Elizabeth, and keep on contending for the faith . thank you Teresa

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