Your church is heavily influenced by evolutionary thinking. It is founded on principles created by pagans and for pagans. You have succumbed to hellish thinking and imposed it upon your church. At least this is the case if your church has a nursery or a Sunday school or any other kind of program that involves dividing people by age. That is the rather audacious claim of Divided, a documentary that is being heavily promoted by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC). Divided is a film about youth ministry. Kind of. At its heart it is a movie that promotes Family Integrated Church (FIC).
Divided follows a young filmmaker named Philip Leclerc as he seeks to find answers to the tricky question of why young people are abandoning the Christian faith. This journey quickly leads him to the leaders of the FIC where he learns that age segregation is at the very heart of our problems while family integration is the key to rebuilding the church and recapturing the next generation.
The film begins with a long list of scary statistics pointing to the sad reality that young people are increasingly abandoning their churches (a genuine concern that I wrote about recently). This introduces the tension the movie depends upon. How do we guard our children against becoming just another set of sad statistics? Leclerc begins his journey at a Christian music festival where we see young people head-banging to Christian rock and just plain having fun. He speaks to youth pastors who believe the key to reaching youth is to be cool and hip. He speaks to young people who believe in evolution or who don’t even know what they believe. He says about this festival that people were being taught that “the fun music of the world can bring you closer to God.” And in this way he paints an ugly picture of an entire generation.
Having done this, he finds the best and brightest of the FIC movement and allows them to interpret. This sets an intellectual like Voddie Baucham against a girl with a face full of piercings who partied so hard at the concert that her mohawk collapsed. It’s hardly a fair fight. What Leclerc does is what so many documentarians do: he chooses his representatives very, very carefully. He chooses the intellectuals of the FIC to represent his view and chooses the young and foolish to represent the other side. It’s hardly subtle and not at all fair. He builds his case on a cliche.
Once he has set the two sides in opposition, he allows proponents of FIC to pile on. One by one Scott Brown and Voddie Baucham and Doug Phillips and Paul Washer and many others talk about how youth ministry has ruined the church—and not just youth ministry, but any kind of ministry that divides people by age. These men make the claim that the first 1800 years of the church knew no age segregation whatsoever; it is only in the past 200 years or so that anyone considered dividing children by age. They claim that any kind of age segregation stems directly from evolution and has roots in paganism. Any kind of age segregation therefore sows pagan seeds of division.
These leaders claim that the Bible clearly teaches that we must not age segregate. Ever. The classroom is a pagan creation and so too is the Sunday school. Leclerc goes so far as to claim that the mass youth exodus may just be God’s hand of punishment upon the church for our active disobedience in ignoring what Scripture teaches.
The solution is to raise up a new generation of fathers who will take responsibility for their children and stop outsourcing the raising of their children to youth pastors. Fathers who truly love the Lord and who truly love their children will know better than to allow them to participate in youth ministry or Sunday school. These are the central claims of the film.
So what do we do with Divided?