The makers of “Divided,” a documentary that rejects modern youth ministry, have been disinvited from a national conference focused on discipling youths.
Organizers of the D6 Conference maintained that their decision to not give a display booth to the group behind “Divided” was made based on the non-inclusive nature of the film, not the viewpoint of its producers.
“Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?” is produced by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) and was released online earlier this year. It challenges the way churches commonly conduct age-segregated worship services. Leaders of the D6 Conference, which starts in Dallas Wednesday, said the film does not fit the event “created for sharing conversations about various biblical methods.”
Conference director Matt Markins, who works for Randall House Publishing which is hosting the event, did not specifically address what issues his organization had with the film, but told The Christian Post that his group is limiting their words “in an effort to honor our brothers.”
The brief statement from D6 leaders reads:
“The D6 Conference from day one has invited competing ideas and conversations to the same venue. The NCFIC is an important part of the discipleship conversation but not [to] the exclusion of other approaches and biblical models. Mature Christ followers have come from both models, integrated and age-graded classes, but respect for both models would seem to be a basic expectation within the body of Christ.
“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.”
Markins added, “We hope that the NCFIC will be an exhibitor in the future as our challenge is not with the organization or the model, but only with the movie 'Divided.'”
The film follows “edgy twenty-something” Christian filmmaker Philip LeClerc on a quest to find answers to why his generation is increasingly turning away from attending church. Recent surveys have shown that as much as 85 percent of young people will leave the church and many never return.
NCFIC Director Scott T. Brown told The Christian Post earlier this year that today’s modern concept of youth ministry is a “50-year failed experiment.” Brown said that dividing children from adults at church is an unbiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies.
"While 'Divided' has been well-received by thousands, the opposition it has garnered illustrates one of the film's core messages: the church today cannot relate to what was the established pattern of biblical church life,” Brown said. “She has drifted away from Scripture and toward modern culture for her answers.”
Brown, who also said he wanted to respect his Christian brothers (D6 organizers), told CP that because of the huge marketing decisions that youth ministry groups must make in America today, he feels the D6 decision to exclude a “Divided” booth was also a part of that mindset.
"The resistance is understandable when you consider how difficult it is to change youth ministry and how much money is involved in the whole age-segregated superstructure that undergirds modern church," Brown said.
"Perhaps what distinguishes us most is that we believe that Scripture alone is sufficient, while others more freely embrace human inventions for ministry to youth,” he asserted. “We believe that Scripture carefully narrows our practices, while others believe the sky's the limit for creative expression.”
“We are not suggesting we find a new and better way to do youth ministry. Rather, we are suggesting that the old way of Scripture is superior," he added.
Markins said that there are many who have written opinions on their opposition to “Divided,” and although he did not go into specifics, he provided CP with links to a few of their posts. One of Markins’ links led to an opinion piece written by CP guest columnist and Dare 2 Share founder Greg Stier.
In an excerpt from Stier’s column, he writes:
“So on the one hand I totally agree with the premise that dads and moms should be the primary spiritual influencers in the lives of their own children. But on the other hand, and it is a hand with a bad case of elephantiasis, many of the experts in this ‘unbiased’ documentary made some pretty lame arguments about why youth ministry is anti-Biblical.”