Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary – Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools – Part 5

Lamb Rescue.

I remember it as though it was last week, but it was a day in March about 60 years ago. My Dad had a sheep flock of about 30 ewes in addition to a dairy cowherd and some beef cows. That March day was sunny and warm, so Dad put the ewes and their lambs in a meadow to take advantage of such a day. Late that afternoon a snowstorm quickly swept through the valley, the same place where I now live. After milking the cows, Dad and I hustled to bring the sheep back to the barn in what seemed like blizzard conditions to a 10-year old boy.

After the sheep were safe in the barn we counted and found that one lamb was missing. We went back to the field, about 0.3 mile away, and found the week-old lamb, appearing to be half asleep, in some tall grass near a fence. The lamb was already covered with snow. Left in the field alone the lamb would have had little chance to survive the night because the nutrients in that lamb’s digestive system would be used up, and such a young one would not survive the cold night without the mother’s milk. We took the rescued lamb back to the barn and it did survive.

My Dad had some smarts about caring for young vulnerable sheep. He was smart enough to know he had no control over the weather, but he did have some control over his flock of sheep, specifically how to care for them during severe weather. Now these 60 years later, I too know something about what I can do to help my flock of sheep. I have some of the same challenges, but one in particular, is different. Coyotes did not live in this area 60 years ago, but there are plenty here now.

I have spent most of my adult life observing, reading and studying how children in America are being trained. And I have spent the past 29 years raising sheep. At times I am literally overwhelmed with the parallels between lambs and children, meaning that I see clear, concise realities about how we fail our children. Let me be clear; it is the “how we fail our children” part that overwhelms me.

During the entire year I keep a focus in the back, if not the forepart, of my brain…and the focus is ALWAYS on the YOUNG sheep. I plan the breeding season so the young lambs will be born during a favorable time. I manage the pasture, hay, and minerals in the winter for the ewes in a manner that will be best for milk production from the ewes after they lamb in April, which will in turn be best for the lamb. I plan the breeding season in such a way that birth of the lambs will be under conditions that best foster proper bonding between the ewe and her lamb. I could go on and on through the entire life of the lamb, but I trust that you get the point without all the details.

My Dad knew the probable outcome of lambs in a cold, harsh environment without the life-giving milk they so badly need when they are very young. I have a PhD in Animal Science, but Dad’s common sense was all he needed. I can’t control the weather any more than my Dad could, but just like his common sense wisdom, I can exercise some control over the environment where my lambs spend their early days.

I don’t have direct control over the coyotes that roam the mountains and valleys here, but I do have some control over where my lambs spend their time. Would a person with all his mental faculties in tact believe that the way to protect the lambs from coyotes would be to plan and conduct some elaborate scheme to train the coyotes to lie down with the lambs, and not eat them? Obviously the coyote cannot be trained to do that. In a like manner public schools will never be changed into places for children to obtain Christian based training. For emphasis, let me put it in other words: Public schools will never become places where our young children can receive solid, comprehensive Christ-centered training, just as coyotes can never be trained to lie down with young lambs and not devour them. We do prefer Christ-centered training, right?

When Dad counted the sheep and found one missing, he didn’t close the barn door, say a prayer for the lost lamb, and then go to the house to eat supper in the warm house. Neither should I. Neither should you. Neither should your Christian friends. Neither should your pastor. But, you know what? I have heard people say that is how they handle the government school problem. They say a prayer and shut the door as their child ventures out into an environment that is hostile to God and therefore very hostile to all children. Does that perhaps work for some families? Absolutely. Does that sound like something we should recommend for the masses? Absolutely not, and that is why Christians need to be proactive about providing biblically based education five days a week. The school desks have already been rearranged on the government Titanic too many times.

We can’t control all the storms that will assail our children. We can’t spoon-feed them every bite they take. However, we need to be wise enough to realize that we have a responsibility to provide the best environment possible to care for them while they are very young. I have to ask; what are big church buildings for, some of them multimillion-dollar complexes? Are they for adults to go in each week to be fed? Why, so they can get fat? Could they also be used for school children Monday through Friday?

I hate to put it this way, but most Christians don’t get it! Pew-sitters don’t get it and pastors don’t get it, and most people who direct high-profile national Christian family oriented ministries don’t get it either. Wake up America, this is not happy days circa 1950s. New management is necessary for rearing our children in the Monday through Friday time slot. Christians need to lead the culture, not follow it. Christians need to set an example for what is quality, God honoring training for the precious young children God has placed under our care so they can become disciples of Jesus Christ to take the Good News to the world. We have lambs to rescue.

Sometimes I think we are living in la la land, strolling along as if on a sunny Sunday afternoon walk in the park, completely oblivious, having absolutely NO CLUE as to what is happening in our culture, our world, and our Church. Would your church leaders, directed by the pastor, allow a member of the ACLU to stand in the pulpit to spew some Marxist ideology to the adult pew-sitters some Sunday morning? Pastors are even afraid to let Christians with a slightly different believe system get in the sacred pulpit, so it would be ludicrous to think an atheist ACLU member would be allowed to speak in a Sunday morning service. The answer is no, the pastor would not let someone like that in the pulpit, but Marxist ideology is precisely what is being given to our innocent and vulnerable children five days a week in government schools. Answer this question: If you had a choice as an adult, would you rather sit and listen to a Marxist, or have your children sit at the feet of that type instructor?

Where is the common sense like that a sheepherder would use, to protect and care for our young by providing a proper environment? Honestly, every one of us, all who claim to be Christian, should be ashamed of ourselves for continuing this charade. We build huge edifices so we adults can be comfortable while leaving our lambs out in the raging storms. And we call it spreading the Gospel and worshipping God! If we want to spread the Gospel, let us first disciple our own children. Why not focus on the very young while they are under our care so they won’t fall through the religious cracks at an 80 percent rate like we currently encounter?

Dennis Rowan

Related Articles:

The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary – Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools

Part 1 -Outline
Part 2 – What will Christians Do About the 20:80 Ratio?
Part 3 – Truth Versus Tradition
Part 4 – In Defense of Pastors


Filed under Articles, Church Tracks, Elephant in the Sanctuary, Home Tracks, Sheepherder Blog

The Elephant in the Middle of the Sanctuary – Why Pastors Ignore the Dangers of Public Schools – Part 4

In Defense of Pastors.
Since these articles about the elephant in the sanctuary focus on why pastors fail to see the dangers of public schools, it is important to present some information that indicates that they alone are not to be blamed for the poor record churches have in training children of the K-12 school age.

The Tradition Trap. Pastors are in a system that evolved over decades, even centuries. In fact some would say they are a part of pagan Christianity because there are practically no functions in the church today that did not evolve from secular/pagan practices. Perhaps that is too harsh for the palate of some readers, so let’s go with a little more subtle tone.

Our son Mark graduated from Liberty University. One day in casual conversation he said that if one went into youth ministries study at LU, then that meant studying to become a youth pastor; there was no option for other types of ministry to young people. Interesting. A seminary graduate told me that until recently seminaries did not put any emphasis on K-12 education. I wonder, why not? Did the big boys at the seminaries not think children need training just as grown men do?

I once talked to a young man who was a seminary student somewhere in Kentucky. I’ll call him Joe. He made it clear to me that if a person was not very well grounded in the Scriptures before enrolling, the seminary would ruin him with ungodly teachings. So, what is the purpose of a seminary?

I talked to another student who was at a seminary different from the one Joe attended. I’ll call him James. He was already part of a denomination that had 22 seminaries in America, but he was attending a seminary that was not a part of the 22, although his denomination did approve of that school. I asked why he did not attend one of the 22 run by the denomination. He said they were biblically unsound, but that he viewed the church pew-sitters in that denomination as a mission field, and wished to preach there. Well, good for James, and I pray God has used him in a mighty way. I don’t like redundancy, but tell me again, what is the purpose of a seminary?

I talked to a pastor I’ll refer to as Rodney. He had graduated from the seminary at Duke University about two years prior to our conversation. He told me, “Duke (seminary) is a magnet for Lesbians.” Uh, Oh, subtle tone just left the building, so how is that for the palate? But hey, they play pretty good basketball; the men’s team, not the lesbians in ministry (?????).

Let’s be honest, there are two educational institutions in America that are pretty much complete jokes, one group includes most every department of education in colleges throughout the nation, and most seminaries in America are in the other group.

So we have pastors filling the pulpits throughout America, most of which can be described as people who:
1. Attended government schools at the K-12 level
2. Attended seminaries that were not interested in K-12 education, and they were not even biblically sound
3. Preach to pew-sitters who attended government schools

In that context, perhaps it is of little surprise that we have so few who support the idea of Christian schools/homeschooling. Lord, help us; we’ve already been in the wilderness for more than 40 years.

The Pew-sitter Trap. How would you like to be a 25-30 year-old like James as described above, walking into a spiritually bankrupt congregation? How would you like to walk into a sanctuary where the Word of God had not been clearly proclaimed for decades? Can you imagine the old men on the church board, and the old women who control the old men? Whew, send me to Africa or the Jungles of South America!

What about pulpit committees? A pastor retires, so the church sends out some of the more spiritual (?), or perhaps the big donors, to look for a new hireling to fill the pulpit. This smells from the get-go, but it happens. Think about James again, the guy who views the pew-sitters in his denomination as a mission field. How will a pulpit committee deal with him? Of course most pulpit committee members go to a distant city to listen to a potential hireling preach. How novel … go look for a guy who speaks well, perhaps using a teleprompter. Why do churches not raise up a pastor from the young in their own congregation? Do they not do a good job of training disciples? Perhaps a potential pastor has no honor in his own congregation.

The Money Trap. Joe, James and Rodney, as I described here seemed to be solid men who would be good for the cause of Jesus Christ. Considering what they said about the seminaries they attended and the denomination for which each served, why on earth would they attend such seminaries? Good question. Personally I could not do that, but I don’t condemn them. The truth is they needed credentials to get a job preaching. How sad is that, a minister of the Gospel, wishing to preach, must first meet the standards set by some pagan institution? The fact is that even graduates of respectable colleges and seminaries must also find a way to pay the bills. Therefore money can in a sense be a trap for all who go into what is called full-time ministry.

I once had a conversation with a local carpenter who was a member of a Mennonite sect in our community. I had been to their meeting house (they do not use the term “church” to describe the building they meet in – kudos) two or three times, and I also knew they did not have paid ministers. They had three different men who shared responsibility of ministering. I asked him, “What is the reason you do not pay someone as pastor of your church?” He slowly turned his bearded face toward me with a wide smile, and said, “We’re afraid they might tell us what we want to hear.” Awesome, how smart are those Mennonites anyway?

AND, these same Mennonites have a Christian school for their families. Perhaps there is a hidden nugget here. Churches could use money that would otherwise be used to pay a pastor, and instead, use it to pay a schoolteacher. Wow, what a great concept!

At times, money dulls the hearing, clouds the vision, and it can also affect a man’s speech; it can cause a man to speak in such a way that he says exactly what people want to hear… it’s the money trap.

Release from the trap. Few things are more vicious than the bureaucracy of religion. Such were those who had Jesus crucified. Think about Joe the seminary student, and what it would be like for a 25-year old man to challenge the professors about their false doctrine. Or, imagine Rodney approaching professors at Duke to ask them to explain the biblical basis for training Lesbians to be ministers of the Gospel.

Professional clergy (I don’t really like that term) have invested time and money to get training, some of which is ungodly, and now they have to make money to support themselves and perhaps a family. Should they just chuck the idea of a paid job in ministry and get some other type job? Right, that’s a great idea! Perhaps tent-making would be good. It could boost their credibility as a minister of the Gospel if they were not depending upon a ministry paycheck. You could call it the uncompromised Gospel … Wow, another great concept!

According to Viola and Barna, the Old Testament practice of believers paying tithes to pay priests did not exist when the New Testament church began. Of course Viola and Barna were not the first to discover that. About 300 years after the church began, the first buildings were constructed to use as meeting places. Even so, paying tithes and hiring priests were not widely practiced until the eighth century, 500 years later! You can study the New Testament to find out how the church had its beginnings without tithes, and without paid ministers. Tradition (from the seminary, to the pulpit, to the pew), and money have become twin slave masters. The bad news is that these two have helped put paid ministers in a trap. The good news is that ministers don’t have to stay in the trap because no one is forcing them.

Dennis Rowan

Related articles:
Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 1
Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 2
Elephant in the Sanctuary – Part 3
Dollars, Discipleship and Disaster
Is in the Church Nullifying the Word of God for the Sake of Tradition?

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