WAKE FOREST, NC, September 6, 2011 On its rise to 100,000 online views, the film Divided, a documentary that raises probing questions about dangers associated with modern youth ministry, has been thrown out of a major conference and barred from advertising in major Christian publications. Divided has gone viral since being released as a free download at www.dividedthemovie.com, generating enormous response.
The films message that churches should follow the Bibles pattern of ministering to young people, not disregard it has been deemed as too controversial by organizers of the D6 Conference, prompting them to disinvite the films co-producer the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) from attending its annual family ministry event to be held in Dallas, TX on September 21-23.
In response to this development, Scott Brown, the Director of the NCFIC, stated, The decision of the D6 leadership to blacklist us from attending their event is remarkable. The stated purpose of the D6 conference is to explore biblical discipleship solutions that address the mass epidemic off todays youth leaving the church and abandoning the faith. This is precisely what our film Divided does.
We maintain that the tried and true patterns of Scripture regarding youth ministry are the answer to this dilemma, explained Brown, Yet for urging churches to set aside the worlds broken solution of family-fragmenting worship, discipleship and evangelism, in favor of the Scriptures clear teaching on age-integrated ministry, weve been banned. Its as if theyre saying, Gods Word is not welcome as the final say on this issue.
Ron Hunter, executive director and CEO of Randall House, the sponsor of D6, overturned the NCFICs initial acceptance to the conference, stating that the presence of the NCFIC would cause tension. In an Aug. 29 letter, Hunter wrote: 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. Mr. Hunter also stated that the NCFIC is the first group D6 has ever disinvited, even as he admitted that he had not viewed the film before coming to his decision.
Significantly, nearly every organization represented at this conference excludes ideas it does not embrace, yet only the NCFIC was censored for affirming a specific standard. Peter Bradrick, the producer of Divided, pointed out this inconsistency, Many of the exhibitors say they are advocating the truth. For some reason, only the NCFIC is not allowed to talk about their understanding of truth.
In a similar move, Christianity Today has forbidden the NCFIC from advertising Divided on their web site. They turned away Divideds advertising dollars based on the films subject matter, stating it was unbalanced. Later they ran a harsh movie review of the film on their web site and likened it to an angry letter to the editor. They called it propaganda, categorically dangerous, and filled with scare tactics.
Commenting on CTs decision, NCFIC Director Scott Brown a pastor who has also written the companion book, A Weed in The Church: How A Culture of Age Segregation is Harming the Younger Generation, Fragmenting the Family and Dividing the Church observed: We believe that the Scriptures teachings are sufficient and timeless; that what Jesus modeled and the Bible outlines regarding youth ministry gives us a template for how Christianity today should be lived out. But the magazine that bears this name appears to have little patience for those who affirm the old paths, preferring modern trends instead.
Yet another critic of Divided is popular, neo-reformed blogger Tim Challies. Challies recently dismissed the film in an unfavorable review, counseling his readers to stay away from it. Its a destructive message wrapped in a poorly-made documentary. The church would do well to ignore it, Challies wrote. He lobbed several grenades against the documentary, saying it was not at all fair, builds a case on a cliché, and is not only uncharitable but also utterly ridiculous . . . complete and utter nonsense.
Scott Brown categorizes the criticisms in this way, What is interesting is that the negative comments can be summed up by you are ugly, your friends are ugly, and you are unbalanced, yet they never come in with biblical arguments for their position.
Doug Phillips, founder of Vision Forum Ministries who briefly appears in Divided, commented on the backlash: The films detractors have sent a clear message to the Church: they will accept virtually anything from evangelicalism, except the position that says that the discipleship of youth should be directed in a family-integrated context, and that the youth-driven Youth Ministry is toxic; this position will not be tolerated, Phillips said.
Brown offered this: While Divided has been well-received by thousands, the opposition it has garnered illustrates one of the films core messages: that the church today has drifted away from Scripture and toward modern culture for her answers.
The resistance is also understandable when you consider how much money is involved in youth ministry and the whole age-segregated superstructure that undergirds modern church, remarked Brown, All you have to do is follow the money. It affects the whole staff configuration, church vision, deployment of church workers, the facilities nearly everything.
Scott Brown likened opposition to his organization and scorn toward Divideds perspective on youth ministry to the conflicts during the Protestant Reformation as the church was embracing sola scriptura. Our message is simple: Trust Gods Word alone; it is sufficient. Sadly, this view is looked on with great suspicion today. Things have gotten pretty bad when a leading Christian magazine and a leading Christian conference simultaneously reject even a discussion of what the Bible clearly teaches!
The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to correctly understanding Gods unified vision for church and family, rightly diagnosing the problems that impede this vision, and effectively communicating biblical solutions that rebuild family-affirming churches. For information about the NCFIC and the film Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church, visit online at http://www.ncfic.org/