by: Allen Domelle
I recently had a friend email me an article about the so-called demise of the “fundamentalist educational institutions.” The author of this article talked about the recent decision by Tennessee Temple University to close its doors and merge with Piedmont International University. Though I personally reject the premise that fundamentalist institutions are dying because they won’t adapt, but there is some validity to this article that we need to address or this article will become fact.
One of the first things we must understand is that everything is born to die. There is only one institution that is promised perpetuity, and that is the church. God promised in Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This promise to the church is only valid if the church continues to stand upon the principles of God’s Word.
God does not give this promise to Bible colleges. Bible colleges are usually built because of God’s blessings upon a man’s ministry. Those blessings led to many youth desiring to get training from that man, which led to the start of most Bible colleges. You rarely, if ever, see the demise of these colleges while that man is alive. Most of the time, their demise happens after these men go to Heaven.
After reading this article, I found 16 reasons as to why some Bible colleges have closed their doors and why fewer young people are desiring to go into full-time service. All of these reasons can be averted if we will simply do what is right.
1. They left what they were to become something else.
Many of the colleges that were listed in this article left the independent Baptist movement several years before they closed their doors. You cannot change your DNA and expect to live. They were started with an independent Baptist identity, and you can’t expect God’s continued blessings if you leave what made you. Galatians 6:7 is still true when it says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Whenever you leave the very reason for which God blessed you, then you can only expect to reap death.
2. We belittle successful men of God from previous generations.
One of the reasons many young people want nothing to do with full-time service is because they have heard present-day preachers criticize the men of God from the past while they attempt to build their own kingdom. Many of these present day preachers are no different from the Pharisees of Matthew 23. It’s interesting that many of these present-day preachers attended the colleges of the great men from the past and received a good foundation to build their ministry; but, now they’re critical, spiteful and disdain the very people and teachings that helped to make them who they are today. When young people see this, they want no part of serving the LORD full time.
3. We’ve griped about the ministry and praised a materialistic lifestyle.
It is time to stop apologizing for being in the ministry. We have poor-mouthed the ministry to the point where young people want no part of it. We act like preachers are starving to death because of the ministry. Let me remind every preacher that there are many people in your congregation who make less money than you. Stop making the world look so great. The world will only give pleasure for a “season” (Hebrews 11:25), but serving the LORD gives eternal dividends. If we would start praising the blessings of the ministry instead of griping about it, then more young people would desire serving the LORD full-time.
4. We’ve closed more churches than we have started.
One of the reasons there are fewer young people going to Bible college is because we have stopped starting churches. There are more churches closing down than there are starting. Why? Because for some unknown reason, planting churches is no longer considered a part of the Great Commission. Common sense will tell you that the more churches you start, the more young people we will produce to send off to Bible college to train for the ministry.
This is the core of the problem. There used to be a day when parents would tell their children they wanted them to go into full-time service, but today we have swallowed the Devil’s lie that we don’t want our youth to be “Mama called” and “Papa sent.” I believe the Scriptures make it very clear that if a young person is born into a family that is in the ministry, then by birth they were called to serve God full-time. The children of the priests and Levites were called to those respective areas by being born into their families. The greatest thing a parent can do for their children is to help them realize that the greatest life one could live is in serving the LORD full-time.
6. Youth departments had stopped emphasizing full-time service.
Youth departments have praised the Tim Tebow’s more than they have praised the man of God. It’s no wonder our youth departments are not turning out full-time servants. Every youth department should emphasize full-time service. It’s not that other areas are inferior, but our purpose is to lead youth to serve the LORD full-time. The youth should see that God’s desire is for them to serve Him full-time. Don’t model your youth department to keep the youth at home; instead, model your youth department to send the youth out to serve the LORD full time.
7. Pastors have held people back from full-time service to build their empire instead of building the kingdom of God.
Pastors need to get out of the empire-building business and realize their responsibility is to build the kingdom of God. Too many pastors counsel graduates to wait before getting involved in the ministry when they should be sending them out. If they are not ready to go into full-time service after graduating from Bible college, then why are you sending them to that college? Nobody will ever gain all the experience needed to go into full-time service at any college, but that experience will come and God will help them when they get into the ministry. We need to stop trying to build our kingdoms and start sending people to build churches.
8. We’ve traded preaching for teaching.
It has always been through the “foolishness of preaching” that God has stirred the hearts of youth to surrender. Young men don’t want to become a preacher when they hear someone get up with no fire or enthusiasm and teach instead of preach. Preaching has always stirred the heart of young men to the point where they say, “I want to do that.” The hottest pulpits are the pulpits that produce the most young people surrendering to the ministry.
9. We stopped making the call for full-time service.
I’m always amazed how we lead people to the point of accepting Christ and even ask them if they want to pray to accept Him, but we won’t make a plea for young people to surrender for full-time service because we say they need to be “called.” Whatever happened to Romans 12:1? God makes it very clear that He accepts volunteers. Many of the people God used in a great way were volunteers. It’s time we reject the unbiblical philosophy of not making a call for full-time service. We should not stop making calls for full-time service just because a few people who backslid said their calling was only an emotional decision.
10. We’ve praised the emerging church movement and attacked the fundamental movement.
If we want our youth to go to independent Baptist colleges, then we need to stop attacking those who defend the fundamental movement. We have “spiritual” leaders who are recommending emerging church books more than they are recommending God’s Word. Youth can see where you are headed. You may have tried to put up a smoke screen, but they can clearly see when emerging church leaders are of greater significance to you than fundamental leaders. If you will praise those who are in the fundamental movement, then our youth will continue to want who we are.
11. We have acquired the Empire model instead of the local church model.
I have briefly touched on this previously, but let me reemphasize that we need to get back to building local churches instead of trying to build empires. Stop minimizing the pastors whose churches are not large. They are great men of God just like any other pastor.
12. We have copied the new paths and forsaken the old paths.
When parents, pastors and youth pastors forsake the old paths, we can expect nothing short of our youth having no desire to go into full-time service. When colleges, pastors and churches proclaim that the old paths don’t work, then there is no reason for youth to go to a Bible college that promotes the old paths. We must be very careful that we praise and walk the old paths.
13. We left the old paths church building model for unproven models.
Sunday school has always been the church building model of churches that walked the old paths. For some reason we have traded Sunday school for contemporary services and small groups. Sunday school still works! It is in Sunday school where we teach the Word of God so that our youth are grounded in the doctrines of the faith. Churches have not stopped growing because we live in harder times, they have stopped growing because we have tried unproven models of church building and forsaken the tried and tested church building model of Sunday school.
14. We’ve lowered the standard instead of challenging people to rise to God’s standard.
Youth are always up for a challenge. Sadly, many no longer challenge youth to raise their standard of living. Instead, we have criticized and maligned those who do challenge the youth to live holy and separated lives. When you lower the standard to the world’s model, you will find that youth will go to the world because that is their model. Stop lowering the standard and challenge them to live up to God’s standard. God will touch their hearts for full-time service when they are striving to live up to His standard more readily than if we make the ministry more like a country club.
15. We’ve lost the passion for souls.
Soul winning is always the tool God has used to save a nation. Soul winning is what created the passion for people, and a passion to help people moves youth to surrender to serve God full-time. We will never turn out youth who have a heart for God until we once again make soul winning the main thing in our youth groups.
16. We’ve forsaken Holy Spirit power for technological power.
I’m all for technology, but I’m not for technology replacing the power of God. What touched the heart of youth in years gone by was seeing a man of God who was Holy-Spirit filled on fire preaching the Word of God. That power, passion and fire produced a desire in youth to want to be men of God. It produced a desire for them to go to Bible college to learn from these men who had this fire. It’s no wonder our youth don’t desire going to Bible college when technology and graphics have become more appealing than the power of God. Instead of trumpeting graphics and technology, we ought to trumpet prayer and the power of God. Youth need to see that there is no substitute for the power of God. When they see that God has touched someone with His power, they will desire that same touch on their life.
All of these areas can be turned around if we choose to do them. It simply goes back to believing the old paths are relevant today. Let me challenge you to stop listening to those who make the old paths sound irrelevant and trust God’s Word that the old paths are relevant. When we once again show that the old paths work and are appealing, then we will once again see youth wanting to attend Bible colleges that promote the old paths.