One of the most personally threatening aspects of NewSpring’s ministry (and a very good reason why I would not be a member) is the way that leaders casually tear down parental authority. As some of you know, I first noticed it with their Parents Are Clueless marketing campaign, but Noble was at it again last weekend. Although I don’t usually watch his sermons, I watched for a couple of minutes after his scoreboard bit and saw this remarkable threat to the parents in his church.
Earlier in the service, it appears that quite a few teenagers who had returned from the church’s week-long youth camp had gone to the front of the auditorium, just near the stage, and had jumped up and down with their arms in the air while the band performed the songs.
Some of you parents, this is going to bother you, and you’re like, “That’s my kid down there, and my kid’s got their arms raised, and they’re jumping!”…
And some of you are like, “I’m going to have to go home and tell my teenager to calm down.”
And the reason you’re intimidated is because your teenager probably loves Jesus more than you. But if you’re a parent and that bothers you, …do you know how many parents in America would kill to have your problem? Like your biggest problem is your kid is passionately worshipping Jesus?
You know, you could calm them down, and God could give you what you want, and that could be his judgment.
I would be very careful.
Let me ask some careful questions.
- Is jumping really a good way to measure love? On the basis of a few minutes of jumping up and down, Noble tells parents that their kids love Jesus more than they. Who would have a better handle on that, do you think? A parent who lives with them all week, or a pastor who sees them as anonymous (bobbing) faces in a crowd? It’s safe to say that the kids know how to act at a concert better than their parents, but it’s foolish to be making judgments about spiritual maturity on such a basis.
- Why is he usurping someone else’s authority? God tells parents, much more than he tells pastors, to bring up their children in the knowledge of the Lord. Look at the great command in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
In other words, parents are to teach God’s statutes to their children always and everywhere. (Note: whether jumping up and down is proper is not the issue here. The issue is who has the most authority to teach children how to worship God.)
- Who risks the most judgment here? Perry Noble just took on the mantle of a prophet and pronounced God’s judgment on God’s people. The parents were merely obeying Ephesians 6:4.
- Is how we worship so inconsequential? Noble mocks parents for thinking that how their children worship is worth worrying about. If God is most important in our lives, shouldn’t how we relate to him be the most important thing in our lives? If there’s a problem in how we relate to him, shouldn’t that be the most important problem in our lives?
- Doesn’t this sow the seeds of spiritual rebellion? If a parent decided to risk God’s judgment and tried to teach his or her children about spiritual maturity, why would these kids listen? Their pastor has told them that they love Jesus more than their parents, and that their parents are out of God’s will in instructing them. “I don’t need to listen to you; you don’t really love Jesus!”
- How does this conform to Malachi 4:6?
He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.