Vol.XVI No.XI Pg.1
January 1980

Churching Young People

Robert F. Turner

The first article I wrote for publication in a "brotherhood" paper was "Churching the Young People" (Firm Foundation, V.58 N.21; July 8, 1941). It acknowledged the need for discipline, pointed out that too often we act only when our pride or "public image" is threatened, and concluded with "the old people, too."

It bothered me, then and now, that discipline was looked upon as punitive, with little or no attention given to its role in teaching, admonishing, helping to shape a better person. Our fear of compromise, grounded in our history of doctrinal struggles, fills a needed place. But its validity depends upon issues that are matters of faith. In matters of human judgment compromise is a virtue. And in matters of judgment, one's pride is involved. Put all of that together and you may find elders who dislike a beard "refusing to compromise" and maybe even disfellowshipping one who wears a beard. It is in order here to remind the bushy fellow that he also has obligations. In mutual understanding, and mutual compromise, both parties have been "churched" for good. Do you get the picture? "Churching" (or church "discipline" for those who do not use the other term) is far more than recognizing the obstinate and unfaithful ones, and delivering them to Satan (1 Cor. 5:5). It also includes the blending, strengthening, molding effect brethren can have on one-another to promote greater service to the Lord.

"Churching" is taking place when we recognize our brethren as peers — when we feel a desire to blend with them, and occupy common ground. If we will work at making the young people feel they are a part of this family, with responsibilities as well as privileges, then the "churching" process can be affirmative and beneficial.

But if no effort is made to understand; if the young member is given no opportunity to develop talents and the feeling of having a place in the family; don't be surprised if he or she does exactly like they do in the domestic family. They "leave home" at the first opportunity, and "churching" becomes little more than negative reaction — recognition of a failure.