|Volume 19 Number 2 February 2017||
Using Unbaptized Boys in Services
Louis Rushmore, Editor
#1 A question about using the non-baptized young boys to read Scripture on Wednesday nights as “training” has come up. This will be during the regular Bible study time. Please let me know your thoughts on this matter and any Scriptures…
#2 Sometimes in the brotherhood there is a practice of using our young men including children to lead in services on Sundays with the aim of developing leadership. …In my aim to ensure that I am not violating any scripture I am asking if this practice is right or wrong. I know that children are innocent since they are not at the age or stage of accountability. I also know that teenage young men can lead. I know that there is a question of those who are not children, since they are older and are not yet Christians. Seeking knowledge.
I am not aware of a biblical precedent for children leading in aspects of Christian worship. Neither am I aware of a biblical precedent for non-Christians leading in aspects of Christian worship. Granted, small children are innocent, and it is a noble goal to develop leadership and inclusiveness of youth in Christian worship. Yes, various congregations sometimes permit children to lead songs, for instance, in Christian worship (e.g., Sunday evening or in the devotional associated with Wednesday Bible class).
It seems to me that it is biblically unauthorized for a non-Christian male who is perceived to be old enough to have obeyed the Gospel to lead in some aspect of Christian worship. Might there be some confusion and objections if allowing younger ones to lead a song, for instance, in Christian worship, but later denying them that function when they get a little older (perceived to be old enough to obey the Gospel)? Further, children mature at differing rates. Although the arbitrary age of 12 (the age of Jesus when He went to the Temple, Luke 2:42), perhaps, might be deemed the cutoff between children who are unaccountable and those who may be accountable, that varies from child to child.
If boys who are perceived to be old enough to obey the Gospel are permitted to lead in aspects of Christian worship, this may be counterproductive: (1) Disturbing Christians who may object to the practice, and (2) Removing incentive from the boys or from any other non-Christians from obeying the Gospel if they are already accepted by the church as though they had obeyed the Gospel.
There may be other scenarios that would provide opportunity to learn leadership skills while holding out the prospect of exercising those skills in Christian worship someday after boys have become Christians. Youth and leadership training classes, seminars, workshops or whatever they might be called could guide and provide experience for Christian youth, not designated a worship assembly, in which they could learn and experience what it is like to lead songs, offer public prayers and teach or preach. Separate classes for the girls would be appropriate, respecting preparation for girls and women to do the same in gatherings of Christian women (e.g., ladies’ days, ladies’ classes, all female congregations [yes, that happens in some places, particularly overseas in countries that may have state sponsored religions of Hinduism or Buddhism, because there are no male Christians yet]).
Probably most of the churches of Christ would not object to little children leading a song in Christian worship. Beyond that, fewer congregations would agree with older youth doing the same thing. Yet, the question and answers sought pertain not to what will our brethren tolerate but what is authorized in Scripture.
Why Was He Born Blind?
Why was he born blind? Because he is clay!
And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:1-5)
The man was born blind. The disciples had thought about this sort of thing before. They had come to the conclusion that sin was the reason for such a horrible thing. The question was, “Who sinned, the man or his parents?” Certainly one of them was being punished! Jesus explained that sin was not the reason at all! If sin was not why he was born blind, then why was he? Jesus said, “…but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me.” In other words, the man was born blind so that Jesus could heal him and show the world that He worked the works of God! Does this sound unreasonable? Should God allow a man to be born blind and live his whole life suffering only because He wanted to show His glory in Jesus? Why not? He is God!
Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another to dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called… (Romans 9:20-24)
What if you are right here, right now, in the circumstances you are in strictly that God may show His glory by using you? This could be (and probably is) the case! We could complain and blame God for His “injustice,” or we could glorify Him (which is what He wants us to do in the first place)! This certainly doesn’t take away our responsibility to make the right choices! God will use our choices to glorify Himself. Start making those choices for God today by remembering, God is the potter and we are the clay!