Movie Review - Divided

Chris LeClerc, Philip LeClerc
LeClerc Brothers Motion Pictures

Proverbs 22:6 has been called a truism—a maxim—“a proverb… not a promise.” After all, we’re not really guaranteed if we “Train up and child in the way he should go,” that “when he is old he will not depart from it,” right? Each child has to make their own choices in life—whether or not they want to depart from the way they should go, especially once they’re out on their own, away from Mom and Dad. Kids from Christian homes leave the faith all the time. If Proverbs 22:6 was a promise from God… well, we’d have to assume that something had gone seriously wrong somewhere. However, while it seems like a promise would have to be accurate all the time, a maxim only has to be true most of the time, leaving room for the apostates in our midst—as well as their parents.

The problem is, statistics show the majority of churched kids departing from the way they should go. Research done by the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life concluded that 88% of the children raised in evangelical homes leave the church by the age of 18—never to return. A success rate of 12% is not the goal of Proverbs 22:6—promise or maxim. It’s a failure. But a failure on whose part? Is it an issue with the church? The kids? The parents? As a filmmaker, Philip LeClerc set out to find answers. And he found them.

Of course, he didn’t find—or present—the answers by himself. Divided isn’t the story of a young man who saw a problem, thought up some plausible causes and then tried to pitch his ideas to a neutral crowd that didn’t have anything to loose by going along with him. LeClerc traveled across the country, interviewing teens and young adults about contemporary music, the age of the earth and the success of their youth groups—interviewing men like Britt Beemer, Ken Ham, Kevin Swanson, Voddie Baucham, Scott Brown and Paul Washer—interviewing youth pastors and national youth ministry leaders—researching the evolution of youth ministry from the patterns and commandments in the Old and New Testaments, through the revolutionary establishment of the Sunday Schools in the eighteenth century, the introduction of the Darwinian model of child development into the educational system, all the way to the present attempt to reach the youth mainly with cultural relevance, personal authenticity and rock music.

We all knew there was a problem with youth ministry. Philip LeClerc found it. The problem is big, and the solution, as Divided makes clear, is even bigger—and even harder, and more controversial. It definitely goes against the church traditions we’ve been taught—that we’ve been teaching—for decades or even centuries. At this stage of the game, it’s positively counter-intuitive. Following the biblical solution to the modern youth crisis has actually cost some men their reputations, their friendships and their jobs. Ignoring the biblical solution has cost evangelical America up to 88% of its children—while they were in youth group. The solution is obedience to Scripture—keeping up our end of Proverbs 22:6—training up children in the way they should go… and doing it the way God told us to do it in the first place.

The solution Divided presents doesn’t rely on better youth programs, more educated youth ministers… or any kind of youth ministers, for that matter. And yet, neither does it leave children without biblically equipped leaders—spiritually orphaned teens without resources for spiritual nourishment—or broken families outside of the family of God. Divided is a unique film, not simply because it showed us the failure of our old way of doing youth ministry, but because it shows us how to implement the new way—from Scripture. It is an extremely practical, helpful, insightful and engaging film, and I don’t think you can honestly and biblically walk away disagreeing with its conclusion.

So, count your children. Multiply that number by 88% and ask yourself if you’re willing to reconsider Proverbs 22:6 and youth ministry. And, whether you are or not, watch Divided.


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