Volume 11, Number 1, July-August 2007

Dwindling Youth Population Among Sabbatarians: Coincidence or Purposeful?

By Yochanan Qavah

I read with great interest in the last issue Roger Waite’s concern for the church’s teenage/youth population and Norman Edward’s vision and purpose for PABC. Both were quite lengthy but not entirely unrelated, as I will try to expound. (As you will see from my language, I write from a different perspective but not contrary to that which is familiar to the readership).

Let’s start with Roger’s article: Mr. Waite rightly spoke of a very real developing fact among the Church of God groups: the youth are leaving in droves and hence, leave the door open as to whether there will be any Churches of God by the next generation. To those who love their church, this is a very real “threat” and should be resolved beginning right now if they don’t want to see the reality come to pass.

Mr. Waite pointed out several key factors at work in this generation: the lack of interest among the youth at church; few, if any peers their age, continuing to attend their church; little, if any, dialogue between the youth and their youth leaders; lack of opportunity to choose like-minded mates and careers when they become young adults, etc., ad infinitum. He could’ve easily expanded the list in my opinion. I would begin at the biblical admonition that he pointed out, which many neither do nor fully understand! The love for Yah and His people and education begin with the family.

The Many Faces of Home-Schooling

There are many strong feelings about home-schooling, both for and against. This writer has raised four children in a combination of our own home school, multi-family home school, parochial school and public school, and has had first-hand experience with the efforts of dozens of other families. Parents and their ability to teach, and children and their needs for schooling vary greatly.

Single mothers or fathers do become believers; Unless they are wealthy or established in a home business, home-school is almost impossible for them. Furthermore, some parents lack the organizational skills necessary to run an effective school, or they are unable to challenge their precocious children. Finally, some older children thrive in a larger social environment, and parents would best find one for them.

On the other hand, their are numerous families who could home school, but their focus is too much on the economic good life and not enough on the spiritual growth of their children. Unfortunately, brethren—even in their church services—often praise members for their nice homes, cars and clothes, but quietly do not talk about the fact that their teens have dropped out of services.

All parents should make extraordinary efforts to implement home-school, cooperative home school with multiple families, local private schools, or Sabbatarian boarding schools like Spring Vale Academy (sva.cog7.org). We also need to help families who are less fortunate than ours.


What Deut 6 Really Says

The instructions given in Devarim (Deut) 6:4-9 are so important that they are read every Sabbath service in synagogues and among most Messianic kehillot (congregations) Our Master, Yeshua himself, quoted two of these verses as being the most important commandment of all. By saying that these verses were the most important, Yeshua was inferring by extension the importance of the rest of this passage which says:

And these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart; you shall diligently teach them to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you arise…

The word “you” in “I command you this day” refers specifically to parents because of what follows. But it speaks far more than just teaching our children the mitsvot (commandments) of Elohim – YHVH is actually commanding us to home-school our children! Am I stretching or adding to the Word? Let me simply substitute one word and corresponding pronouns in the above passage to match today’s typical reality:

“And these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart; [schools] shall diligently teach them to your children, and [schools] shall talk of them when [they] sit in your house, when [they] walk by the way, when [they] lie down [with your child] and when [they] arise…”

It is clear from this spurious interpolation of words that Believers have handed over the task of educating our children from dawn to dusk, 180 days a year. Is it really any wonder that the children love the things that their classmates love, take on their culture, want to have a career that will, invariably, be at odds with our faith?!?

Some will cry, “that’s it! We need to create a parochial school!” Is that really the answer? If you think public schools are indoctrinating our kids, do you think that religious schools don’t do the same? It is like what Mr. Waite referred to in the last issue: teachers are dropping propaganda (doctrines) into the students’ heads. Real education comes first, from the Bible and then living out the principles of whatever you are studying. Centralized, public schools don’t do this and can’t do this!!

Some people will object saying that they can’t home-school because both parents need to work. That is the leading objection I hear all the time. I tell everyone this but I would ask you, the Believer, do you really love Yah and your family? (This is what Yeshua asked Kefa [Peter] three times). It really comes down to what culture do you want to live by? Do you want to live in the culture of our nation(s) or do you want to define culture? I do not consider home-schooling to be “my” theory because among Messianic Believers, children growing up and leaving their faith isn’t a problem. Why? Among many reasons, I would cite that many (clearly the majority here in Portland, Ore.) families home-school their kids. It is not easy for some; but for everyone, it is a choice they have made. Even among Orthodox Jews, fathers/sons and mother/daughters do not grow up with that “generational disconnect” like the rest of America does because the sons study with their dads and daughters work with their moms.

Home-schooling, or the lack of it among COG families isn’t the only problem contributing to a bleak future. It is only a symptom. Space does not permit me to write about the solutions here which are why I wrote a book on this “generational crisis” and how it will be solved ( see end of article). This leads nicely to what Norman Edwards wrote about in the last issue because he is doing what I wrote about before I met him!

Solution to the Generational Crisis?

The solution to the flight of young Sabbatarian people cannot be fixed by any one quick fix or some new church program because some of the problems are fundamental assumptions made by those of the Sabbatarian faith. I have no doubt that Christian Sabbatarians want their children to continue in the “faith once delivered” but there are dynamics at work that undermine living one’s faith before we even leave the starting gate, so to speak.

One of the biggest Lies that everyone (including this author at one time) has swallowed whole, in our country at least, is the myth of Independence and Freedom. These two ideas are the foundations of the U.S.A. and it has warped the mind of those who believe in Yeshua/Jesus the Christ as Messiah. What started off as a great (and necessary) Innovation at the birth of our country has become the trap of all Believers everywhere. Our ancestors fought for freedom of religion, the right to own arms, etc., and that was good and necessary so that we didn’t have to live forever under Roman European persecution. But once our Independence was won, our President and King Yeshua did not mean for His people to all work independently! No! The Believers of the New Testament never lived their lives independently from one another; quite the opposite! The Re-Newed Covenant scriptures (Brit Chadasha) is full of teaching on how the Jewish-Christians were a Body of Believers (1Cor12:14-26; Eph 4:4) who assembled not as “churches” but as living, breathing, faith-filled Communities (all of Acts)!

The reason some families cannot seem to make the transition to home-schooling is because Believing families were not meant to educate and raise their children on their own. The reason your children choose to go off with their classmates and marry unbelieving spouses is because they were never meant to become One with the world. I am not saying that Believers should never know unbelievers; I am saying that all of us, according to the pattern set out before us in the Re-Newed Covenant, were to be a Community of Believers evangelizing the world, not a bunch of seed scattered to the wind for the world to reshape in its image! That is exactly what you are saying when you lament losing your children.

This is why I find pioneers like Norman Edwards and a few others so invigorating. They are completing the circle back to the “faith once delivered”. The goals and operations of PABC are beginning to fulfill what has been lacking among the True Believers for far too long. Read again what Norman Edwards wrote about PABC in the last issue. He is right. Many people will see PABC as another church or denomination but it’s not a “church”—it is so much more! It is a Community whose primary mission is to educate young adults; to be a light to their neighborhood; to provide a place where people can serve Adonai (Lord) more fully; a place for summer camps, festivals, etc.

Tell me, if anyone can: who has the time to educate one’s child and care for the elderly and stranger and evangelize the nation and host parties, festivals, Sabbath meetings every week…. and so on? Who? The question is rhetorical because no one can, not even churches and synagogues. Only when you begin working with your fellow Believer, together, as a community, will you save your children, be the instrument to save an Unbeliever, feed the poor and downtrodden, etc. Because, let’s face it: unless we physically move to a place such as the Port Austin community, we (I included) will not have the time nor resources to serve other people that Yeshua commanded us to do!! We are too busy trying to survive ourselves!! And if you say that you can do all the above, you are either rich, a liar, or in need of sharing your methods with the rest of us! That’s why Idecided to move to Port Austin. I know of no other opportunity on earth like PABC right now. It’s not easy for many to do this; it has taken me literally over a year just to make plans, but it will pay off for somebody, someday.

As the title asks, is it coincidence or inevitable that young Sabbatarian people are choosing an alternate future? I think it is obvious: What do Sabbatarian churches offer them? I know what people are going to say to that so I will leave that for an article in the next issue (Lord willing).

If you are not close enough to visit Port Austin but want to learn more about the Messianic community concept, I offer my book, Blueprints of the Kingdom, which explains in more detail how some families can go about creating a community in their area, built upon biblical principles (ykqavah@yahoo.com).        &


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