Learning From Retired PC(USA) Pastors
Check this: A white 72-year-old PC(USA) pastor who used to participate in civil-rights activism in the 1960s told me this story about Young Life in Alabama in the 1970s during his years doing youth ministry in the North Alabama Presbytery:
As the Presbyterian Church got more and more involved in social justice and introduced more and more of their youth to connect the gospel to social action, Young Life came to town and pulled the middle and upper-class white kids out of the Presbyterian (what became the PC-USA) church-based fellowship groups and would meet separately with them to focus on individual salvation and personal spirituality and to keep them out of getting involved in social justice. The goal was to get them to camp. They would keep these teens Christianity separate from the social issues of the day. (He also mentioned that at camp the Presbyterian kids would then loses their Presbyterian commitments and when they graduated high school would join non-denoms and be introduced to all kinds of muddled theology).
In his part of north Alabama, the Presbyterian churches would hold their youth fellowship meetings on Sunday nights. When Young Life came to town, many of them would set up their meetings on Sunday nights as well. Yes, the same night at church-based youth events. This pastor was explaining to me why it is that whenever he hears “Young Life” he gets angry.
I just sat there. I didn’t know what to say. These conversations are blowing my mind.