Enough Condescension Already! (ECA)

I think this is going to be the name of my new club. Perhaps I could get it to be an RSO of the Synod. 🙂 Doubtful. What does this mean? 

One of the biggest pet peeves of my 16 year old daughter is when adults (especially teachers) make statements like, “Well, you probably won’t understand this, but…” or “At your age, you must (fill in the blank).” Basically she hates it when people assume things about her because of her age. I can understand this. I’ve tried to tell her that it is a fact of life that we are defined by our age, but I can see her point of view.

The same thing happens in the Church. So many (especially those it seems in the age bracket of 45-60) assume that in order to reach high schoolers or junior high kids you have to water everything down. Take the issue of worship and music for example. Someone tried to tell me the other day that if we really want to get young people to step into our church, we need to offer a service that is a little different than the normal organ/hymn style. I beg to differ. I had just gotten back from Higher Things in Bloomington, where over 1000 high school students prayed Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer, and worshiped in the Divine Service, and I didn’t sense any disappointment among them.

Why do we do this? Why do people assume that in order to reach kids with the Gospel you have to package it in something “relevant” or similar to what they get in pop culture? If anything, I would say that in order to eliminate any confusion in the minds of young people about the Church, it should be completely different than what they are receiving in the pop culture. So, I say, Enough Condescension Already! Do you agree?


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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13 Responses to Enough Condescension Already! (ECA)

  1. Kent Schaaf says:

    You wouldn’t understand where I’m coming from, but I totally agree with you!! (That was a joke by the way…great article!)

  2. Pastor Bakker says:

    The condescension does not end with adulthood – it can be even worse as you grow older. Your point is very well made and taken. Nobody likes being pigeonholed or caricatured.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I want to join your club, as you might have guessed from my comment on your previous post! The church definitely needs to offer something “completely different” from the mainstream, both during church services and in how we live our lives. As a young, newly-ordained Catholic priest friend of mine said a while back, the church needs to ask something of us in order to be relevant and meaningful in a sea of “lifestyle choices.” (This is an arena in which I think the Catholics have something up on us, as the Catholic church more explicitly asks for behavior outside the the mainstream, especially in terms of family life – I’m thinking particularly of the proscription against artificial birth control, which, when adopted, carries with it a whole set of attitudinal changes. But I hear the baby stirring, so my naptime reading period is now over; no time to get into that – not to mention not wanting to hijack your comments to talk about babies!)

  4. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Elizabeth, you feel free to hijack my comments and talk about babies anytime. 🙂 God bless you!

  5. Dan says:


    Considering my kids almost have the Small Catechism memorized at age 8. 🙂

  6. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Way to go Dan! Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

  7. I think that about the only thing that turns teenagers off faster than being patronized are adults trying their darndest to be “cool” and relevant. Thank you for writing this.

  8. Dave Lambert says:

    Enough Condescension Already! Where are the membership applications?

  9. Krueger says:

    At higher things there were a few young adults who were not into the worship. Yet, like Paul I know that the style was not the problem. In fact, there were many of our youth who are very eager to do it again, and next time it will become more familiar.
    It is good to note that it was not the drum solos and pyrotechnics that created interest. We can trust the Holy Spirit to do the task at hand.

  10. Lawrence says:

    I agree. Children appreciate consistency and dependability, it breeds trust.

    Children also follow the example set by their parents. If a parent sets one example for themselves, but dictate a different example for the children to follow… it confuses the children and creates in the child’s mind a barrier or divide.

    If one service is good enough for mom and dad, why isn’t it good enough for me? Am I not good enough?

    If my service is better than mom and dad’s, why don’t mom and dad do it this way?

  11. Mary Johnson says:

    I agree, remembering what I was like as a teenager. Pastor Bakker made an excellent point as well… growing older we assume we know what they want as well.

    What made me stop and think was reading back on a selection of bulletin inserts on Liturgy and how the aged and infirm were able to sing or come alive when the Divine Service was read to them. That was the one thing that remained intact post-dementia or stroke. The truth in all of this is we need the consistency all our lives to carry us through to our final breath. All the spiffing up of liturgy and service to make it more “relevant” to whatever age group is nonsense. The Holy Spirit does the work, we don’t need to muddy the waters with our interjections of what seems relevant to the time or place. Scripture is our starting and ending place. No more, no less.

    From the reports on the conference, I would say it was a great success for all involved. Even those who may not have participated, it held benefit. It’s lodged in their minds and the Spirit will use it to work in them.

  12. horvath says:

    “Why do people assume that in order to reach kids with the Gospel you have to package it in something “relevant” or similar to what they get in pop culture?”

    Why do people assume that in order to reach kids with the Gospel, it only has to be packaged one way-the Lutheran traditional way?

    There isn’t anything wrong, anti-Biblical about contemporary music or packaging the Christian Gospel in a way that is more relevant to the culture the young men and women live in. Simply because it’s not High Lutheran does not mean that it has been ‘watered down.’ In the OT the danced, used cymbals, drums, etc. I say we go back to Scripture alone.

  13. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Horvath–Thanks for the comment. But get this in your head: Contemporary Worship is not Lutheran. Contemporary worship is not just about music. it is the whole package. Informality, irreverence, lay leadership, and general disorder are all a part of it. I have yet to see a so-called “Contemporary” worship service where the Pastors were clearly the ones leading the liturgy, where there was not an informal atmosphere, and where responsible stewardship of the Sacrament was being carried out. Why would you infer from my post that I was against tympany, cymbals, and even an occasional classical guitar? And, to be honest, it’s not so much the instruments as it is the lack of doctrine in songs that are typically employed in Contemporary Worship.

    The reason that I value the historic liturgy is precisely because it appropriately blends Law & Gospel and it is thoroughly Scriptural. I also like it because I don’t have to wonder every week what I, pastor Beisel, am going to produce for Worship next week. What a terrible burden pastors in CW congregations have each week–to draw from their own creativity rather than just slip into the role of servant and let the Church’s historic liturgy guide them in what they are to say and do!

    God bless you, my dear reader, and may God lead you to see the dangers in Contemporary Worship.

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