Mike Big Jr. is a Sunday School Teacher and part of the youth leadership at Elim Church in Chicago. Enjoy his insight and common sense on one of our very difficult subjects of disagreement:

Traditions! They’re holding us back, restricting us from being FREE! If I want to worship in my flippy floppies and jeans, while sipping on a drink, at my local Bar/transformed into a church for the day, who’s to stop me!?! I’m doing it for God. It’s my life, don’t judge me! Lose my salvation?!?! Preposterous!! INCONCEIVABLE: once saved, I’m always saved, regardless of how I treat myself, or if I even want to live this life anymore…

These words might seem exaggerated, and I pray they are, but they summarize the attitude and the predicament a VAST majority of the church’s youth are stumbling into. A rather large predicament, noticeable from firsthand experience (I am a ‘youthful’ adult, and also a Sunday school teacher for the 12-13 age group) and from reading these blogs, which incline me to think some of the ol’ timers are still trying to fit into the shoes of their youth, especially in the theories/ideas/principals department.

Growing up in a Romanian family in the great United States of America (God Bless this beautiful land), I always looked at how strict and narrow my household rules were. We grew up without a television, God forbid we mention going to the movie theaters, and I still have never been to Disney World (the last ones is more of a funny J ). Our entertainment consisted of lying down on carpeted floors listening to the tearful and emotion tugging story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, the Three Teenagers and the Fiery Furnace, etc. from our wonderful mother. From an outside perspective, my parents ran the house like tyrants by voice, but like Jesus in enforcing them (for those that don’t understand the analogy, they always scolded, but never used whips or chains, the ‘lingura de lemn’ or belt is a different story). But looking back at my life, and being that I have grown up and taken the next step into adulthood, I can see that my parents worked diligently and with so much prayer to fulfill the words of Proverbs 22:6. Along with my Dad always striving to fulfill the last sentence of Joshua 24:15, in bringing his house to serving the Lord.

I used to think all Romanian Christian households grew up like that. It seemed normal, but I just came to the realization of how naïve I was. And what has come to change my opinion so drastically is that I have begun indulging into this ‘minefield’ known as the blogosphere. And boy, did I sure stumble into a couple of mines… Every day there seems to be another important figure/pastor/church body doing something radically different, or completely blinding the world and denouncing divine biblical principles. It happens in the secular sector, which is to be expected, but the religious sector is sprinting to catch up!

Ever since stumbling into this religious blogosphere, I’ve been infected with this sensation that the sky truly is falling, and that there are not that many “true” believers out there. The words of 2 Timothy 4:3 have not rung truer for these times. And as I stopped to meditate one day in prayer on the matter, I heard a peculiar answer for my question. When someone was asked why they still play the lottery since they believe in Jesus, they responded with a simple “We all have our own God” and continued scratching off numbers. Apparently their god was the god of luck. It struck me right at that moment, that this is the biggest problem we are currently facing. The world is taking Jesus, and personalizing him to the extent of making Him the idol of ”Having a Clean Conscious, While Holding Hands With Sin”. It’s pure blasphemy. The sole most important aspect of Christianity is that we have the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, who died on the Cross and rose from the dead, to give us the wonderful gift of not only Eternal life, but a PERSONAL God that is tangible in everyday life! The staple principle that is lacking during these troubling times is that there is no more emphasis on having GOD in your life as your personal guide, and helper through the HOLY SPIRIT (along with that comes a full sermon about repentance, reverence, and revelation, maybe later). The convicting power of the Spirit that knows us down to the deepest darkest secrets we own, and brings them to light so that we can repent of them!

Goodness, gracious! To think that we have reached the point where we begin to question why one comes to kneel in front of God before serving him. Why political correctness has been more important than Biblical correctness. Why songs that have no mention of God, or any reference to true pocainta or smerenia should be allowed in church. Why compromising is not actually that bad. How pocainta is a onetime thing, and definitely not a lifestyle. Why we live by strict rules instead of having fun in the liberty of Jesus who forgives us of everything. Why would anyone bother getting baptized with the Holy Spirit and pursing its gifts if we do not need them for salvation. It’s all a matter of personal perspective. And so on…

Jeremiah 6:16 says “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

I pray that God puts a spirit of true repentance in the heart of those that are led astray and choose to walk on these ‘new’ paths. May God also pour out His Spirit on the older generation so that they may remain a light on the old path, to continue to shine on it so that we younger folks can follow.

God Bless,


About Cristian Ionescu

Pastor Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church Chicago, USA


  1. Mike,

    There are a number of very nice points in your article.

    My raising was not as strict as yours sounds, however, there was one very, very key message given to me by my parents over and over and over. ‘We cannot spoon feed you the Bible. You MUST study the Word for yourself. We cannot do it for you.’ My parents understood that if all I did was learn to parrot what they believed and/or to follow a set of rules or ‘traditions’, I would have no faith.

    I remember, and will recount with shame, the story of having seen a movie that fictionalized some elements of the Bible. I recall asking my father if those elements were biblical. His stinging response was effectively, ‘how long have you called yourself a Christian, you don’t know the difference between the Bible and this movie?!” I was never the same.

    The most important thing to impress upon our youth is the absolute authority of God’s Word. They MUST see that we structure our church in submission to it. They MUST see that church doctrine and theology are brought into submission to it. They MUST see that their parents and elders live in submission to it. Then THEY must study it so that they can do the same. Doing what they’re told is important, but it’s not really submitting directly to God’s Word until they know that God’s Word commands it.

    I would rather have youth studying the scriptures (not googling issues) and challenging the pastor/youth leader every week with scripture (respectfully of course) than simply do what they are told without studying it. I know that God’s Word is Truth and that saturating their minds with it will build faith.

    I have seen many churches that have thrown aside their traditions in exchange for making church comfortable. I have seen great effort put into making the concept of ‘repentance’ comfortable and easy. I’ve known churches to stop speaking the Word entirely and just have a ~20 minute song service to keep church convenient. The goal is to create a new God and new Jesus Christ who is a cross between our best buddy, our grandpa, and a cosmic waiter who does things for us at our whim. Sadly this is a false god, and faith in a false god does not lead to salvation.

    There are precious few churches who are actually willing to put their traditions and their teachings in submission to God’s Word. It is no great wonder, that there are then precious few Christians in those churches who are willing to put their lives in submission to God’s Word. Therefore it should be no surprise there are precious few youth who revere God and want to study His Word.

    There is no substitute for pure, unrelenting study of, and saturation of our hearts with God’s Word.

    Be Blessed!

  2. Mike, very good post and very true!

    The question that I’d ask is – What’s the solution? What happens to the youth, especially our days, who did not grow up more strict like us in those nicer times when there was reverence and respect for God and for those around us and consequently we felt much closer to God.

    We’re dealing with a youth that faces a totally different world right now. They face diverse temptations, young people are stomping around leashed to their mp3 players, smart phones, video games, tv, obscene movies, facebook and other social networks…These and many other activities take away their time from God and time from family. In fact, these things, in many cases, are specifically designed to create this ‘dependence’ that pulls them away from everything else.

    I believe that there is a need for the church to teach the youth, but I think there is perhaps a greater need for the church to teach the parents how to teach the youth.

    Ultimately, I believe that parents are the ones who are and will be responsible, the results will be obvious, and the consequences will have eternal ramifications.

  3. C’mon you guys!
    Is there anything wrong anymore? Under the „new freedom in Christ” umbrella, nothing is wrong and all present/future sins are now forgiven automatically, regardless of how one lives his/her life! This is the „new gospel” and we should all be very proud of this, shoudn’t we?! This new vogue says that everyone is a child of God – some children are good and some are not so good, and the wondeful grace of Jesus makes everyone equal, right?
    And please stop scaring people away with „bad words” like repentance, prayer, fear of the Lord, and such! What’s wrong with you guys? Don’t you know that these words are now forbidden – they’re too „legalistic” and it’s not nice of you to be using them! In the 21st Century we should only use comforting and encouraging words, like „good job, please continue doing what you’re doing because Jesus loves ya!”

    Right? Right??

  4. Manuela, you just stole my thunder by saying this:
    „but I think there is perhaps a greater need for the church to teach the parents how to teach the youth.”
    And maybe getting rid of the youth pastor, youth night and maybe for a change going back to what the church use to be , church without church for women, church for kids, church for singles, church for smart people, church for aradeni, etc etc.

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