Thursday, September 07, 2006

AT THE 'Y M C A'

Charles Colson has discovered a trend down at the 'Y':
Do you know what the C in YMCA stands for?

You may know it stands for “Christian,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. The YMCA has come far from its founders’ intent when it was organized in 1844 — so far that many people have forgotten its roots as a Christian organization established to disciple young men. Today, as John Alexander of the Danville, Illinois, YMCA says, “Unfortunately, people look at us and just see a swim and gym.”

Sadly, over the years the YMCA has redefined its original mission right out of existence. At first, the YMCA’s method of adapting itself to meet community needs looked harmless enough. They moved from what one article called “narrow evangelistic goals” to a goal of “developing the ‘whole man,’” focusing on physical and social development as well as spiritual development.

This wasn’t inherently wrong. But as YMCA staffers realized that physical development programs were becoming far more popular than Bible studies and prayer meetings, they found themselves with a choice to make. I don’t think I need to tell you how they decided.

From an organization founded to focus on Christ to an organization that focuses on that which profits a little, that's the YMCA's history. How long until the 'C' in YMCA is officially changed to something less divisive? The 'C' already offends:
At the YMCA convention, ideas like posting Bible verses on the wall or maintaining a prayer request box met with disapproval from many. Dick Blattner of the Hollywood, Florida, YMCA, complained, “I respect your religion. But when I see posters and placards on the wall that reflect Christian principles, I feel left out.... It offended me, and I don’t think it’s right for the Y.”

What's the moral of this? Perhaps churches--that which Christ Himself founded--would do well to spend their time focusing on their mandate of worship and salvation rather than the slippery slope of the "whole man", on Bible studies rather than "family centers" ("swim & gym", anyone?) Do you think the founders of the 'Y' imagined that Bible verses would not be allowed at one of its own facilities lest someone be offended on the way to his workout?

Perhaps "narrow evangelistic goals" aren't such a bad idea after all.

[Thanks to theosebes reader and soon to be father Mitch for the link.]

3 comments:

Jason Hardin said...

Good thoughts. I appreciate the illustration.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the time I visited a church that didn't have their own baptistry. The bulletin announced a baptism service was scheduled during the week at a local pool (perhaps a YMCA) followed by family swim night. Certainly an efficient use of resources ...

Joel said...

The Bible itself already speaks to the whole man. This is something that people often forget. Sadly though, people have decided that it’s not enough.

Mr. Blattner shouldn’t feel left out since Christ seeks all people to come to him.

Joel