It requires the diligent and cooperative effort of all concerned to make a convention what it ought to be. Those concerned in this endeavor involve many more than those who actually participate in the planning and activities of these festive days. In regard to the task of eradicating all error from convention, the home, the society and the church are reciprocally involved. If it is a matter of combatting errors of misbehavior, this task must be mainly the concern of the home. Should the necessity arise that errors in doctrine must be expelled from the convention scene, the church must spring into action in order that the mouths of vain talkers and deceivers may be stopped lest they subvert the youth (Titus 1:10, 11). Or when it becomes a matter of willful neglect and indifference on the part of the conventioneers, which is also error, it follows that the society such members represent will be compelled to treat such members lest the name of that society be impugned. No society, we take it, wishes to have its standing in the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies debased through the misconduct of one or two of its members. Every society has its own constitution stipulating, among other things, that which is required of its membership. Repeated failure to meet these requirements can only result in action by the membership depriving such offenders of the privilege of membership.
Enforcement, therefore, of proper and necessary discipline is another key to a successful convention. By this is not meant discipline in the official, ecclesiastical sense of the word as involving the administration of the keys of the kingdom of heaven but rather a general discipline resulting from the application of proper authority to the various relationships ensuing from the creation of a convention of federated societies. These societies are bound by the Word of God and the authority of that Word must be respected and obeyed, beginning in the sphere of the home and following all the way through to the actual activities of the convention proper. Only in this way can success be attained and any neglect along this line is bound to be reflected in damaging errors.
Today we hear so much in the world about the delinquency of juveniles. The daily papers give indisputable evidence of the magnitude of this problem. It is not our purpose to dispute this testimony or in any way to belittle the problem. Especially in and around the larger cities the situation is appalling but the reality is plainly no longer confined to such areas. That such circumstances exist in the world is not especially surprising but when evidences of the same disrespect for authority appear in the sphere of the church among covenant youth, we become shocked and alarmed. And when misbehavior in convention becomes the practice of a few, we believe the time for action is immediate, before the thing is out of hand.
A number of worldly sociologists trace the origin of the delinquent problem to the home. In part this judgment is undoubtedly correct. At least we shall make it our starting point in offering a prescription for the cure of some convention errors for the cooperation of the home is indispensable in realizing a good convention.
We believe that when one makes himself guilty of conduct that is defamatory to the whole convention, he should be reported first of all to his parents and, if necessary, even dismissed immediately from the convention and sent by the first bus or train to his home. If such measures were enacted, the good name of the convention would not be so easily jeopardized. And, yet, this is no cure for when the thing has reached this proportion, it has already gone too far. This parental discipline must begin in relation to the youth’s active participation in the society of the local church. Too much credence has been and is being given by parents to youth’s clamour and craze for pleasure in our day and not enough attention is devoted by parents to their spiritual interests. To attend young people’s society is an excuse for an evening out. How many parents know what is being done in society? How may concern themselves with the preparation of their children for society and see to it that they are required to prepare before they may have this privilege? Is it duly impressed upon them that as covenant children their first and, principally only, interest is the Kingdom of Christ and that to purse diligently those interests will involve the lion’s share of their so-called idle time? “”There’s nothing to do,” is a cry repeatedly heard among youth today. How untrue! That is only because we have been carried further than we realize along the stream of the spirit of the age and then when this and that is forbidden us, we find only idleness left. When we have realized the meaning of “Seek ye first the Kingdom…” and diligently applied ourselves to do it, we will find ourselves looking for more of that precious time that has suddenly become so extremely scarce.
But all this presupposes interest! Interest must be cultivated and that must begin in the home. Still this cannot be the end of the matter. The societies have a responsibility too. It must be understood that membership in them is a privilege accompanied with duties. When these duties are willfully neglected, the privileges will have to be withdrawn. And duties involve more than physical presence in the weekly meetings. Most societies, we presume, exercise care that the members are present and if they are absent for an extended time without just reason, they are visited by a delinquent committee. This is proper but it might be much more advantageous to the society if these delinquent committees would call upon those who are ill-prepared, non-contributing toward the attainment of the spiritual objective of the society. Though it may be difficult to enact, it would no doubt stimulate interest in some and weed out others who are only a drag to the society and a hindrance to conventions.
And, finally, we might mention in brief the duty of the church. This is not as is more and more becoming the practice of the churches of today that the church constructs bowling alleys, roller rinks, swimming pools, ball diamonds, etc. to amuse youth. If such things are to be the standard by which the success of the church is to be measured or the power by which youth is to be retained in the church, the case is hopeless. Rather, let the church be conscious of her high calling to bring the Word, to instruct, to indoctrinate, unfold all the riches of her glorious heritage before the mind f youth in order that by the means of sound instruction they may be prepared and equipped in the best possible way to make their contribution to the societies and convention.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 4 May 1959