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July 22, 2007

Ezzo Week QotD: Speaking Up In Church

I was wondering what your thoughts are on gently contradicting fellow church members who like (and endorse!) the Ezzo materials. Someone recently donated the Growing Kid's God's Way to our tiny little church library and I definitely am going to speak up about it ... but want to do so in an informed and gentle manner. Any thoughts?

This has been a very hard question for me to answer. It was the first one e-mailed to me for Ezzo Week, and the last one that I'm posting.

So much depends upon your church, the relationships you have within the church, the pastor or elders, the degree to which Ezzo parenting is being promoted. . .

In the specific situation of the materials being in the library, I would go to the volunteer librarian or pastor and simply request they be removed. I would probably not want to confront those who donated them, but just quietly keep that resource from being available in (and thereby endorsed by) our church. If something did need to be said to the family who donated it, I would use the phrase a pastor I know uses--"That's just not the direction our church is going. . ." Simple. Respectful.

However, very rarely in life are things this straightforward. If it is necessary to bring concerns to the leadership of your church, I would recommend writing to illustrate how Gary Ezzo's teachings are not in line with your own church's teachings and doctrine. This isn't that difficult to do, considering the sloppy hermeneutics and misuse of Scripture widespread in the Ezzo materials.

The second point I would bring up is how sadly divisive Ezzo teaching tends to become in a church. In the infant materials, Ezzo strives to persuade with strawman arguments and promotes an "us vs. them" mentality. We saw this play out in the church in which we were introduced to Ezzo parenting, and other friends have lived through it, too. I would also point out how within the larger, mainstream community, Babywise has a poor reputation and promoting these materials is very likely to discourage new parents from joining the church.

I think it is important all the while, to communicate respect for other parents and the freedom for other parents to make their own family decisions. In my discussions about Ezzo parenting, I have wanted to be careful to not criticize any parent who uses Ezzo parenting. I have vocally criticized the materials as they are written and taught by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.

If your church is actively teaching the Ezzo materials, you will likely need to take things to the next step. It will likely involve presenting a well-written letter with a notebook of supporting materials which bring up theological, church discipline, and character concerns, as well as issues of child development, infant feeding, and poor reputation in the mainstream community. I would also include a list of Christian leaders who have made statements of non-endorsement like Dr. James Dobson, Dr. John MacArthur, Rev. Chuck Smith, Dr. Tedd Tripp, Barbara Curtis, and so many more. You may need to request a meeting with your church leaders to present your concerns in person, and to make a specific request of action--whether it be stopping the classes being promoted by the church, removing the materials from the church library or even having the church make a statement of non-endorsement.

Please remember, that many churches who promote Ezzo parenting do so because of a pastor or elder who use the materials themselves. Likely, they are loving and actively involve in parenting their children. Questioning Gary Ezzo's teachings may feel to parents using the materials like you are attacking them as parents--even though you are not critizing them personally.

Take heart--I know several families who have presented their concerns to the leaders of their church, and had the materials removed and classes stopped.

I would really like to hear how others have presented their concerns within their churches. Your experience?

Do you have a question for our Ezzo Week Question of the Day? E-mail me! EzzoWeek@gmail.com . Please let me know whether you want to be anon or if you want me to identify you and your blog.

This post is part of the Ezzo Week 2007 series, raising awareness about the concerns with "philosophy" of parenting promoted by Gary Ezzo.


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This is a wonderful post, Tulipgirl.

Years ago, our old church in California posted in the church newsletter that the Church Education Committee planned to offer Growing Kids God's Way in the Spring of the following year. I saw the notice and immediately telephoned the pastor's wife to convey my concerns. As I launched into an explanation to bring her up to speed with the problems, I used the word 'controversial' in passing.

For her, that was all that needed to be said. She was on the church education committee, it turned out, and said that no one was particularly pushing the program. They had been brainstorming for classes to offer in the coming year, and someone said the church should offer a parenting class and someone else had she'd heard good things about this "Growing Kids God's Way" and so they had put it on the list of classes.

But she said to me, "if it is controversial, we really don't need that. I'm sure there's something else we can offer that isn't controversial."

And there was, and they did.

Posted by: Kathy at July 27, 2007 01:19 PM

Only three or four years ago, my parents were attending a small Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA. Being new to the scene, all seemed well to them at first. Then the Assistant Pastor abandoned his wife and their eight (?) children and outright left the country. Having no other means to support herself, she petitioned the Deacons and Elders of the church for support. They dragged their feet at first, then blamed her husband's abandonment on her "not being a good enough wife", and then finally insisted on directly micro-managing her finances before they would give her even a penny of support.

In contrast to this, some of her oldest children who were already out of the house helped support the rest of the family, and my parents also provided her with a significant amount of monetary and emotional support without question. Even after all this, she persisted for quite a while in going to this horrendous excuse for a church out of a somewhat-brainwashed sense of loyalty, I think.

Sometime during all this my parents discovered that a significant fraction of the church leadership (the Senior pastor and I think about half of the Elders) were Ezzo adherents. When my Dad told me about this, it all of a sudden came to me, and I told him as much: "Dad, if these church leaders will not so much as respond to the cries of their own children, as Ezzo decrees, what makes you think that they will have the smallest shred of compassion for this woman and her children?"

This put the situation in a new light for my folks, and they added their names to the list of those who had left that church because of the heartlessness that had become so entrenched in the church leadership.

This is no doubt an extreme and hopefully rare example, but it is a true story of what could happen if Ezzo's teachings are not firmly nipped in the bud when they first infiltrate a church, especially a small one.

Posted by: Ben Wisdom at July 27, 2007 04:37 PM

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