Let’s be clear. Divided is not the sort of film I typically review on this site. For starters, it is a documentary, which greatly reduces the likelihood that it will have any measurable impact on the greater society as a whole. Even the best, Oscar-winning documentaries barely move the needle on the cultural Richter scale. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Divided is a documentary that calls into question one of the most sacred cows of contemporary Christian culture: youth ministry. So while certain church leaders may be prone to watch for the sake of gleaning a few truths, the chances that this might be seen by large segments of the Church body are infinitesimally small.
Nevertheless, is Divided worth seeing? Sadly, I have to offer a bit of a mixed review. On the upside, the documentarian, Philip Leclerc, is asking a set of questions that desperately need to be asked in light of the sobering statistics related to young adults abandoning the church. There is a clearly a problem in the way that many within the church are approaching youth ministry. In their fervor to retain the kids, it would seem that many are more interested in creating a carnival atmosphere with hipster pastors than they are in teaching the time-honored truths of Scripture to a generation that is desperately famished for spiritual nourishment. So for the courage it takes to question this contemporary methodology, I applaud Leclerc for his stand. Moreover, I applaud him for some of the counter-cultural conclusions he reaches, as they are worthy of consideration.
Having said that, it would seem that Philip Leclerc has seen a few too many Michael Moore style documentaries. And what I mean by that is that he in no way attempts to present this issue in a fair and balanced manor. In support of his seemingly pre-ordained conclusions, he lines up a cadre of notable leaders such as: Ken Hamm, Voddie Bauchman, and Scott Brown. As their counterparts, he offers up a motley assortment of teenagers including a multi-pierced girl whose mohawk won’t stay up because she’s been in the “mosh pit” at a local Christian rock concert. And it’s this pervasive sense of imbalance that ultimately prevents this documentary from being a truly noteworthy look into this critical issue.
This film, which can be viewed for free by clicking on this link, has not been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.