Even the youth of the church could not escape Dave's self-righteous judgement!
As was the case with brethren in the Church during the 1970s, the youth programs in Buffalo and surrounding areas had become liberal, and mirrored the permissive leanings of the Church and a deteriorating society. Larger youth activities in the Church degenerated into breeding grounds for bad attitudes and unacceptable behavior before Mr. Armstrong directed radical changes be made. Sports programs had become overly competitive, with spectators sometimes hurling insults at opposing players and stomping wildly on the bleachers, as would happen at a worldly high school game.As doctrines were watered-down, youth constantly pushed the limits of tolerable behavior. Without guidance and clear standards, their behavior, as well as their appearance, soon became almost indistinguishable from teenagers in the world.In many congregations, teens and preteens ran wild, giving themselves over to inappropriate music, underage drinking—even drug abuse and fornication. The situation became so appalling that Mr. Armstrong temporarily shut down the Church’s regional youth activities and national tournaments, as he prepared to doctrinally straighten out the Church.From 1978 forward, the Pastor General worked to re-insert God’s Way back into youth programs, starting with new leadership at Ambassador College, and reorganization at the S.E.P. summer camps. Next was the introduction of a groundbreaking youth magazine (called Youth 81, 82, 83, etc.), which taught teens how to strive against the pulls of the world and attain their full potential. It also provided instructions to the ministry on how and what to teach young people.Along with removing teens who clearly did not belong in the Church, the introduction of new activities with the right focus caused young people to once again bear the fruit of living God’s Way.“I came to understand that the spiritual health of the youth was directly connected to the focus of the local minister. Congregations in which the minister looked to God—and Mr. Armstrong’s direction and example—for guidance brought huge rewards. Conversely, ministers who allowed permissive attitudes to permeate their local youth programs reaped what they had sown—and previously (before Mr. Armstrong’s course correction) so had the entire Church.“The Church as a whole was not performing its God-given duty to its young people during these years. Teenagers are incredibly perceptive. They immediately notice hypocrisy when leaders allow certain behaviors in one congregation, but not another.”The field pastor stressed holding to God’s standards and insisted that parents train their children properly. This was a big reason some viewed him as too strict.Much to the chagrin of some youth, Bible studies were also held for parents on the trends of the day regarding rock music, dress, alcohol and drugs. These candid discussions gave parents the assistance they needed to teach their children properly.Mr. Pack remembered countless times when he nicely, but firmly, told teenagers, “I do not care what’s going on with your friends outside the Church or who is allowed to attend, and what is permitted, in other congregations. You are here. If you want to hold to right standards of conduct, wonderful. If not, you will be happier elsewhere, meaning outside the Church.”While some may think this harsh, obeying God is always a choice—for adults and teens.Along with explaining to teenagers what they were not to do, it was always a priority to show them the right way to live. Campouts, canoe trips, talent shows, sports programs, special group trips and other activities were held—all with the correct focus. A tremendous amount of effort was exerted in reviving the youth programs to God’s standards.