Don’t send your kids to Northland

“Thank you Steve for your contributions to the church!” – Matt Olson, sharing a link to this video music presentation on his Facebook page.

Really, in my opinion, you shouldn’t send your kids to Northland International University. The school and its president have taken a strange turn – this is the latest example. Several of Matt’s friends on Facebook, mutual friends of ours, protested at this link in the comments that followed. You won’t find those protests any longer, they’ve been deleted (after Matt responded to one).

The latest comment, “Have you been hacked, Matt?” Alas, if it were only that simple. I’m afraid all of us who once supported Northland have been hacked.

Don’t send your kids there, you will be very disappointed.



  1. It would be nice to find out that his facebook page was hacked. But I’m thinking this is just the direction the school is going. Sad to see this.

    • Hi Andy

      Sorry for the delay in posting your comment, it got trapped in my spam filter for some reason.

      All the evidence is pointing in one direction I am afraid.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. Hi, Don. It isn’t the worst music I’ve ever heard, but I won’t be sending my kids to Northland.

    Why does a guy his age suddenly grow his hair longer than shoulder length? It’s not like he’s 20 years old. Weird. Probably the Christian LIBERTY!!! Vigilantes will be outraged that I noticed, but it’s still weird.

    So anyway, I looked at Matt’s Facebook page, with my son looking over my shoulder, and we both did a double-take on the third comment — “Hearing him sing puts me on holy ground!” My son said, “Who LIKED it?” So we checked. Matt Olson “liked” the comment.

    What version of Christianity makes that kind of comment about any singer and any music? What version of Christian leadership APPROVES of that kind of comment? Do we serve a holy God, or not?

    Maybe it is just me, but that “like” troubled me more than the link, the music, the performance style, or anything else.

    • John Mark says:

      I’m not commenting on NIU (or on my understanding of 1 Corinthians 11), but Steve has had hair for many years, not suddenly. No doubt it’s a part of the dramatic productions he does of Beethoven and Schubert (not to mention Raeford in The Treasure Map).

      • Brian Ernsberger says:

        John Mark, Yes, Steve has, what is typically longer hair for his productions, however, one look at his website and then a look at the video and one clearly sees that his hair is noticably longer now than in the past for those productions.

      • Maybe so, John Mark. But Brian is right, his website and every picture I’ve seen of him in the past shows him with shorter hair, and dressed sharply. In the video, his hair is quite long and he’s in jeans.

        So it just seems a change to me, and not a change you’d expect from a guy who is, I’m guessing, in his mid to upper 30s. The way he chose to appear for that performance is different from the way he has chosen to present himself on his website / CDs in the past. And the music is different from some of his past music as well.

        I’m not going to war over it, but when people start changing these things, they usually do so for some reason or other.

  3. Watchman says:

    We took a family vacation to Mackinac Island, Michigan earlier this fall. Our son decided he wanted a nighttime picture of the bridge and walked to the cliff to take it. He lost his way in the dark, got too close and promptly went over the edge. (His survival was a direct miraculous intervention of God–I saw where he fell the next morning, and it was not a fall he should have walked away from with just a couple of tiny scratches.)

    I say that to make this point–while I recognize it is possible to make the well known slipperly slope fallacy in argument, it is also true that there are places that are steep and once you get to a certain point on them, your future direction (if not your very survival) is set and cannot be changed.

  4. Len Peeler says:

    Thank you Pastor Johnson for your post. The time to start practicing separation has come. Enough talk…enough debate…now it’s time to obey.

  5. d4v34x says:

    Contribution to the church? No wonder they had a shakeup in the music department..

  6. Here is a excerpted quote from a sermon by Dr. Matt Olson out of Galatians entitled “Called To Be Free” preached at NIU chapel on 9/11/12 found in total here

    “You know, how many times the Apostle Paul says, you know, ‘Listen, learn to live with one another. Live in peace as much as possible.’ We read in Romans 14 about when we have difference of opinions on things. Live at peace. So, I think, you know, Paul was laid back and relaxed when he needed to be on secondary issues.”

  7. Dave says:

    I am a pastor of an established church that believes in separation…

    I understand that you have been making a “cumulative case” argument for disassociation with NIU. However, even with that understanding, it seems petty to me (and I can almost assure you that it will seem utterly ridiculous to anyone under 30) that the straw breaking the ox’s back is that the president of the school enjoys country/gospel music and shared a video of a live performance on his Facebook page.

    This is exactly the fundamentalism+ that pushes young Christians away. If a given institution has aligned themselves with apostasy or if they have aligned themselves with other ministries that will not root out said apostasy, then deal with *those* issues. That’s a winnable battle, a defendable case, and something worth your time. But blogging about a college president with a soft spot for country/gospel music is really not going to accomplish anything of value.

    • Dave,

      Thanks for the comment.

      First, I think I should make it clear that I am not writing to people under 30 in this post. I am addressing the older generation. It is the parents and pastors of the young people I am concerned about. From my vantage point, Northland has clearly and decidedly turned a corner and isn’t coming back. Many parents and pastors still labor under the misconception that Northland is a fundamentalist school and a safe place to send their kids. It is that misconception I am addressing.

      Further, I am not particularly concerned whether young people are pushed away from fundamentalism or not. You wouldn’t advise that we tailor our message in the fear of man, would you? Should “what people might think” or especially “what young people might think” be the barometer by which we take our positions? It seems to me that your concern is at least headed in that direction.

      Finally, are you making the case that this particular bit of popular Christian music isn’t part of the apostasy? Quite frankly, I think it is. We don’t need a church that imitates the world. What kind of church is that? Matt’s statement is that this singer is/has made “contributions to the church”. In the subsequent comments, someone says, “Hearing him sing puts me on holy ground!” Matt approves that comment by “liking” it. Holy ground! Seriously? Something is seriously askew at Northland and no one should send their kids there.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  8. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Northland has experienced a noticable exodus since the 2010/2011 school year. That was the year, Rick Holland, Wayne Simien came to town with all their baggage. That was the year that the music department was gutted of faculty with music standards. Northland is a shell of its former self. It has been grievous to see this fall. Yet, one to be expected with the “unchanging” changes that Matt has instituted.