Does the Church Care about Boys?

September 10th, 2012

Boys are 60% more likely to be held back in kindergarten than girls.

Does the church care?

For every 100 girls suspended from elementary and secondary school, 250 boys are suspended.
For every 100 girls expelled, 355 boys are expelled.
For every 100 girls diagnosed with a learning disorder, 276 boys are so diagnosed.
85% of stimulant addressing meds in the world are prescribed to boys in the US.
Over the last 20 years the reading skills of 17-year-old boys have steadily declined. 
60% of college enrollees are now women.

Does the church care?

How about this:

70%-90% of boys will leave the Christian church in their teens and early 20’s. Most will not return!

Does the church Care?

Boys are increasingly falling behind girls in every area of life from school to college to jobs and even income (young adult women now make more than young adult men). They are falling out of church, in large part because church skews to the learning style of girls/women: highly verbal, small group-oriented, lots of sitting.

A friend wrote me from Australia about how boys are rapidly leaving the church Down Under (and so are the men). His final comment was heart-rending: The church doesn’t seem to care. 

My own experience on this subject is mixed: When I do seminars on boys, people are highly engaged and motivated. But according to at least four major Christian publishers, there isn’t a market for books about the current boy crisis in the church. (The “secular market,” however, has seen an explosion of books on the boy crisis in our country.) Part of the challenge is that many of us still live in the 1970s and 1980s, convinced that girls are still falling behind and that we need to do everything we can to get them caught up. But every piece of data tells us that our fight for girls paid off. The unintended consequence, however, is that we left our boys behind.

Does the church care about boys?

Do we care about the fact that over 40% of them have no man in their lives to mentor them and affirm them? Do we care about the fact that boys are increasingly lost in terms of what it means to be a man in our culture—producing a generation of “permanent adolescents,” i.e., boys in men’s bodies? Do we care that the Christian church in the U.S. is hemorrhaging boys and men?

  • What is the responsibility of the church to advocate for boys and take the lead in changing their storyline?
  • How will the church stop the flow of boys and men out of the Church?        
  • What will the church look like if it keeps hemorrhaging boys and men?
  • How will the church effectively and meaningfully call boys to follow Jesus into compelling manhood?

I, for one, care about boys. I’ve met many others over the last five years who also care. But what our boys need now is a movement of people—the church—to stand up for them and fight for them.  As with any great movement, it will mean making some significant changes to the way we do “ministry” with boys. 

A few quick power-moves for reaching boys:

Accept them as boys. Boys are filled with energy, creativity, and more energy. They were created in the image of God as males.  Let’s set our boys free to be boys while guiding them into manhood.  You may want to separate the boys from the girls as the boys move into 4th grade, to gear your teaching to the unique needs of both.

Speak to them in their language. Boys speak the language of action.  Call them to follow Jesus instead of inviting them into a personal relationship with him. In teaching them, use as much movement and hands on activity as possible. Boys speak the language of pictures and metaphors.  Speak to them with movie clips and metaphors that drive home grace in their lives.

Call your men to mentor boys.  Most boys are raised mainly by women: mom, grandma, teachers, and Sunday school teachers. They also need men. Boys need to see men who follow Jesus.

Call and mentor your men into heroic manhood. Most men don’t have a compelling vision for manhood to pass on to our boys.  Instill that vision in your men, who, in turn can say to the boys, Follow me as I follow Jesus.

Does the church care about boys?

Let’s prove it—to them, to their parents, and to the world! The church is the one hope for our boys.

comments powered by Disqus