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Are You A Barrier or A Bridge: Welcoming Young Men To Church

 

 

     Guy’s, there is a huge epidemic sweeping through today’s church communities.  Teens are growing up in church, active and excited about serving God while in youth group.  Then they age out of youth group, and most of these teens are then leaving the church.  


    70-75% of teens drop out of church when they are too old for youth group.  That is seven out of 10.  3 stay, 7 leave!


    These teens that make a connection in youth group are not connecting in early adulthood.  Many churches have thriving youth ministry, but then when kids age out, these churches push them into “Young Singles” classes, aka your local chapter of Christian Mingle.com!  Instead of mentoring and discipling them in the group with other men, we tell them they have no place in the church until they are married.  Find a wife in the singles group, get married, and then we can welcome you to the men’s and women’s groups.   


    Meanwhile, the average age of marriage for men in the United States is 29 years old.  So for 11 years, the time from youth group to marriage, these guys don’t make a connection in church.  


    Guys, this is on us!  We need to man up and accept this responsibility.  We need to be the ones who change here.  I know there is a thought of teaching in the church that men should marry younger and that we need to push them to do so.  I get where they are coming from, but I am one to deal with how things are, not how we want them to be.      The fact is men are waiting longer to marry, and this fact shouldn’t make them feel unwelcome in “adult” church.


    Recently, I attended a men’s conference where the speaker was discussing manhood.  He made a point which he didn’t just say once but instead expounded on it, that a “real man is a man with a woman to love”.  Basically this man said, “You’re not a real man until your married”.  Now, as a mature believer who is also single and being used by God, I didn’t get offended, but I did roll my eyes.   Unfortunately he is not alone in this thought…so is it hard to imagine why young men who are not married feel unwelcomed in men’s group?


    How much better would it be to say, “A boy becomes a man when he learns to love others around him, whether it be a wife, a girlfriend if he is single, his family, and his church body.”   Same message, more inclusive to the younger generation.  We can’t keep excluding young, single men. 

 

    How are single men being excluded?


    They are excluded when we make every discussion on relationships be about being a husband and father.  Single guys have relationships too even if they aren’t married with kids.  


    They are excluded when every lesson about sex and pornography is discussed as how it damages your wife and your marriage.  Do we really think married men are the only ones who face sexual temptation?  Trust me, it is just as hard if not harder for a single guy.  We live in the same sex driven culture, have the same temptation, but as godly men, have to stay sexual pure and inactive while the culture constantly tells us we are abnormal for doing it.  

 

    Basically, we need to be intentional in what we teach and say.  We can't look at everything through the prism of married with kids.  Instead we need to be relevant to all men, whether married, single, or divorced.


    We need to make young men feel wanted and welcomed to the men’s ministry when they age out of youth group.  We need to make our men’s ministry a safe, inclusive place for these younger men who haven’t yet married, and we need to make our messages just as relevant for them as we do for married men with kids.  When we, don’t we are basically holding the church door open for them to leave the church, saying” We don’t have anything to offer you, come back when you become a real man, aka married with children.”  As stats show, they leave but aren’t coming back.  We must do better!  We can do better…it’s time we do better!

 

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