I have been thinking about boys and girls in the church this week.
It started when Christopher came home from a weekend with his Grammie. In addition to stories about his train ride and fishing adventures, he told me about his great class at the First Christian Church in Fairland, Oklahoma. He had seen a video in his class in which he saw snakes, guns, and bombs. He loved it! A couple of months ago, when we visited the congregation, he loved participating as a soldier in the re-enactment of Christ's arrest. I thought, Someone in this church really knows how to appeal to little boys.
Later in the week, I read an article in Christianity Today which can be found at www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/august/16.22.html. One paragraph caught my attention:
"The ratio of devoutly Christian young women to men is far from even. Among evangelical churchgoers, there are about three single women for every two single men. This is the elephant in the corner of almost every congregation--a shortage of young Christian men."
It occurred to me that if churches and Christian parents could develop their boys into strong and good Christian young men, they would be doing their girls a huge favor. They would be developing a good pool of potential Christian husbands for their young Christian women.
This could mean some churches will need to change their emphasis (especially in children's classes and youth groups). When teaching about Jesus, they may need to recognize that Christ possesses some often-overlooked rugged personal qualities that appeal to boys (and men). In addition to recognizing Jesus' love and kindness, teachers should recognize his courage, conviction, determination, bluntness, and strength of character. In addition to singing "girly songs" (as Christopher calls them), churches could sing a few songs about God being powerful and Christians being strong in a spiritual battle for the souls of the people we love. Boys and men could be encouraged to be responsible, to take initiative, to protect the weak, and to challenge injustices around them (like bullying or abuse). These types of things have a particular appeal to men and boys, and they are completely Christ-like and biblical.
When churches recognize that boys have different needs than girls, they will be able to attract, retain, and develop boys. They will be able to increase the number of solid, godly men for their young women to marry someday. They will be doing a favor for every girl who would have settled for something less otherwise.