Our boys need us!
By Pastor Tom Anderson
We are failing boys and men in America. The signs are everywhere. Men today account for 4 out of every 5 suicides. The fastest growing suicide rate is among boys ages 10-14. To reverse this trend, Christian churches must help boys develop hope for their future and to construct a male identity founded on sure values. Trail Life is a vehicle for positive change in the lives of men, boys and their families.
Boys today are largely unguided in their quest for identity. At home, more than 25% of families are fatherless. In school, more than 75% of teachers are women. Too many boys are left with too few men willing to guide them. Boys today are lamenting “I don’t know what it means to be a man.”
The good news is that providing an example for a boy isn’t rocket science. The simple presence of a man in the life of a boy makes a tremendous difference. Trail Life provides great opportunities for men with or without sons to make a difference and to develop a band of brothers. Trail Life is 40,000 men and boys across the country in a Christ-centered, boy-focused outdoor adventure ministry.
Boys today are largely ungrounded. They need consistent boundaries and moral absolutes. They can’t become their best without this. They need boundaries both to push against and to rely on. The greatest stories of good and evil are found in Scripture. Here abstract concepts are made concrete, and boys find the absolute, eternal truth they crave to build their lives upon. The Bible answers clearly and concisely the questions “What are the rules and how do I win?” But sadly, most adults no longer believe that God and the Bible are the means for determining truth.
Boys can’t operate at their best in this environment. Shifting standards and shaky foundations feed despair and withdrawal in boys. Boys increasingly view themselves as victims of chance rather than creations of purpose. This may help to explain why 93% of incarcerated adults are men. Trail Life inspires Christian faith and shares the unchanging truths of the Word of God. When boys have firm ground, they can thrive.
Boys today are unappreciated. They tend to disengage when there isn’t something at stake. Boys are not challenged to accomplish the types of missions for which they were created: Be strong and courageous. Go into all the world. Explore. Experience. Risk. Compete. Conquer. Fill the earth and subdue it. The problem is multiplied by a culture that is so fearful of being perceived as favoring one gender over another or causing emotional distress by creating competition.
Consider why most boys have such a fascination with video games. Even while adults criticize them, they find in video games exactly what they are looking for: clear boundaries and rules; a defined conflict between good and evil, an explicit pathway to succeed, and a chance to be a hero. These are the very things the world around them doesn’t offer them.
Trail Life provides a boy-friendly environment that doesn’t shame boys for not being able to sit still, be quiet and pay attention. It nurtures the kind of confidence that speaks the language of boys. Because we are failing to challenge boys in significant ways that allow them to thrive, boys are failing.
Trail Life offers a robust awards program that recognizes hard work and effort. There are no “participation trophies.” An award on merit satisfies a boy’s need for affirmation. Outdoor adventures challenge their physical skills, their leadership abilities, and their character.
Thrive Church is behind Trail Life because it helps us provide a moral and spiritual foundation so boys can thrive and become men who will stand up to reverse the tide. An open house for interested boys and their families will be held Tuesday, January 24 at 6 PM in the Worship Center. Parents will learn about the program and be able to register their boys at the event as well as register themselves as adults with our Troop 1199 (Our troop number is taken from Psalm 119:9).