How Young Men Can Serve the Church

Good article. You can read the original here.

In years and cultures past, society valued young men.  There was a common-sense realization that strong men meant a strong fabric of society.  Christianity recognized the divinely-ordered family structure of the godly leadership of husbands and fathers, as well as masculine leadership in society.  Indeed, God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, describes the leadership of women and children as a curse (Chapter 3).

Even unbelievers recognized the natural order of male leadership, grounded in the physical strength of men and in the psychological make-up of men and boys as leaders of tribe and nation.  This is most apparent in times of war.  It was also obvious when tilling the land by physical brawn meant that the men were the ones, like Adam, to compel the stubborn earth to yield its fruits “by the sweat of [his] face” (Gen 3:19).

This is not to deny that women had to step up in dire circumstances.  But it was always to the horror of the men, who saw their role as protector of – and provider for – women and children.

But in our day and age, girls are taught from a very young age to reject the obvious, to boss men and boys around, and to disrespect their fathers.  Boys and girls alike are shown images, year after year, – in movies, TV, video games, graphic novels, even in school and extracurricular materials – whereby the physical differences between the sexes is set aside, and we are asked to suspend our disbelief, as “strong female characters” take charge over the men, outfight the men and boys, and become the protectors of society.  Moreover, this issue over sex roles has metastasized into confusion over sex and gender, as the very concepts of “male” and “female” are called into question.  And like unto the story of the naked emperor, those who point out the obvious are subject to ridicule.

And hence the conundrum facing young men today.

They are told that their very existence is “toxic.”  Every interaction they have with the fairer sex is considered a prelude to rape.  They are told to stand down, shut up, and step aside.  They are made to stifle their natural competitiveness and physical prowess.  They are cajoled and drugged in government schools to force them to sit quietly and color within the lines.  They are given propaganda to read.

It’s little wonder that we are seeing the phenomenon of the “soy boy” – emasculated young men who are physically, psychologically, and spiritually soft. 

So what about Christian young men?  How can they serve the church? 

Be manly.  Reject the propaganda and norms.  Stand up to the social engineering bullies who seek to turn the created order on its head.  Recognize this toxic feminism for what it is: Luciferianism. 

Don’t apologize for being made by God as you were.  Both men and women have crucial and God-pleasing vocations in church and society.  Understand that God made you masculine, and your masculinity is not toxic.  Use your manliness for good.  Be chivalrous.  Be gentle with children and respectful of women.  Watch your language in front of ladies.  Hold the door open.  Volunteer to do the heavy lifting for ladies of every age.  See yourself as their protector – for you are.  Young men need to cultivate this ethos in a challenging age in which women are trained to reject chivalry and to be insulted if you open a door for them.  But deep down inside, every woman really appreciates being served in this way.  For that is what chivalry is: service.  It is the servant leadership of our Lord, whose masculine impulse to service meant cleaning the feet of His disciples in humility.

Masculinity does not mean being bossy, overbearing, or relying on your physical strength to assert your position in the divine order.  The authority of men is not a matter of bluster and threats, but of simply doing what needs to be done, calmly and without complaint. 

Sadly, in the church of the west, there has been a tendency toward feminization and emasculation.  This did not start with modern feminism.  This has actually been a long cultural process that has occurred over a thousand years, as LCMS scholar the Rev. Dr. Stephen Hein has shown (you can find his presentation at http://fatherhollywood.blogspot.com/2018/01/feminization-of-church.html).  This is an additional challenge that men of every age face in becoming active in the church.  Many of our hymns are written to appeal to women.  Women have assumed most of the leadership roles in the church – with the exception of the pastoral office.  One of the unintended consequences of lay readers has been the fact that often women are the ones who want to do it.  Churches have gone to having female acolytes because the boys don’t want to sit next to girls who are wearing what looks like a dress.

So what should we do to re-engage men – especially young men?

Pastors need to reach out to young men and recruit them to be acolytes.  This needs to be restored to a masculine role.  For centuries, the acolyte was the first exposure of young men to the masculine role of leading worship, an opportunity to serve with the pastor and the other men (deacons, elders) by being vested, by praying, and by visibly leading the Divine Service. Serving as an acolyte gave young men the opportunity to consider the pastoral office as a possible vocation.  I believe it was a grave error to recruit girls to serve in this capacity – especially vesting them in albs.  The alb is a masculine, pastoral, Eucharistic vestment.  It is not a “robe.”  Satan is clever, and has gotten us used to seeing the alb and cincture as a unisex garment, so that it isn’t as shocking to see a woman “pastor” vested the same way.

Young men of the church, if you don’t serve – whether as acolytes, volunteering to help maintain the campus of the church through yardwork or helping with repairs, or stepping up in other ways to grow into the role of masculine servant leadership – you are shirking your duty!  Ask the pastor and the elders and the officers of your congregation what you can do.  Our men have dropped the ball by leaving the women with no choice but to step up, because we are acting like little boys and playing around instead of taking charge.  Young men, it is up to you to right the ship and to turn it around.  It won’t be done overnight.  It will be a generational change.

Most importantly of all, we need men in church!  It is almost a universal phenomenon that women outnumber men in our pews.  Mothers are bringing the children to church, often while dad sits at home.  This is a disgrace, both as Christians and as men!  Husbands and fathers, it is your job to lead your wife and children to the church, in the church, and through the church.  It is your job to teach your children the faith and lead the family in prayer.  Young men, you should establish this habitus now.  Be the man, even if your fathers and grandfathers have dropped the ball.  Before you know it, they will be gone, and you will be the leaders.  Don’t be the guy who sits at home playing video games or watching ESPN while your wife takes spiritual headship of the family.

So young men, make a commitment now that you will attend every Divine Service – unless you are sick, away, or physically unable.  Man up.  Don’t allow yourself the luxury to be soft or to force the women to lead your church.  Just do it.  And attend Bible Class – with the adults if you are able.  Set the example for manhood and grow into manly leadership.  This is what you were designed to do, and no-one will do it for you.  Seek out male leadership in the church and look to these men as mentors.  They will be thrilled to see young people, young men and young women, training themselves to be the next generation of the church’s servants – especially within the godly vocations of men and women. 

Be a rebel.  You don’t have to accept society’s norms – and especially not in the church where we all confess the Scriptures and the natural law of God’s created order.  Don’t wait for an invitation.  Or consider this your invitation.  We need you!  Your mothers and sisters and grandmothers and future daughters and granddaughters need you.  Your fathers and brothers and grandfathers and future sons and grandsons need you.  Your brothers and sisters in Christ need you.  Don’t think that you are too young to start.  A year from now, you will be a year older.  What you do in the interim matters.  Rejoice in your masculinity and cultivate it.  You are not toxic.  You are here for a reason. By God’s grace, you will be up to the challenge.

Look to the Scriptures, young men!  Let the Word guide you in your manly service of the Lord and your neighbor.  As we pray in Psalm 119:9-16:

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to Your word.
With my whole heart I seek You;
    let me not wander from Your commandments!
I have stored up Your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord;
    teach me Your statutes!
With my lips I declare
    all the rules of Your mouth.
In the way of Your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts
    and fix my eyes on Your ways.
I will delight in Your statutes;
    I will not forget Your word.

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