Too often our student ministries minimize the importance of a focussed effort to mentor young teenage guys to step out of immaturity and into maturity. To move from a boy to a man. In our culture this is a hard issue that can feel like an uphill battle and from my vantage point here is why:
1- Bonehead & Absentee Dads-
There are too many Dad's who don't know how to be a Man let alone a dad. Too many men get caught up in a culture ideal that you have to be a badass prick to be a man. Treat women like objects, be emotionally disconnected & selfishly concerned with everything but others. What's hard is too many men are not self-aware of their actions to others, especially their kids, to realize that they might be messing up life. What men often model is pornography use, credit debt, abusive personalities & emotional reclusiveness.
Then when you have dad's bail on responsibility as well as lack of commitment of what marriage and love really is about you have a generation growing up socially, mentally & spiritually confused on what to do. How can a young man, grow into a man without a model or a man in his life?
Parents, media, coaches, teachers and many more voices really funnel a thick idea that entitlement is just fine, Selfishness over Selflessness is occurring. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are asked to live a selfless life, but it is a non-negotiable ask. You can't commit to Jesus with your life and be selfish. Too often we've allowed kids to grow up around church and we've never challenged them to actually grow up. I often see more acceptance by church leaders that are ok with selfishness "because they'll grow out of it later"....guess what, it isn't happening.
3- Laziness in them & others
Students are spiritually lazy. They want it easy, they want it made simple....they don't want to allow commitment to be a word in their language or lifestyle. And often men in the church around these teenage guys don't model a better example either. Why would a 16 year guy want to desire to live a passionate life pursuing Christ when they see 40 & 50 year old men not pursuing a passionate lifestyle? Many teens see's their future as a follower of Christ as 'boring'.
The men in the church need to really think about the lifestyle they are showing their own kids & others in the church around them and ask themselves what their deal is! They could have so much impact by modeling & mentoring the opposite of spiritual laziness.
The desert trip we plan is an opportunity to challenge young men to step into manhood. As a pastor I want teenage guys who desire to follow Christ with passion to be community changers. We have fun, we eat well, we make big explosions, we do things that most teenage guys never get a chance to. The biggest thing the weekend offers is a chance for teenage guys to be challenged & encouraged by men who take following Christ seriously.
Please don't read this post as a "downer", in fact the opposite. I am stoked that the ministry I am blessed to read as put a stake in the ground saying, "THIS WILL BE A PLACE WHERE BOYS ARE CHALLENGED TO BECOME MEN"