What does it take to keep younger men interested and active in the church?
In Coming of Age: Exploring the Identity and Spirituality of Younger Men, authors David W. Anderson, ’89, Paul G. Hill, affiliated faculty in Children,Youth and Family Ministry, and Roland Martinson, ’68, Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Children, Youth and Family Ministry, recorded the results of the Young Male Spirituality project. For more information visit www.elca.org/lmm/resources.html. The project team interviewed 88 diverse young men ages 18-35 and listened carefully to what they had to say about their lives, faith and faith practices.
Among the findings: a “kinesthetic” connection to their identity and spirituality, “experienced through their bodies as much as through their minds,” the authors noted. “Our research shows that most of these young men identify nature and sports as profoundly significant in nurturing and expressing their identity and spirituality.” The respondents further identified five experiences they found in sports and nature, and offered several ministry strategies that congregations can use to create effective ministries for younger men. Here are 15.
*Consider creating a weight or exercise room in your church;
*Sponsor a sports league;
*Attend sports events of members of your church and perhaps start a church fan club.
*Go camping together;
*Provide childcare so young couples can go hiking, running, biking or exercising together on weekends;
*Provide devotions, retreats and Bible studies in natural settings.
*Post news clippings of the sports performances of members of your church;
*Ask young men to demonstrate a sport or nature activity and involve others–especially boys;
*Integrate a Bible study on God’s call and vocation into a sports outing.
*Take a cross-generational group of men on an adventure trip or retreat;
*Help groom and maintain cross-country, ATV and snowmobile trails as a service and witness to the larger community;
*Create you own “Christian Sports Cafच” for Monday night football and Super Bowl Sunday.
*Incorporate illustrations, metaphors and stories that come from the world of sports and nature into preaching and teaching;
*Go to an outdoor ministry facility for a week or retreat weekend;
*Hold a worship service for hunters and fisherman before the opening of the season. Emphasize the stewardship of creation.