Collin Hansen reports on the perpetual phase of adolescence within young men in the church today.
“For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: it is marriage and children that turns boys into men,” Hymowitz writes. “Now that the SYM [single young male] can put off family into the hazily distant future, he can—and will—try to stay a child-man.”
Certainly this challenge requires a missionary response from our churches. If these men will not come and join our worship services, we must go and seek them. This imperative seems to inspire the current “missional” rage among evangelicals. Evangelistic appeals grounded in felt needs won’t do the trick with these men. What good is this approach when we see no evidence that these young men feel the need to change? And if we adjust our beliefs and behaviors in order to attract these men, we run the risk of peddling the gospel and precluding God-given transformation.
No, there must be something different and demanding about the gospel if we expect these men to abandon their self-concerned lives. Thankfully, that’s exactly the gospel we proclaim, Jesus Christ and him crucified. Jesus himself set the standard for discipleship. “If anyone would come after me,” he said, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). Jesus calls his followers to entrust their anxieties to him and devote themselves fully to serving God and his kingdom. These are difficult words, but we cannot survive the wrath of God unless we heed them. Seeking first the kingdom means nothing less than abandoning ourselves for the refuge of God’s grace.