2004 CB-PA-Mentors-F-BMW-USA 10As we discussed the movie “Courageous”, I think about the importance of fathers these days.  And I am saddened when you hear of so many women having children outside of wedlock or couples who divorce, where children grow up without the positive influence of a father.

Three years ago I was umpiring a high school baseball game when a young man slid into second base and busted up his ankle.  Has he writhed in pain and we awaited medical personnel to transport him to the hospital, his coaches and I were with him, comforting him until personnel arrived.  We were there several minutes and I asked his coach if the young man’s parents were here.  The coach told me the young man’s mother moved to New Orleans with her boyfriend, leaving the young man to be raised by his grandparents and that his father abandoned the family right after the young man’s birth.

Coach then said to me “Mike, I have 13 boys on my team and 9 of them have no father in their lives.”  What a sad legacy we are leaving this generation as many grow up without the influence of a father, left on their own to grow up into young men and women in a world devastated by sin.  Might I be so bold to make a suggestion to our church leaders?

Instead of worrying about how to be seeker sensitive and doing all sorts of programs to become relevant to society, let’s sit down as leaders and figure out how the church can get godly mentors into the lives of young men growing up without a father.  If your youth group is turning into nothing more than “fun time”, how about developing caring mentors within the church to help fill a void in a young man or young woman’s life who is being raised in a single parent family?

Funny, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a secular organization, has figured out the necessity of mentorship, but we as the church have apparently failed to recognize the need—or we’ve chosen to ignore it.

It always seems to come down to leadership and the purpose of the local church.  Are we here to grow the church body?  Or to serve the needs of those in the Body?  Are we more interested in growth in numbers?  Or in the spiritual growth of those in the church?  Now of course, we want to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But when I think of the Barna study that states that 80% of youth leave the church once they go through college, it begs the question “What kind of true growth are we really seeing?”  Superficial growth in numbers?  Or real growth in the number of committed disciples for Jesus Christ?

Youth today face challenges and pressures beyond that of any previous generation.  Pressure to do drugs, have sex, tremendous peer pressure to do what is popular instead of doing what is right—and oh, yes, they are learning about life in a public education system more and more hostile to God.

Simply playing games at youth group, or sitting at Starbucks with our smart phones checking out cool things on the internet simply will not cut it as youth ministry any longer.  Our children are dying spiritually because they lack the solid foundation of God’s truth and mentors to guide them through crucial life decisions and circumstances.  Jesus really loved children.  Do we as a church love them?  Or tolerate them?