The challenge to the Church to reach more young men

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Here in the Northern Rivers of the Australian state of New South Wales, I am in a rather peculiar position. Sadly, it is common to see a lack of young adults in the churches in my region - especially young adult men.

I am one of the only men under 40 in our network of churches that spans across the entire north coast of New South Wales. And in my own particular campus here just north of Byron Bay, I am sadly the only young man in the church under 40. Even rarer, I am also the pastor.

This problem is not just indicative of the state of the Church but also of society, where many young men feel alienated in a mainstream culture dominated by worldly philosophies opposed to masculine aspirations, and distorted notions of social justice that blame patriarchy, hierarchy and power for the ills of society.

The trend at the moment is to demonise men, to portray them as the villains, and tell them that the only way to solve all society's problems is to stop being who you are, transform or disappear. Not surprisingly, they pick disappear.

Instead of being part of the answer, the Church has been largely part of the problem. Often the Church has tried to save the planet by doing everything it can except saving souls.

With programmes typically appealing to those already in the Church, such as older women, it is little wonder that young lads are not finding their purpose in the Church.

But I have some good news, the Church can provide the answer. I know this because I have seen it with my own eyes. I was one of the disenfranchised young men out there, but the Church gave me purpose. It taught me that God was not boring and that he has given me a task, a job to do to look after my community, look after my family, and find Heaven through his grace. That is the message the Church can give to our young men.

It's undoubtedly a challenge for us, especially with so many churches dominated by older men and women, but we need to go out of our way to embrace the young men in our communities and make them feel welcome while also letting them know that the Christian faith expects a lot of them.

All of this is what Jordan Peterson was getting at in his recent video message to churches. His message was clear: invite young men into your congregations but also expect growth.

Peterson has raised eyebrows and 'why are Christians listening to a non-believer?', some might say.

He may not be a Christian (yet) but as a philosopher of natural law and a promoter of common religious values and ideals, he believes that man conquers chaos from union with the divine. And he also believes that Christianity is best placed to support that.

For us Christians, he is right.

Jesus solves the discord between our flesh and our spirit. Christianity gives our vocation a godly, Christ-centred focus that fills a hole in our hearts.

Our loving Father meets us in the field and embraces and welcomes us into his family. We too have the opportunity of reaching young men who can grow into godly men who in turn can become godly fathers who raise godly children.

Through the atonement of Christ, we are free to be our true selves and free to pursue our vocations, while welcoming those who are marginalised and disenfranchised.

How appealing is that for young men, to be able to bring that ladder down from heaven by allowing the grace of God to free them into their purpose.

Ben Kruzins is the Campus Pastor of The Hub Baptist Church in Ocean Shores on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is also a Journalism graduate who has written articles in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.