If Christians could just figure out a way to keep boys engaged in the church, everyone would win. Young men would enter adulthood with fewer addictions, diseases, injuries and psychological scars. Society would benefit from lower crime rates. And the church would benefit from the vitality young men bring to an organization. There is a way. It's called men.
Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow (2010, Thomas Nelson)
To Burger Breakfast, or not to Burger Breakfast?
It's 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning, and in a house on a road called Woodlands Drive in a suburb of the small northern city of Chester, a group of men and boys are gathering. The men are slightly bleary eyed and sluggish; the boys are full of energy and bouncing off the walls. They're talking about what they'll fill their stomachs with at the Brook Street Café in half an hour's time. The 'Burger Breakfast'—which incredibly includes, as the name suggests, a burger but also an enormous mound of chips—seems like it will be a popular choice!
As they walk to the café, the men and boys chat with each other. School and sport are the main topics of conversation, but the boys also try to impress the big guys by boasting about the amount they're planning to eat that morning. The men are impressed!
The food is ordered. A few of the boys back down from the 'Burger Breakfast' at the last minute, opting for something a little smaller and cheaper, but some are determined to go through with it. As the chef heats up the frying pan, one of the men calls the gathering to order, tells a story and explains some of his thoughts about God, the Bible and the man he follows, Jesus. The boys ask a few questions and then get distracted when their numbers begin to be called and the first plates of bacon, sausages and eggs start to arrive. Mugs of tea, toast, orange juice and even bottles of Coke (don't tell the mums!) arrive, and the eating begins. The 'Burger Breakfast' boys begin to slow and others dig in to help reduce the mound of chips.
There are a few moments of calm at the end of the meal. Everyone is too full to move, and so they make their predictions for next weekend's Premier League football matches—home win, away win, or draw. Once done, and with the table resembling a scene of battle, the men and boys take their leave and head into town for Hoole Baptist Church's morning celebration at the City Mission building.
'Teach their children... so the next generation may know'
It's been a good morning. The men have walked, the boys have run, both have full stomachs, there's been a bit of competition (the football predictions) and the boys have heard a man's thoughts about God. Next up the church service which, to the boys (and probably the men too), doesn't seem quite so boring as it does when there's no men and boys' breakfast. An afternoon nap may be in order later—for the men, at least!
The Men and Boys Sunday Breakfast began at Hoole Baptist Church, Chester in September 2014 in response to some parents reporting that their boys no longer wanted to go to church. A few men decided that more effort needed to be made to pass their faith on to the next generation—in the spirit of Psalm 78:1-7—but it needed to be simple and involve food! Some boys attend without their fathers and some men without sons join in too. This phrase sums it up: We are the sons of many fathers and the fathers to many sons.
Mark Chester is the Who Let The Dads Out? Project Manager
Want to know more?
For more info, you can visit the Hoole Baptist Church website.
Photoghraphs courtesy of Mark Chester Date of article 2016