Saturday, January 14, 2012

Boys Will Be Boys

It’s a phrase you can’t help but hear all the time as a mom of young kids. It’s used when laughing about mud-covered faces. It’s said to explain away a surprisingly loud crash in the playroom. But lately I find it’s uttered all too often to excuse mean, aggressive behavior.

For instance, the other day I took my kids to our local mall playplace. Two young boys were grabbing my kids’ toys and taunting them. Really taunting them. I watched as one little rodent persistently pushed my two-year-old onto the ground. Rather than reprimanding her boys, the mother gave me a knowing look and shrugged as if to say, “You have boys, you understand.” And I do.

I love being a mom of boys. But boys get feisty. (I’ve got a crooked nose and my hubby has got a few knots on the forehead to prove it.)

And moms get tired. (I’ve got the dark circles to prove that.)

But as parents, I think it’s up to us to channel that boyish energy into positive outlets. It’s our job to take these excitable little boys and raise them into respectable—and respectful—young men. Because, let’s face it, while a bad boy may have seemed intriguing, a good guy is who we want our daughters to marry and our grandkids (gulp!) to look up to.

So because boys will be men, I promise I will do everything I can to teach my sons:

• Trust is like the greatest of all Lego towers. It takes time and effort to build, but mere seconds to destroy.

• Superheroes don’t get their power from their muscles alone, but from their intentions.

• There are few things as rewarding as a sense of humor when it’s used to laugh with people, not at them.

• It takes hard work to be a great player, but harder work to be a team player.

• Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

• When chosen carefully, words can be far more powerful than fists, sticks and, yes, even light sabers.

• Get your hands dirty and your dishes/clothes/rooms clean.

• Use curiosity to get into things and creativity to get out of them. (Yep, just like George.)

• Princesses don’t need a prince to save them, but to dance with them. (And listen to them.)

No doubt my boys will break a few valuables, bones and maybe even hearts along the way. But if I can help it—and I believe I can—it won’t be because they didn’t know better.

Why today's young adults leave the church


Many say they find the church judgmental, unwelcoming or irrelevant.

Tonisha Greer, 31, grew up in church. As she went out on her own, God was still important in her life.

Church, not so much.

The single Kansas City, Kan., mother says church focused more on tradition and people telling young people: “You shouldn’t do this.” “When we were your age we didn’t do that.” “You have to dress like this when you come to church.”
“Older members try to push their religion on you,” she says. “But you have to find your own relationship with God and know who he is for yourself.

“You don’t want to be judged when you walk in the church. You want to feel God.”

Although Greer visits churches, she says she’d rather stay home and have her own relationship with God.  To get young adults in church, she says, it needs to make them feel welcome, be more open-minded and accept those living worldly lives.

The Barna Group, a Christian polling company based in California, spent five years studying why young Christians like Greer leave church. Teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors and senior pastors were interviewed.
The study of young adults focused on those who had been regular churchgoers and then disconnected from the church in their later teen years. It revealed that almost 3 out of every 5 young Christians (59 percent) left permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15.
Researchers found six reasons young adults leave church:
•  Churches seem overprotective: Teens and young adults want their faith to connect to the world, but one quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said that Christians “demonize everything outside the church,” that the church ignores the problems of the real world (22 percent) and that “my church is too concerned that movies, music and video games are harmful” (18 percent).
•  Teens’ and young adults’ experience of Christianity is shallow: Many said something was lacking in their church experience: “it’s boring”; “it’s not relevant to my career or interests”; “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” and “God seems missing from my church experience.”
•  Churches come across as antagonistic to science: Three out of 10 young adults said “churches are out of step with the scientific world” and “Christianity is anti-science” and 23 percent said they have been turned off by the creation versus evolution debate.
•  Their church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic and judgmental: Many young adults struggle with how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers. Among Catholics, 40 percent of young adults said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”
•  They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity: Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance, and they want to find common ground with people who are different from themselves. Three out of 10 young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths,” and 22 percent said the “church is like a country club, only for insiders.”
•  The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt: Young Christian adults say the church does not allow them to express doubts. This includes “not being able to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36 percent) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23 percent).
Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says the number of churchgoing young adults has been low for a long time, but fewer are coming back than in previous generations.
“A lot of young adults come back when they marry,” he says. “But they are not marrying as young and not having children as young as they used to. If they have children when in their mid-30s, that’s a longer time before coming back, and it’s harder to come back.”
When they do return, they tend to go to evangelical churches, which generally have a younger average age than mainline churches, or they gravitate to those churches that specialize in reaching the youth crowd.
Ben Avila, who worked nine years with young adults at Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, says the church tends to rely heavily on programs, but young adults don’t want programs. They want community with one another.
“In the world, people crave the latest fad, but when they go to church they want something to meet the longings of their hearts,” he says. “They want to know that God is real.
“The college-age group is independent. They have so much at their fingertips. They are saying, ‘Give me what’s real.’ ”
The Rev. Michael Brooks, pastor of Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, says many people in his generation between 45 and 60 years old are the parents of these young adults.
Many middle-agers rebelled against the church, their parents and authority in their youth, he says, some of them after they found out that some church leaders were not living a Christian life. But many still believed in God.
Now, churches need to deal with that middle-aged group.
“Many (middle-age people) are coming back to church, but they are not bringing their kids and grandkids. Fixing the family is the key,” Brooks says.
“When the middle-age group left the church in their youth they had a free-for-all and did it in front of their kids. The kids need to see a change in (their parents) and a deeper commitment when they return to church. They need to see them living the Christian life.”
To minister to young adults, the church has to be welcoming and friendly.
“Their experience when they come to church makes a difference,” he says.
The Protestant church has a mostly older membership, says the Rev. Karen Nyhart, associate minister of Old Mission United Methodist Church in Fairway. Many young adults don’t feel a bond; they say this is my mother’s church or my grandmother’s church, she says.
And when young adults do return to church, the church often doesn’t get them involved.
“We forget they have a lot to bring to the table, and they are not included,” Nyhart says. “When we have a project, we usually think of people who have always done it.
“We need to look for people who want to get to know them, to plug them into the life of the church. Action-oriented ministries are important to them.
“We should ask them what they want. A lot of times we plan things for them that they may not be interested in.”
One ministry that has seen success is the contemporary worship service at 9:45 a.m.
“Teens and young adults go to that service,” she says. “It’s a casual atmosphere; people can wear jeans and T-shirts, and no one looks down on them. A discussion time is part of the service, so people can say what they feel.”
Tim Volk, director of youth ministry at St. Therese Catholic Church in Parkville, says it is important for the youth to get involved in a strong youth ministry when they go to college. Then there is less falling away from the church, he says.
“But if they don’t get in such a group, their faith often is put on the back burner,” he says. “The next time you see them may be when they come home for a break and then when they get married.
“Ideally, there needs to be a full-time ministry that will help support the high school ministry and a young adult ministry,” he says. “A lot has to do with staying connected with them.”
To reach Helen Gray, call 816-234-4446 or email
Posted on Fri, Jan. 13, 2012 09:42 PM

Read more here: