An Epidemic of Under-Performance

Do you remember when The McCallie School came to St. Thomas’ to give a presentation on the development of boys? I visited with Troy Kemp, the Executive Director for The National Center for the Development of Boys, when I traveled through Chattanooga, TN this summer. He told me that the meeting they had in our church was the meeting that convinced them there was enough concern over this issue to make a go of the Center. They did and they’re doing great work.

What is the issue? It is the epidemic of under-performing boys and young men. Some are just dropping out of the system or dropping out of life or acting out and harming others. We see it today; the audience at St. Thomas’ for McCallie’s presentation (composed almost entirely of mothers, by the way) was seeing it then. This epidemic doesn’t just affect boys. It affects girls, too. Who are they going to marry? Who are they going to work with? Who is going to help raise their children? If boys or girls are struggling, we are all struggling.

For some reason, it is difficult to talk about this epidemic publicly or even it get much publicity. The epidemic exists, though, and the church is in a great position to engage with its victims. This article by Tim Lott is a great resource to help begin a conversation about how this might happen. It is about the lost art of initiating young men and women into adulthood. We are hard-wired as young people to seek older people’s investment in us. From teaching us to disciplining us, laughing with us, and blessing us, it makes a monumental difference when older men and women are there to invest in young people.

One of my dreams is that several STE families would pool their resources together and lease a decent amount of acres in the country. We would take our children and young people up there to sit around a fire, tell stories, hunt, fish, camp, pray, study the Bible, hold a periodic worship service, and bless and love our children together as a community. There are some wonderful ways Christian people work out how to initiate their young people. Imagine the investment, the fun, the memories, and the good that could come with something like this.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you something that has been on my mind for a long time. I wonder if any of you have had something similar placed on your heart. If so, let’s talk.