Fatherless Boys and the Church
It’s easier to build strong boys than repair broken men.
by Samuel Mehaffie
We have a serious problem here in America—fatherlessness. Our country is becoming an increasingly fatherless society. Thousands of boys are growing up without knowing what it means to have a father, and many of those boys are in our churches.
This is one of the biggest problems we’re facing in America, especially if you think how it could affect future families. There are men today who are acting out in anger to their families because there was no father in their homes to show them how to be a husband or dad, and they’re angry at the men who walked out on them. The next generation will not fare any better unless we step in to help.
Many of these boys are confused, hurting, angry and lacking direction. Sometimes, it seems as if they don’t care about anything, but often they’re reacting to the hurt in their lives. They’re crying out for help in our churches, neighborhoods, and communities. We need to listen to them. We must care and show that we care; we cannot write this generation off. Satan is out to destroy our boys and young men along with their families and future families, to rob them of what God has for them. What is the church doing to reach this mission field?
I’ve been where those boys are. I come from a broken, dysfunctional family. My world began falling apart when I was six. Suddenly, Dad just wasn’t around much, hardly at all. I didn’t understand why my mom, younger brother, Ed, and I had to move to a small apartment away from all my friends. Then, we moved again to be closer to town so my Mom could find work to support us. Mom was a great Christian lady, but those years were very hard on her.
Dad came in and out of our lives during that time, home for two or three days then gone for a week or more. I was always so glad to see him and hated to see him go. This continued until I was twelve when Mom finally divorced him. After the divorce, we didn’t see our Dad at all even though he lived a few blocks away. I’m not sure which was worse, Dad showing up now and then or when he left us for good.
I was one hurting, lonely and angry kid; there were many times I would cry myself to sleep at night because I missed my dad so much. I had to face the challenges of growing up in a home without a father, and it was tough, especially when I saw my friends with their dads. But I wasn’t left without role models. Men in our church stepped into my life to encourage me and let me know they cared about me and had faith in me. There weren’t any mentoring programs in those days, but no one had to even ask these guys; they just saw a hurting boy and stepped into his life. One of the men was my Uncle Vern, a man who became my lifelong mentor. He helped bring healing into my life and helped me discover hope through Jesus Christ.
All of our boys face huge challenges, and dads need to be there for them in today’s society more than ever, to be the role models that their sons can look up to. But what about those fatherless boys in your church? Whom are they looking up to? That boy is right there, walking the hallways of your church, and he needs a Christian man to give him a little time, a little encouragement. That’s a mission field for the men in your church.
Over 50% of kids in America today do not live with both their birth parents. How sad for a nation that once took pride in the strength of the family and the importance of fathers. This generation of fatherless boys is in desperate need of male role models and mentors.
So I ask you, what will our next generation of fatherless boys be like? What kind of husbands will they be? What kind of fathers? What kind of spiritual leaders?
Every Sunday, there are moms sitting in church pews crying out for help for their sons who desperately need male role models in their lives. All it takes is an investment of some time and a willingness to show God’s love. As a high school basketball coach, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring a number of boys on the team, as well as many others in and out of my church. It’s exciting to see lives changed, to see young men turn their lives around and serve the Lord.
To reach their highest potential, Jesus has to be a part of these boys’ lives, and it’s up to many of the men who regularly attend church every Sunday to make a difference by becoming a mentor. Research has found that mentoring changes the outcome of a boy’s future in dramatic ways. A mentor provides a listening ear and an open heart; he’s a role model, an encourager and an example. Most importantly, mentors in the church can share Jesus and introduce boys to the best friend they will ever have.
God is calling forth these boys who are wandering in the desert of life. He wants to give them hope. He wants to give them a focus of destination and destiny, to empower them to do great things in His name. But how can they do this with no one to give them direction, guidance, and support? How can they become the men God created them to be without role models?
The time to act in now. The place to start is in the church. It’s time to reach out to this generation of boys and young men; they are the next generation of husbands, fathers and leaders. Your church can make the difference in the lives of fatherless boys and young men by starting a mentoring program. Even if only two or three men are interested, it could change the lives of two or three boys/young men … and it will change the lives of the men who become mentors.
The church is the perfect place to start because men will have contact there with their mentees. For them to know that someone is praying for them, someone is interested in their lives, someone cares about them is a major starting point. These boys are not beyond help. They are hurting and they need hope.
Chuck Swindoll wrote in his monthly newsletter, “A Living Legacy”, April 2005:
“I cannot underestimate the impact a mentor can have on another life, and
I am reminded of that anytime I look at my own. I am a living legacy to a
handful of men who took an interest in me, saw potential where I did not,
and encouraged me to become something more.”
Will you prayerfully consider what God would have you and your church do to reach the fatherless boys and young men in your church? God has great plans for them, to give them hope and a purpose in life, to empower them in His name, but He needs men to show them what Jesus looks like. The harvest is great, but the workers are few. Will you answer the call?
The ball is in your court, what will you do with it? Are you and your men willing to stand in the gap, to be the godly role models that young men need in their lives? That can be your mission field. With God’s help, you can “harvest” young men and boys for His Kingdom.
If not you – then who? If not now – then when?
Sam Mehaffie has worked with boys for more than 30 years as a basketball coach, youth pastor, mentor and Court Appointed Special Advocate (and has the gray hairs to prove it!) He founded Saving Our Boys, a ministry that challenges and teaches men to be mentors to young men.