When you think of Jesus’ twelve disciples, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? How would you describe them? My answer to this, in simple terms, is twofold: Post-Ascension/Pentecost, mighty men of God. Pre-Ascension/Pentecost… well, let’s just say they remind me a lot of myself as a teenager.
Having grown up in the church, a lot of wonderful people poured into me as my life in Christ developed. However, up until a certain point in my teens, there was a disconnect. As the trail runner, hunter, and competitive shooter I was at the time, I stuck out like a sore thumb among my peers. I had difficulty seeing my place within the church, and sometimes questioned whether I even had one. I had a burgeoning passion for God, but a subset of skills and knowledge that seemingly had no function in the environment of Christian ministry.
This persisted until certain godly men appeared in my life – ones I could relate to. For the first time in my life, I could talk about Minute-of-Angle and the qualifications for eldership with the same person! Laugh though you may, this was a turning point for me. No longer under pressure to suppress the fruits of my masculinity, I began to see, under the Scriptural guidance of these mentors, that my masculinity was quite necessary.
Long story short, this led to a dramatic personal transformation. I had never heard before that I, as a Christian man, was to take responsibility for and lead those around me, but when I did, the Spirit filled me in new way and began to overhaul my life. I can’t take credit for this, but rather point to the Spirit of God leveraging the faithfulness of a couple men who knew their Bibles, happened to speak my language, and made the effort to reach out to me.
The disciples were much like me – good-hearted goofballs with some random skills – even as they were mentored by Christ Himself. However, when Christ’s guidance climaxed with their receipt of the Holy Spirit, the narrative changed from denying the truth in front of a servant girl to mighty speeches that brought thousands to the Lord.
“Boyishness” is often labeled as ADHD before digressing into the behavior of a godless creature that our society labels as “toxic masculinity”, and as with anything repulsive in nature, throwing it away is easier than fixing it. However, the undeniable extra work and frustration involved in pointing a young man to Christ until he’s well-rooted (read Psalm 1) pays impressive dividends. The four components of a rifle cartridge are useless when contained and messy when not. But, when properly assembled and locked into the chamber of a proper instrument where a firing pin can punch the primer and ignite the propellant, cutting-edge performance can be achieved.
In both of MCC’s youth groups, I see spitting images of my teenaged self every week. And, although I care about the girls equally, my focus is to show these guys, in the midst of a society that often despises them, that they are not only necessary, but absolutely critical to the life of healthy churches, families, communities, and countries; that not only does God love them, but also that He has a mission for them.
Discipleship is important to us because it is the critical next-level involvement necessary to cultivate a fireproof dependence on God, and it is a task for the whole church:
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” -- 2 Timothy 2:2
We sincerely hope that as our youth get gradually closer to being launched out into the world, you would join us in preparing them. You don’t have to be “cool”; you just need to love God, His Word, and His people. Nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless, and He always multiplies our efforts, even if we never see the results.