Anybody remember this song by Deniece Williams? Well you may if you are as old as me. It was a hit in 1984 and as the title suggests, its focus was on a boy.
For many years now I have seen the Sophia Network grow from a tiny acorn into a strong oak that looks to support women in youth ministry and I would take my hat off to you, if I was wearing one!
I have had the privilege of working with many good men and women in ministry who have helped shape and mould my thoughts and ideas along with a huge dose of the Holy Spirit. One person who was a helpful inspiration was Carl Beech, now head of Christian Vision for Men. I believe what he is trying to do for men in the country is really key as we look for a more balanced expression of the church.
Sophia Network is doing a great job at encouraging and assisting women in youth ministry, from helpful resources to inspirational blogs and stories from women around the world, however I feel there is a hole in the market…Boys! What are we doing for the boys? Are we giving them a hand?
At our church we have two strong brigades, Girls and Boys. I run our company section that sees 32 lads aged between 12 and 16 turn up each week to do what boys do and we have a lot of fun. My wife runs our girls senior section of GB and we are constantly discussing the issues we have in resourcing to help lead these groups. There is a lot of good stuff out there; however, I think there is a lack of something similar to Sophia Network for the men in youth work.
There are many organizations doing many good things for guys and girls, such as Urban Saints, Boys and Girls Brigade, but I’ve yet to come across something that brings it all together for the guys. I believe Sophia Network is and will continue to help women to engage with younger women in youth ministry but I’m seeing a vacuum when it comes to boys. I’ve met quite a few leaders recently who have struggled to find something helpful, in one place, one site or organization such as Sophia, so with that in mind I want to plant a seed, an acorn, a thought in your head!
Can we as youth leaders and organizational leaders come together to create something similar to Sophia, but specifically for male youth workers to give them wisdom in how they bring kingdom values into young men’s lives? This doesn’t exclude female youth workers from accessing information; in fact I would want to see more views from women challenging the way some of us guys think and act and vice versa, but the main aim would be to help, inspire, resource and grow male youth leaders/workers and how they can engage with the young men they work with.
Could we see a Solomon Network? Does that name work? That’s not for now, the question is, can we see something similar to Sophia that will enhance the way we work with young men? For them to grow as men as God intended, to use the skills, gifts and characters that have been placed in them to be as Jesus is.
So I sing with my best 1980’s voice – “Let’s hear it for the boys, lets give the boys a hand!”
Gary Bott is the youth pastor of Billericay Baptist Church. He is married to Katie and they have three lively boys. Follow Gary on Twitter - @RevBott
What do you think? Is there a need for a network for people working with boys? Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.