I recently sat at a table at a Brazilian steakhouse with around 20 college guys, celebrating the end of another semester on our campus—and, we ate a lot of meat! For nearly two hours, we laughed, we challenged each other to go ahead and eat one more slice of steak, and we enjoyed talking about many of the things guys talk about when they get together.
However, here is what I see that is more significant than what’s on the surface of that meal. When young adult guys get serious about going beyond the surface conversations in their friendships with other guys, a brotherhood that has purpose and direction is developed, and they begin to truly VALUE that as a part of their lives. I envision and pray for guys who push each other to be men who are seeking Christ in their moment-by-moment lives. Young guys need community, and they need other young guys to walk with them while they are exploring what it means to be a man who is following Jesus with all His heart.
It’s worth every effort to invest in guys in our college and young adult ministries. They are ready and willing to be pushed and challenged in all areas of their lives. Will they frustrate us sometimes? Absolutely. However, it’s worth every moment of effort to get guys to lead and be real with each other.
Here are three reasons it is important to have a guy-specific aspect in your young adult ministry:
- Guys don’t always admit (or even realize) that they need community with other guys.
Young men have not always seen healthy guy friendships modeled for them—especially ones that are focused on pushing each other to follow Jesus more closely and to reflect Him in everything they do. Since they have not always seen it modeled, they don’t often realize they need it.
In our young adult ministries, we have an opportunity to bring guys together for some good guy fellowship (like eating lots of meat together or playing paintball), but don’t let it stop at that. Young men must be challenged to go beyond the surface level conversations. During a meal, begin conversations that will spur the guys to think about things that are real and that matter.
Guys who develop this aspect of their lives as college students and young adults will continue to seek that in their lives as they transition to different locations and churches. Help them realize that they truly need a healthy male community in order to grow in their relationships with Jesus.
- Jesus modeled this investment in guys throughout His earthly ministry.
All throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus walking with His disciples and pointing them toward what is true and what truly matters. These guys were young men who were the working guys in the neighborhood. They didn’t fit the model of being the scholarly guys who had all the answers.
Jesus found it important to be away with His disciples to talk about the happenings of the day and help them process what they had seen and heard. I can only imagine what those conversations around a campfire were like at night. Did they talk about the incredibly good meal they had earlier in the day? Probably so. They’re guys. But, I’m sure the conversations were also full of questions and “a-ha” moments, as they sat with Jesus.
What would it look like if guys “sat with Jesus,” reading and studying His Word together? Encouraging your young adult men to get serious about sitting with Him with other guys in their daily walks could transform their lives as they become followers of Jesus on a moment-by-moment basis.
- Don’t forget that young men need older men to walk with them, too.
Young guys like to think that they have it “all figured out” and that they don’t need the help of previous generations to navigate this modern world of technology and information. However, relationships are still hard. Disappointment still occurs. Becoming a husband and a Dad can still be overwhelming. For all these reasons and much more, young men need older guys who are following Jesus to invest in them and walk with them on a consistent basis.
As young adult ministry leaders, be intentional to get young men and older men in the same space on a frequent basis. They may not realize they need each other, but once they start walking together, they will realize that their lives are made richer because they are listening to and challenging one another.
Our young adult ministries will be better if we encourage our young men to be intentional in developing good community with one another. And, sometimes, that involves eating a lot of meat together—both literally and figuratively!
Mark Whitt is a collegiate minister with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Connect with Mark via Twitter.