Christian Masculine Character Development
Christian Masculinity is rooted in Scripture, characterized by the fruit of the Holy Spirit, works to raise up elders, and is resistant to temptation. It takes men to forge men. A woman, no matter how amazing and godly, cannot teach a boy to be a man. This class provides structure and support for spiritual fathers to forge young men of deep Christian character.
Where and When?
Thursdays from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM.
The 23-24 first trimester runs from August 24th to October 26th.
The 23-24 second trimester runs from November 9th to February 1st, with no class on November 23rd, December 21st, or December 28th.
The 23-24 third trimester runs from February 15th to April 18th.
This course is for young men, age 14+, who have made an independent profession of faith.
A Holy Life Starts With Faith In Jesus
Christian Character depends on first being a Christian. If your student has not made an independent profession of faith, he is not ready for this class. Further, if your student has not expressed his own interest in growing in Godly character,
All Christians have the Holy Spirit working in them to produce more fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). While the Holy Spirit is doing his work, we are also told to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12). Where the work of the Holy Spirit stops and our work begins (and visa versa) is a mystery.
Godly Youth Have More Than A List of Godly Character Traits
There are many verses that one could pick to summarize the traits of Godly Character. Psalm 1, Galatians 5:22-23, Philippians 2:12, Philippians 4:8, Romans 5:3-5, and 2 Peter 1:5-7 are all good candidates. For the purposes of this class and its focus on the discipleship of young men, Christian Character will be considered on three axes. The first axis is the student's own sense of experiencing and demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. The second axis is Biblical literacy (the main objective of my Bible classes), whole-Bible literacy resulting from delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating on his law day and night (Psalm 1:2). The third axis is the qualifications for eldership in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. This is not a presumption that all Christian men must or will serve as elders, but that if one desires to, he desires a good thing (1 Timothy 3:1) and that there is nothing lost by preparing for the possibility of eldership.
Discipleship is more than reading the same books. Yes, we will read books and discuss what we learn. We will also put what we learn into action. We are in a time in history where it is getting harder to live faithfully as a Christian, not easier. So, we will pray for peace and prepare for war (spiritually speaking).
Godly Youth Need Christian Parents More Than Christian Youth Ministry
Parents are always the most important influence in the discipleship of a young man. Adults outside the home only help. They don't replace the parents. The spiritual fathers of the young men in this class are always invited and strongly encouraged to show up as often as possible. All of the homework for the class will require the young men to seek input from their spiritual fathers.
There is nothing new under the sun. The temptations that young men face today are, in principle, no different than God's people have faced for all of history. No different than the temptations his father faced. If anything is different, it is the ease of access to any number of temptations through smartphones, social media, and video games. Present cultural conflicts reveal generational differences that are not new in the history of God's people. These differences lend to generational conflict and add static to the discipleship process.
This class is a place for both young men and their spiritual fathers to develop a community that will outlast the class. While the students are the ones attending class and participating in the main discussions, my prayer is that this class helps spiritual fathers to effectively disciple their young men.
Christian youth ministry has tremendous evangelistic value for bringing unchurched youth into the church. But youth in Christian homes should be learning from their parents first.
Come with questions. Be honest even when it's uncomfortable. Do the homework. Keep a reading journal (it will make your presentations MUCH easier).
These character development themes will be covered in lectures during the first three weeks of class and reinforced by reading and presentations during the rest of the class.
Depending on the Holy Spirit.
Pursuing a vocation.
Pursuing a woman.
Leading a family.
Participating in the life of the Church.
Defeating sexual temptation.
Defeating financial temptation.
Defeating the temptation of power.
Defeating the temptation of passivity.
Students will pick from a list of books to read over the trimester. Each book will only be assigned to one or two students. Each student will prepare a presentation based on their reading and share it in class. If students take the class for multiple trimesters, they may not re-read a book they've already read.
Much of what we read never gets put into action. Keeping an action-oriented reading journal helps us commit to taking action. Students will answer these questions after each week's reading:
- What insights or new ideas did you gain from the reading?
- What questions would you ask the author (if you could speak to him or her)?
- What ideas for possible action can you draw from the reading or the insights you gained from the reading?
- Create a list of possible life experiments from your ideas for possible action (try [x] to see if [y] changes). Pay special attention to life experiments that may impact areas of life that are related to the core themes of the class.
- Which life experiment from your list above will you implement for the next two weeks?
Involving Spiritual Fathers
If possible, fathers are strongly encouraged to read the same books as their young men. Students will share their weekly reading journals with their spiritual fathers and seek wisdom and feedback, then answer the following questions.
- How did your father sharpen or support your insights from your reading?
- What were your father's thoughts on the questions you wanted to ask the author of your reading? Did he have the same questions? Did he suggest possible answers or where to find answers?
- What feedback did your father provide on your ideas for possible action?
- What feedback did your father provide on your list of potential life experiments? Pay special attention to life experiments that may impact areas of life that are related to the core themes of the class.
- What support can your father provide for the life experiment that you chose to implement?
From weeks four through ten of the class, each student will make two presentations to the class.
The first presentation should be 10-15 minutes long and summarize the book and integrate information from the 4th and 5th questions of the reading journal and input from the student's spiritual father.
The second presentation should be 5 minutes or less and share the results of the life experiment the student chose to implement. Students presenting in weeks 9 and 10 of the class will give both presentations at once.
Each student will choose at least one book from the class book list to read and present to the class.
Godly Character Takes Time To Bear Fruit
It would be nice if Godly Character could be “switched on” at the moment of salvation. But because of the fall, obeying God in any of the work he has assigned us now includes sweat, thorns, and thistles (Genesis 3:18-19). This means that our efforts to grow in Christian character will be difficult, long, and hard.
Our character-building work doesn't undermine the work of the divine power of the Holy Spirit. There is a mysterious relationship between the two working together.
Godly Youth Need More Than Instruction Against Sexual Immorality
Don't think about pink elephants. Don't think about polar bears. Too many Christians start their theology of sex with Exodus 20:14 instead of Genesis 1:27-28 (the creation of man and woman) and Genesis 2:18-25 (the institution of marriage). Even fewer account for the placement of Genesis 2:15 (the institution of work) before the institution of marriage.
A man should set roots in his work, friends, and community before pursuing a woman romantically or sexually. But if we start our theology of sex in the wrong place, we don't get any of that instruction, do we? There is much more to this line of thinking that will be drawn out in the lectures, discussions, reading, and presentations during the class.
God's Power Through the Church
Participation in the life of the Church is a key tool for developing Christ-like character in our daily lives. The Church is the primary context for Christian service and spiritual development. It is also the bridge between Christian households and unbelieving communities needing effective witness. Not that we should engage in Church activity for the sake of being busy, but because we need a community of believers spurring us to acts of love and good works.