Forgotten Mission

Military baseMilitary base closures are in the news. The pentagon wants to shutter hundreds of installations around the nation, in order to plow the savings into beefed-up national security.

But local communities don’t want to lose the bases. They depend on these posts to buoy their local economies, provide jobs and enhance prestige. The moment the list was announced, governors and senators rushed to the microphones, pledging to “save our bases.”

But there’s a core truth that’s being lost here. The military exists for one purpose: to defend America against hostile enemies. It does not exist to provide jobs or prestige to localities. But these towns (and their supporters) seem to have forgotten that.

Our churches fall into a similar mindset. We forget our purpose: to make disciples of Jesus. The only valid measure of success is this: are people becoming more like Him?

How to Speak Man-ish

We live among the world’s largest unreached people group — men. Guys have their own needs, expectations and culture. They speak a different language. Yet today’s Christians do almost nothing to make the gospel comprehensible to them. On the contrary, many of the terms we toss about in our churches have turned Christianity into a puzzle for men.

Meeting the Needs of Fatherless Men

Gang tagPolice in Los Angeles are battling an upsurge in gang activity. Officer Frank Flores of the LAPD estimates that more than 200,000 gang members call Los Angeles home. Jose is typical:

Jose came from a broken family and joined [a gang] when he was 13. He was arrested three times, the last time at age 19 for killing a homeless man with other gang members and stealing 26 dollars he was carrying.

Jose recently left prison and is trying to reform his life by working for Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles group that provides jobs to former convicts. “I want to change, I want to change,” he says. Then he goes silent. Without his gang Jose seems lost.

Why is Jose so drawn to his gang? “A gang gives you something that nothing in the world or no amount of money can give you: a family, an acceptance,” he said.

The church can learn a lot from gangs. Men join gangs for one reason: they want a father figure. Many troubled men grew up without strong male role models. But these men do not turn to church because the congregations they’ve attended are predominantly female, and the spirit of the place feels so warm, nurturing and gentle. Men need a masculine path to Christ. Young men crave a wilder, more demanding faith, and don’t mind the spur of discipline when it’s administered in love.