I have been noticing a peculiar trend over this past few months and I have now been inspired to write about it. I have noticed that our Monkey Barrel program has an overwhelming number of girls in attendance but is lacking on the boys side of things. This is odd to me…we throw balls around in a gym often times hitting each other in the head, we play competitive games and award prizes and we even launch diapers filled with baked beans out of a sing shot at summer camp. What Jr. High aged boy can resist all of this!!! Nevertheless, they are missing.


One of my former classmates in seminary said that his strategy for youth ministry was to get as many girls as he could to attend; he would do whatever it took to get girls to come to you his youth group (like maybe hang Justin Beiber posters from the ceiling…or actually have Justin Beiber come as a guest speaker!!). In our case maybe we should have Big Time Rush come in and give a shout out to K.P., one of our loyal Monkey Barrel girls! (I still plan to review their music on my blog at the request of K.P.)


Anyhow, my classmate’s theory was that if he had enough Jr. High aged girls in one place at one time that would be incentive enough for all the Jr. High aged boys to flock to his youth group as well. Maybe we just have to get the word out that Monkey Barrel is packed with girls who like to throw balls around and catch baked bean filled diapers…but then maybe if the boys were there the girls would cease to engage in these activities?


Its quite confusing trying to get inside the mind of Jr. High aged students. Just ask them what is going on in their head and half of the time they are not sure. What I do know is this: the present success of our Jr. High program is the future success of our Sr. High program. This is how we do discipleship in our youth ministry: students are more prone to come for the first time when they are in Jr. High…once they transition to High School they have already built relationships and we are not labeled un-cool because they already know better. So, this shortage of Jr. High boys is not something to be taken lightly.

George Barna is a guy that studies people and numbers. Relating this to Jr. High aged people, Barna says that a person’s perspective on faith and God becomes somewhat set and largely unchanged after the age of 13. Barna is not citing psychological support for this, he is showing that this is just the way things seem to be. “…the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior [is] 32% for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4% for those in the 13- to 18-age range; and 6% for people 19 older”. (You can read his whole book on this topic. It is called “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions” and was published by Regal Books in 2003.)


So, not only are Jr. High boys missing, the likelihood that they will remain missing increases with each week, month, and year that they remain missing. For those who work with teenagers, parent teenagers, or care about teenagers, this is tragic!


I have spent part of my day today writing Facebook messaging a number of guys that I once knew from Monkey Barrel…how about you do the same. Maybe not Facebook, but maybe you see some Jr. High guys at school, at the park, at swimming lessons. Maybe you even know some guys who once came to Monkey Barrel but no longer do.


Whatever you do, just do something! We need to train up some decent and spiritual young men to someday make a good match for all the decent and spiritual young women that we seem to be turning out! When one part suffers we all have the potential to suffer, so lets split up and find these missing guys!