Monday, December 10, 2012

Young, male, restless conservative SBCers: Sniveling Wimps


 
Perhaps there is a more polite way to describe our bright, highly committed, single Southern Baptist young men but I humbly offer 'sniveling wimps' as one possibility of an apt description in the light of a startling statistic:


Two-thirds of the personnel who serve in the International Mission Board's Journeyman program are females. 

Let's see. Southern Baptist churches give over $300 million to our International Board to reach the world for Christ. An important and significant part of their mission force is a two year program for single college graduates and married couples without children. The IMB describes it thusly:
For the past 40+ years, more than 5,500 adventurous young college graduates have served all around the world as Journeyman missionaries. These Southern Baptist, twenty-something, single or married with no children college graduates wanted to do something more after graduation than just jump into a secular career ... they wanted to be on mission with God.
Apparently, far fewer of our finest male college grads are very adventurous. Two-thirds of those serving in the Journeyman program are females.

It gets worse.

Many of the priority locations for these personnel are in countries where males are culturally dominant and females highly restricted. So, God must have willing males to bridge this cultural divide? No doubt God does. Apparently, just not among Southern Baptists. It's the "willing males" who are deficient in the SBC not God.

Hey! You! Yeah, you. Young, restless, single, educated, reformed or not reformed. You! We will pay your way. We will give you a salary. We will train you. We will help you learn a language. We will stand behind you with vast resources. All you have to do is to be willing to go.

Oh, you're busy on the  warm and nurturing campus among encouraging friends and erudite professors. OK. 

Most of us, and few others, are aware that Southern Baptists are mainly responsible for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is probably unfair, but the CBMW makes news primarily in the area of pronouncing what females cannot do in ministry positions or reacting to such things.

There are things to be explored here but I would recommend that the CBMW refocus at least some of their energy on Biblical Manhood and relax on the Womanhood business. Perhaps they could get funding to supply spiritual testosterone to the young, restless, educated males in the SBC so that they would step up to the task of The Great Commission somewhere other than church saturated Ft. Worth, Texas, reformed hotbed Louisville, Kentucky and elsewhere.

Perhaps our young, single, male seminarians, white hot for Christ, would lay aside plumbing the depths of supralapsarianism or the joys of the hypostatic union long enough to offer themselves to the Lord for service in some place where the name of Christ is seldom heard.

I ask: Is God calling only females to these places overseas? Surely not. If He were, it would be the Almighty's joke on Southern Baptists who disallow females as Senior Pastors but use them for the more significant service overseas.

Surely, a young man entering the SBC pastoral ministry where he will likely serve single-staff, mostly rural churches for his career and where he will be dealing with a people group who are Gospel-saturated could at least consider that God may call him to one of the many people groups elsewhere virtually without the Gospel.

And shouldn't every complementarian enthusiast, those who may be sitting behind a desk or standing behind a comfortable pulpit pontificating about women in ministry, begin by apologizing to every woman who has answered the call of God and has or is serving in these places where men were needed but who were unwilling to answer the call?

At the very least the IMB should rename the Journeyman program to the Journeywoman program or just the Journey program.

Lottie Moon, could you send us some more strident and pointed letters from the foreign fields...and address them to the young men of the SBC.
__________________

Addendum: The IMB does not release gender statistics for their mission personnel but I have heard SBC leaders address this issue of the female-dominated Journeyman force. Danny Akin in particular, I understand, minces no words with the young men at Southeastern seminary. I have also heard SBC presidents on the same subject.

As always, I welcome some more informed SBCer persuading me that a nomenclature other than "sniveling wimps" would be more appropriate.

40 comments:

Tom Parker said...

William:


You mean the SBC allows women to be journeywomen. How can this be?

This must be stopped immediately.

Anonymous said...

If only I were 35 years younger, I would go. Alas... I am among those who were young during the resurgence so I missed the mark to be considered and now old with the new wave of up and coming 25-20 something mega pastors to be considered. A sad, but somewhat glorious place to be.

Jonathan... I used your comments on the rising cost of living internationally in our Mission Study and where we will be if something doesn't change. Good word.

If you ever want to give up your travel job, let me know... I want it.

Jon Estes

Tom Parker said...

William:

One other comment. Folks are always anxious to move your topics to SBC Voices and I highly recommend this one but I predict if it is it will get mighty ugly over there about this one.

Jeff Parsons said...

Post this on Voices and comments will go over 400.....:)

William Thornton said...

No, I don't really think young, male, single SBC college grads are sniveling wimps. I am guessing that I don't flog this crowd half as badly as does Danny Akin.

Yes, there is an element of curmudgeonly humor and provocation in this.

Yes, the subject is one that is quite serious.

Yes, I have personal experience with this program, though vicariously.

Anonymous said...

From a nondenom/Bible Church background, I've always placed a lot of blame for the lack of mission effort on the very difficult path to raising individual support for foreign missions and church planting in our circles. Reading this, maybe that isn't really the probelem at all...

Justin said...

As a young Pastor, I want to commend what you have said. The reality is that this lack of biblical manhood on the missional level is simply a result of the lack of biblical manhood in the pew. Until the church becomes serious about raising men, then nothing a seminary says or does will make a lot of difference. Men today are more interested in serving their kingdom than serving His kingdom. Hunting, fishing, golfing is of higher priority then the Bride of Christ. They do not love their wives as Christ loves the church, and then we wonder why their sons do not grow up with a hot passion to serve Christ on the front lines. Maybe we should restructure Journeyman to include 4 days of service and 3 days of outdoor leisure to boost the participation?

Justin said...

As a former Journeyman and one of those males that has answered the call, I wholeheartedly agree with your concern...but before we blast all male singles as lazy (which I am tempted to do), I would suggest that it is easier for females to go. As a man, I am Biblically responsible to provide for my wife and family one day. For many single men coming out of college, part of that preparation involves getting a job, securing a home, and reducing school loans in order to be in a responsible place before marriage. Women have some of these same concerns, but it is easier for a female to take two years off after college before returning home and getting married. A 24-25 year old man with little money, no home, no master's degree, and hardly any marketable skills or experience in today's job market suddenly finds it very difficult to find a wife, a job, and maybe even respect among the men at his church.

I definitely agree more men should answer the call. Many are being disobedient. But some are not going overseas because they are responsible young men that are called to love their wives, provide for their families, and support mission work from America as leaders in their churches. They are the minority, but they contribute to the unbalanced statistics. And let's also support those men who do go overseas as they transition back into a culture where their obedience to the missionary call creates unique challenges for many years to come.

Tom Parker said...

Justin:

I'm trying to give your last comment the benefit of the doubt but it sounds mighty sexist. Sounds to me like you are saying--those single
24-25 year old women sure have it easier because they just need to wait to be asked to be married to some Southern Baptist man who will take care of them for the rest of their lives, so they are free to be journeywomen while us 24-25 Southern Baptist boys don't have time for that because we need to be preparing to financally take care of the journeywomen after they finish their easy 2 to 3 years.

Please tell me this is not what you meant.

William Thornton said...

I understand your points, Justin, and would encourage any such non-lazy, non-sniveling, non-wimp young men to say to Jesus:

"Lord, I have student debt (a disqualifer to some extent with the IMB); Lord, I need a wife and don't want to take a two-year hiatus from that search; Lord, I need to get a home and build up some equity. Lord, you know I am a 24-25 year old man with little money, no home, no master's degree, and hardly any marketable skills or experience...so I can't go."

If that's OK with Jesus, it is OK with me.

I commend you for not finding enough reasons NOT to go. Do you not think others can do as you did? And, do you not think that married, childless men eligible to serve can love their wives overseas just as they can here? I'm not buying that one.

Neither am I buying your assertion that it is easier for women. It is certainly not easier on the field, imo.

Do you think that it is easier for daughters to leave fathers and mothers for service or for parents to encourage and then to release daughters to overseas fields than sons?

Do you think that females transition easier in these high priority areas?

You don't think that women as well as men can find a boatload of reasons to stay here? But they don't do so in the same numbers as men.

Forgive me, but I'm thinking you haven't raised a single excuse that flies with Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Justin,

Thanks for sharing the often unspoken thoughts of those young men who do not even put mission service on the "get er done" list. Whether viable in the eyes of Jesus or not, the fact is, young men are thinking these things.

I also agree that it is easier for the "other gender" but maybe not for the same reasons you listed. I see it as women are much more responsive to the things of God, than men. They think spiritually more often. They talk spiritually more often. Yes, some of it has to do with the culture we are raised in but much of it has to do with the way we are created.

Thanks for your insightful wors.

Jon L. Estes

Tom Parker said...

Jon L. Estes

You said to Justin:

"Whether viable in the eyes of Jesus or not, the fact is, young men are thinking these things."

Jon, what a bunch of baloney. Men thinking about these things and women actually going are not even in the same universe.

Some in the SBC world would ban women from doing almost anything including being a journeywomen, and then what would happen to missions, but they could care less.

The resurgence that you speak of so highly surely is working is it not?

Anonymous said...

Tom,

So you don't think young men are thinking the way Justin describes, doesn't surprise me.

The men I talk to who are dealing with God's call upon their lives are thinking these things. It is a common conversation when missions comes up. They would love to go but the battle to provide for the family is huge. Walking away from what they have to go international is a difficult choice.

Not everyone can be as spiritual as you and not struggle with these real thoughts and emotions.

I am not sure what universe you are in my friend. Your women comment makes no sense in reflection to what I wrote. You are mistaken if you think I am putting a ban on women in missions.

As far as stepping out, selling it all and going international, find someone to talk to that did just that and you might learn a few things. If you need a name someone who has been there, fought the battle and won, let me know. I'll be glad to chat with you via skype about this very real battle.

Maybe you really don't want to know.

Jon L. Estes

Tom Parker said...

JLS:

You said to me:"Not everyone can be as spiritual as you and not struggle with these real thoughts and emotions."

When one has nothing of substance to say you attack the other person.

Let me be clear and William Thornton said so himself, Justin was doing nothing but making excuses for some men not going.

And then you supported him in his making of excuses.

These poor little males that can not go--but those little damsels in distress--that is women--outgoing SBC men by 2 to 1.

But, please next time skip lecturing me--because you have no credibility with me.

William Thornton said...

Guys, no need to go at each other. You made your pointsl

I understand why there is a reluctance to commit to the two year program, completely understandable. I do not see any of the reasons as compelling.

Would we be having this conversation if such things deterred our predecessors?

Anonymous said...

Did you know the marriage statistics for Christians? For every two Christian men, there are three Christian women. That means that a third of women will not find an eligible Christian partner. Just sayin'.

Tom Parker said...

William:

It is disappointing that this important blog topic generates such few comments. Are guys in the SBC afraid to give their viewpoint? I do sincerely applaud you for addressing the elephant in the missions room. Hope you have a good day!

Anonymous said...

Most of the young men at seminary are sitting around waiting to become the next mega-church pastor and have thousands worshipping at their feet.

Or better yet, just become the President of a seminary in Ft. Worth and live like a king at Southern Baptist expense.

We have brought this upon ourselves with our hero worship and putting men on platforms where they do not belong.

Anonymous said...

William,

I don't disagree with your post (the title is a bot far stretched - but it does grab ones attention) and as I stated to Justin, whether the excuses are viable in the eyes of Jesus, they are happening. That was my point.

Did you catch that Tom. I am not supporting anyone making excuses, I am saying these are real issues that men are dealing with when it comes to service overseas.

Does this make them less spiritual? To some maybe. Does this make the wimps" To some maybe. For those who have not made such a move to the international field to question others who are not making the move to the international field is, well, hypocritical.

As far as the female end of the discussion, if you stop and read what I stated, I did not see it the way Justin did. Bottom line for that comment was that I see the female side of humanity more in touch with spiritual things, than our side.it is the way God created them. What a blessing. Every female missionary I know serving on the field or having served is no damsel in distress but a powerful testimony to the wonderful work of God. We could learn much from them. Been over there, serving along side of them.

My apologies for the more spiritual remark towards you, it should not have been said. As far as my credibility with you, no problem. I have no desire to concern myself with such things. I respect your right to make your comments as you see they need to be made but I will give my less than two cents worth as I feel the need. Do with it what you want.

Jon L. Estes

Tom Parker said...

Jon:

You said to me:"Did you catch that Tom. I am not supporting anyone making excuses, I am saying these are real issues that men are dealing with when it comes to service overseas."

You're being a wise guy Jon and I do not appreciate it.

You can say what you want but you are making excuses for the guys not going-period.

You try and make it sound like women do not have "real" issues about going. Notice Jon, the women don't make excuses and go and the guys make excuses and do not go--seems like there is something in the Bible about that.

I would say they have more.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

You are reading into my words much more than I am conveying. I don't mind them being called excuses but the fact is they are real issues many men struggle with when it comes to international missions. I know, I struggled with the same issues before I served overseas. I share these struggles with men in my church who are dealing with international missions as a career. They are real.

We have a young family who is in his first semester at SEBTS who struggled with these very issues. He has since found out that he will not serve as a IMB missionary due to his sons health condition (autism) but he has since surrendered to the call of chaplaincy in the US Navy.

Excuses, ok if you need to use the term. Real issues men are struggling with, absolutely.

I never said women do not have issues, you again are reading more into what I say. The accusation you make is not there. I stand by my position that women are more spiritual due to the way they were created. I would say the same thing about being romantic. Women are more romantic due to the way they were created. Other terms could fit as well.

You say women have more struggles... fine... I disagree.

Jon L. Estes

Tom Parker said...

Jon:

I'm not reading anything into your words. You are just an argumentative type of person--period.

You also said: " I stand by my position that women are more spiritual due to the way they were created. I would say the same thing about being romantic. Women are more romantic due to the way they were created. Other terms could fit as well."

I have not a clue what you are trying to say above and don't worry William, I'm done here with Jon--nothing else to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

"You are just an argumentative type of person--period."

A wise man in this thread stated:

"When one has nothing of substance to say you attack the other person."

Now, concerning your most current statement, let me state...

Now that's funny coming from you. It is very possible we might be more alike in this descriptive you give than one of us might be comfortable with.

You are fun to go "tit for tat" with and I don't mind us disagreeing. It does make for a more interesting conversation, if it can be kept civil.

Jon L. Estes

Kevin Sanders said...

I served an ISC term (about the same thing as a journeyman) after I finished seminary. I'd also like to see more young men going.

William Thornton said...

What? No marriage plans...debt...career path, etc. to stop you?

I am being sarcastic of course but commend you for your service. I think the Lord can work it out for males as he does for females.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Plodder, you have such a way with words. I especially enjoyed this paragraph:

"There are things to be explored here but I would recommend that the CBMW refocus at least some of their energy on Biblical Manhood and relax on the Womanhood business. Perhaps they could get funding to supply spiritual testosterone to the young, restless, educated males in the SBC so that they would step up to the task of The Great Commission somewhere other than church saturated Ft. Worth, Texas, reformed hotbed Louisville, Kentucky and elsewhere."

Keep speaking up and speaking out, Bro'!

signed,
a former IMB career missionary

Kevin Sanders said...

Thank you, William!

Anonymous said...

The reality: More women serving as "Journeymen' than men.

The response: Criticize the proportion of men not serving.

An alternate response: Praise the women who are serving.

Question: Why criticize the men instead of praising the women?

Another question: Isn't it time to change the name of the program?

A thought: Even when women lead the way, they will, apparently, still occupy a diminished place in the minds of SBC men.

Anonymous said...

"Question: Why criticize the men instead of praising the women?"

Easy answer (not speaking for William): The main focus of the article William wrote was on the men not serving. Even the attention getting title identified the coming thoughts.

If you write on article praising the women going, I'd love to read it. Let me know if you do.

"A thought: Even when women lead the way, they will, apparently, still occupy a diminished place in the minds of SBC men."

Where did William or anyone who has responded make less of women? I missed that.

Jon L. Estes

Anonymous said...

Jon: “The main focus of the article ....”

Anonymous: Of course. Is this in dispute?

Jon: “Where did William or anyone who has responded make less of women? I missed that.”

Anonymous: See “the main focus of the article.”

Anonymous said...

For those of us that love the far northern plains, this is just one more example of jane crow.

Women were good enough to be sent out, sans support, as "Bible women" to plant churches, preach, teach, and die on the plains in the 1800's.

Once things were settled, ahem, ladies please you know you cannot be pastors so sit down and shut up cause a man now wants your job.

I would ask re the journeyman program: is it possible men do not apply because it is not a good move careerwise?

If it becomes a good move careerwise, may we expect the women to no longer be accepted?

Is this just part of the ladder of white male, then white female, then man of color, then woman of color?

Anonymous said...

William

I have been reading your blog for a while now, but have never commented before. You and I must be "brothers from different mothers" because I agree with everything you post. This one is no exception.

DLF

Anonymous said...

"Jon: “The main focus of the article ....”

Anonymous: Of course. Is this in dispute?"

Just answering a question. I guess whoever asked it found it in dispute. Maybe you can ask that anonymous person.

"Jon: “Where did William or anyone who has responded make less of women? I missed that.”

Anonymous: See “the main focus of the article.”"

So, if William chooses to write about men not going to the international field, it is automatically a post against women? Where do you come up with this stuff? It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Jon L. Estes

Anonymous said...

One thing no one has mentioned (so I will) is that women are serving overseas because that is the only place the SBC will let them serve, unless they want to be a children's minister or a pastor's wife.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

All the effects of the past Counterculture has made such a social condition. There is a great market for the irrational empathy of the weaker sex. Let me know when we reactionaries are allowed back in church.

Anonymous said...

Jon, William had choices before him and he made a decision to focus on men who did not serve rather than the women who do.

Anonymous said...

At Jon E who said,
"women are more romantic..."

No. We're not.

One guy I was engaged to be married to was even puzzled over the fact that I am not a romantic. He was the romantic in the relationship, not me.

Speaking of stereotypes of women (which are prevalent among conservative Christians and SBCers):

Also women are not "nurturing" or "maternal," nor are they "more" maternal/ nurturing than males - they are socialized to be that way, yes, but not necessarily innately so.

I have never married or had kids.

I am a woman who does not like kids or babies, yet that is the only role Southern Baptists permit a woman - something baby related.

This is one reason among several why I no longer attend any church. I am not permitted to serve where my talents are.

The person above who said there are three single Christian women for every two men: bingo.

That is one reason why there is a lot of unwanted, prolonged singleness among Christian women in their 40s and 30s today who want to get married to Christian men - there are no unmarried Christian men to marry.

But does the SBC care about this gigantic problem, or even realize it exists? No.

They're too busy telling the small number of already-married ladies to "graciously submit" to their spouses.

Women have the same issues as men do, so these guys who say they cannot get married due to having to save up income, get a home, etc. It's no different for a woman.

We no longer live in the days where a woman can expect to marry by age 25 and have a man financially support her.

So for the guys who keep saying, "But the men say they have these issues preventing them from going," that is a huge cop-out.

Anonymous said...

Danny Akin just addressed this during his SBC Convention Sermon.

Tim Snider

David said...

Somewhere along the line, we have lost the vision of the high and mighty Christ that all of heaven bows down to and says, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, riches, strength, honor glory and blessing. He is still the one who is worthy of worship in all the earth. He said Go and make disciples in all the earth, not just comfortable NC, TN, CA, or wherever. The young men are seeking opportunity and comfort while filling their minds with theology they fear to put into practice. They fear to confront the enemy and go to the lands where Christ has not been named. People around me are dying and gong to hell and we need some men who are willing to stand up and lift up the name of the mighty Christ to the lost. Praise the Lord for the women willing to sacrifice. We need less Baraks and some more men that will say, He is worthy and I am not. Let me go to those who have never heard. From Egypt, David

KG said...

I know it's been a while since you posted this, but it is on point. I'm a girl about to start my journeyman term. And let's just say out of the 30 or 40 single people here at training (and, yes, this includes single girls and guys going for apprentice or career terms), there are 5 single guys. And, I'll just say, it is WAY harder for girls to go overseas single than guys. And it is WAY harder for single girls to come back from overseas… still single. The places in the world that need the gospel NEED male witnesses. Desperately. There are so many things that single women can't do in other cultures, especially in NAME. More females even go on short term trips than males. And the excuse that there are other things to consider… those men (and women who ignore the call to missions) clearly don't follow Jesus in a way that puts trust or faith in Him. Thanks for your insight. And on behalf of single girls who love missions, keep encouraging our single brothers to trust Jesus with those short two years after college. He is sovereign and He loves His children. He'll take care of them.