Friday, November 21, 2014

A personal mission for David Plat in regard to young, male, sniveling wimp SBCers

It has been almost two full years since I put up a post about how our International Mission Board's Journeyman program, the two to three year overseas program for single college graduates aged 21-26 is completely dominated by females. My humble 2012 post:

Young, male, restless conservative SBC seminarians: SNIVELING WIMPS

The irreverent phrase that not-so-gently stepped on the little twinkies of our young, single, male seminarians was, "SNIVELING WIMPS." How impolite, and impolitic of Plodder to call the few, the called, the proud, the chest thumping, set-the-world-on-fire young male Southern Baptist seminarians 'sniveling wimps'. Why do that?

Here's why: You can't get these guys to go overseas and serve the Lord in some of the more difficult places where the Gospel is needed the most...but you can get girls to do it. In 2012 fully two-thirds of Journeymen were FEMALES, not males, making that program the most inappropriately named program in the entire SBC.

The IMB, best I can tell, stopped reporting gender statistics for this program.

The 'sniveling wimps' article was, I think, my most viewed piece, mainly because Danny Akin tweeted it. He agreed with me on this if not on a lot of stuff.

Here's a recent comment I received. I've tweaked it a bit. The commenter was and is anonymous.

I'm a girl about to start my journeyman term. And let's just say out of the 30 or 40 single people being trained (a figure that includes journey people, apprentice, and career appointments) there are five single guys is WAY harder for girls to go overseas single than guys...and 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....and so many things single women can't do in so many other cultures, especially in some parts of the world where the need for the Gospel is greatest. 

The excuse of the single males is that there are other things to consider...those men...clearly don't follow Jesus in a way that puts trust or faith in Him. 

Hey, single guys! Yeah, you Biblical He-Manhood and Subservient-Womanhood types. Here a bit of womanhood that should make you ashamed of yourself. You want patriarchy? Try being a real male and being open to serving in places as hard as this girl. Even if you do, you will have it easier than her because of the male-dominated cultures in these places. Nobody cares how well you conjugate greek verbs and how glorously expound the scriptures. Evidently, you haven't expounded The Great Commission sufficiently for you to believe it yourself.

So, what's Plodder's personal mission for David Platt? There are two parts to it.

1. Lend your voice to addressing the issue of young males wimping out of Journeyman service. These guys think you walk on water, Mr. Radical. Give 'em both barrels on this and see what happens.

2. You must be aware by now that some among these hundreds of single girls who answer God's call and serve in difficult places have not been adequately taken care of. What I mean here is that in my limited exposure to a number of 'Journeygirls', several were plopped overseas in a foreign culture and after a short while were isolated, left to live alone, with a support structure and system in place that some judge to be inadequate. This is risky, and irresponsible. The IMB is dodging bullets here. This is also unacceptable. One of the presumptions Southern Baptists have about our wonderful International Board is that we have vast resources and are diligent about taking care of our people. I believe that to be true in general. I'm pointing out a crack in the airframe here. It can be easily fixed.

I have confidence in you to lead in such a way that these are addressed. You are in my prayers.

As for my SBC colleagues who are young, male, restless, sniveling wimps...step up, brethren. We can't all be megapastors superstars and seminary profs.

[And, if the anonymous Journeygirl would email me at, my wife and I would consider it a honor to pray for you as you go.]


Anonymous said...

William, excellent post on two fronts. Over time we saw the number of young men dwindle to almost none answering God's call on their lives, erroneously thinking that two years in overseas service might keep them from becoming the next shooting star in a mega-church in Podunk Holler, USA.

We also saw with the departure from the traditional mission structure to the non-resident strategy leader a large number of j-men and j-girls being "thrown to the wolves" with little or no supervision, guidance or oversight. We saw too many young men and women wander aimlessly because of lack of adequate supervision. I know that the IMB will not comment on how many returned disillusioned or worse, but adequate supervision of these young men and women could do wonders for the over all task of the IMB.

Joseph Patrick...aka Gerry Milligan

Anonymous said...


Thank you for this most interesting post. Women dominating the journeyman program is a statistic I was not previously aware of.

As a young (29 years old) college missionary working for the SBC in a western state, I often feel like I am culturally out of the loop when bible belt SBC people discuss topics like this. I haven't the slightest clue what the culture is like at Southern or Southwestern seminaries for instance. I could tell you a bit about Golden Gate though.

I can also tell you this. In the college ministry I run, we are in need of female leadership. We have an abundance of strong male college students, but in our small area females would be the "wimps" and it has been this way for many years. I realize that our situation is the exception rather than the rule. Most churches and ministries in general (journeyman is no exception) have more women than men.

As to the reason for this, I would offer several possibilities. One may be that church is largely geared toward women. I know how in years past I was particularly unhappy about the girly nature of modern worship music. Luckily I eventually discovered the rich and I might add more "manly" nature of many hymns.

Beyond something as superficial as worship styles I think there is an inherent lack of focus in many churches on themes that resonate with young men. As a young man in high school I had trouble relating to the constant Love Love Love theme preached in many churches. Now don't get me wrong, I know that love is one of the preeminent themes in scripture and a prominent attribute of God. All I am saying is that when we ignore the rest of God's character and over-focus on love we are missing something about God. To me it seemed as though I often heard sermons about God's love, but rarely about topics such as His holiness. I would argue that His holiness is a more important attribute than even love, but that's an entirely different topic for another day.

What I would call the "love focus" may be appealing to many women, but I doubt it draws the 18 year old men to church. I know I loved hearing of the more "manly" attributes of God. This may sound a bit immature (because I was a bit immature at 18) but its just the truth of how I felt at the time. Church as I knew it felt a bit "girly" and it took a good bit of maturing up before I was willing to accept it as it was.

We need to challenge young men to grow up and act like men. Unfortunately many of them do not have fathers as adequate role models in this area. Other older men must step in to fill the void.

So in summation I would say that this is not a uniquely IMB or journeyman problem. It's a church problem. We don't have parents who are focusing enough on discipling a generation of young men. Trust me on this one. I see how weak the average Christian student is when they arrive at my college ministry. Just a few thoughts to ponder. I don't have all the answers on this one but wanted to throw my thoughts into the conversation. I would be interested in hearing your feedback.


Anonymous said...

How can you realistically expect young male seminarians to go overseas? They are busy having their publicity pictures taken, buying their new stylish jeans, picking out their "hip" shirt for Sunday, watching the mega church young pastors preach so they can mimic them if they are ever asked to preach anywhere, and finally they have to plan their latest "all male bonding party" for Sunday night.

And then we wonder why the church is in the shape that its in.