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Real Men Do Teach!

Gordon West

Take a look at your ministry to see if it has a predominantly male or female flavor. Little things make a significant impact on how a ministry is viewed. We've reprinted the children's ministries letterhead-forever rejecting the previously pink stationery! When referring to children's teachers in print or from the pulpit, we deliberately choose masculine pronouns. Most importantly, we highlight male workers through testimonies and newsletter articles whenever possible.

3. We show men their unique role in the classroom.

Children need to see men in the classroom. Too many of our children have no adult male role model at home. In one church we served in, as many as 80 percent of the children came from single-parent homes-most of those had absent fathers.
Even for students who live with both parents, male role models add something special to the classroom. Discipline problems are reduced when a man is present in a children's class. A male teacher provides a healthy balance to his nurturing female counterpart when he helps the child explore and take risks.
The absence of men in most children's ministries communicates a message we don't want to pass on. It's a hidden curriculum that subtly teaches children that Christianity is women's business. Little girls are subconsciously programmed to believe that few men are truly capable of being spiritual leaders. And little boys leave Sunday school subtly convinced that real men rarely get involved in church and are almost never excited about God.

4. We encourage men.

Unknowingly, competent women leaders can frighten off male volunteers. Many men are insecure about working with children. And some men are intimidated by naturally nurturing women who work alongside them in the classroom. Men are competitors who all too often avoid situations where they feel inadequate or inferior. So we encourage an atmosphere that isn't demeaning.
Shortly after our daughter was born, Gordon fed her a bottle in the church nursery. One of the nursery workers joked about his awkwardness in burping the baby. It took a few weeks before he was willing to feed her in the nursery again! If one careless remark can intimidate the children's pastor, think of the damage insensitivity can do to well-meaning novices.
Male volunteers need extra doses of affirmation because they're treading in unknown waters. Men need to know they're accepted and valued-especially by other men in the ministry. Recently, when asked why he continued to be active in children's ministries, one veteran leader in our program responded, "Because the children's pastor told me I'm good."

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