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Church Planter Tackles Men Who Won't Grow Up

A St. Louis pastor and respected church planter raised the alarm about a societal problem he calls "ban," which are males that are not quite boys nor men in their maturity level.

A ban is "somewhere in between" a boy and a man and can take the form of a 30-something male playing three hours of video games a day.

"I personally believe that the reason we have a societal crisis with men is because we do not have strong churches that draw out trained, equipped, empowered, challenged men," said Darrin Patrick, pastor of the Journey Church in St. Louis and author of Church Planter: The Man, The Message, and The Mission, in a recent video interview with Desiring God ministry.

"He's a guy that prolongs his adolescence, really resists responsibility. He's not trying to be an Ephesians 5 husband … He's really about himself."

Patrick explained that he was inspired to write the book because of all the bans – a word he coined – in his own church. Many of the bans in his church do not have fathers in their lives and do not know how to do basic things like balance a check book, read the Bible, or relate to women because they have been watching pornography.

The pastor, who is also vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, wanted to expose this problem with the aim that churches can raise better men.

"I love them (bans in his church). I would have been one of them. I was one of them and God saved me out of that," said Patrick. "So my personal belief is, as I read the Scripture, that as we have strong pastors that lead those churches we have hope for seeing a culture of bans become biblical men."

Patrick, whose church spreads out over four campuses and holds eight services, shared about his troubled past before he came to know Christ. His past life would have resulted in him becoming a ban had he not made drastic changes in his life.

During his junior year of high school, he was suspended from the football team for drinking, suspended from school for fighting, and was sure that his girlfriend was pregnant – all within the same week. As all the important things in his life crumbled, a concerned senior on the football team invited him to church. Through reading the Bible and guidance at the church, Patrick committed his life to the Lord and felt a calling to teach the Bible.

"You (pastors, church planters) really give these guys hope that they can change, not just hope but a challenge," said Patrick. "You say that it is simply not an option to play video games for three hours a day when you are in your 30's."

But he called on church planters, which is the intended reader of his new book, to not confuse physical strength with being a man. King David was a musician and wrote poetry and Jesus talked about flowers and seeds, he noted. A man is someone who is both tough and tender, who has an element of protection but can also emotionally connect with his wife.

Patrick, who has three daughters and one 4-year-old son, named Drew, shared that he has taught his son to pray: "God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart. Make me a man who is tough and tender. Make me tough so I can handle life. Make me tender so I can love people. God, make me a man."

The book Church Planter: The Man, The Message, and The Mission is the first book on church planting by an Acts 29 church planter. Although there are many books about church planting, Patrick said none address what a church planter should look like. The book focuses on the character, message, and mission of a church planter and is partly an autobiography of Patrick's journey planting Journey Church in St. Louis. Church Planter was released during the Church Planter Acts 29 National Boot Camp in Seattle in September.

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