Father's Day: How the Church Can Help Dads Raise Sons

The church needs to stand in the gap and help ill-equipped men learn how to raise their sons to be proper men, contend ministry leaders ahead of Father’s Day.

Only about 1 out of 2 men agree that they are prepared for fatherhood when they first become fathers, found a recent survey titled “Pop’s Culture: A National Surveys of Dads’ Attitudes on Fathering” by the National Fatherhood Initiative. The figure drops even lower for those who strongly agree that they are prepared for fatherhood – less than 25 percent.

Part of the reason for this lack of confidence among fathers is the absence of a good father-figure, either physically or emotionally, in their lives.

“Unfortunately, I did not experience a rite of passage with my dad,” said Every Man Ministries founder and Saddleback Church men’s ministry pastor, Kenny Luck. “By default, I was parented by my peers and culture, and experienced several negative rites of passage. My dad was low time, low talk, and low touch. He was very distant and I longed for any kind of connection with him. I settled for rides to the liquor store on occasion, or a ride to the bar as I waited for him in the car.”

For the many men like Luck, who want to be good fathers but are not naturally equipped to be so, the church needs to step in and help. Not only can churches teach men to be better fathers, but they can also prepare a generation of boys to grow up and be good dads.

“Church For Men” founder David Murrow said a boys-to-men rite of passage, which can sometime be a 3-day outing for fathers and their sons, should be supported by churches.

“A rite of passage is that moment when a boy is welcomed into the society of men. It usually involves ordeals, tests, and culminates with a ceremony,” Murrow said. “The purpose is to humble the young boy to test his limits and see what he could endure. The message is that if you are going to be a man you have to endure.”

“Passed Thru Fire” is a ministry started by Rick Bundschuh in Hawaii and is specifically aimed at providing rite of passages for boys. Murrow says the ministry of providing this service, such as the one “Passed Thru Fire” provides, is still in it’s infancy, but he has seen some growth in recent years.

“Societies have been creating rites of passages for young men into adulthood for thousands of years, yet in modern western society we have stopped doing this,” Murrow said. “As a result, young men are initiating themselves through all sorts of unhealthy and anti-social behaviors.

“We need to give young men an assurance that they have become men and that’s why rites of passages are so important. The rite of passages should be the job of the church. Fathers should initiate their sons into manhood,” he said. “The men of the church have to see it as their sacred responsibility to introduce the boys into the community of men.”

Murrow said that he clearly sees that many young men are not associating Christianity with manhood. “When young men think of manhood they think of drinking, partying, wild living, and how many women they can be with. That’s what they see as manly,” he said. “They don’t see Christianity as manliness. They associate it with childhood and some associate it with womanliness.

“Rite of passages would be one way that we could make sure that young men see their faith as a part of their masculine journey and not as something that feminizes them. So, one of the things that rites of passage will do is re-establish that broken link between manliness and Godliness,” Murrow said.

Luck supports the need for rite of passages by pointing to verses in the Bible. He said in a recent interview: “It is the example of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments for fathers to give their blessing to their sons. The most powerful example is when God the Father blesses and commends God the Son with God the Holy Spirit present in Matthew 3:16-17. It has within it the core elements of a rite of passage that is intended to fortify the son with what he needs to be the man God created him to be. There is a special moment where a special voice speaks into the son; a special name is given along with a special love and a special blessing.

“If God decided Jesus needed this for his journey as a man on earth, I feel a form of this is beneficial for every man to gain the courage and confidence flowing from a strong identity as a passionate son and follower of Christ.”