CHAPTER I THE CALL OF BOYHOOD
The Christian apologetic for today depends less upon the arguments of speculative theology and the findings of biblical science than upon sociological considerations. The church is dealing with a pragmatic public which insists upon knowing what this or that institution accomplishes for the common good. The deep and growing interest in social science, the crying needs that it lays bare, together with socialistic dreams of human welfare, compel Christian workers to pay more heed to the life that now is, since individualistic views of salvation in the world to come do not fully satisfy the modern consciousness.
Hence the ministry is compelled more and more to address itself to the salvation of the community and the nation after the fashion of the Hebrew prophets. Lines of distinction also between what is religious and what is secular in education and in all human intercourse have become irregular or dim; and the task of bringing mankind to fullness and perfection of life has become the task alike of the educator, the minister, the legislator, and the social worker. In fact, all who in any capacity put their hands to this noble undertaking are co-workers with Him whose divine ideal was to be consummated in the Kingdom of God on earth.
The ministry, therefore, is taking on a great variety of forms of service, and the pastor is overtaxed. The church, moreover, is slow to recognize the principle of the division of labor and to employ a sufficient number of paid officers. Only the pressing importance of work for boys can excuse one for suggesting another duty to the conscientious and overworked pastor. Already too much has been delegated to him alone. Every day his acknowledged obligations outrun his time and strength, and he must choose but a few of the many duties ever pressing to be done. Yet there is no phase of that larger social and educational conception of the pastor's work that has in it more of promise than his ministry to boys. Whatever must be neglected, the boy should not be overlooked.
To answer this complex demand and the call of boyhood in particular the pastor must be a leader and an organizer. Otherwise, troubles and vicissitudes await him. In every field unused possibilities hasten the day of his departure. Idle persons who should have been led into worthy achievement for Christ and the church fall into critical gossip, and there soon follows another siege perilous for the minister's freight-wracked furniture, another flitting experience for his homeless children, another proof of his wife's heroic love, and another scar on his own bewildered heart.
It is, indeed, difficult for the pastor to adopt a policy commensurate with modern demands. He should lead, but on the other hand a very legitimate fear of being discredited through failure deters him; traditional methods hold the field; peace at any price and pleasurable satisfaction play a large part in church affairs; the adult, whose character is already formed, receives disproportionate attention; money for purposes of experimentation in church work is hard to get; everything points to moderation and the beaten path; and the way of the church is too often the way of least resistance. Small wonder if the minister sometimes capitulates to things as they are and resigns himself to the ecclesiastical treadmill.
It requires no small amount of courage to be governed by the facts as they confront the intelligent pastor, to direct one's effort where it is most needed and where it will, in the long run, produce the greatest and best results. To be sure, the adult needs the ministry of teaching, inspiration, correction, and comfort to fit him for daily living; but, as matters now stand, the chief significance of the adult lies in the use that can be made of him in winning the next generation for Christ. In so far as the adult membership may contribute to this it may lay claim to the best that the minister has. In so far as it regards his ministry as a means of personal pleasure, gratification, and religious luxury, it is both an insult to him and an offense to his Master.
A successful ministry to boys, whether by the pastor himself or by those whom he shall inspire and guide, is fundamental in good pastoral work....