Allan Hoben.

The Minister and the Boy A Handbook for Churchmen Engaged in Boys' Work online

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his parish.

For such reasons it is important that the implications of discipleship
be made very plain to the boy, and this in terms of specific conduct in
the home, at school, on the playground, at work, and in all the usual
social relations. Without this, there may be fatal inconsistencies in
the boy's conduct, not because he is essentially vicious, but because he
has been unable to interpret high-sounding sermons and biblical ideals
in terms of commonplace duty. If the evangelical message encourages,
condones, or permits this divorce, it becomes an instrument of
incalculable harm. Boys must be held to a high and reasonable standard
of personal duty and group endeavor.

From this point of view the weakest feature of the church boys' club is
its tendency to overlook specific work for others. The serious-minded
leader will not be altogether satisfied in merely holding boys together
for a "good time," wholesome as that may be. The service ideal must be
incorporated in the activities of the club. The nascent altruism of the
boy should receive impetus and direction and the members should engage
in united and intelligent social service. Give the boy a worthy job;
give him a hard job; give him a job that calls for team work; and give
him help and appreciation in the doing of it.

It is sometimes difficult to devise and execute a program of this kind
because of the limited opportunities of the particular town in which the
club exists and the narrow ideals of the church with which the club is
affiliated. Yet it is always preferable to enlist the boys in some
altruistic enterprise which lies close enough at hand to give it the
full weight of reality. Only so can we satisfy the concrete
value-judgment of the young matriculant in the great school of applied

This, however, should not be to the exclusion of those vast idealistic
movements for human good embodied in world-wide missionary propaganda of
a medical, educational, and evangelistic type. Only, taking the boy as
he is, it is not best to begin with these, because of their lack of
reality to him and because of his inability to participate except by
proxy. It is well that he should extend himself to some faraway need by
contributing of his means, but these gifts will get their proper
significance and his philanthropic life will preserve its integrity by
performing the particular service which to his own immediate knowledge
needs to be done.

The proper care and beautifying of the streets and public places in his
own community, the collection of literature for prisoners or the inmates
of asylums or hospitals near at hand, supplying play equipment,
clothing, or any useful thing for unfortunate boys in congested city
districts, helping the minister and church in the distribution of
printed matter and alms, aiding smaller boys in the organization of
their games, helping some indigent widow, giving an entertainment,
selling tickets, souvenirs, or any merchantable article which they may
properly handle for the purpose of devoting the profits to some
immediate charity; making for sale articles in wood, metal, or leather
for the same purpose; winning other boys from bad associations to the
better influences of their own group, helping in the conduct of public
worship by song or otherwise, acting as messengers and minute-men for
the pastor - something of this sort should engage part of their time and
attention in order that they may be drawn into harmony with the spirit
of the church.


Ordinarily the general administration of the church could be made more
effective and the standard activities more attractive if the preacher
would keep the boy in mind in constructing and illustrating his sermons
and would make appeal to the known interests of boyhood; and if music
committees would adopt a policy for the development and use of his
musical ability instead of stifling and ignoring this valuable religious
asset and rendering the boy, so far forth, useless to and estranged from
the purposes and activities of the church. In church music the paid
quartette alone means the way of least resistance and of least benefit,
and it is a harmful device if it means the failure of the church to
enlist boys in the rare religious development to be achieved in sacred
song and in participation in public worship. It is to be regretted that
hymns suited to boyhood experience are very rare and that so little
effort is made to interest and use the boy in the stated worship of the

But if these evils were remedied there would still be the problem of the
Sunday school which, although generally a worthy institution, usually
succeeds at the cost of the church-going habit which might otherwise be
cultivated in the boy. To make a Sunday-school boy instead of a church
boy is a net loss, and with the present Sunday congestion there is
little likelihood of securing both of these ends. Probably it will
become necessary to transfer what is now Sunday-school work to week-day
periods as well as to renovate public worship before a new generation of
churchmen can be guaranteed.

In the meantime, loyalty cultivated by a variety of wholesome contacts
largely outside of traditional church work must serve to win and retain
the boys of today. For loyalty to the minister who serves them readily
passes over into loyalty to the church which he likewise serves.
Wherever the club is made up predominantly of boys from the church
families, it will be well to have an occasional service planned
especially for the boys themselves - one which they will attend in a
body. Such a Sunday-evening service for boys and young men may be held
regularly once a month with good success, and the value of such meetings
is often enhanced by short talks from representative Christian laymen.
Demands for service as well as the important questions of personal
religion should be dealt with in a manly, straightforward way. Beating
about the bush forfeits the boy's respect.

In preaching to boys the minister will appeal frankly to manly and
heroic qualities. He will advance no dark premise of their natural
estrangement from God, but will postulate for all a sonship which is at
once a divine challenge to the best that is in them and the guaranty
that the best is the normal and the God-intended life. They must qualify
for a great campaign under the greatest soul that ever lived. They
engage to stand with Him against sin in self and in all the world about,
and in proportion as they take on His mission will they realize the
necessity of high personal standards and of that help which God gives to
all who are dedicated to the realization of the Kingdom.

The normal boy will not deliberately choose to sponge upon the world. He
intends to do the fair thing and to amount to something. He dreams of
making his life an actual contribution to the welfare and glory of
humanity. When it is put before him rightly he will scorn a selfish
misappropriation of his life, and will enter the crusade for the city
that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God. Happy is the
minister who has boys that bring their chums to see him for the purpose
of enlistment. Happy is the minister whose hand often clasps the
outstretched hand of the boy pledging himself to the greatest of all
projects - the Kingdom of God in the earth; to the greatest of all
companies - the company of those who in all time have had part in that
task; and to the greatest of all captains - Jesus of Nazareth.



Those who know the boy best can hardly be persuaded that the Sunday
school can be made to satisfy his intense demand for action. Yet action
is an important factor in religious education. Commendable efforts are
being made to introduce more of handicraft and artistic expression into
the work of the Sunday-school class; but from the boy's point of view,
the making of maps, illuminated texts, and temple models does not fully
meet his desire for doing. The character of the Sunday school, its place
of meeting, and the proper observance of the day preclude the more
noisy, varied, and spontaneous activities which may be made to carry
moral and religious value.

Another agency is needed in the church that can be more venturesome and
free than the Sunday school, an agency that can act on the parallel of
the boy's natural interests and adapt its methods to his unfolding life
in terms of action. The Sunday school can stick to its task of
elucidating the history and theory of religion; but the boys' club is a
better place for securing the expression of religious principles and so
confirming them in character. When the Sunday school shall have reached
its highest point of efficiency it will still have failed to cover the
most vital element in the moral and religious training of the boy simply
because it will still be a _Sunday_ school and, presumably, a _Bible_
school. That is, it will have not only the benefits but also the
limitations of the sacred day and of the book method of instruction. The
boy needs something more than "a society for sitting still."

But some will say, "Why take the boy out of the home at all? The good
home, the public school, and the established agencies of religion are
enough. A club is not needed." It might be replied that all boys do not
have good homes and that relatively few attend church or Sunday school;
but if that were not the case the desirability of the boys' club would
still be apparent. The fact is that the boy gets out of the home anyway
and seeks his group. There is a process of socialization and
self-discovery for which the best home-circle cannot provide; and the
club only recognizes and uses this "gang" instinct. It capitalizes for
good the normal social desires of the boy. In so doing it does not
necessarily conflict with a single good element in the home, but is
rather the first formal token of citizenship and the guarantor of proper
deportment in the midst of one's peers.

In a well-directed club the consensus of opinion will usually be more
effective in securing good conduct than the father's neglected or fitful
discipline or the mother's endless forbearance. The boy has profound
respect for the judgment of his equals; and wherever the leader can make
the group ideals right he can be practically assured of the conformity
of all who come within the group influence. "The way we do here," "the
thing we stand for," constitutes a moral leverage that removes
mountains. The boy that has been too much sheltered needs it, the boy
that has been neglected and is whimsical or non-social needs it, the
only son often needs it, and the boy who is distinguished by misconduct
in the Sunday-school class needs it.

The club is never justified, then, in offending against the home.
Keeping young boys out late at night, interfering with home duties or
with the implicit confidence between a boy and his parents, or dragging
him off into some sectarian camp away from his family is not to be
tolerated. This is never necessary, and the wise leader can always
co-operate harmoniously with the home if he takes thought so to do.

But the leader who fails to recognize the sanctity and priority of the
home, who permits his interest in boys to be blind to home conditions
and influence, or who does not approach the home problems as a reverent
and intelligent helper is very far from an ideal workman. One great
advantage of the small club in the church consists in this personalized
and teachable interest which gets in close by the side of perplexed,
ignorant, weak, or neglectful parents and seeks to raise the home as an
institution so that all its members, including the boy, may be richly
benefited. To be a pastor rather than a mere herdsman of boys one must
know their fold. It is well enough to be proud of the boys' club but it
is good "boys' work" to develop home industry and to encourage habits of
thrift and of systematic work that shall bless and please the home
circle. The boy may far better work too hard for the communal welfare of
the home than to grow up an idle pleasure-seeking parasite.

It is taken for granted that the wise pastor will think twice before
organizing a boys' club. It were better for him to leave the whole
enterprise in the innocent realm of his castles in Spain than to add
another failure to the many that have been made in this attractive and
difficult field. Enthusiasm is essential, but taken alone it is an
embarrassing qualification. Therefore he should make a careful inventory
of his available assets. If he contemplates personal leadership he would
do well to list his own qualifications. In any event he will need to be
familiar with the boy-life of his community, with all that endangers it
and with all that is being done to safeguard and develop it in accord
with Christian ideals. If the boys of his parish are already adequately
cared for he will not feel called upon to bring coals to Newcastle.

His personal inventory must needs take into account his tastes and
ability. These will be determined frequently by the mere matter of age;
for undoubtedly the earlier years of one's ministry lie a little nearer
to the interests of boyhood and at this time the knack of the athletic
training received in school or college has not been wholly lost. The
leader may recover or increase his ability in games by taking a course
at the Y.M.C.A.

If he finds within himself a deep love for boys that gets pleasure
rather than irritation from their obstreperous companionship, if he is
endowed with kindness that is as firm as adamant in resisting every
unfair advantage - which some will surely seek to take - if he is
noise-proof and furnished with an ample fund of humor that is
scrupulously clean and moderately dignified, if he possesses a quiet,
positive manner that becomes more quiet and positive in intense and
stormy situations, if he is withal teachable, alert, resourceful, and an
embodiment of the "square-deal" principle, and if he is prepared to set
aside everything that might interfere with the religious observance of
every single appointment with his boys - then he may consider himself
eligible for the attempt.

But how will he go about it? Shall he print posters of a great
mass-meeting to organize a boys' club? Shall he besiege his church for
expensive equipment, perhaps for a new building? Shall he ask for an
appropriation for work which most of the people have not seen, and of
whose value they cannot judge except from his enthusiastic prophecies?
Let us hope not. To succeed in such requests might be to die like
Samson; while to fail in them would be a testimony to the sanity of his
responsible parishioners.

There is a better way - a way that is more quiet, natural, and
effective. Possibly there is already in the Sunday school a class of
eight or ten boys between the ages of twelve and fifteen years. Let the
pastor become well acquainted with them and at first merely suggest - in
their class session or when he has them in his study or home - what other
boys have done in clubs of their own. He need not volunteer to provide
such a club, but merely indicate his willingness to help if they are
interested and prepared to work for it. If the boys respond, as they
undoubtedly will, then the pastor will need to find a few sympathizers
who will give some financial and moral assistance to the endeavor. He
may find some of these outside the church, and often such friends are
the more ready to help, because they are not already taxed to carry on
the established church work.

The best policy is for the pastor to figure out how boys' work can be
begun without coming before the church for an appropriation. It is well
to begin in a very humble way with such funds as the boys can raise and
the backing of a few interested people, securing from the trustees of
the church the use of some part of the premises subject to recall of the
privilege on sufficient grounds; and - a consideration never to be
slighted although often hard to get - the good-will and co-operation of
the sexton. With the sexton against him, no pastor can make a church
boys' club succeed. The club will make no mistake in paying the church
something for the heat and light consumed.

If an indoor area sufficient for basket-ball and a room suited to club
meetings can be had, the initial apparatus for winter work need not
exceed a parallel bar, a vaulting-horse, and three floor mats in
addition to the basket-ball equipment. This will involve an outlay of
from $75 to $150. Good parallel bars are as expensive as they are
serviceable; but boys have been known to make their own, and this is
highly desirable. Indian clubs, dumb-bells, and wands may only prove a
nuisance unless they can be carefully put away after the exercises.
Anyway, boys do not care greatly for calisthenics and most drills can be
given without these trappings. Granting that the boys have faithful and
wise supervision, the undertaking should be allowed to rest upon them to
the full measure of their ability.

When it has become clear that funds and quarters can be provided, the
matter of formal organization should be taken up. The ideal church club
is not a mass club where certain privileges are given to large numbers
of boys who take out memberships; but a group club, or clubs, under
democratic control. Prior to calling the boys together for organization,
the pastor will have blocked out the main articles of a constitution,
and will have formulated some ideas as to the ritual and procedure which
shall have place in the weekly meetings of the club. In order to do this
intelligently, he will need to study such organizations as the Knights
of King Arthur and various independent church clubs that have proven
successful in fields similar to his own. Often there is something in his
own field that will lend definite color and interest to his local
organization. The following sample constitution is offered for purpose
of suggestion only and as a concession to the sentiment attaching to my
first boys' club of a dozen years ago.


I. We be known as the Waupun Wigwam.

II. For to be sound of body, true of heart, unselfish, and Christian we
be joined together.

III. They that have seen ten to fourteen summers may join our Wigwam one
by one if we want them. High names have we. These names we use in our

IV. At our meetings around the Campfire each Brave is Chief in turn and
chooseth one to guard the entrance. Medicine Man serveth us continually.
He knoweth his Braves. He chooseth Right Hand to serve him. When days
are longest and when days are shortest we choose one to write what we do
in Wigwam, one to collect small wampum and one to keep the same.

V. They that be older than we, they that be our friends may visit us in
our Wigwam. Woman by us is honored. Chivalry by us is shown. Whatever is
weak is by us protected.

VI. Measured are we when we join the Wigwam and once a year
thereafter - our height, calf of leg, hip, chest, and arm. This by
Medicine Man who keepeth the writings and adviseth how to improve. He
praiseth what good we do, and alloweth not "what harmeth body, defileth
tongue, or doeth ill to mind."

VII. Small wampum pay we all alike according to the need of the Wigwam
and the Campfire.

VIII. Deeds of valor do we read in Wigwam and Indian tales of old. Each
telleth of brave deeds he knows. A motto have we. This Medicine Man
giveth every three moons. We have our war whoop and our battle song. We
loyally help Medicine Man in his work and when he speaketh in the Great

IX. When admitted to the Wigwam we very solemnly vow to be obedient to
all its laws and to try to please our Great High Chief in Heaven who
ruleth every tribe, World without end. Amen.



_The Braves being seated in a semicircle, the Chief, clad in blanket and
attended by Right Hand, enters. All arise. Chief takes position. Waits
until there is perfect silence._

_Chief_: My trusted and loyal Braves!

_All_: Hail to our Chief!

_C_: I am about to sit with you around our friendly Campfire. Brave - -
- - will guard the entrance that none come into the Wigwam at this
time. Let such as be of our Wigwam advance and prove themselves.

_Each Brave comes forward in turn, whispers the motto in the Chief's ear
and says_, May I, - - - - , be known as a loyal Brave of the Waupun

_C_: As such be thou known.

_All_: So may it be! _(When this is done the Chief continues.)_

_C_: For what are we bound together?

_All_: For to be sound of body, true of heart, unselfish, and Christian
we be bound together.

_C_: What virtues are the greatest?

_All_: Faith, hope, and love.

_C_: Who is great?

_All_: He that serves.

_C_: What is our sign?

_All_: The sign of the cross.

_C_: Sing we a song of valor.

_All sing_: "The Son of God goes forth to war."

_C_: Let us be seated. (_He gives one rap with the tomahawk._)

_C_: Brave - - - - , admit any who are late and have given you the

_C_: Medicine Man will read from the Book and pray. _(All kneel for the

_C_: Brave - - - - will read what we did last.

C: Brave - - - - will find who are here. _(Each one-present answers
"Ho" when his name is called)._

_C_: Brave - - - - will tell what wampum we have.

_C_: Is there any business to come before our Wigwam? _(Reports,
unfinished business, and new business_.)

_C_: Is there one fit to join our Wigwam? (_If there is a candidate who
has secured his parents' consent and who at a previous meeting has been
elected to membership with not more than two ballots against him he can
be initiated at this time_.)

_C_: Brave Right Hand, what shall we do now? _(Right Hand says how the
time shall be spent_.)


_Chief calls to order with a whistle. Each Brave takes his place quickly
and quietly. (Moccasins or gymnasium shoes are worn in all Wigwam

_Chief gives two raps. All arise_.

_C_: My Braves, we are about to leave the Campfire. Let us join hands
and repeat our covenant. _(All join hands and repeat clause by clause
after the Chief_.)

We covenant with our Chief and one another:

To be true men,
To protect the weak,

To honor woman,
To make the most of life,
And to endeavor to please God.
So do we covenant.

_Then the national anthem is sung and the following yell is given_:

Who are we?
Chee Poo Kaw
Waupun Wigwam,
Rah, Rah, Rah!!

This club proved of value in a town of three thousand which had a dozen
saloons and no organized work for boys or young men. It was supplemented
by a brotherhood for the older boys. In the clubroom was a large
fireplace in which a wood fire burned during the sessions. The room
could be partially darkened. The walls were covered with Indian pictures
and handicraft, and the surrounding country abounded in Indian relics.
In the summer the club went camping on the shore of a lake nine miles
distant. From another of the many successful clubs of this type the
following article on "Purpose" as stated in the constitution is worthy
of note:

"We gather in our Wigwam that we may become strong as our bows,
straight as our arrows, and pure as the lakes of the forest."

Clubs patterned after rangers, yeomen, lifesaving crews, and what not
have been successfully projected to meet and idealize local interest;
and the novelty and slightly concealed symbolism seem to take with boys
of this age. But the most important factor is never the organization as
such but _the leader_.

For the period of from fourteen to seventeen years probably no better
organization has been devised than the Knights of King Arthur. Its full
requirements may be too elaborate in some cases but freedom to simplify
is granted, and also to eliminate the requirement of Sunday-school
attendance as a prerequisite to membership and the requirement of church
membership as a prerequisite to knighthood. Leaders dealing with this
age should read _The Boy Problem_ by William Byron Forbush and _The
Boy's Round Table_ by Forbush and Masseck (Boston and Chicago: Pilgrim
Press, 6th edition, $1.00 each).

Ordinarily a policy of relationship between the club and Sunday school
and church will have to be formulated. It is always best to let the
Sunday school and the church stand on their own merits and not to use
the club as a bait for either. Nor should ranking in the club be
conditioned on church membership. Boys should not be tempted to make the
church a stepping-stone to their ambition in this more attractive

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Online LibraryAllan HobenThe Minister and the Boy A Handbook for Churchmen Engaged in Boys' Work → online text (page 8 of 9)