After several years of painful consolidation, the evangelical men's organization Promise Keepers (PK) is growing younger. Passage, a youth-oriented, $2.4 million pk rally on December 12, drew 14,000 boys, youth group leaders, and fathers to Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
More than half the boys publicly indicated a desire to receive Christ or rededicate their lives, says Randy Phillips, vice president.
"Some people say we're losing the young men, and they're not interested in spiritual things. That couldn't be further from the truth," Phillips says.
Attendees, who paid $55 each, came from 47 states. Robert Taylor, youth group leader at Family Missionary Baptist Church in inner-city Columbus, brought 12 boys to the rally. Five made first-time professions of faith, he says. "That's what the message of God is for—taking the light into the darkness."
To follow up, boys will work their way through a 12-week, Scripture-based study of character issues. They will meet in small groups with peers and youth leaders, or one-on-one with fathers or mentors. The Passage rally is "simply the start of the process," which is grounded in relationships in local churches, Phillips says.
Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War on Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, considers Passage a welcome development, based on reports of the event.
But Sommers, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and mother of a 16-year-old son, is concerned that the curriculum contains "a little bit of boys sitting in circles sharing emotions."
"I'd warn Promise Keepers not to go too far into the psychotherapeutic mode, treating boys as if they are fragile mental patients."
The second Passage rally is planned for this summer in Anaheim, California.
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The official Web site for Passage has more information and testimonials on the event. The site also has information on the 12-week mentor-assisted curriculum that attendees go through following Passage. See also the official Promise Keepers site.
A recent issue of Christianity Today sister publication Books & Culture looked at the "The Strange Decade of the Promise Keepers."
Previous Christianity Today articles about men's ministry include:
The Next Christian Men's MovementJust because Promise Keepers no longer fills stadiums doesn't mean men's ministry is dead. Far from it. (Sept. 15, 2000)
Keeping Their PromisesDespite layoffs and low income, the decade-old men's movement marches on. (April 27, 2000)
Fatherhood on the ReboundWhat we can learn from the real history of basketball. (Dec. 7, 1999)
Integrating Mars and VenusGender-based ministries may be effective, but are they biblical? (July 12, 1999)
Promise Keepers Goes GlobalPromise Keepers has established affiliates in three foreign countries (June 16, 1997)
Promise Keepers Gathers Black LeadersUsing the theme Appointment with Destiny, more than 100 African-American U.S. leaders attended sessions March 6-7 to learn firsthand the goals of the Denver-based PK. (April 28, 1997)
Women's MovementPromise Keeper Counterparts Burgeon. (March 3, 1997)
Racial Reconciliation Emphasis IntensifiedPK's new reconciliation division is appointing a national strategic manager for each major racial group in an effort to attract a more diverse constituency. (Jan. 6, 1997)
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