The Minister and the Boy
Allan Hoben

Part 2 out of 2

Hence this problem of vocational guidance which is so agitating the
educational world comes home to the minister in his work with youth. It
may be that he shall find new and practical use for the maligned
doctrine of election and that he shall place under intelligent, and
heavenly commission the ideals and hopes of later adolescence. At any
rate where the life career hinges, there the religious expert should be
on hand. For what profit is there in society's vast investment in early
and compulsory education if at the crucial time of initial experiment in
the world's work there be neither high resolve nor intelligent direction
nor sympathetic coaching into efficiency?

But the importance of vocational choice does not turn upon the doubtful
supposition that there is one and only one suitable task for a given
youth. Probably there are groups or families of activities within which
the constructive endeavor may have happy and progressive expression.
Nor, from the minister's point of view, is the economic aspect of the
problem paramount. It is true that an investment of $50,000 worth of
working ability deserves study and wise placing and it is true that the
sanction of public education is to return to the state a socially
solvent citizen who will contribute to the common welfare and will more
than pay his way; but the immediately religious importance of this
commanding interest consists in the honest and voluntary request for
counsel on the part of the youth himself.

Fortunately in the very midst of a reticent and often skeptical period
there comes, through the awakened vocational interest, an inlet into the
soul of youth. No religious inquisitor or evangelistic brigand could
have forced an entrance, but lo, all at once the doors are opened from
within and examination is invited. It is invited because the boy wishes
to know what manner of person he is and for what pursuit he is or may be
fitted. When once this issue is on and one is honored as counselor and
friend, the moral honesty and eagerness of youth, the thoroughgoing
confession on all the personal and moral phases of the problem in hand
are enough to move and humble the heart of any pastor. Such conference
solemnizes and reassures the worker with boys, while to have spent no
time as an invited and reverent guest within this sacred precinct is to
fail of a priesthood that is profoundly beautiful.

Several experiences with both individuals and groups are fresh in mind
at this writing. On one occasion a guild of working boys in later
adolescence were living together in a church fraternity house, and it
was their custom on one evening of each week to have some prominent man
as guest at dinner and to hear an informal address from him after the
meal. It chanced that on the list of guests there was, in addition to
the mayor of their city and a well-known bishop of the Episcopal church,
the manager of one of the greatest automobile factories in America. On
the occasion on which this captain of industry spoke, he told in simple
fashion his own experience in search of a vocation.

It was of a kind very common in our country: early privation, put to
work at thirteen, an attempt to keep him in an office when he longed to
have hold of the tools in the shop. In time his request was granted.
While he worked he observed and studied the organization of the shop and
the progression of the raw material to the finished product. Having
mastered the method he left this shop and hired in another, and then in
due time in still another shop, much to the disgust of his friends. But
in reply to their warning that "a rolling stone gathers no moss" he said
that that was not his aim. As a result of faithfully following his bent
he was ready to respond to the great demand for men to organize and run
bicycle factories, and when that demand was followed by the much
greater need of doing a similar work in the manufacture of automobiles
he was chosen for the very responsible position which he now holds.

[Illustration: THE GUILD, First Baptist Church, Detroit, Mich.]

There was, to be sure, nothing distinctly spiritual in his story, but
after he had finished the young men kept him for two hours answering
their questions and there was there revealed to the pastor more of their
fine hopes and purposes and possibilities--their deep-buried yet vital
dreams--than he had ever heard unfolded in any religious meeting. Many
of these youths were taken in hand in a personal way and are now "making
good." Their subsequent use of leisure, their patronage of evening
schools, Y.M.C.A. courses, and many other helps to their ambitions
testified to the depth and tenacity of good purposes which were timidly
voiced but heroically executed. On the other hand, the writer has
knowledge of many cases of delinquency in which apparently the deciding
cause was the vocational misfit foisted upon the young would-be laborer
in the trying years between fourteen and sixteen.

There comes to mind the instance of a lad of seventeen found in the Cook
County jail. He had left his Michigan home with fifty dollars of
savings and had come to Chicago to make his fortune. His mother's story,
which was secured after he got into trouble, narrated how that as a boy
he had taken to pieces the sewing-machine and the clocks and, unlike
many boys, had put them together again without damage. Reaching Chicago
he hired in a garage and conceived the idea of building an automobile.
After the fashion of a boy he became totally absorbed in this project.
His ingenuity and thrift and the help of his employers enabled him to
get well along with his enterprise. But at last he was balked because of
lack of a particular part which he knew to be essential, but as to the
nature of which he was not informed.

Going along the street one day in profound concern over this matter an
impulse seized him to learn at once the nature of the needed part. He
jumped into an automobile standing by the curb, drove it to the nearest
alley, and crawled under it to make the necessary disconnections, when
the police caught him in the act. The case was a clear one and he was
thrown into jail. The mother in her letter to the Juvenile Protective
Association which was working for his release said that now, since he
had been so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of the authorities,
she wondered whether they might not perform an operation for his
benefit, for she had heard that there was an operation by which the
skull could be opened and a certain part of the brain removed, and she
thought that possibly they might do this for her boy and take out that
part of his brain which made him so "wild about machinery"!

Public education in America is only beginning to respond to the need of
intelligently connecting our educational product with the world's work.
Trade schools for boys and girls, half-time schools, continuation
schools, night schools, and in a few cities vocational bureaus are at
work, but so are poverty and the helpless ignorance of the hard-pressed
home. The children who must in tender years be offered to our rapacious
industries are the very children who are without hope of parental
counsel and direction.

In New York City 42,000 children between fourteen and sixteen years of
age take out their "working papers" every year, and out of 12,000 to
13,000 taking out working papers in Chicago annually about 9,000 are
only fourteen years of age and 1,500 have not yet reached the fifth
grade. Many of these walk the streets and degenerate while in search of
work or because of such fitful employment as only serves to balk the
department of compulsory education, which has the power to insist upon
school attendance for children of this age if not employed.

It is not that work is uniformly bad for these children. Indeed,
idleness would be worse. And it is not that all these children are
forced to turn out bad. But as a matter of fact children under sixteen
are not generally wanted save in positions of monotonous and unpromising
employment, and their early experience, which is quite without reference
to taste and native ability, is likely to turn them against all work as
being an imposition rather than an opportunity. In the long run this
cheap labor is the most expensive in the world, and society cannot
afford to fully release children from school control and training prior
to sixteen years of age. Much less can it permit them at any time to
approach the employment problem blindly and unaided. Nor should it fail
to reduce the hours of labor for such children as fall into permanently
unprogressive toil and to organize their leisure as well as to provide
opportunities whereby some may extricate themselves.

What is this industrial haste which cuts so much of our corn while it is
only in tassel, that drives square pegs into round holes, that
harnesses trotting stock to heavy drays and draughting stock to gigs,
that breaks up the violin to kindle a fire quickly, thoughtless of the
music, that takes telescopes for drain pipes and gets commerce--but not
commerce with the stars? It is the delirium in which strong men seek the
standard American testimonial of genius and ability, namely the
accumulation of great wealth; and in this delirium they see labor as a
commodity and childhood as a commercial factor. They do not think of
people like themselves and of children like their own.

But the minister is the very champion of those higher rights, the
defender of idealism, and as such the best friend of an industrial order
which is perversely making this expensive blunder and reaping the blight
of sullen citizenship and cynical and heartless toil. How can these
thousands who, because of "blind-alley" occupations, come to their
majority tradeless and often depleted, having no ability to build and
own a home--how can these who have no stake in the country aid in making
the republic what it ought to be? Partly they become a public care,
expense, or nuisance, and largely they constitute the material for
bossism and dynamite for the demagogue if he shall come. The economic
breakdown, because of vocational misfit and the exploitation of
childhood, usually results in a corresponding moral breakdown. To be
doomed to inadequacy is almost to be elected to crime.

Now the pastor certainly cannot right all this wrong, neither
will he be so brash as to charge it all up to malicious employers,
ignoring the process through which our vaunted individualism, our
free-field-and-no-favor policy, our doctrine for the strong has
disported itself. But is it not reasonable that the minister inform
himself of this problem in all its fundamental phases and that he both
follow and ardently encourage a public-school policy which aims
increasingly to fit the growing generation for productive and stable
citizenship? Our schools are fundamentally religious if we will have
them so in terms of character building, elemental self-respect, social
service, and accountability to the God of all.

The "godless schools" exist only in the minds of those who for purposes
of dispute and sectarianism decree them so. Furthermore, in every effort
toward vocational training and sorting, the employer will be found
interested and ready to help.

But to come more closely to the place of this problem in church work it
must be recognized that the Sunday schools, clubs, and young people's
societies offer wider opportunity for vocational direction than is now
being used. The curricula in these institutions can be greatly vitalized
and enlarged by the inclusion of this very interest, and life can be
made to seem more broadly, sanely, and specifically religious than is
now the case.

Suppose that to groups of boys beyond middle adolescence competent and
high-minded representatives of various trades and professions present in
series the reasons for their choice, the possible good, individual and
social, which they see in their life-work, the qualifications which they
deem necessary, and the obstacles to be met; and suppose further that
the ethical code of a trade, profession, or business is presented for
honest canvass by the class, must there not result a stimulus and aid to
vocational selection and also a more lively interest in the study of
specific moral problems? In this way teaching clusters about an
inevitable field of interest, about live and often urgent problems, and
there is nothing to prevent the use of all the light which may be
adduced from the Bible and religious experience.

To describe the method more specifically, the lawyer presents his
profession and subsequently the class discusses the code of the bar
association; or the physician presents his work and then follows the
canvass of the ethical problems of medical practice, and so of the
trade-union artisan, the merchant or teacher, the minister, or the
captain of industry. All of this is diffused with religion, it has its
setting and sanction within the church, it supplements for a few, at any
rate, the present lack in public education, and it is real and immediate
rather than theoretical and remote.

Let this be complemented with visits to institutions, offices, plants,
courts, and the marts and centers of commercial, industrial, and
agricultural life; and, best of all, cemented in the personal
friendship, practical interest and sponsorship of an adult and wise
counselor who helps the boy both to the place and in the place; and,
within the limits of the rather small constituency of church boys at
least, there is guaranteed a piece of religious work that is bound to
tell. For surely every legitimate interest of life is religious when
handled by religious persons, and the right moral adjustment of the
whole self to the whole world, with the emotion and idealism inhering in
the process, is the task and content of religion.



The altruism of America is philanthropic rather than civic and in
deliberate disregard of government, the average citizen of the United
States has no equal. However intelligent or capable he may be, he is in
the main a poor citizen. This habit of having no care for the ship of
state and of seeking comfort and self-advantage, regardless of her
future, is exactly the reverse of what one would expect. For by the
manner of her birth and her natural genius the republic would seem to
guarantee forever a high type of efficient public service.

But the capable and typical man of the church, and presumptively the man
of conscience, studiously avoids the hazards of political life. It is
not necessary to rehearse the well-known and deplorable results of this
policy whereby the best men have generally avoided public office,
especially in municipal government. Intelligence of the ills of the body
politic or of the fact that it lies bruised and violated among thieves
serves chiefly to divert the disgusted churchman to the other side of
the road as he hastens to his destination of personal gain. Indeed it is
not an uncommon thing for him to be a past master in circumventing or
debauching government and in thus spreading the virus of political
cynicism throughout the mass of the people.

Such a separation of church and state is hardly to be desired, and the
call to political service is quite as urgent, quite as moral, and far
more exacting than the perfectly just calls to foreign mission support
and to the support of the great philanthropies of the day. Because of
the influx of foreign peoples, the unsolved race problem, tardy economic
reforms, uncertain justice, political corruption, and official
mediocrity, America stands more in need of good citizenship than of
generosity, more in need of statesmen than of clergymen.

No subsequent philanthropy can atone for misgovernment, and furthermore
all social injustice, whether by positive act or simple neglect, tends
to take toll from the defenseless classes. The more efficient extricate
themselves, while the ignorant, the weak, the aged, and chiefly the
little children bear the brunt of governmental folly. It is for this
reason, together with the passing of materialistic standards of pomp
and circumstance and the growing insistence upon human values, that the
women are demanding full citizenship. And this new citizenship,
including both women and men enfranchised upon the same basis, will not
be without the ardor and heroism of those who in former days bore arms
for the honor of their native land. For just behind the ranks are the
unprotected children, the new generation whose opportunity and treatment
constitutes the true measure of statesmanship.

But here as everywhere the only highway leading to that better tomorrow
is thronged with little children upon whose training the issue hangs.
What do the home, school, church, and community tell them as to
citizenship, and, of more importance, what civic attitudes and actions
are evoked?

The home, by picture and story and celebration, by the observance of
birthdays, national and presidential, by the intelligent discussion of
public interests, by respect for constituted authorities, by honest
dealing, and by a constant exercise of public spirit as over against a
selfish and detached aim, may do much to mold the boy's early civic

But most homes will do little of this, and both home and school fall
short in pledging the new life to the common good and in guaranteeing to
the state her just due. Frequently the home provides lavishly and at
sacrifice for the comfort and even luxury of the children and exacts
nothing in return. Mothers slave for sons and neglect, until it is too
late, those just returns of service which make for honor and
self-respect. Graft begins in the home, and it is amazing what pains we
take to produce an ingrate and perforce a poor citizen.

Similarly, the boy attends the "free" schools. Here is further advantage
without the thought of service in return, something for nothing--the
open end of the public crib. But the public schools are not exactly free
schools. Everything, whether at home or school, costs, and someone pays
the bills. The prospective citizen should be made to realize this, and
it would do him no harm actually to compute the cost. Through home and
school, society is making an investment in him. Let him estimate in
dollars and cents his indebtedness for food and clothing and shelter,
travel, medical care, education and recreation, and all the other items
of expense which have entered into his care and training for the
fourteen or seventeen years of his dependency.

Such an exercise, which cannot include those invaluable offices of
parental love and personal interest, may have a sobering effect, as will
also a conscious appreciation of the social institutions and utilities
which are the gift of former and contemporary generations of toilers.

But how can the schoolboy come into the self-respect of partnership?
Probably by building up the consciousness of "our school" and by being
sent from home with the idea of helping teacher and school in every way
to accomplish the most and best for all concerned. Ordinarily the home
supplies the child with no such suggestion and in some cases works even
counter to the school and against good citizenship. The teacher is added
to the ranks of the child's natural enemies, where unfortunately the
policeman has long since been consigned; and the school?--that is
something for which he carries no responsibility. Actual experiment of
the opposite kind has proved most gratifying, and this immediate
attitude toward his first public institution sets the child's will
toward the practice of good citizenship in the years that lie ahead.

The curriculum of the elementary schools of Chicago makes a very
thorough attempt to train the child in good citizenship, an attempt
beginning with the anniversary days of the kindergarten and proceeding
throughout the eight grades. In addition to history, civics of the most
concrete and immediate kind is so presented that the child should be
brought to an appreciation of the city's institutions and organized
forces and of the common responsibility for the health and security of
all the people. The same policy is pursued, unfortunately with
diminishing attention, throughout the high-school course, and yet the
superintendent of schools testifies that public education is failing to
secure civic virtue. The children have not come into partnership with
the school and other agencies of the common life, they have not achieved
a nice sense of the rights of others, they have not been lifted to the
ideal of service as being more noble than that of efficiency alone.

Of course there are many reasons for this: the quizzical temper of the
community at large, the constant revelation of graft, the distorted
school discipline which makes tardiness a more serious offense than
lying or theft; the neglect to organize athletics and play for ethical
ends; the criminal's code with regard to examinations--a code very
prevalent in secondary schools, both public and private--that cheating
is in order if one is not caught; the bitter and damaging personalities
of party politics and the very transient honors of American public life;
and, perhaps chief of all, the very elaborate provision for every child
with the implication that he does the school a favor to use what is
provided rather than the imposition of an obligation upon him both to
help in securing the efficiency and beauty of the school and to
discharge his just debt to society in the measure of his ability as boy
and man.

Another productive cause of poor citizenship is the general contempt in
which immigrants are held, and especially the treatment accorded them by
the police and by most of the minor officials with whom they come in
contact. This primitive disdain of "barbarians" is common among the
school children and tends to make the foreign children more delinquent
and anti-social than they would otherwise be. A very recent case sums up
the situation. A gang of five Polish boys "beat up" a messenger boy,
apparently without provocation. A Juvenile Protective officer visited
the home of one of these young thugs for the purpose of talking with the
mother and getting such information as would aid in keeping the boy from
getting into further trouble.

The mother was found to be a very intelligent woman and explained to
the officer that her boy had been constantly angered and practically
spoiled at school; that it had been ground into him that he was nothing
but a "Polack," and that no good thing was to be expected of him. The
school boys had taken a hand in his education; and by reflecting in
their own merciless way the uncharitable judgment of their elders had
helped to produce this young pariah.

If one will but travel on the street cars in the crowded districts of
our great cities and note the churlish discourtesy and sarcastic
contempt with which "the foreigners" are generally treated, or will take
the pains to ascertain how cruelly they are deceived and fleeced at
almost every turn, one will soon conclude that we are making it very
hard for these people and their children to become grateful and ardent
citizens of the republic.

Looking to the improvement of this condition, while vocational training
promises something by way of an economic basis for good citizenship, too
much must not be expected of it alone. For if vocational efficiency be
created and released in an environment devoid of civic idealism it will
never pass beyond the grub stage. It will merely fatten a low order of
life, and this at the expense of much that would otherwise lend verdure
and freshness, shade, flower, and fruit to the garden of our common
life. The able man or the rich man is not necessarily a good citizen.

That the state, like the home and school, should incessantly give its
benefactions without binding youth to service in return is an egregious
blunder. There should be some formal entrance into full citizenship, not
only for those of us who, coming from other nations, must needs be
"naturalized," but for all whom the years bring from the fair land of
boyhood into the great and sober responsibilities of citizenship.

When a Greek youth took the oath of citizenship,
he stood in the temple of Aglauros overlooking the
city of Athens and the country beyond and said:
"I will never disgrace these sacred arms nor desert
my companions in the ranks. I will fight for temples
and public property, both alone and with many. I
will transmit my fatherland not only not less but
greater and better than it was transmitted to me. I
will obey the magistrates who may at any time be in
power. I will observe both the existing laws and
those which the people may unanimously hereafter
make. And if any person seek to annul the laws or
set them at naught, I will do my best to prevent him
and will defend them both alone and with many. I
will honor the religion of my fathers, and I call to
witness Aglauros, Enyalios, Ares, Zeus, Thallo, Auxo,
and Hegemone."

Now, the minister may think that no great part of the improved training
for citizenship falls to him. He may be content to instill motives of
individual piety, but upon reflection he must know that on nearly every
hand there exist today great and insuperable barriers to his personal
gospel. Behind the walls which imprison them are millions who cannot
hear his message and those walls will not go down except by the creation
of public sentiment which organizes itself and functions as law and
government. The minister's exercise of citizenship should not be
reserved for heaven, where it will not be needed, but should rather get
into action here and now.

This means a pulpit policy which recognizes the great dimensions of the
Kingdom of God, and seeks a moral alignment of church and state that
will draw out the religious energy to vital and immediate issues, and
will necessitate within the church herself clean-cut moral reactions to
existing vital conditions. When the pulpit becomes sufficiently
intelligent and bold to lay bare such issues the youth and manhood of
the country will not in so large measure neglect the pew. Wherever real
issues are drawn men and boys tend to assemble.


In the intricate social life of today a ministry devoted exclusively to
plucking a few brands from the burning is somewhat archaic. The
individual soul in its majestic value is not discounted, but it cannot
be disentangled from the mass as easily as was once the case, or as
easily as was once supposed. It was not so necessary to preach civic
righteousness when "the gospel" was deemed sufficient so to transform
the individual that all external limitations, ungodly conditions, and
social injustices would yield to the regal ability of the child of God.

To recognize the environmental phase of salvation and to undertake this
broader task in addition to the "cure of souls" may be to expose the
minister to the cross-fire of economic sharp-shooters and a fusillade of
sociological field guns. Besides, some of the supporters of the church
will object and many will assert that the minister cannot qualify to
speak with first-rate intelligence and authority upon the complex social
problems of the day. Indeed, by endeavoring to utter a message of
immediate significance in this field, he will discredit his more
important mission as a "spiritual" leader. Again, if he should speak to
the point on social issues no heed would be paid to his deliverances,
and he has plenty to do in routine pastoral work.

The strength of these objections must be granted, and more especially so
in the case of weak men, men of unripe judgment, of hasty and
extravagant utterance, and of inferior training. For undoubtedly
present-day problems of social welfare and such as affect religious
living do lead back, not only into economic considerations, but also
into questions of legislation and government.

But even so, will the minister consent to be without voice or program in
the shaping of social ethics? Will he follow meekly and at a safe
distance in the wake of the modern movement for economic justice and
humane living conditions? Will he allow people to think for a moment
that his job is to coddle a few of the elect and to solace a few of the
victims of preventable hardship and injustice?

Suppose that, with the exception of denouncing the saloon and praising
charity, he omits from his pulpit policy the creation of civic ideals
and the drawing of moral issues in behalf of the higher life of all the
people, will not the male population consider him rather too much
engrossed with the little comforts, sentiments, and futilities of a
religious club?

The entire precedent of the pulpit, both in biblical days and since, is
wholly against such silence. If it is not the minister's business to
know the problems of social ethics, so as to speak confidently to the
situation from the standpoint of Jesus, whose province is it? Must he
dodge the greatest moral problems of the day, all of which are
collective? Has he not time and training so to master his own field that
he will be second to none of his hearers in the possession of the
relevant facts; and does he not presumably know the mind of Christ?

It is idle to say that his hearers will pay no heed, and it is idle to
think that as a champion of justice and a better day he may not get a
scar or so. But the man who has the mind of Christ toward the multitude
and who thinks as highly of little children and their rights as did the
Man of Galilee is going to be significant in making states and cities
what they ought to be; and whatever disturbances may arise in the placid
separatism of the church, the Kingdom itself will go marching on. The
chief ingredient needed by the pulpit of today in order to inspire men
and boys to noble citizenship is courage--moral courage.

But the new citizenship is in training for peace rather than for war,
for world-wide justice rather than for national aggrandizement; and to
this the Christian message lends itself with full force. The rehearsal
of war and strife, the superficial view of history which sees only the
smoke of battles and the monuments of military heroes, give place to an
insight which traces the advancing welfare of the common people. The
minister will inspire his formative citizens with good portrayals of
statesmen, educators, inventors, reformers, discoverers, pioneers, and
philanthropists. He will charm them into greatness at the very time when
a boy's ideals overtop the mountains.

Conducive to the same end will be the rugged and humane ideals and
activities of the Boy Scouts under his control; and all that is well
done in the boys' clubs--the athletics, debates, trials, councils,
literary and historical programs, addresses by respected public
officials, visits to public institutions, the study of social
conditions, especially in the young men's classes of the Sunday
school--will make for the same good citizenship.

If the Men's Brotherhood is of significance in the community it is quite
possible to bring political candidates before it for the statement of
their claims and of the issues involved in any given campaign, and boys
of fifteen years and over might well be invited to such meetings.

Then, too, such activities for community betterment as are outlined in
the closing chapter of this book should be of some benefit, since the
boy is to become a good citizen, not by hearing only but by doing; and
the great success attending "Boy-City" organizations should inspire the
pastor to attempt by this and other means the training of a new

In fact, the matter is of sufficient importance to have a definite place
in the Sunday-school curriculum and a boy might far better be informed
on the plan of government, the civic dangers, and the line of action for
a good man in his own city than to fail of that in an attempt to master
the topography of Palestine or to recite perfectly the succession of the
Israelitish kings.

If the minister has faith in a living God, if he believes that people
are not less valuable now than they were four thousand years ago, if his
Golden Age comprises the perfect will of God entempled in the whole
creation, if he believes that this nation has some responsible part in
the divine plan for the world, if he believes that righteousness is
more desirable than pity and justice than philanthropy, and that the
unrest of our times is but opportunity, he will in every way gird his
boys for the battle and deliver constantly to the state trained recruits
for the cause of human welfare which is ever the cause of God.



Comparative religion is unable to make a satisfactory investigation of
the successive stages in the religious life of the individual. For the
purpose of religious education it is highly desirable to add to the
historical survey and the ethnological cross-sections of comparative
religion a longitudinal section of the religion of the individual. This,
however, is impossible because the important data at the bottom of the
series are unattainable. In the study of childhood, as in the study of a
primitive race, the individual is so securely hidden away in the group
that the most penetrating scientific method cannot find him, and the
tendencies which are to integrate into religious experience are so taken
in hand by the society which produces and envelops the new life that the
student of religion must deal with a social product from the outset. The
isolated religion of an individual does not exist, although in the more
mature stages of prophetism and philosophy pronounced individual
features always assert themselves.

The potential individuality in every child forbids, however, the
assertion that he is only a mirror in which the religion of his
immediate society and nothing more is reflected. There is from a very
early time an active principle of personality, a growing selective
power, a plus that comes out of the unmapped laboratory of creation,
that may so arrange, transmute, and enrich the commonplace elements of
the socio-religious matrix as to amount to genius. But, nevertheless,
the newcomer can scarcely do more than select the given quarter which
from day to day proves least unpleasant, while the fact of being on the
great ship and in one cabin or another--or in the steerage--has been
settled beforehand.

Hence the religious life of the boy depends largely upon family and
community conditions which in turn rest upon economic considerations.
Whatever demoralizes the home, degrades the community, and crushes out
idealism also damns the souls of little children. It requires no deep
investigation of modern society to prove that this is being done, and
the guilt of economic injustice and rapacity is measured ultimately in
the cost to the human spirit which in every child pleads for life and
opportunity, and, alas, too often pleads in vain.

The pre-adolescent and imitative religious life of the boy is fairly
communicative, but as soon as the actual struggle of achieving a
personal religion sets in under the pubertal stress the sphinx itself is
not more reticent. The normal boy is indisposed to talk about the
affairs of his inner life. Probably they are too chaotic to formulate
even to himself. If he is unspoiled he clothes his soul with a spiritual
modesty which some of his sentimental elders might well cultivate. If he
does break silence it will probably be in terms of the religious cult
that has given him nurture. For all of these reasons it is exceedingly
difficult to trace with certainty the development of his personal

The indubitable and hopeful fact is that in every normal boy the potent
germ of religion is present. Usually in early adolescence it bursts its
casings and shoots into consciousness, powerfully affecting the emotions
and the will. Certain stages of this process will be in the nature of
crisis according to the strength of the opposition encountered in the
personal moral struggle, and in opposing social conditions. Nothing but
calamity can forestall this progressive moral adjustment to the whole
world. To believe otherwise is to indict God for the purpose of covering
our own blunders. In proportion as society prevents or perverts this
moral outreach after God, it pollutes and endangers itself. The
atmosphere that kills the lily creates the stench.

In the passage of the boy's religious life from the imitative type to
the personal and energized form, or, as he experiences conversion, the
battle is usually waged about some _concrete moral problem._ His
conscience has become sensitive with regard to profanity, lying,
impurity, or some particular moral weakness or maladjustment and his
struggle centers on that. Being often defeated under the adolescent
sense--pressure and confusion, he naturally seeks help, and help from
the highest source of virtue. He has secreted somewhere in his heart
ulterior ideals of service, but for the time being his chief concern is
very properly himself; for if he "loses out" with himself he knows that
all other worthy ambitions are annulled.

But a religious culture that keeps him in this self-centered feverish
state is pathetically morbid and harmful. It short-circuits the
religious life. This is the chief criticism of the devotional type of
Christian culture. It seeks to prolong a crisis and often begets
insincerity or disgust. The real priest of boyhood will certainly stand
near by at this all-important time, but he will always manifest a
refined respect for the birth-chamber of the soul. In patient and
hopeful sympathy, in friendship that is personal and not professional,
knowing that the door of the heart is opened only from within, the true
minister, like his Master, waits. He knows, too, that a few words
suffice in the great decisions of life, and that the handclasp of manly
love speaks volumes. The prime qualification is a friendship that
invites and respects confidence and a life that is above criticism.

Another important aid in bringing the boy over the threshold of vital
and purposeful religion is the favorable influence of his group or
"gang." The disposition to move together which is so pronounced in every
other field must not be ignored here. The ideal club will be bringing
the boy toward the altar of the church and at the right point along the
way the minister who is properly intimate with each boy will be assured
in private conference of the good faith and earnest purpose of his
prospective church member.

Before receiving boys into active church membership it is well that they
be given a course of instruction in a preparatory class. Only so can
the fundamentals of religion and the duties of church membership be
intelligently grasped. The value to the boy is also enhanced when the
ceremony of induction is made _formal and impressive_ to a degree that
shall not be surpassed in his entrance into any other organization. By
all means the boy should not be neglected after he has been received
into the church. Mistakes of this sort are common wherever undue
importance attaches to the conversion experience, and the numerical
ideal of church success prevails. If the task becomes too great for the
pastor let him find a responsible "big brother" for every boy received
into the church.

As the critical or skeptical traits of youth develop in later
adolescence the intellectual formulas and supports of religion will be
overhauled. What the boy has brought over out of the early imitative and
memorizing period of life will probably come up for review in later
adolescence. If his inherited theology corresponds to experience and
verifies itself in the light of the scientific methods of school and
college no great difficulty will be experienced. But if it does not
square with the youth's set of verifiable facts then there is added to
his necessary moral struggle for self-possession and spiritual control
the unnecessary and dangerous quest for a new faith, so that he is
forced to swap horses in midstream and when the spring freshet is on.

Possibly this reorganization involved in the adolescent flux and
reflection cannot be altogether avoided, but with proper care much could
be done to lessen its dangers and to preserve a substantial continuity
of religious experience from childhood through youth and to the end of
life. It is a help not to have to be introduced to an altogether new God
in these succeeding stages. To preserve his identity enriches and
safeguards the life.

The imagination and wonder instinct of the child, his use of "natural
religion," his confirmation in habits of prayer, reverence, and worship,
his acquisition of choice religious literature by memorizing--can these
interests be properly cared for without putting upon him a theological
yoke which will subsequently involve pain and perhaps apostasy?

It is undoubtedly easier to point out the desirability of furnishing
childhood with the materials of a time-proof religion than to provide
such an instrument. And it is less difficult to criticize the
indiscriminate use of the Bible in instructing the young than to set
forth the type of education in religion which will satisfy alike the
mental requirements of childhood and youth. What course should be
followed with the pre-adolescent boy in order that the youth may be not
less but more religious?

In offering any suggestion in this direction it should be borne in mind
that natural religion or the religion of nature makes a strong appeal to
the child. He readily believes in the presence of God in animate nature
with all its wonder and beauty. Creatorship and the expression of the
divine will in the normal processes are taken for granted. The orderly
world is to him proof of mind and method; and perhaps the first mistake
in the average religious teaching is the departure from this broad basis
of faith to what is termed "revealed religion" and is at the same time
the religion of miracle. The introduction of miracle as a basis of faith
amounts to sowing the seeds of adolescent skepticism.

The child should be taught to deal with Jewish folk-lore as with that of
any other people. While the incomparable religious value of the biblical
literature should be used to the full, the Bible as a book should not be
given artificial ranking. Nor should any belief contrary to his reason
be imposed as an obligation. But the ever-open possibility of things
that surpass present human comprehension should be preserved, and the
sense of wonder which the scientist may ever have should be carefully
nurtured. If the teacher violates the child's right to absolute honesty
here let him not bemoan nor condemn the skepticism of later years.

The child can also believe in the presence of God in his own moral
discernment. He can be taught to obey his sense of "ought" and to enjoy
thereby, from very early years, a rich measure of harmony. Through such
experience he discovers to himself the joy of being at one with God. He
has proof of the constructive power of righteousness, and conversely he
learns the destructive power of sin. He finds that the constituted order
is essentially moral and that the duty of all alike is to conform to
that fact.

He can easily comprehend also the struggle of the better self to rule
over the worse self. The battle of the rational and spiritual to gain
supremacy over the instinctive and animalistic is known to him. To be
master of himself and to exercise a control that is more and more
spiritual, to get the better of things and circumstances, to reduce his
world to obedience to his gradually enlightened will--that is his task.
In this he proves, under right guidance, the supremacy of the spiritual
and may be encouraged to project it into a hope of personal immortality.

Very early, too, he gets some proof of the fact of human solidarity;
especially so if he has brothers and sisters. The social character of
good and the anti-social character of bad conduct is demonstrated day in
and day out in the family. And enlargement of the concentric circles
that bound his life only demonstrates over and over again the social
nature of goodness. On this basis sufficient inspiration for personal
righteousness and altruism is afforded by the world's need of just these
things. Every normal child responds to the appeal of living to make the
world better. Children always "want to help."

Apart from every speculative question the child accepts the ethical
leadership of Jesus. And he should understand that discipleship consists
in conduct that conforms to His spirit. To make the test creedal is not
only contrary to the intensely pragmatic character of childhood but
inimical to the resistless spirit of inquiry and speculation which
breaks out in reflective youth. Childhood needs a religion of deeds. If
a religion of dogma and detached sentiment is substituted the youth may
some day awake to the fact that he can throw the whole thing overboard
and experience a relief rather than a loss. If from his earliest
experience in the home he has lived under the wholesome influence of
applied rather than speculative Christianity, he will be spared much of
the danger incident to theological reconstruction.

In emphasizing this point of applied Christianity, and as illustrating
the fact that the boy's initial religious struggle, which necessitates a
quest for God, centers about concrete temptations, it may be in place to
make mention of a problem which lies very close to personal religion and
social welfare. On the one hand the very altruism which is exalted and
glorified in religion has its physical basis in the sex life, and on the
other hand the sex life, unless it be guarded by religious control, ever
threatens to devastate all the higher values of the soul. Hence the
problem of the boy's personal purity has profound religious

As yet there is little consensus of opinion as to the best way of
keeping him pure. Parents, educators, and religious leaders, however,
are showing increased concern over this difficult problem, and there is
good ground to believe that prudery and indifference must gradually give
place to frank and intelligent consideration of this vital and difficult

It must be granted, however, that it is as impossible as it is
undesirable to keep the boy ignorant. His own natural curiosity,
together with his school and street experience, are fatal to such a
Fool's Paradise. Moreover, the general attitude of suppression and
secrecy rather stimulates curiosity, and often amounts to the plain
implication that everything that has to do with the perpetuation of our
species is of necessity evil and shameful. This "conspiracy of silence"
makes against true virtue. Religious instruction, based upon the
confession of the repentant David, "Behold, I was begotten in iniquity
and in sin did my mother conceive me," has helped to perpetuate a
sinister attitude toward this whole question--an attitude not without
some foundation in the moral history of man.

It has also been convenient and consistent, in support of the doctrine
of man's depravity, to exploit this dark view so as to make him a fit
subject for redemption. Somehow, the traditional "Fall" and procreation
have been so associated in religious thinking that it has been
practically impossible for the religious mind to entertain any favorable
consideration of the physical conditions of human genesis. Very
naturally that which is under the ban, being the seat of human sin, the
bond that binds each generation to fallen Adamic nature, must take its
place as surreptitious and evil--and never positively within the
sanctioned and ordained agencies of God.

Does such an attitude contribute to man's highest good and to the
strength and scope of religious control? Is it better to alienate and
outlaw so important a phase of human existence or to bring it into
intelligent accord with the divine will? Is it not conceivable that in
this field, as in every other that is normal to human life, there will
be a gain to humanity, and to the value of religion as a helper of
mankind, by a frank attempt to bring the whole life to the dignifying
conception of a reasonable service to one's Maker?

Granting that such an attempt is desirable, we come face to face with
the necessity of imparting such information as will make the boy's way
of duty plain, and will elevate the subject to a place of purity and
religious worth. In this process of instruction, which is nothing less
than a sacred responsibility, the most common fault of the parent,
physician, teacher, and pastor is that of delay. By the time a boy is
eight years of age, he should have been informed as to his residence
within and his birth from his mother, and this in such a way as
wonderfully to deepen his love for her, and to beget in him a respect
for all women to the end of his life.

It is well that the mother should first inform him in that spirit of
utmost confidence which shall preclude his indiscriminate talk with
other people upon this subject. He should know, too, that further
information will be given as he needs it, and that he can trust his
parents to be frank and true with him in this as in everything else. By
all means let the mother tell the story and not some unfortunately
vicious or polluted companion. There are three reasons at least for
informing him thus early in life. One is that sufficient curiosity has
usually developed by this time, another is that the first information
should come from a pure source, and a third is that this instruction
should anticipate sex consciousness and the indecent language and
suggestions of school and street.

In the same spirit will the father impart to the boy a little later the
fact of the original residence within himself of the seed from which the
boy grew. By the father's reverent treatment of the subject in the hour
of a boy's confidence, and in response to his just curiosity, he may
hallow forever the boy's conception of the marriage relation and
emphasize the vast amount of tenderness and regard that is due every
mother. For the boy to feel sure that he has been told the truth by his
father, and to realize that his father regards these facts in an
honorable and clean way, will rob a thousand indecent stories of their

It belongs to the father to redeem the boy's idea of human procreation
from obscenity, and, under right conditions, to have this process
regarded by his boy as the most wonderful responsibility that falls to
man. Sometime before the boy has reached thirteen, the father will have
explained to him the facts and temptations of the pubescent period. The
crime of allowing boys in middle and later adolescence to worry
themselves sick over normal nocturnal emissions, and often to fall into
the hands of the quack, or of the advocate of illicit intercourse, lies
at the door of the negligent father.

The enervating results of self-abuse, the loss of manliness and
self-respect, and the possible damage to future offspring will have
weight in safeguarding the boy who has already been fortified by a high
and just conception of the procreative power which is to be his.
Moreover, in the severe battle that is waged for self-control, the boy
should be given every aid of proper hygiene in clothing, sleeping
conditions, baths, exercise, diet, and social intercourse. Plenty of
exercise but not thorough exhaustion, good athletic ideals, a spare diet
at night, good hours, and freedom from evil suggestion, entertainments,
or reading; his time and attention healthfully occupied--these
precautions, in addition to enlightenment as above indicated, will, if
there are no conditions calling for minor surgery, go a long way toward
preserving the boy's integrity under the temptations incident to sex
life. It is to be feared that many boys have been wronged by the failure
of parents and physicians to have some slight operation--either
circumcision or its equivalent--performed in the early days of infancy.

Books on the subject are not best for the boy. They tend to make him
morbid and often stimulate the evil which they seek to cure. Nor is it
wise, prior to the age of fifteen, to open up the loathsome side of the
subject, concerning the diseases that are the outcome of the social
evil. After that age, talks by a reputable physician, pointing out the
terrible results to oneself, his wife, and his descendants, may be
fitting and helpful. The minister should make frequent use of the
physician in having him address on different occasions the fathers and
the mothers of the boys. To hold such meetings in the church building is
an altogether worthy use of the institution.

In cases where parent and physician have failed to do their duty, and
the pastor is on proper terms of friendship with the boy, it becomes his
duty to tell the boy plainly and purely a few of the important things
which he ought to know in order to avoid moral shipwreck.

If credence is to be given to the startling reports of immorality in
high schools, based, as is commonly claimed, upon ignorance, then the
time has certainly come for plain speech, and the boys and girls should
be gathered together in separate companies for instruction in sex
hygiene and morality. Any education which makes no deliberate attempt to
conserve human happiness and social welfare in this important respect is
inadequate and culpable. The testimony that comes from juvenile courts,
girls' rescue homes, and boys' reformatories constitutes a grave
indictment of society for its neglect to impart proper information.

It is part of the minister's task to work for a better day in this as in
every phase of moral achievement. Next to the physician he best knows
the mental and physical suffering, the moral defeat, and the awful
injustice to women and children whom the libertine pollutes with
incurable diseases. If he is a true pastor, he will strive to keep the
boys pure through expert instruction to parents, through personal
advice, through wholesome activity and recreation, through courses on
sexual hygiene in the public schools, through war on indecency in
billboard, dance, and theater, through absolute chastity of speech, and,
in general, through an ideal of life and service which shall lift the
boys' ambitions out of the low and unhealthy levels of sense
gratification. To put the spiritual nature in control is his high and
sacred opportunity.

The importance of the minister's part in this struggle for the body and
soul of youth is based upon the fact that in this critical encounter
there is no aid that is comparable with religion. Thousands of honest,
serious-minded men frankly confess that in modern conditions they see
little hope of this battle being won without religion as a sanction of
right conduct. The boy needs God, a God to whom he can pray in the hour
of temptation. He needs to regard his life with all its powers as God's
investment, which he must not squander or pervert.

Here, as everywhere else in boy-life, the loyalty appeal, which, as
nothing else, will keep him true to mother and father, to society, and
to God, stands the religious leader in good stead. Upon honor he will
not violate the confidence of his parents, and the trust imposed in him
by his Maker. Upon honor he will deport himself toward the opposite sex
as he would wish other boys to regard his own sister; and the religious
teacher has it within his power, if he will keep in touch with boys, to
create and preserve an ideal of manly chivalry that will effectively
withstand both the insidious temptations of secret sin and the bolder
inducements of social vice.

This can never be done by the formal work of the pulpit alone. Nothing
but the influence of a pure, strong man, mediated in part through the
parents of the boy, supported by scientific facts, and operating
directly on the boy's life, through the mighty medium of a personal
friendship, can perform this saving ministry. If there were nothing
more to be gained through intimate acquaintance with boys than thus
fortifying them in this one inevitable and prolonged struggle, it would
warrant all the energy and time consumed in the minister's attempt to
enter into the hallowed friendship and frank admiration of the boys of
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
organization. The best policy is that of the "open door." Let the club
do all that it can for boys who are already in the Sunday school and
church, but let it be open to any boy who may be voted in, and then
through example and moral suasion let such boys be won to church and
Sunday school by the wholesome influence of the leader and the group,
quite apart from any conditions, favors, or ranking within the club

An unofficial relation between the Sunday school and the club will be
maintained by having club announcements given in the school and by
bringing the Sunday-school superintendent before the club frequently. In
some churches the boys' whole department of the Sunday school is the
boys' club, and this may prove a good method where it can be carried out
with proper divisions and specialization as to age, etc.

In discussing any proposed constitution, consideration should be given
to suggestions from the boys themselves and every question should be
threshed out in a reasonable, democratic way, strictly after the fashion
of deliberative bodies. The opinion of the leader is sure to have its
full weight, and matters needing further consideration can always be
referred to committees to be reported back. Questions of discipline
should be handled by the club itself, the director interfering only as a
last resort to temper the drastic reactions of a youthful and outraged
democracy. If there is a men's organization in the church tie the club
to that. This will guarantee strength and permanency to the club and
will help the men by giving them a chance to help the boys.

The form of the constitution and ritual will be governed by the age
which they seek to serve. Boys from ten to fourteen years may not rise
to the splendid formality of the Knights of King Arthur. Possibly the
idealization of the best Indian traits will serve them better. From
fourteen to seventeen or eighteen the knighthood ideals are most
satisfying, while one may question their utility after that when the
youth turns to reflection and debate and is suited by civic and
governmental forms of organization. It must not be assumed that any one
type of organization is good for all ages and does not need to be
supplemented, modified, or superseded as the boy makes his adolescent

If the pastor has limited time and limited help he will do well to
center his attention on the important period of twelve to fifteen
years; and in order to do his work properly in the club meetings and on
the gymnasium floor especially, he should have an adult helper as soon
as the attendance exceeds ten in number. It is far more important to do
the training well than to make a great showing in numbers and at the
same time fail in creating a proper group standard and in developing
individual boys. In the ordinary improvised church gymnasium one man to
every ten boys is a good rule.

In a church club that grew to have a membership of sixty, the following
grouping for gymnasium privileges was found to work well: boys ten,
eleven, and twelve years old, from 4:15 to 5:30 in the afternoon; boys
thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years old, from 7:00 to 8:15 the same
evening; and boys sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old, from 8:15
to 9:30. Such a use of the plant secures economy of time, heating, etc.,
and with a little help one may give every boy two gymnasium sessions a
week, which is not too much. If possible, showers and lockers should be
provided; and in classification for gymnasium work allowance should be
made for retarded boys and for boys of extraordinary ability, so that
they may play with their equals irrespective of strict classification
by age. The best single test for classification is weight.

The leader will do well to see that everything is right and clean in
conversation and practice in the locker-room and showers. Also, foolish
prudery and shamefacedness must be wholesomely banished, and it will
benefit rather than harm the boys for their leader, after having taken
them through the exercises, to join them in the pleasure and stimulation
of the shower bath.

Not only the leader but as many interested church people as possible
should "back" the boys by attending their meets and games with other
teams. Remember that in order to command their full loyalty some loyalty
to them must be shown. The important function of the annual or
semi-annual banquet should not be overlooked. Such an affair is
inexpensive and unquestionably an event in the life of every member. The
mothers will always be glad to provide the food and superintend the
service; and in every town there will be found men of high standing who
will count it an honor to address the club on such an occasion, while
entertainers and musicians will also gladly contribute their talent.
Probably the average minister does not duly appreciate how much
high-grade assistance may be had for the mere asking and how much
benefit comes to those who give of their ability as well as to those who
are the fortunate recipients of such service.

The clubroom rapidly grows rich in associations as it becomes decorated
with the symbols of the club and the trophies won from time to time.
Things that have happened but a year ago become entrancing lore to a
group of boys, and the striking features of meetings, outings, or
contests lose nothing in sentiment and cohesive worth as the months
pass. The sophisticated adult may not fully appreciate these little
by-products of club activity, but the boy who is growing into his social
and larger self makes every real incident a jewel rich in association
and suggestive of the continuity and oneness of his group life. The use
of an appropriate pin or button, of club colors, yells, whistles, and
secret signals will bear fruit a hundred fold in club consciousness and

Summer is especially hard on the city boy. If there is no vacation
school, wholesome outdoor job, or satisfactory play, then mischief is
certain. Indoor life is particularly distasteful during the hot weather
and the flat is intolerable. Long hours and late are spent upon the
street or in places of public amusement where immoral suggestions
abound. High temperature always weakens moral resistance and there is no
telling into what trouble the boy may drift. Hence to relinquish boys'
work in the summer is to fail the boy at the very time of his greatest
need. The competent leader does not abandon, he simply modifies his
endeavor. As early in the spring as the boys prefer outdoor play he is
with them for baseball, track work, tennis, swimming, tramping, fishing,
hunting, camping; closing the season with football and remaining out
until the boys are eager to take up indoor work. The lack of formal
meetings in the summer need not concern the leader. It is sufficient
that he give the boys his fellowship and supervision and keep them well

In all of this outdoor work the program and activities of the Boy Scouts
of America are unsurpassed. In cultivating the pioneer virtues and in
promoting health, efficiency, good citizenship, nature-study, and humane
ideals no movement for boys has ever held such promise, and the promise
will be realized if only Scout Masters in proper number and quality can
be secured. Here again the gauntlet is thrown at the door of the church
and the challenge is to her manhood from the manhood of tomorrow.

[Illustration: CITY BOYS "HIKING"]

[Illustration: A WEEK-END CAMP]

The ideal club will have its summer outing. When properly planned and
conducted, a summer camp is of all things to be desired. For several
months it should be enjoyed in anticipation, and if all goes well it
will be a joyous climax of club life, an experience never to be
forgotten. But like all good work with boys, it is difficult and
exacting. Safety and the rights of all cannot be conserved apart from
strict military or civic organization; and no leader will take boys to
camp and assume responsibility for life and limb without a thorough
understanding and acceptance on their part of the discipline and routine
which must be scrupulously enforced.

Every boy should be provided well in advance with a list of the utensils
and outfit needed, and the organization of the camp should give to each
one his proper share of work. The efficiency and dispatch of a corps of
boys so organized is only equaled by the joy that comes from the
vigorous and systematic program of activities from daylight to dark.

The best way for the leader to become proficient in conducting a camp is
to take an outing with an experienced manager of a boys' camp; the next
best way is by conference with such a person. The _Handbook_ of the Boy
Scouts of America will be found very helpful in this respect, and
_Camping for Boys_ by H.W. Gibson, Y.M.C.A. Press, is excellent. It is
necessary to emphasize the necessity of strict discipline and
regularity, a just distribution of all duties, full and vigorous use of
the time, extra precaution against accident, some formal religious
exercise at the beginning of the day, with the use of the rare
opportunity for intimate personal and group conference at the close of
the day when the charm of the campfire is upon the lads. When boys are
away from home and in this paradise of fellowship their hearts are
remarkably open and the leader may get an invaluable insight into their
inmost character.

Whenever possible the minister will bring his boys' club work into
co-operation with the boys' department of the Y.M.C.A. Where the
Y.M.C.A. exists and the church cannot have moderate gymnasium privileges
of its own, arrangements should be made for the regular use of the
association's gymnasium. It is desirable that the stated use of the
gymnasium be secured for the club as such, since the individual use in
the general boys' work of the association is not as favorable to
building up a strong consciousness in the church club. The Y.M.C.A. can
best organize and direct the inter-church athletics and it has performed
a great service for the church clubs in organizing Sunday-school
athletic leagues in the various cities, and in supplying proper
supervision for tournaments and meets in which teams from the different
churches have participated. To direct these contests properly has been
no small tax upon the officials, for the insatiable desire for victory
has in some cases not only introduced unseemly and ugly features into
the contests but has temporarily lowered the moral standard of certain

Superintendents and pastors have been known to sign entrance credentials
for boys who were not eligible under the rules. In some instances church
boys have descended to welcome the "ringer" for the purpose of "putting
it over" their competitors. In grappling with these difficulties and in
interpreting sound morality in the field of play the Y.M.C.A. has
already made a successful contribution to the moral life of the
Sunday-school boy. Nothing could be more startling to the religious
leader, who insists upon facing the facts, than the facility with which
the "good" Sunday-school boy turns away from the lofty precepts of his
teacher to the brutal ethics of the "win-at-any-price" mania. The
Sunday-School Athletic League under the guidance of the Y.M.C.A. tends
to overcome this vicious dualism.

In some districts the leader of the church boys' club may arrange to
make use of the social settlement, civic center, or public playground,
thus holding his group together for their play and supplementing the
church outfit. The object in every case is to maintain and strengthen a
group so possessed of the right ideals that it shall shape for good the
conduct and character of the members severally. To the many ministers
who despair of being able to conduct a club in person it should be said
that young men of sixteen or seventeen years of age make excellent
leaders for boys of twelve to fifteen years, and that they are more
available than older men.

These leaders, including the teachers of boys' classes, should come
together for conference and study at least once a month. The Y.M.C.A.
will be the most likely meeting-place, and its boys' secretary the
logical supervisor of inter-church activities. Wherever there is no such
clearing-house, the ministers' meeting or the inter-church federation
may bring the boys' leaders together for co-operation on a
community-wide scale. The multiplication of clubs is to be desired, both
for the extension of boys' work throughout all the churches, and for the
development of such inter-church activities among boys as will make for
mutual esteem and for the growing unity of the church of God.


Footnote 1: General reading: W.I. Thomas, _Source Book for Social
Origins,_ The University of Chicago Press; G. Stanley Hall,
_Adolescence_, D. Appleton & Co.; C.H. Judd, _Genetic Psychology for
Teachers_, D. Appleton & Co.

Footnote 2: Books recommended: _Official Handbook_, Boy Scouts of
America, 200 Fifth Ave., New York; K.L. Butterfield, _Chapters in Rural
Progress_, The University of Chicago Press; K.L. Butterfield, _The
Country Church and the Rural Problem_, The University of Chicago Press.

Footnote 3: Books recommended: Jane Addams, _The Spirit of Youth and the
City Streets_, Macmillan; D.F. Wilcox, _Great American Cities_,

Footnote 4: See monograph on _Five-and Ten-Cent Theatres_ by Louise de
Koven Bowen, The Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago.

Footnote 5: See monograph, _A Study of Public Dance Halls_, by Louise de
Koven Bowen, The Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago.

Footnote 6: Books and articles recommended: E.B. Mero, _The American
Playground,_ Dale Association, Boston; K. Groos, _The Play of Man,_ D.
Appleton & Co.; J.H. Bancroft, _Games for the Playground, Home, School,
and Gymnasium_, Macmillan; C.E. Seashore, "The Play Impulse and Attitude
in Religion," _The American Journal of Theology_, XIV, No. 4; Joseph
Lee, "Play as Medicine," _The Survey_, XXVII, No. 5.

Footnote 7: Books recommended: Frank Parsons, _Choosing a Vocation_,
Houghton Mifflin Co.; Meyer Bloomfield, _The Vocational Guidance of
Youth_, Houghton Mifflin Co.

Footnote 8: Books recommended: Georg Kerschensteiner, _Education for
Citizenship,_ Rand McNally & Co.; William R. George, _The Junior
Republic_, D. Appleton & Co.

Footnote 9: Books recommended: John L. Alexander, _Boy Training_,
Y.M.C.A. Press; G. Stanley Hall, _Youth, Its Education, Regimen and
Hygiene,_ D. Appleton & Co.

Footnote 10: For bibliography see William B. Forbush, _The Coming
Generation_, D. Appleton & Co., and the appendix of _Handbook for Boys,
The Boy Scouts of America_.


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