The Church sells its young people short. It does. And it’s regrettable. We have an uncanny knack for feeding them fluff because we think they are not smart enough, not strong enough, not ready enough to handle the tough stuff. But they are. They are ready. And they want it.
Take, for instance, the acolytes at my home church.
They have a name (the Acolyte Corps . . . what? I didn’t say it was going to be brilliant.), a logo even, probably one day a group tattoo. These young men mean business. They are mini-seminarians in training, each one of them, learning those things that essentially form men for the Holy Ministry.
Snooze buttons? Naw. Extra coffee at 6 a.m. on Sunday? Absolutely.
These men are as young as grade school and as old as high school. The old ones teach the young ones, and the young ones hang on to every word. They can sense, even at a young age, that acolytes help set the tone of the service, that they help the pastors. They can sense it, and they want to be a part of it.
They have all had their first Communion or been confirmed. Their service is not mandatory. They are there because they want to be, because they want to do what the older boys have done, because they want to be in that unique group that serves the church in this way.
They are at every service, every Easter Vigil, midnight Christmas mass, Good Friday Tridium. They situate the hymnals, refill the candles, and fuss importantly with the Holy Space. They are invested. They want it to be just right. It is important to them.
They don’t take their task lightly. They come early to practice. They leave late after discussing how the service went. They talk about Greek words, discuss reverence, and chide in good-natured fun about mistakes made in the service.
And these are the boys who will one day be the men who are pastors in our pulpits and laymen in our pews. These are the boys who desire to know the things of the faith and are not left wanting. These are the boys that are desperate to talk theology, and not fluff. These are the boys that are in every congregation in the LCMS. These are our boys, our men, our future. And we could not be more blessed.