a blessing indeed

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

We had a Night of Blessing for Abe last Monday. And Friday night he was married, a blessing indeed.

About 50 men, teens and boys showed up for his Night of Blessing, an amazing number of men for a church that runs a little over 200 in the summer. But that’s because a night of blessing is an amazing thing.

It’s an encouragement to the young man we gather to encourage, of course. But it is an encouragement to the older men who come too. And you have to think the single men, even the very young ones, understand something important is happening.

We’ve been doing this at our church since we started this for my own son ten years ago. And the event has grown in importance ever since.

Here is how it works. We gather for a simple supper—usually just soup or sandwiches with cookies. It’s usually in a home. Or in this case, a yard. And the host welcomes everyone and has someone ask a blessing over the food.

When we are through eating, someone explains how it works. And it works because it is quite simple. Here are the rules and the steps.

The rules
Everyone is free to speak to the young man being honored, sharing advice, memories or blessing of any sort. And if you agree with what they are saying, you show your consent by calling out “Hear! Hear!”

And the other rule? No women are allowed to come, listen or speak, although sometimes they may have set out food or cleared tables. As it turns out men can even do this if they have to. But men do not open up this way with other men around other women.

There is no one-ups-man-ship. This is not a competition. I’m not sure why but it just works. Men just start to talk about how God has blessed them through their marriage as they have learned to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5).

The steps

1) First, we pass a can and everyone is invited to put their pocket change in it . This is for the man getting married, and the joke is that he won’t have much pocket change for awhile. But I’ve seen enough $20 or even $50 bills in these cans to know that the generosity exceeds loose change.

2) Everyone is invited to give advice, relate memories or affirm the character of the man or his soon to be bride. This is the amazing part. Older men share what they have learned in fifty or sixty years of marriage. Younger men, perhaps newly married themselves, talk about what they are learning. Family members and unmarried friends talk about the man himself—what they admire and appreciate.

3) This is followed by a short charge, perhaps ten to fifteen minutes, prepared by a spiritual mentor—perhaps an elder or a man who has had an influence on the young man as a teacher or counselor. Sometimes this is written out and given to the young man to keep.

4) Finally there is a blessing, given by the man’s father if possible. This is often very moving—men in our culture do not bless their sons in this way often enough. Sometimes this part even works if the man’s father is not a believer. All that is required is a father—or sometimes a father-figure—who wishes him well, shares some of his own mistakes, giving some final advice to the one who is about to “leave father and mother,” as the Scripture requires.

5) A final pray is offered, usually by the one who gave the blessing or sometimes the soon to be father-in-law. And then we just stand around for awhile, continuing to talk about things that matter.

This hardly does justice to the emotional and spiritual impact of these events. Scriptures are read. Tears are shed. It is a rare moment in the life of a man to gather in a community of trusted brothers and spiritual fathers. It is a channel of grace, as even those already married remind themselves and each other what a blessing marriage can be and is.

I’m pretty sure the women in our church have been blessed by this too, even though they didn’t come.

I’d encourage the men in any church to do this.

Young men need moments like these.

So do old men.


Here are some of the charges I’ve done at, or essays I’ve written about, a Night of Blessing:

A few good men

A love story retold

Lessons in loving

A night of blessing

Marriage as a cross cultural experience

The mystery of marriage

for Jon Hoyt on marriage

6 thoughts on “a blessing indeed”

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