May 12, 2014
I cracked open Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life by Stephen Nichols this weekend. I have to say that I am a fan of this series of biographies that Crossway is putting out, and I have been looking forward to reading this one for a while now—especially since reading Getting the Blues by Nichols. There is a lot to reflect on that I hope to write more about, but I wanted to share something extremely practical, and I think very valuable today: The Thursday Circle.
Bonhoeffer began the Thursday Circle in 1927 while in Berlin. This was a group of young men, late teenagers, personally selected by Bonhoeffer. They would meet from 5:25 p.m. until 7:00---one must appreciate Bonhoeffer’s sense of precision. They had a prescribed list of topics and Bonhoeffer led, but never commandeered, the conversation. Metaxas explains that Bonhoeffer set up the Thursday Circle because “he felt it vitally important to train up the next generation of young men.” (65)This kind of investing in the youth is something that the church could learn from Bonhoeffer today. This would be a wonderful practice for a pastor, and I would also love to be more intentional in this way as a housewife theologian. So often we leave this kind of gathering together and teaching to the youth leader of the church, but we have to ask ourselves if we would like to build relationships with the youth ourselves. When they are baptized, the church agrees to be a part of their Christian nurture. Do we take this seriously? Really, we do not know what we are preparing them for. Many in Bonhoeffer’s Thursday Circle were unknowingly being prepared for suffering and an early death.
One of the Thursday Circle members, Goetz Grosch, would later be Bonhoeffer’s student at Finkenwalde. Metaxas records the sad note, however, “Tragically Grosch and most of the young men from Thursday Circle died during the war, either on the field of battle or” as many of them came from Jewish families, “in concentration camps.” (65)This all the more shows the urgency of investing in our youth.