I was recently asked, “What if only two men show up?” My answer. “Start with those two.”
When I first began to work in Men’s Ministry, which today I refer to as Ministering to Men – for that is what we are really doing – I was disappointed if 100 men didn’t show up for an event. Especially for a church who had a membership of over 2000 with about 800-1000 men connected in some way with the church. Many times, only 20-30 men would show up for monthly activities and often the numbers were even lower. Even when we planned events that we thought would interest men; the Boomer generation was the primary group attending and not all of them were coming. In addition, I could not understand why the younger men did not attend. I felt as if I had failed.
But, as I began to study the culture and what men are looking for I began to realize the way we were doing men’s ministry was not working anymore. What we had done for the past 30-40 years no longer works. Today, men – especially younger men – are so much busier then they have ever been before. Recognize that;
- Many are working long hours to provide for their families and just don’t feel like attending anything after they leave their jobs for the day – week.
- Their children are more involved in sports than ever before. Playing 3-4 sports, practices, and games every weekend doesn’t leave much time for family, down-time to rest, and especially time to go to another event or activity.
Men leaders are finding it is easier for men to meet in small groups in places like coffee shops, at the gym, in their offices, at restaurants over a meal, maybe in someone’s home. Places that seems to be outside the box and not what we in the past has considered the norm. There are many resources available for groups like these and do not require much preparation.
In addition, when you keep men discipleship groups size down to about three to four you will find the bond between men will be even stronger and in turn it will strengthen the church. Dr. Gary Yagel in his book Got Your Back, says “If the church has any hope of strengthening its men, it must get men into relationships with other men. It cannot continue to largely ignore the need men have for connection.” Remember, even though Jesus picked 12 men to pour his life into and sent them out to change the world, he pulled three of those men, Peter, James, and John, even closer; allowing them to see his glory, successes, and struggles in a different perspective. He connected with those men in a totally different way than he did the rest of the disciples.
So, don’t be afraid to start small with just a few people in the group. In fact, this group could be the catalyst to see more groups to start over time. As these men begin to see the benefit and begin talking and sharing how God is using the group to help them grow, it will inspire other men to be part of a group.
I am currently meeting with a few men with the hope we will roll out to other men who will be led by the men in this group when the time is right. The tendency for us is that we want to see tremendous results now. But the reality is, it takes five to ten years to develop an effective ministry to men in the local church. I realize most men don’t have the patience. It took me a few years to realize it wasn’t me or that the men were not interested. We just had to understand the problem and find a different approach. So, keep at it. God will reward your efforts.
Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike