Don’t be Afraid to Start Small

Disciple MakingI 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.

courageous-movie-men-praying-7Men 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

Reaching Men: Going Beyond the Normal Saturday Morning Breakfast

Discipleship GroupFor the past couple of months, I have written about planning for the coming church year and asking the question, “Where are the Men?”  This month as you continue planning let’s look at some ways that we can reach men that are connected with our churches but are not attending any of the men only events.

When we begin to think holistically about the men of our churches, we find men everywhere; not only are they involved in men only activities, but they are working as Sunday School Teachers, working with children, working with the youth, ushering, singing in the choir, playing in the band, deacons, elders, working in Disaster Relief/Recovery, recreational leagues and the list could go on.  We have men, who are on the fringes of the church.  Their children are attending our preschools, VBS, AWANAs, Ranger Ministries, Summer Camps, and this list could probably continue.  But the question is; “How do we minister to these men?”

We need to think outside the box of our typical ministry to men and begin to understand these men may not be able to have time to work on projects; but, many of them are looking for meaningful relationships with other men who are willing to pour their life into them.  Many of them don’t even know what they are looking for; but, they know cropped-2013-09-07-08-28-20.jpgthere is something missing.  I am reminded of 1 Thessalonian 2:8 where Paul said, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”  The phrase to understand and make it a part of your ministry to men is “to share not only the gospel of God but also our own lives” (bold for emphasis).  Let me give you a few examples of how we can do that.

  • A lead Usher who makes cards with a verse on one side and points about the verse on the other side and gives it to those helping on Sunday morning. Spend five minutes talking about the verse and then praying with the men.  This could be expanded to men who are members of the choir or praise band, parking cars, teaching, etc.  That is ministering to men.
  • A Sunday School Teacher who plans events for the men of his group to attend ballgames, racing events, fishing, etc. to develop relationships so he can pour his life into the men and they can see he works through life issues just like them.
  • A church who gives a book out to all the men of the church dealing with men life issues. Encourage a time for any man who desires to meet and walk through the book once again helping them see he is not the only one who struggles with life issues.
  • A man who reaches out to 2-3 men and invites them to meet with him regularly to walk through a book or read and talk about a book in the Bible.
  • Begin a mentoring ministry where seasoned men can put their name on a list for younger men to connect with to help them grow.
  • Create events for dads of preschoolers, VBS or other children ministry attendees to attend an event with their child and provide the dads an opportunity to join a group that may help him be the dad and husband God desires for them to be.

But most of all we need to create a welcoming atmosphere for men.  They need to feel no pressure or judgements, remember they are people and not projects.  We need to understand that everything our church does that touches any man is ministering to men.  Everything!  There is an old saying in the business world, “Your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting.”  Therefore, our ministry to men are perfectly designed to produce the type of men we have sitting in the pews of our churches.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

 

 

 

Spiritual Mentor – Discipleship Group Survey

SurveyIn our Conversation on Ministering to Men I have written a lot about discipling relationships.  So I was wondering how many are in a discipling relationship or do they even know what is a discipling relationship.  I put together a simple survey to get a basic understanding of what people may or may not understand about discipling.  Three questions.  Depending on the your answer to the first question you may not need to answer the Q2 or Q3.

Take a moment and click the link below to ‘Take this Survey’ to answer the questions.  Thank you.

Take this survey

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

Where Are The Men?

20180407_120229[1]If you have a hundred men in your church, how big is your men’s ministry?  Sometimes our assumptions and paradigms limit us from seeing the bigger picture.  This is true with men’s ministry.  We need to understand how to maximize the kingdom impact of every interaction your church has with every man.

The second most asked question I hear is, “How can I keep the men involved?”  You are concern because the men are not coming to the monthly breakfasts or men only events and you are not sure why.  The most asked question is, “How can I get the younger men involved?”  Well, unlike a few decades ago when men seemed eager to gather together on a Saturday morning, men, especially younger men, are busier than they have ever been.  So, to answer both questions we must change our approach on how to reach the men to develop relationships thereby encouraging discipleship.

To do this we need to shift our thinking from the concept that only the men who attend the monthly breakfasts or a men’s only event is a part of your men’s ministry.  Start thinking of men’s ministry as an ‘all-inclusive’ men’s ministry; in other words, that every man connected with the church is part of the men’s ministry.  Begin by thinking and making a list of everything your church does that touches any man.  This will be a major paradigm shift for most churches.  But by doing this it will help to understand that anything a church does that touches a man’s life also impacts a man’s life.  When you begin to understand this, you will also begin to understand that everything the church does that touches men, is a part of men’s ministry or ministering to men.

To reach the men and help them grow in Christ we must go to where they are at.  I don’t remember reading in the word where Jesus said, “We’ll disciple you if you come to our activities or events.”  He said, “Go and make disciples.”  God is calling us to go to where our men are and disciple them there.  Jesus went to where the people were at and said, “Follow me.”

Disciple MakingPut on your thinking caps and begin to think of all the areas your men are involved.  Here are a few to get your thinking juices flowing;

  • Sunday School Teachers
  • Community projects
  • Youth Workers
  • Choir, Praise Team, or band members
  • Ushers or Greeters
  • Disaster Relief

Are there other areas men are involved in your church that we didn’t list?  You should be able to add to this this.

After you have compiled this list begin to think how can you minister to these men?  We need to be reaching every man that has any connection to the church.  Your surveys we discussed in the last article should include these men.

Next time we will talk about some ideas that you can do to reach these men once you discover where they are at.  From the man on the fringes to the man who is actively involved in the ministries of the church.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Time to Start Planning

Discipleship GroupNow is the time to begin planning for your next year of ministering to men.  September is when most churches gear up for the next twelve months and you need to be ready to go when it arrives.  Before you even realize it, Fall of 2018 will be upon us.  It seems like yesterday we rung-in 2018 and in a couple of weeks, we will be halfway through the year.

I have discovered the churches that have vibrant ministries to men have a plan as they come out of the summer months and enter what is considered the traditional first month of Fall.  So start planning, NOW!

If you haven’t performed a survey of your men, this is the time to do it over the next few weeks.  You will need to plan a few weeks to conduct the survey as many men will be taking their families on vacation during the month of June and July.  You want to be sure you capture the thoughts of as many men as possible when you do the survey.  I would recommend you plan an annual survey since the desires of men will change with each passing year.  If you will click here the link will take you to a sample survey you can use or use as a template to create your own.  If you create your own, I would caution not to make it too complex.  You want the individual to complete the survey in just a couple of minutes.

Once the surveys are completed, here is how you use them;

  • Bucket the interest of your men. You will probably find the men in your church have varying interests.  You need to do all you can to target each one of those interests that have the attention of at least five men.  You may find that as you plan for those interests, there will be others who will show an interest also; rather it is a fellowship event or a study.
  • Be intentional in your planning. You do not want any man to feel left out.  That is hard; but, it is a goal to strive for as you seek to develop intentional relationships with every man.  You may not be able to plan for every interest but give it consideration.  It could be something that can be done the next year, so be sure to keep a list of those interests.
  • Use the interests to create multiple entry points. When you create those entry points in the area of a man’s interest, it indicates to him you care about him.  He will be more likely to participate and begin developing relationships that will help him grow in his walk with Christ.
  • Update your database. If you don’t have one – create one.  This helps the leadership team to know the men – or as a coach would say, know his players.  A coach must know his players, so he understands what skills the player needs to work on and how he fits onto the team.  This will help the leadership team to understand what studies men are looking for and activities to participate.

Next time we will talk about areas where you will find men in the church that most Ministries to Men don’t venture into to target men for the kingdom of God.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Men’s Ministry Leadership Team

Discipleship Group

If a church desires to have a vibrant Men’s Ministry one of the most important attributes of the ministry is to have a leadership team that creates the foundation of the ministry. By ensuring a solid foundation is laid when developing a men’s ministry will result in the continued growth of the ministry even when there is turnover in leadership.

I have observed three types of Men’s Ministry leadership within the churches;

  1. The Event-Driven Leadership: The Men’s Ministry revolves around having various events – usually the same ones every year.
  2. The Leader-Driven Leadership: Centered around one person who make all the calls on the direction of the ministry. Generally, involves only those activities that interest him and that he is most familiar with.
  3. The Discipleship-Driven: This is where the team is focused on getting men into discipling relationships to grow them in Christ. Event activities are used to create a next right step for men to take into these relationships.

In most cases, types 1 and 2 usually morph into an Event/Leader-Driven type of Men’s Ministry. The concern with these Men’s Ministry types is that when the leader moves on, and is no longer in charge, the ministry dies.

The Discipleship-Driven Men’s Ministry is the type of Men’s Ministry every church should be striving to achieve. The concern is many men’s ministry leaders believe events is the means to the end. When our goal is to get men into discipling relationships by using the events to begin those relationships by giving the men a next right step.

The Leadership Team of a Discipleship-Driven Men’s Ministry (which actually becomes Ministering to Men) looks like this.

  1. Pastor: The pastor must have an enthusiastic involvement. This does not mean he leads or attends the leadership meetings, but he speaks into the lives of his men regularly from the pulpit encouraging them to be in a discipling relationship. He supports the leadership team giving them the resources to be successful. In everything the church does he evaluates how it connects with the men.
  2. Primary Leader: Rather you call him the Men’s Ministry Director or Coordinator or some other name this person needs to have a burden and passion to reach the men of the church and community. He should be a man who loves God, has a heart for men, and has the right set of gifts to lead other leaders.
  3. Leadership Team: Surrounding the primary leader with a team of men who shares many of the attributes of the primary leader. This is essential because one day the Primary Leader will move on to other ministry opportunities as God leads. Then one of the members of the Leadership Team can take the role of Primary Leader and the ministry to men will continue with a solid leadership foundation in place.

Man in the Mirror refers to this as the Three-Strands of Leadership for Ministering to Men; an involved Pastor, a leader with a heart for men, and leadership team members who displays the same attributes of the leader. The leadership team of a Discipleship-Driven Ministry is the foundation for any successful Ministry to Men.

Be Intentional With Relationships

Rocket ScienceRemember when you taught someone how to perform a task and you would tell them, “This is not rocket science?”  Well, after working in men’s ministry, coordinating events for men, discipling men, facilitating men small groups, and meeting one on one with men, let me tell you – ministering to men IS ROCKET SCIENCE!  I don’t say that to discourage you put to let you know that I know the frustration many of you may have as you seek to get your men involved in the ministries designed to bring men into a deeper walk with Christ.

Recently I was talking to someone who had, a few weeks earlier, started a small group and I could tell in his voice there was a little frustration.  This was the first time he had ever attempted to lead a group of men.  I encouraged him to just be obedient to the calling God had placed on his life and let God do the work.  Continue to pour his life into these men, praying for them and being there for them.  Even if only one man shows up, that would be who God would want you to share life with at that moment.  Paul said it best to the people of Thessalonica when he wrote in his second letter to the Thessalonians, “Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (2 Thess. 2:8).

Discipleship GroupSo often we think we need to have a deep bible study when we get our men together but sometimes we need to just do life and allow God to open the opportunities for us to share the gospel or a word of encouragement.  I meet with a group of men once a month to have breakfast just to talk and let them share what is happening in their life, getting to know them, and opening myself up to them; not really having any agenda.  There is another group I meet with once a week as we study through the disciplines of a godly man.  All for the purpose to develop relationships and to impact the Gospel of Christ in their lives by either just sharing life or speaking the Word directly into their life.

When I first began to work in Men’s Ministry I thought we had to have big events and get as many men to attend as possible.  My reasoning was if we had these events and if we could get men to attend, men’s lives would begin to change.  However, I quickly learned this is only a small piece of the puzzle.  There is nothing wrong with big events and they do have a place; but, these events should be used to begin connecting with men.  From these events you should always be looking for ways to encourage men to take the next step; to become involved in a intentional discipling relationship.

Working with men is all about developing those relationships for the purpose to disciple.  Even putting yourself out there to share some of your life’s successes and failures.  Men need to see you as being just as fallible as they are.  They need to see that you have overcome situations in your life and your trust is rooted in your relationship with Christ.  When men see you as one of them, then they will begin to open-up.  It doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time.

Often we use Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” in our respective men’s ministries.  There is truth here, but the only way this can be applied in our lives is to spend time with other men who have a passion to grow deeper in a relationship with God.  Other men, who we will give permission to challenge us when they see us missing the mark; holding us accountable in our walk with Christ.  This can only occur if we are intentional about developing discipling relationships.

Let me encourage you, if you do not have such a man in your life; find one.  You will be blessed to have that man who will challenge you, be a listening ear when you need to talk, and more importantly, pray for you.  “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  To have someone in your life that will sharpen you, to knock off those rough edges and smooth the edge so you can be ready to fight the battle that lays before us every day.

There is a battle for men’s souls happening all around us.  And we need men who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us every day.  Will you be a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder with another man in this battle?  Will you pour your life into other men?  Do you want to change families in your church?  Do you want to change your church to be more of an impact to your community?  Then start by sharing life with other men – the Gospel of Christ – developing intentional relationships that will sharpen each of us to be the man God desires for us all.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike