What Hurricane Florence Taught Me

Pic 003It has been a few months since my last article.  Hurricane Florence disrupted many lives in September and the disruption will continue for many months – possibly years – for many.  Immediately after the storm past I was asked to lead a NC Baptist on Mission Disaster Relief Operational Center (DROC).  I was honored to be asked to such a task and I oversaw the site at Scotts Hill for two months.  But this is not what the article is truly about as I learned a viable lesson on the need to have men who have your back.

During times of disaster rather it be a hurricane as was the case here, health issues, financial issues, relationship issues, or any number of other disasters that comes into our lives, we can easily lose focus on our relationship with God.  Many will say in those times I find myself being drawn closer – I understand that – but there are times because of the attention the disaster demands we can find ourselves neglecting our intimate and intentional time with the Father.  This was my case.

After a week of operating the site a pastor friend came by and asked how I was doing.  I shared with him I was finding it hard to find time to steal myself away to spend with the Father in the Word and prayer.  The day began early and by the end of the day I was tired and just ready to go to bed.  Then came my Got Your Back friends.

courageous-movie-men-praying-7These are four men who I meet with weekly to talk and pray together.  These men saw the struggle I was having and though we couldn’t meet at our regular place – one suggested we meet at the DROC location.  These men were life saviors in many ways.  A couple of them were able to volunteer some of their time to help during the week so they were walking by my side.  Others were praying and checking up on me during the week.  But every week we met for an hour at the DROC to just share and pray with each other.  They also got to see some of the challenges I was addressing at the site as I often talked with people who were hurting as a result of the hurricane.

I call them my Got Your Back friends because we had been studying Gary Yagel’s book ‘Got Your Back’ for the past several weeks before the hurricane hit.  We had began developing a bond with each other as we walked through this book and began spending time in prayer with each other.  Beginning to share some of our individual struggles in our lives.  These men were my life saviors in so many ways.  They help to keep me focused not only on the task at hand but also my relationship with God.

So often we can get caught up with what we are doing for God we tend to neglect time with the Father.  I lessoned it to a Dad who is spending so much time at work because he wants to provide for his family that he actually – without realizing it – begins to neglect his family and is at a lost when they leave.  Though we know the Father will never leave us – it will affect us in our relationship with him.  This is why we need men in our lives who will encourage and pray for and with us during our struggles.  Men who will challenge us when they see us veering from the path God has set before us.

Got Your BackMy ‘Got Your Back’ friends lived the example Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”  It is good to have such friends – brothers in Christ – who are there to lift you up in your time of need.

If you do not have such friends, I encourage you to seek them out.  Gary Yagel’s book Got Your Back is a great book to work through with a few friends to understand this concept.  All of the men in this group I am a part of have shared they have greatly benefited from the teaching to understand why it is so important to have these kinds of men in your life.  After watching how this played out for me while working a DROC site just reiterated this even more.

My question to you is; “Do you have men in your life that has Got Your Back?”  If not, seek them out.  You may not think you need men like this; but, believe me – you do.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men.

– Mike

Volunteers Needed

Pic 003Five weeks ago, Hurricane Florence came ashore in North Caroline causing devastation with 1000s of homes being flooded or receiving severe wind damage.  Immediately after the storm passed many organizations began gearing up to provide relief and start recovery of those effected by the storm.  Many of us have been working tirelessly since then providing services such as feeding; removing contents and damage sheetrock, insulation, flooring, cabinets, etc; removing vegetation debris; and administrative support.  Many volunteers have stepped up coming from as far away as Oklahoma, Indiana, and New Jersey to assist in this massive effect.  Now less than two weeks ago Hurricane Michael came ashore in the Panhandle of Florida causing more devastation.  Our volunteer base is being stretched because of these two hurricanes.

Pic 001Therefore, I want to encourage you to find an organization assisting the many that are hurting and volunteer your time.  Maybe you are saying I cannot do physical labor anymore.  Understand, but there could be administrative duties you can help with.  Maybe you can just be a friendly face someone needs to see as they come asking for assistance.  Many are comforted just by having someone to talk with and who will pray with them.  Some organizations need volunteers to make meals for the volunteers and provide other support.

Pic 002I want to encourage you to find an organization and consider volunteering a day or even a few hours.  If you own a business, consider encouraging your employees to volunteer by giving them a paid day to do so like some businesses have done.  Volunteers are going to be needed for many months and even years to help the many affected by these storms to bring some sort of normalcy back into their lives.

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