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

 

Getting Men Involved in Men’s Ministry

20180407_135802[1]This past weekend I attended the North Carolina Baptist on Mission (NCBM) Mission Conference.  While there I assisted in leading breakout sessions on Men’s Ministry or Ministry to Men as I like to refer to it these days.

The attendees to the breakout sessions were asked to complete an information card with a couple of questions.  One of the questions was asking for their biggest struggle or challenge they faced in ministering to the men of their church.  The area most of the attendees stated their biggest challenge did not surprise me as this is what I often hear.  Their biggest challenge?  ‘How can we get more men involved including the younger men?’  This is a great question.

20180407_120229[1]This is a common issue with most churches who desire to have a vibrant ministry to men.  There are three areas that churches lack as they seek to reach the men of the church.  When I began in ministering to men a number of years ago my mentor share these with me and he regularly reminds me of them.  As I visit churches and talk with men’s leaders I see these ‘lack of actions’ in the majority of churches.  So, what are they?

  1. Lack of Intentionality. Failing to target the men of the church.  Many churches desire to have a ministry to men, but they do not target the men or think about how to involve the men in everything they do.  What does it mean to target men?  The pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church puts it this way, “We unashamedly target men in our church, in our messages, in our… well, almost everything.”  Statistics tells us that if you get the man, you get everyone else within his sphere of influence – especially his family.  With the younger men their lives have become so busy in this day they have very little time to attend another activity, so you have to think outside the box.  Which leads to the second point.
  2. Lack of Multiple Entry Points. Often, we think in terms of a Saturday Morning Breakfast, Tuesday Night Supper, or a Bible Study.  But what are you doing to reach the men whose children attend VBS, the church’s Pre-school, youth ministries, men who are involved in the Welcoming Team or ushering or singing in the choir.  Are you encouraging Sunday School Teachers or Home Groups Fellowships to develop something for the men attending?  I have heard of a Lead Usher using business cards to place a verse on one side and a few points about the verse on the other side.  He then gives these cards to the men helping the next Sunday, using the cards as a short devotion, then praying with the men before they begin the morning.  Just five minutes and he is ministering to men.  Or the Sunday School teacher that plans outings with just his men in the class developing relationships to disciple.  There are many ways to create entry points for men to be ministered though the various ministries of the church, we just need to look beyond what we have considered the normal venue for ministering to men.  Which to do this takes us to the next point.
  3. Knowing Your Players. My mentor was a basketball coach for many years thereby using this term.  But you understand what I am saying.  Get to know your men.  Not all men will be drawn to a particular event or study but maybe if it is something they are interested in they will come.  You know the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.”  Conduct a survey with the men of your church.  Go to baptistsonmission.org/Church-Programs/Men-s-Ministry/Resources-and-Events for a ‘Simple Interest Men’s Survey.’  Or use it to create your own.  Just don’t make it too complex.  Then use the information from the surveys to get to Know Your Players and then create opportunities for Entry Points for your men.

There you are, the three common lack of actions most every church is not doing.  When you get your ministry team together begin thinking in these terms.  As you put these actions in play I believe you will begin to see more men involved, especially your younger men.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

Two Are Better Than One: Conclusion

Two are better than oneThe past several posts we have been looking at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12;

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

In this series using the above text as a guide, we talked about how men should be Working Together; Walking Together; and Watching Together as we go through life and live for Christ.  (Click on each topic to see the associated article).

In all of this we desire to help men understand the importance of discipling each other, pouring our lives into one another.  Paul helped us understand the importance of this when he told the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:8;

“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.”

As we close out this series I want to leave with you three thoughts from those of us who work in ministering to men that we have found that every man needs:

  1. Men need something to give their lives to.

When we first began this series, I discuss the various activities men can be involved in to assist their communities and their local church.  There are many mission opportunities men can be involved with to reach out into the community to share the love of Christ.  Winning you the opportunity to share the gospel message with those who you are ministering to.  You need to be involved in mission work.  You need to be alongside other men to keep you focus and bring a greater return on your efforts.

  1. Someone to share it with.

Find someone who will walk alongside of you.  That will hold you accountable.  Us older men need to be making ourselves available to mentor younger men.  You may say – I don’t have anything to give.  I say – you will be surprise.  Some of you have 20, 30, 40, even 50 years of life experience and working in the church to share.  This is valuable experience to help a young man navigate the difficulties of this world.  I am encouraged when I see young men seeking older men to mentor them.  We need someone who we can talk with – pray with – that can be our confidant.  Someone who will hold our feet to the fire, so to speak.  Asking us the hard questions to insure we stay on the path and not stray.  I know of men in their 80s who still have men like this in their lives.

  1. A personal system that offers a reasonable explanation for why the first two are so difficult.

Every man, regardless of who you are, or where you are in your spiritual walk, need to be in a small men’s study group.  If you are in a Sunday School class with your wife that is great.  But what I am talking about here is meeting with another man, or two, or three, or more for the purpose of studying the bible and talking though how to apply God’s Word into your life as a man.  Men need other men to share their rewards and struggles with.  To help navigate this world we live in.  To insure we are living the life Christ wants us to live.

In the past couple of months, I discussed how men are WORKING TOGETHER as indicated in Ecclesiastes 4:9 so they can have a greater return on their labor as they minister to this lost and dying world.  We discussed the importance that every man should have someone in their life, so they are WALKING TOGETHER as encouraged in Ecclesiastes 4:10 of this spiritual journey we are on.  Helping us to be transformed into the image of Christ.  Then we discussed each man should have another to walk with them as spoken of in Ecclesiastes 4:12, so they can WATCH TOGETHER.  Watching out for each other to prevent one from falling into a pit.  And if they do fall, to help pull them out.

I hope this series has been helpful to you and I would enjoy hearing from you on your thoughts.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike.

Two Are Better Than One: Watching Together

Two are better than oneFor the past few posts we have been looking at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12.

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

In the first post regarding this scripture I shared with you this is a good description for men to apply Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV), into their lives to encouragement men as they develop an intentional relationship with God.

In previous posts we have looked at verse 9 encouraging men to work together; and verse 10, encouraging men to walk together.   This post we will look at verse 12 that gives an indication of our third action and that is men ought to be watching together or in the action of watchcare.  Watching out for each other as we work and walk together in our daily activities and spiritual growth.

Verse 12 of Ecclesiastes 4 states;

12if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Back in the day when Solomon wrote this, it was dangerous to travel alone.  They traveled in groups for fellowship and safety.  We can say the same in today’s culture.  It is dangerous out there.  The enemy is lurking around, waiting for the opportunity to trip us up.  To cause us to fall into that pit spoken of in verse 10.  And if you do not have someone walking alongside of you and watching with you – you can end up being a statistic of another brother who fell in a pit with no one to help pull you out.

But if you have someone to walk along side of you that we can confide in and who can encourage us as we navigate this world, you will have a better chance to resist anything the enemy may try to overpower you with.

As I read the New Testament, I see men ministering alongside other men.  Jesus sent the disciples out in twos (Luke 10:1).  The apostles had each other.  Paul had Barnabas and then Silas.  Barnabas had Paul and then Mark.  Paul poured his life into Timothy.  If these men who we like to put on a pedestal as examples of Christ Followers had men walking alongside of them, watching with them and providing accountability for their actions, what makes us think that we men don’t need this today?

When we meet with men in our discipleship groups we need to ask hard questions and we should expect hard questions to be asked of us.  Questions such as; “Have you read the Bible this week?  What did you read and what did God reveal to you?  How were you tempted this week and how did you respond?  How is it going with your wife?  Do you feel you are in the center of God’s will for your life?  What are you struggling with in secret?  Are your priorities in the right order?  Is the ‘visible you’ the ‘real you’ and are you consistent in your relationships?”

Hard questions.  Asking the hard questions is an accountability tool but it is also men showing brotherly love to other men – watching out for each other to ensure we do not allow ourselves to step off into a lifestyle that will hinder our relationship with God and with others.

Do you ask hard questions to the men you have relationships with?  Do you allow men to ask you hard questions?  If we are serious about sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron, then we will allow these questions to be asked.  We will allow other men to ‘call us out’ when we are moving in a direction with our life that will hinder our walk with God and our relationship with others.

The interesting idea about verse twelve is the use of a cord or rope.  As twine is woven to make a cord it becomes stronger as each twine is woven around and through another.  The more twine woven the stronger the cord becomes.  Thereby the verse says two may be able resist; but, three is not easily broken.

So, I encourage men to look for men who will ask these questions and others as necessary.  You will be amazed how this will help you to stay true to God’s word if you are honest with your answers.  Get in a group of two to three guys that holds you accountable and provide a watch care for you.

Next post will be the conclusion of this series.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike.

 

Two Are Better Than One: Walking Together

Two are better than oneFor the past few posts we have been looking at Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12.

9Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  10For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up…. 12And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken. (CSB)

In the first post regarding this scripture I shared with you this is a good description for men to apply Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (ESV), into their lives to encouragement men as they develop an intentional relationship with God.

In the previous post we looked at verse 9 encouraging men to work together.  In this post we will look at verse 10 encouraging men to walk together.

In the last decade one of the things I enjoy doing, is to pour my life into other men.  1 Thessalonians 2:8 shows the example of this as Paul and his companions spoke of their passion towards the people of Thessalonica;

8We 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.

Ten years ago, while I was going through some health trails of my own I was invited to join a small group of men on Saturday morning from my church.  I discovered this group of men were men who not only loved the Lord but had a strong desire to pour their lives into other men.

  • Men who encourage other men as they are going through their own struggles of life.
  • Men who share their own battles and how they walk through those struggles.
  • Men who taught God’s word.
  • Men who encourage scripture memorization.
  • Men who would hold me accountable. Ask me some hard questions about integrity, bible reading, my devotion time.
  • Men who would pray with me and be available whenever necessary.

This had a dramatic effect on my life.  This drew me closure in my walk with God, more than anything else I had ever done in the church.  It helped me to develop an intimate and intentional relationship with God.  More so than I had ever known.  And because of that time in my life, God gave me a passion – a burden – to minister to men.

Today I meet with men regularly.  As an example, I meet with one group of men once a week early in the morning at a local McDonald’s restaurant before they head off to work.  We talk about their past week; their rewards and their struggles.  I ask them what they are reading, in the bible and in general.  I ask them about their devotion time.  We study God’s word.  We pray.  This is Walking Together as men deal with the issues of life and the culture of the world we live in.  Encouraging men by letting them know they are not alone and there is someone there that can help pull them out of the pit if they fall.

We men have a knack of trying to do life on our own.  But when you look at scriptures you see that is not how Jesus showed us.  Jesus pulled 12 men close to him to teach and encourage.  He pulled three of those men – Peter, James, and John – even closure to pour His life into those men.

Jesus modeled what it really means to disciple – to mentor.  To go after the real issues that affect an individual’s relationship with God and others.  And the only way you can do that is to develop an intentional relationship with others.

Jesus taught his followers to make disciples, not converts.  The way a believer moves from one to the other is through the intentional discipleship of their character, knowledge, vision, and skills.  While evangelism brings people to Christ, discipleship brings people to “full growth in Christ” so they can be “equipped for every good work” (Eph 4:15, 2 Tim 3:17).

When Jesus pulled those 12 men into his circle He knew what we all know: men are like icebergs – we only see the tip; but, there’s a much deeper spiritual drama unfolding below the waterline.

Men in the church today face the same challenges and frustrations as men outside of the church.  That should not be.  For example, in the book ‘No Man Left Behind’ it states that for every ten men in the church;

  • Nine will have children who leave the church.
  • Eight will find their jobs dissatisfying.
  • Six will pay the monthly minimum on their credit card bills.
  • Five will have a major problem with pornography.
  • Four will get divorced – affecting one million children each year.
  • Only one will have a biblical world-view.
  • And, all ten will struggle to balance work and family.

Men, we need each other.  As I talk with men, without exception, every one of them will tell me they struggle the most when they are alone.  Every one of us need a man who can walk alongside of us.  This is what discipleship is all about.

When we talk to men we find that though they may not be showing it on the outside, we find that many men are hurting.  Something is holding them back from feeling fully alive.  They inevitably mention one or more of seven inner aches and pains that most men feel when they are trying to do this journey on their own:

  • I just feel like I’m in this alone.
  • I don’t feel like God cares about me personally – not really.
  • I don’t feel like my life has a purpose – it feels random.
  • I have these destructive behaviors that keep dragging me down.
  • My soul feels dry.
  • My most important relationship is not healthy.
  • I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that will make a difference and leave the world in a better place.

So, what do we do about it.  What do we do to help these men and how will it impact the church?

We will discuss that next time as we look at verse 12 of Ecclesiastes 4.  It will be the third action that we need to apply in our lives as we encourage men in their walk with Christ – the action of watchcare.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.