The 4 E’s of Ministering to Men

Mens MinistryIn past articles I have discussed making sure we are “Intentional” in developing relationships with our men as we encourage them to move in discipling and ministry relationships.  We want to develop “Multiply Entry Points” and we want to “Know our men.”  All three of these are important as a church develops its ministry to men.

The 4 E’s of Men’s Ministry is just as important as these are the cornerstone to make sure we are touching a man in every area of his walk with Christ.  This helps to make sure we are not only being involved in “ministries by men” but, we are also involved in “ministering to men.”  Both are important but often the “ministering to men” element is overlooked.

So, want are the 4 E’s?  I will be taking take each one and discussing in future articles .

The 4 E’s are;

  1. Evangelize Men to Salvation
  2. Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity
  3. Equip Men to Ministry
  4. Extend Men on Mission

Just like spokes in a wheel, each one is required to develop a balanced approach to ‘ministering to men’ and ‘ministering by men.’  If any are missing, then the men of the church are not fully engaged in the work of Christ.

Men’s Ministry is so much more than having breakfast gatherings and various events.  It is also about men pouring their lives into other men.  Paul said it best when he told the Thessalonians in Chapter 2 verse 8 in his first letter to the Thessalonians,

We care 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 have become so dear to us. (CSB)

Disciple MakingOver a decade ago I began to experience this as men began pouring their life into me.  They prayed with me.  They shared scripture with me.  They gave me biblical insight on how a man is to act.   Instead of just telling me how to act, they trained me how to act.  Many of the problem’s men have today can be resolved if men will get into the Word and allow other men to come alongside of them to pour into their lives.

Jesus pulled 12 men unto himself for the purpose of pouring His life into them.  He pulled three of those men – Peter, James, and John – even closer.  He never sent anyone out by themselves.  He sent them out at least by two.

If Jesus – the God-Man – felt the need for men to be surrounded by men what makes us believe we can do this life alone?  If he sent them out by twos, what makes us think we can do life alone?

We will be discussing this in the coming articles on why we need to incorporate the 4 E’s into our Men’s Ministry and how these with the philosophy to be Intentional, creating Multiple Entry Points, and Knowing Our Men fit together.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

 

Spiritual Stop Signs

As we begin a New Year, I was reminded of an event a few years ago.

It had been a busy Saturday as I had been in a meeting most of the day and I was ready to get home.  The drive home was about three and half-hours.

After traveling about a hour the female voice on my GPS, my wife in a box as my wife calls her, informed me there was an accident on I-40.  This would cause about a 20 minutes delay if I stayed on the current route.  However, another route was found that would route me around the accident – if I wanted to take it press ‘Accept.’  Well, I wanted to get home as quickly as possible, so I pressed ‘Accept.’

After traveling the new route for a few minutes, the lady on the GPS stated she had found a faster route, did I want to accept.  Well, what do you think!  I want to get home, so why wouldn’t I take a route that is faster, so once again I pressed ‘Accept’ for the faster route.

The GPS lady then proceeded to instruct me to turn down a road that went into the country in areas I probably have never been in the state – beautiful farm country.  Then she wanted me to turn on another country road.  Then another.  Then another.

stop-signAfter several miles of turning down these country roads I started to get a little frustrated and I said aloud, “Where are you taking me!”  It was then I notice this big red octagonal sign that said STOP! that seemed to pop up out of the ground like in one of those video games.  I was so close I didn’t have time to react.  I did one of those quick left-to-right looks to see if another car was coming as I blew right through the stop sign at about 50 miles per hour.  As I looked in the review mirror to see if the local Deputy Sheriff was watching, I thanked God He had not allowed someone to be coming through the intersection at the same time.

That’s when God reminded me, He puts Stop Signs in our lives from time to time.  A familiar passage to many of us came to mind, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Sometimes in life when we are on a path that may seem strange and uncertain maybe that is a warning to us that we need to slow down and possibly even stop and listen to God.

I was reminded that God is constantly changing our visions and direction in the different seasons of our lives just like the GPS did that day on my trip home.  Sometimes we are in such a rush to get to the next adventure, like I was to get home that day, we fail to see the warnings signs that God is giving us to STOP, “Be still and know that I am God.”

If we rush through those spiritual stop signs it could lead to disastrous consequences, just like that physical stop sign I ran through on that country road.  Fortunately, the only consequence for me was the quickening of the pitter-patter of my heartbeat for a few moments.  But it could have been much worse.  Not only for myself, but for my family and the individual and their family if I had hit someone.

When we run through God’s spiritual stop signs the consequences could also affect those around us, not just us.

god-stop-signIf you feel uncertain or flustered with events in your life maybe God is holding up a spiritual Stop Sign.  If decisions are hard and you cannot get a sense of direction maybe God is holding up a spiritual Stop Sign.  Maybe there has been a change in life, loss of a job, new job, sickness, death of a love one, even retirement, maybe God is holding up a spiritual Stop Sign.

God desires for us to sometimes STOP so we can reflect on where he has taken us, review what He has taught us, what we have learned while on that path, and hear clearly what God has for us as we continue in His will.

So, as we begin this New Year of 2019, we need to beware of the spiritual Stop Signs God places in our lives where we need to be still and know that God is God.  Don’t blow past those Spiritual Stop Signs in your haste to get something accomplished like I did on that country road that day.  God may be trying to talk to you and if you don’t stop, the consequences could be disastrous.

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

Lessons For Men from the Christmas Story: The Boldness of Joseph

Joseph of Bethlehem“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife.”  – Matthew 1:18-24

Culturally, Joseph did not have to take Mary as his wife after he discovered she was pregnant.  In fact, the scriptures tell us he was a just man and was thinking of divorcing her quietly.  However, an angel of the Lord met him in his dreams and told him what was happening and instructed him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Joseph did what the Lord directed him to do.

How many of us are afraid and neglect to do what God is instructing us to do?  As we approach the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, think about the boldness Joseph displayed in his culture.  He didn’t have to take Mary according to his culture – but he did.  How many of us men will have the boldness of Joseph to do what God is instructing us to do in His Word regardless of what our culture says.?

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

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

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

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