Be Thankful – Always!

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name. – Psalm 100:4

ThanksgivingThe Thanksgiving season is upon us.  Thursday, we will be celebrating this year’s Thanksgiving Day.  Families and friends will gather in homes and other places to enjoy a hearty meal, desserts, maybe watch football, or even play a game of football as a family.  My oldest grandson told me this weekend he was going to play football with his Dad’s family this weekend while visiting in Ohio.

But so often we enter this day as just another holiday and though we talk about this holiday being a day to be thankful, we oftentimes overlook what we are thankful for.  Yesterday while in church I heard the pastor state we shouldn’t be thankful only once a year; but, our lives should be lived as a Thanksliving.  Being thankful for what God has done for us every day all year long.

So, what am I thankful about?

First, my relationship with God.  The fact that He loved me so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that I could have eternal life and have it more abundantly.  That even in my depraved state, Jesus loved me to the point of death so that I can be saved.  Without Him and the relationship I have with Him, all those I mention below would not be possible.

I am thankful for my wife.  For over 41 years she has stood beside me and have been a blessing to me, in the good times and the bad.  We have worked through them together.  She has been a wonderful Mom to our two children, she has been an adopted mom to our in-law children and treat them as if they are her own.  And of course, she is a great Memom to our grandchildren.  Always having that right snack around the house.

I am thankful for my children.  They are a delight of my eyes and a joy to my heart.  They too have blessed me beyond measure.  I have been blessed that they have stayed in the area and I can see them often.  I know many parents do not have that luxury and I am grateful that God has seen to it they have been able to stay close by.  And I am thankful for the ones God placed in my children’s path to marry.  My in-law children are as much a part of my family as my own children and I like to think of them as my own.

Proverbs tells us that “Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly” (Pro. 17:6).  Or as some translations say, “of the age” or “old men.”  I don’t consider myself none of those yet, but my grandchildren are a crown.  One of the most enjoyable times in my life now is my grandchildren climbing in my lap to share Peanut M&Ms or to watch, as one calls it, “Kirock.”  For those that don’t understand the language, that stands for Coyote of Roadrunner and Coyote.  What a joy it is to watch them grow.

I am thankful for my extended family, my brother who has been a support to me in so many ways after our Dad died when I was 14 years old.  Offering me wisdom though I didn’t listen to him when I was much younger.  A sister who died quite some time ago, who while I was growing up, always showed her love to me.  My in-laws, Joanne’s family, as they have been like brothers and a sister to me.  Joanne’s Mom as she has treated me as one of her own.

Thankful of the many friends I have, too many to count or mention individually.  Scripture tell us “the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel” (Prov. 27:9).  Thankful for my church family.  Thankful for my partners in ministry throughout the state of North Carolina and the nation (you know who you are).

To have all the family and friends and knowing my Savior Jesus Christ that I am thankful for would not have been possible if it had not been for my Mom and Dad, who both many years ago, have gone to be with the Lord.  Who made sure the first time I went to church was nine months before I was born.  They made sure I was in church regularly hearing the Word of God.  To that I am very grateful because all the others that I mentioned above may not have been possible.

Thank you to all of you who have been an inspiration and an encouragement to me throughout my life.

To the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.

Can A Church Really Not Have a Men’s Ministry?

This week I heard from a pastor who stated his church doesn’t have a men’s ministry.  As I thought about the statement I began to wonder, ‘Can a church really not have a ministry to men?’  Or is it they don’t have a formal ministry?  And if they don’t have a formal ministry, what are they telling the men that walks onto the campus of the church?

I have heard another pastor state we don’t need a formal organized men’s ministry, we just need to disciple our men.  Okay… I believe I understand what this pastor was saying is that he doesn’t want a ministry built around events.  I get that.  Ministries to men should not be built around events.  But how does your men know they are a priority and important in your church?  There are many ways you can do this even with the current activities you have going on without creating new ones.  But I will have to save that discussion for later.

The priority of the church is to make disciples.  Jesus made that clear in Matthew 28:19-20.  Therefore, this is the priority of any men’s ministry – to make disciples.  Not to have events, though events does have its place in the ministry.

Events create entry points for men to connect with other men.  Could be with men of similar interests or just men getting together.  The key is connecting and developing relations with other men (though we men typically don’t use this terminology about becoming friends with other men).  As men become friends with each other then we can encourage men to move into discipling relationships.  Rather it is in a Sunday School class, Life Groups, Home Study Groups, or a small men’s groups.

So what happens when a church does not have a ‘formal men’s ministry’ or they say they don’t have a men’s ministry at all?  Does this tell the men of the church they are not a priority?  Is this why many men develop an attitude that church is for the women and children?   Are we sending a message that it is okay to be influenced by the world?  Will the men feel it unnecessary to attend a gathering of the saints?  No one could probably say for sure; but, one thing though is for sure, if the men do not think they are important, then you will have a hard time reaching them.

Every man that walks onto the campus of a church should feel as though a priority is placed on the men.  We have heard the statistics of how important it is to reach the men.

  • If a child is the first in a household to come to Christ, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will.
  • If the mother is the first to come to Christ, there is a 17% probability everyone else will follow.
  • If the Man, Dad, Husband is first, there is a 93% probability everyone else will follow.

Henry Ford is quoted as saying;

“Your system is perfectly design to produce the results you are getting.”

To put this in churchy speak; a church’s ministry to men, regardless of the type, will produce the type of men attending the church or not attending church.

You do have one, rather it is recognized as one or not; organized or not.  You are telling your men something.  How do you want the men who walks on the campus of your church to feel?   Think about this the next time you think about the men’s ministry of your church.

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

Do Not Let Your Seminareist Get in the Way of Your Ministry to Men!

I know that Seminareist is not a formal word.  But the title is a statement a mentor once told me when I started in men’s ministry.  He reminded me that those of us who have a deep intentional intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, often forgets that most men do not have this relationship.  Decades, even centuries of men not being in a discipling relationship has resulted in men not knowing what this means.

As I have travel and met with men of various churches throughout my region and state, I do find that some churches are getting on board with developing a vibrate discipling ministry for their men.  However, there are still way too many that are not.  In the area of North Carolina that I live, I don’t have to use all the fingers on my hand to count the number of churches I have visited that has an active discipling ministry outside of the Sunday School.

men-gathering-1I recently asked a group of men who are active in their respective churches, “How do you know your church cares about or shows they have a priority toward the men?”  Not one  of them stated it was because they were involved in a discipling relationship, even though each of them were.  Their answer was centered around events for men.  A couple of men even said it is a shame our church does not have a men’s ministry, even though the church has a vibrate discipling ministry that involve many men.  Another said I have to go to another church to attend men gatherings because my church does not have a men’s ministry even though his church also has an active discipling ministry.

Men do not associate discipling groups with men’s ministry even though that should be a part of the ministry – an important part.  Men need entry points to connect with other men.  Men need entry points to develop those relationship that will move them into discipling relationships.  To get them at least involved in a Sunday School or a home study group.

It breaks my heart when I hear churches state they don’t need a formal ministry to men.  This tells me that men are not a priority.  They will argue with me this is not true.  Then I ask what are you doing to convince men they are a priority?  And all they can say is that we have a dicipling ministry.

img_20131108_184345_297If you never have events design specifically for men, if you don’t have a place for men to gather, if you don’t speak directly to your men regularly, what convinces them they are a priority?  We often talk about how men are visual.  If they cannot see a men’s ministry what makes one think there is one and that men are important to the church.

Let me challenge the pastors and men’s leaders out there, or any man who may be reading this.  Ask the men of your church, “What do we do as a church that makes you think men are a priority here?”  Then record your answers in the comments for this post.  Maybe it will change my perception of what I have been seeing and hearing.  Or maybe it will validate it.  Either way I would like to here throughout the state, nation, and world what makes men think they are a priority for their respective churches.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple every man – Mike