Men are ______ Here!

When men have spent a Sunday morning in your church how would they fill in the blank of this statement?Question - Man

“Men are ______ here.”

What word would they place in that blank?  Hopefully it is words such as ‘Welcome’, ‘Value’, ‘Supported’, ‘Admired’, or ‘Highly Regarded.’   And not like these words ‘Tolerated’, ‘Trouble’, or ‘Not’ ( Men are NOT here).

Jim Ramos of Men in the Arena Ministry often says, “When men get it – everyone wins.”

Statistics tells us that when the woman in the home comes to Christ, 17% of the time the rest of the family will follow.  When the Man in the home comes to Christ that percentage climbs to 93%.

When you read the Bible, we find most of the individuals God uses to accomplish his will are – what? – Men!

Dr. Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, listed in his article The Ten Most Influential People in the History of the Church that nine of the ten were men; Paul, Constantine, Athanasius, Augustine, Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley.

Therefore, we can deduct men are essential in accomplishing God’s work.  But, less than 10% of evangelical churches in the United States have an active Ministry to Men.  Most churches who have a line item in their budget for ministering to men assign less than 1/10th of 1% of their church budget to ministering to men.

So, if we say men are important, why do churches seem to pay little attention to the men?  When I visit churches, I pay attention on the ministries the church place importance.  In most every case I will find brochures and promotions on Children, Youth, and Women’s Ministry.  Rarely do I find anything regarding men.

Disciple MakingMen need to have other men in their lives.  Men need men who will speak into their lives.  Men need men who will encourage and provide support as they deal with the struggles of life.  Older men need to be pouring into the lives of younger men just like Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 2:8.  Younger men need to be seeking out older men and asking them to be a mentor.  We need to get away from this ‘Often Told – Rarely Trained’ phenomenon in our churches.

Churches need to be training men how to be mentors and disciplers.  Though many churches are beginning to see the need and the failure of the churches over the decades – centuries – many more still do not recognize the need.  Truth is these churches probably do not know where to start.  Getting men engaged is much different than getting women, youth, and children engage.

Many books have been written for churches to start ministering to men.  Too many to mention here.  But if you are passionate about ministering to men but do not know where to start.  Don’t think you have to begin with a big event.  Invite 3-4 men to join you in a study.  Start small and let God do His work.  Pat Morley in his book No Man Left Behind states it takes 5- 10 years to develop a sustainable ministry to men.

How do men feel when they leave your church service on Sunday morning?  Do they sense the church has a passion to speak into men’s lives or do they feel it is the same as all the other churches they have attended – nothing for men.  How would they answer the question, “Men are _______ here?”  My prayer it is something like ‘Men are Value here!’

Soon we will talk how church décor will speak to men.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity

Mens MinistryThis is our second installment on the 4 E’s of Men’s Ministry which are the cornerstones to make sure we are touching a man in every area of his walk with Christ.  To make sure we are not only 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 and if one is more important, “ministering to men” is the one.  For when men get the spiritual part right, then they will have a longing desire to do “ministries by men.”

To remind us what are the 4 E’s we discussed in a previous article, I have listed them again.  They are;

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

In this article we will review the second cornerstone, Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity.

Many Christian men start out with passion for the things of God and then begin to coast.  They end up compromising and many finish their lives with regret.  Lonnie Berger in his book ‘Every Man A Warrior: Helping Men Succeed In Life – Walking with God, states, “I believe that most men have never been trained and equipped with the necessary skills to fight and end well.”  I often say that men have often been told how to act and behave, but never trained.  To put it simply, we are ‘Often Told but Rarely Trained.’

Disciple MakingPart of our Men’s Ministry as we minister to men should be to move men into discipling relationships.  This is more than being in church on Sunday morning and attending a Sunday School class or a Home Group Study.  All is important and every man should be attending these with their wife and families; even if they are single.  But the relationship I am talking about is placing oneself in a position so a man can pour his life into us.  Creating an environment where men feel comfortable to discuss issues and struggles they deal with every day.

Some of the most meaningful times I have experienced in the last decade of my walk with God is spending time with 2-3 other men for the purpose of digging deep into the scriptures, discussing how to apply them into my life, and allowing those men to speak into my life.

For 35 years as a Christian I limped along tying to advance my walk in Christ by myself.  Never developing a relationship with other men who had permission to speak into my life – to speak truth.  To provide encouragement – genuine encouragement and not the superficial encouragement we often hear for those just outside the boundaries we set up.

Got Your BackTo Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity we need to develop an attitude of moving men into discipling relationships.  How do we do that.  Invite them to join you in working through a book on a book of the Bible.  It’s not hard.  A great book I have found to start with is by Dr. Gary Yagel called, Got Your Back.  Easy read and it is a great book to help men understand why we need other men in our lives.

As someone once said, “Discipleship is the answer to our evangelism problem.”  Men who we invite into our group does not need to be Christians.  One can use these groups to develop relationships to present the gospel in a comfortable and non-threatening environment to those who do not know Christ.

Paul made it personal by telling the Thessalonians in his first letter to them, “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,” (1 Th 2:8).

So, if you want to move your men’s ministry deeper to reach the men of your church and community, start by moving men into spiritual maturity by developing a discipleship ministry.  As a seasoned man recently told me after experiencing a few weeks in a discipleship group, “This is the best thing I have experienced since I became a Christian!”

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Spring is a Great Opportunity to Connect with Men

Mens MinistryMany churches during Spring have events which are generally thought of as a children’s event with Easter Egg hunts, bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals, and the like.  But did you recognize that for men leaders this is also a great opportunity to connect with the men of the community.

Ring the BellSo now you ask, how can a children’s spring event help us connect with men?  By providing something the men can partake in with their children (or maybe show-off).  For instance, maybe have a Ring-A-Bell station, or a Shoot-the-Hoop station, maybe an Archery Tag Game Station to name a few.  What child doesn’t like to see their Dad show off their strength or skills?  What child doesn’t like to compete with their Dad – to be able to brag about beating Dad at some skill?

Shoot the HoopWhatever station you choose, have it attended by men from your men’s leadership team.  This gives your men an opportunity to meet with the men attending with their children.  Have a postcard or a small printed paper you can give each man that explains the men’s ministry of the church.  Providing them information about the various events during the year, specific studies you may have, Father/Son or Daughter Activities.  This lets the men know they are thought of and are important.  You may even begin to develop relationships with men which may lead them into discipling relationships – our ultimate goal.

Archery TagOften, we conduct our church wide events around children and forget it is the parents we are also trying to reach.  We provide all these fun stations with the children in mind and forget the parents may enjoy being able to participate with their children in a few of the events.

Whenever you plan children events, think of the Dads who will be bringing their children.  Think outside the box for ideas that you can implement to reach these Dads with the gospel and to give them a next right step.  To bring them into a discipling relationship so they can in-turn disciple their families more effectively.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Evangelize Men to Salvation

Mens MinistryThe 4 E’s of Men’s Ministry are the cornerstones to make sure we are touching a man in every area of his walk with Christ.  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 and if one is more important, “ministering to men” is the one.  For when men get the spiritual part right, then they will have a longing desire to do “ministries by men.”

To remind us what are the 4 E’s we discussed in a previous article, I have listed them again.  They are;

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

In this article let’s review the first cornerstone; Evangelize Men to Salvation.

Sam Chan in his book, Evangelism in a Skeptical World, states, “The best way to understand the term evangelism is that it is our attempt to describe what happens when someone tells {the] gospel.”  Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19, “Go… and make disciples.”  Part of making disciples is telling them of the gospel and how to live as a disciple of Christ.  Therefore, when we consider Chan’s explanation of evangelism, when we are telling the gospel then we are evangelizing.

One of the keys to helping men become the men they were created to be is helping them understand their need for Christ.  For since we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), we need to have our spiritual life right to become the man God expects us to be.

Men GolfingWhen we plan events, we need to always keep in mind the opportunities to tell the gospel message.  How that message is conveyed can be different depending on the venue and event.  For instance, in a gathering over a meal it could be told through someone’s testimony of them recognizing their need of Christ and surrendering.  In a participatory event such as a golf, fishing, or other activity it could be by providing material such as a gospel tract provided in a gift bag.  Or even through a devotional prior to event.

MenFishingThis cornerstone should be considered every time an event is being planned.  NEVER assumed every man who attends a church event have a personal relationship with Christ.  For many will appear to have a relationship but Jesus may one day look at them as say, “I never knew you,” (Matt. 7:23).

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a man in his 70s a few years ago who told me about his wife.  When he married her, he thought if anyone would be in heaven at death it would be her.  She was always ministering in the church in some manner.  Ten years into their marriage she woke him one night as she came to a realization of her need for Christ and she had never surrendered her life to God.  He told me that night she gave her life to Christ, and even after being one who was always working in the church, he saw a change in her.

So, never assume when you have events the men attending have accepted Christ as their savior just because they are always in church and participating in ministries.  Remember Judas, all the disciples thought he was one of them because he participated in all their activities – there may be one in your midst who, though may not be a betrayer like Judas, may not be like you in Christ.

Always plan a method to present the gospel message with the men you connect.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

 

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

 

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