Many congregations have a thriving women’s ministry but often the men go unattended. I would like to share a few thoughts about this area but I first wanted to ask you what is your experience in church with reaching out to men. A few questions:
- What have you seen work?
- What have you seen fail?
- Which subjects are most relevant to the men in any given congregation?
- How have you seen leaders intentionally developed in a congregation?
- What have you seen done to effectively outreach to men in the community?
- What questions should I have included that you would like to see answered by those reading this?
This is very good subject and frankly one that I am confused by and frustrated by. It is easy to get men together to “do” things but once you turn the conversation towards “being” then men tend to withdraw. We use the excuse that men are wired to do and not wired for relationships.
It seems easy for our churches to talk about having elders and deacons, but often have a title does not always equate to being the man one reads about in the Bible.
One thing or book I am interested in is Mentoring Like Jesus. From my understanding it creates accountability and intentionality within a group.
I have not really answered any questions, but looked forward to the conversation and what develops from others comments. Earlier this year I was going to have group for therapy specifically for men, but no one showed up. This could be attributed to several aspects, but I am curious to what does work.
I have other thoughts I will leave for another time. Thanks for this discussion.
I keep telling our men that leader’s aren’t built in a day. It takes quite an intentional process (as you mentioned) to build leaders. I guess it can happen by accident but does that really seem very likely?
Mentoring Like Jesus sounds interesting and I do agree that accountability without getting into all the weird accountability stuff is important.
Men’s Fraternity is an INCREDIBLE ministry, and is accessible for virtually any church anywhere. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough!!!
Thanks for the resource. I will have a look.
What have you seen work?
Men want to be called upon for important work in ministry that is something they can do! They want to be challenged. Men’s leadership, and doing is important…so we have tried to over and over have some days where we don’t pay people but ask our men to step up and DO.
What have you seen fail?
Most men don’t want to be lectured to. They don’t mind their “mind” being challenged but just to sit and listen. They also want men songs, not all sweet and fuzzy. Church should not be a “chick flick”. If we are not careful we will emasculate the men in our congregations.
Which subjects are most relevant to the men in any given congregation?
Ones that help them see forgiveness in the real world. Ones that challenge them to lead in their families. Ones that help them see why what they do is important spiritually. Men also like to study subjects that help them understand that they are men and what that means.
How have you seen leaders intentionally developed in a congregation?
What have you seen done to effectively outreach to men in the community?
We do two or three “men” events a year that are effective. One is our Father/Son and Father/Daugher cookout and day on the lake. It is pretty awesome to see how it affects our guys. We also do two “men eat meat nights” with devos for our men.
What questions should I have included that you would like to see answered by those reading this?
Really great thoughts. I will have to process all that a bit more but I think you are right on track. Some of that is very creative and would certainly get the attention of a lot of guys because as has been mentioned several times now in the comments, there is a sissifying of men in our churches that has to be undone.
sorry … cannot help … I see “men’s” events only good as places to connect guys to flow them into other things. So to me, success is some medium frequency, medium sized activities that are set-up to make connections. Success would be guys leaving with intentions to join small groups, whatever …
Most people would measure success as larger, regular attendance, life change, etc. and I would say that the more of that the more other better suited vehicles are compromised.
I’m not sure if that made sense but …
I’m not sure I have any answers as to what works other than mentoring relationships.
It doesn’t take much to recognize that we have a real problem with spiritual leadership by our men. Way back in the 1970s I wrote an article for our church bulletin, “Where Have All the Fathers Gone? You can read some comments about that article here, as well as other observations about a lost generation of leadership in our nation as well as in the church.
I have a theory about that (which I hope is not true). That is that lack of a strong male influence in a boy’s formative years leads to weak leadership later.
Unfortunately, our schools and our society in general are trying to turn little boys into little girls.
John Eldredge has a couple of books that address this: Wild at Heart and <The Way of the Wild Heart. These are available in paperback at CBD.Com for a very reasonable cost.
Thank you, Matt, for tackling a difficult subject that I will watch with interest.
Eldredge has some really good material that is worth checking into.
Your theory makes tons of sense to me. We learn so much from our models that it is important we have good ones, especially in our formative years.
I suppose a lot of this depends on our end goal. What is it about the women’s groups that you’ve seen that allow them to be called “thriving?” Because it seems that in a lot of our churches, the goal on these kinds of programs is involvement. But we all know that what men don’t need is one more thing to go to in a week, for the sake of attendance.
What do the thriving women’s ministries accomplish? What do we want a men’s ministry to accomplish? My guess at what our men need is:
– forming Godly male relationships
– accountability in being obedient to God and faithful to their wives/families
– prodding to act like the spiritual leaders God expects them to be
– maybe training or suggestions on how to do that
– encouragement and discipline in keeping themselves mentally, physically, and socially healthy — in addition to whatever spiritual encouragement we give
It seems that much of this cannot realistically be done in a well-attended men’s program, though that might be a starting point?
Good stuff James.
My congregation has two men’s groups. One is a men’s support group that meets weekly for the men to support each other as husbands and fathers and in their personal ministries.
We also have a large number of men in the Sons of Thunder ministry. This has spread to churches of several denominations in 3 cities. https://thesonsofthunder.net/index.html
The group is also a support group and they sponsor an annual retreat for all participating congregations that they advertise to the public.
They particularly emphasize prayer, and they celebrate their connections with brothers in other congregations — which I think is one reason for their success.
Both these ministries have done remarkable work — if you measure success by transformed lives, which seems a really good measure.
If anyone needs contact information, they can email me at jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net.
We’ve had ups and downs in our Men’s Ministry. We started a thing called Men’s Night which, believe it or not, had the highlight being playing Dodgeball. At it’s hieght we had 50-60 guys and teens showing up. We’d also organize LAN parties (multiplayer games over a network – for those who are unfamiliar). Men’s NIght fizzled out due to lack of vision and leadership.
I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND Men’s Fraternity (See above comment). We’ve done MF for a few years now and it has had a tremendous impact on the men in our church.
Off the top of my head, here’s what I think men need.
– A definition of manhood (BTW – Men’s Fraternity offers this)
– To be trained in relationships (I think our culture has trained men to not be good at relationships – and that we ARE wired for relationships – otherwise, what’s all the relational stuff in the Bible all about?)
– To realize their place as leaders in the Kingdom of God
– Depth of relationships where they have to depend on one another
The inability for churches to get men to step up as leaders, I believe, is a HUGE barrier to our success in building God’s Kingdom. We’ve abdicated leadership to women or to no-one at all. I believe the best way to do it is by one on one mentoring. Do enough of this and a church will multiply its leaders to be a great army for the Kingdom.
Men’s Fraternity’s definition of manhood is this:
3)Lead Courageously and
4)Expect the Greater Reward