Know Your Men

In the last blog, I discussed the importance of creating Multiple Entry Points for your men.  Understanding that not all men are created equal.  Each man is at a different point in his life and in his spiritual walk.  Some are ready to dive into deep studies of the Word, others are interested in being a part of a small discipleship group while others are just fine right now to gather together in social settings.  The ultimate goal is to move men into discipling relationships in which they will eventually step out and disciple other men.

So how do we know the makeup of the men connected with the men’s ministry in the local church?  You have to get to know the men – the man.  Just like a former basketball coach told me, to develop a championship team he had to know his players.  He had to understand their skills and talent in the sport and what they bring to the game so he could assemble them into a highly efficient and effective basketball team.  He had to know his players.  Now we are not developing a basketball team but we are developing a team of men who will be the image-bearers of Christ in this world we live. 

How did the coach get to know his players?  One, he observed them during practice watching their skills and how they interacted with the other players; two, he talked with them as a group; and, three, he talked with them individually.  Now we may not be able to do all the coach did to observe the men in the church but we can use some of the ideas and recognize there are other ways to get to Know Your Men.

Here are some techniques and thoughts on how to get to Know Your Men.

Talk With Your Men.  Notice I said talk ‘with’ and not ‘talk to.’  You want to get to know them.  When one ‘talks to’ someone they are the ones doing most of the talking.  But here you want them to talk to you.  During a breakfast or dinner gathering or some other time you have a group of men together, ask some open-ended questions to get them to start talking.  But once they do you may learn a lot.  You want them to share about their lives, their interest, their careers, their hobbies, their struggles.  Make sure you take some discreet notes while everyone is sharing.  Maybe get one of your leadership team members to take notes so the team can review what was said later as you plan future events and studies.  One important note of your note-taking – NO NAMES.  Just the comments.

Barnabus Lunch Appointments (BLA).  My mentor, Jeff Kisiah, was big on Barnabus Lunch Appointments.  To my knowledge, he is the one that coined the phrase.  I have never heard anyone else use this phrase unless they were mentored by him.  When he said that he had a BLA you knew what he was doing.  He was going to meet another man to spend some time and fellowship with him.  He instilled in me the importance of just sitting across a table from another man breaking bread together and talking.  He believed he could learn a lot about the man and his needs during these times more than anything else he could do.  You may not be able to meet with every man in your church but with the help of your leadership team, you could make a big dent in meeting your men over time.  Through this, you will be astonished by what you will learn.  You can also let a BLA evolve into inviting a man to attend a sporting event or work with you on a project or hobby.  Do not let these BLAs be a one-time meeting.  Develop a schedule and conduct BLAs with each man periodically.  Again, this is the importance of having a leadership team – one leader may not be able to meet with every man in the church but as a team, you can make great strides in reaching every man.

Surveys.  Everybody loves surveys don’t they – NOT!  But surveys can be helpful to get to Know Your Men.  Develop a simple survey.  What do I mean by simple?  Keep the survey to no more than five questions.  Go ahead and provide several answers they can just check for their answer and maybe put a line at the end to add anything they may desire or a comment box for electronic surveys.  Do not ask for any personal information such as names, age, email, or phone number.  Collect these through attendance records or registrations for events.  Survey questions can be from interests, hobbies, activities, types of studies, struggles, missions, etc.  Don’t overuse surveys but conduct them two-three times a year and make sure you change the questions or subject of the survey.  Otherwise, some men may recognize they have answered the questions and ignore the survey.

Doing Projects.  This can be associated with Talking With Your Men.  Develop a mission project or activity your men can sponsor through the Men’s Ministry.  This would be part of your Ministry by Men of your men’s ministry.  While working on these projects you will get to know your men more than you can realize.  When men are doing a project they are comfortable with, they will begin to let their guard down and may talk more freely about their life.  You may find men who are struggling in their marriage, fathering, grandfathering, careers, struggling with temptations, or a host of other things.  Doing Projects will accomplish two things: 1) the men will be ministering to the community and 2) you will be getting to know your men.

There you are.  Four areas to help you get to Know Your Men; Talk with Your Men, conduct Barnabus Lunch Appointments (BLA), Surveys, and Doing Projects.  Paul told the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “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.”  As you get to know your men you will be showing that you care for them and that you are willing to share your life with them.  Now go and get to Know Your Men.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – MIke

Create Multiple Entry Points

In my previous article, Supporting Ministry To Men, I discussed the four areas most churches lack to support Ministry to Men.  One of those areas was a Lack of Finances and one of the reasons given for a lack of finances is that men do not have has many events.  I stated at the time, “But that is a topic for another time.”  Well, this is that time. 

Creating multiple entry points for your men is necessary to reach every man in your church.  If you are not thinking about how to reach every man in your church and operating as every man in your church is a part of the Ministry to Men, then your group is nothing more than a social gathering and not a ministry.

There are two areas you need to consider to reach the men; Events and Spiritual Growth.  To adequately plan these areas you need to know your men and we will discuss knowing your men in the next article.  But, in this article, we are going to unpack Events and Spiritual Growth.

Events:  The number of events you schedule and plan for your men each year is a difficult question to answer.  Because the size of your church and the number of men in your church will dictate the number of events to plan.  A vibrate ministry to men will generally have at least four events each year – one per quarter – but, no less than two events each year. 

Regardless of the number of men in your church, your men’s ministry leadership team should plan a different activity each quarter.  Why?  Because you want to create events that will, over some time, resonate with the interest of every man in the church.

This is why it is important to have a men’s ministry leadership team.  The team should be made up of men who have diverse interests.  This way one man does not plan all events.  If your men’s ministry is led by a single leader then what generally happens is all the events will be built around his interest.

A leadership team with men of diverse interests will have more success in planning events that may appeal to more men over time.  Examples of men’s events many churches have is a Wild Game Night, a Golf Scramble, a NASCAR or some other sport watch party, a trip to a ball game, or a father/son outing.  By having a different type of event each quarter will show the team has a desire to connect with all the men in the church and not just a select few.

Each event though should have a spiritual element involved such as devotion, testimony, or speaker.  Because you want to use these events to encourage men in their spiritual growth and become involved in spiritual growth groups.

Spiritual Growth:  I once heard a pastor state he needs to take a few months to evaluate what is most effective to reach men: discipleship groups, Bible Study Groups, events, or Men’s Conferences.  Let me say this, all of them are just effective as the other and should be incorporated to reach all the men of the church and community.  Why?  Because each one of these methods will reach the man where he is at in his spiritual walk.

Man in the Mirror in their book No Man Left Behind states there are five types of men in the church: a Lost Man, a Cultural Christian, a Biblical Christian, a Leader, and all across the other four are Hurting Men.  Each one of those methods the pastor wanted to evaluate which would be more effective will reach each one of those men differently.

A man who is lost even if he does not realize he is spiritually lost will probably not attend a Discipleship Group.  They might attend a Bible Study Group and they will probably attend a Men’s Event.  Even men who do know the Lord may not be ready to participate in a Discipleship Group.  Besides, successful Discipleship Groups generally are created by someone intentionally inviting a man to attend.

In Bible Study Groups, there is a camaraderie that develops between the men.  They enjoy meeting together and listening to someone speak into their lives without having to be transparent or vulnerable.  They may not even need to be accountable to anyone.  But the time together provides encouragement to the men.

Men’s Events are opportunities to allow men to hear testimonies through either planned talks or through conversations about men being involved in Bible Study Groups, Discipleship Groups, and missional activities.  God can use these discussions to capture a man’s heart to draw his interest to be involved in one of these groups.  Eventually, the Holy Spirit will tug at his heart enough that either he will seek a group or when someone taps him on the shoulder to invite him to a group, he will accept.

A Men’s Conference is an event and will work much the same as Men’s Events.  However, I classify men’s conferences as two different types: Pep Rally or Equipping.  Nothing wrong with either one and each has a place in Ministering to Men.  Attending a Pep Rally type conference a man will hear good speakers and music.  The men are encouraged and are around like-minded men, but, it has been my experience that for most men, in a few days to a week after returning the excitement has vanished, and in two-three weeks it is back to normal life before the conference.  Attending an equipping conference men are provided tools to take back home and apply to their daily life.  They have an opportunity to choose sessions to attend that resonates with them to learn about, and to meet with the speakers in smaller groups.  I have been to both types and have enjoyed both types.  You just have to determine which one do you and your men need.

In closing, as a church develops a vibrate ministry to men, they need to understand there is a need to ensure events, activities, and spiritual gatherings are planned to reach every man in the church and community.  It takes work and it takes a passionate leadership team to create Multiple Entry Points to connect with your men.

Be patient and let the Lord guide you.  It takes time to build a vibrate men’s ministry.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – MIke

Supporting Ministry To Men

In my years of working with churches and men, there are four areas I regularly see lacking in churches regarding ministering to men.  Some churches are doing some of these well, but very few are doing all of these well. 

We spend a good deal of time talking about discipling men and moving them into discipling small groups, conducting Bible Study Groups, determining what men’s interests are, and creating events around those interests.  But we rarely speak to the administrative side of ministering to men other than the leadership team.

Some of the areas I am going to mention here may create some serious debate among members of a church.  These will only be resolved when key individuals begin to understand that ministering to men is one of the most important and vital ministries in a local church body.  

The following are the four areas most churches lack in their ministry to men.

Lack of Leadership – Leadership for ministering to men is taken for granted in many churches.  Nominating committees often look for a single man who will agree to have his name placed on the leadership list as the Men’s Ministry Director, generally for three years.  When the Nominating Committee should be looking for a man who has a burden for men and a passion to speak into their lives.  A man who is not looking to be replaced in three years, but one who has been called to minister to men.  One who can build a leadership team around him so when God moves him on there is someone who can move into the position and continue the ministry.  If a church wants to have a vibrant and effective ministry to men then they need to seek a man who is called into the position.

Lack of Promotion – Notice the picture.  What is wrong?  You may not be able to read the title of the three brochures on the table but they are brochures for the Youth Ministry, Women’s Ministry, and the Children’s Ministry.  What is missing?  Men’s Ministry!  To have an effective ministry to men the church must bring the ministry to men to the forefront just like they do with ministries that reach other people groups.  By neglecting any kind of promotion of men’s ministry you are saying men are not important.  The leaders may not feel that way, but this is the message being conveyed.  Whatever you do to promote other ministries do the same or similar to promote the Men’s Ministry – put them on equal footing, at least. 

Lack of Finances – One of the least budgeted ministries in the church is the men’s ministry.  The women’s ministry will generally rival but if one is going to have a larger budget, it will be the women’s.  Some of the reasoning is that men are better equipped to cover the cost of events and material for various activities.  Another argument is the men do not have has many events.  But that is a topic for another time.  Youth and children ministries generally have the largest budget of the various ministries in the church; often 12-15 times as much and the parents are still expected to pay for certain activities although the church budget may cover some of the cost.  Men, however, are expected to pay 100% of the cost.  Many of the men are also parents who are not only paying their way but also paying the way for the rest of the family.

We talk about ministering to men and helping them to become husbands, dads, employees, employers, community citizens, and leaders God desires.  We talk about how it is for men to step up and be the men God created them to be, yet we make it harder for these men to be trained.  Churches need to give strong consideration to increasing their budgets for men to help cover the cost of attending planned activities and to increase the number of events in the year – the number of events should be proportional to the size of the church.  Rarely make an event free, but consider covering at least 50% of the cost – similar to the youth and children activities.

Lack of Masculine Presence – I often ask church leaders, “After men have attended your church services how would they complete this sentence?  Men are ________ here.”  Would they say, ‘Welcomed,’ ‘Wanted,’ ‘Needed,’ ‘Active’, or something like ‘Tolerated,’ ‘Bored’ ‘Disinterested’ ‘’ or some other word?  Though men are members of the church and many are invited to attend, often there is very little to help men feel the church is for them.  Church campuses are generally decorated with a feminine mindset.  Nothing wrong with that, but even in areas generally frequented only by men have a feminine décor.  Think about decorating men frequented areas with men in mind.  About how a man might feel if he walks into a room decorated in a masculine style to attend Bible Studies, breakfasts, etc.  I know of churches who have hung tools on the walls in the men restrooms; another church hanged pictures of old cars and motorcycles, they even had a 1957 Bel-Air Bench Seat sitting in the room.  Maybe take a room and turn it into a ‘man-cave’.  There was one church that had taken a WWII P-31 training aircraft and hanged it in their Family Life Center.  Don’t be scared to decorate areas of the church campus with the men in mind.  Encourage your music leader to think of men when they are planning the music for the weekend services.  Sing some manly songs, warrior songs, songs that help a man feel like a man of God worshiping the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Remember men sing lower so do an occasional song in the lower registers to make it easier for men to sing.

These are areas I believe most every church can improve.  We not only want to speak into men’s lives but we also what them to know they are welcomed, important, and vital to the life of the church.  So take a long look and evaluate where your church may be able to improve as you develop the ministry to men as a vibrant and effective ministry.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike