Why Attend a Men’s Conference?

There are numerous ways to create multiple entry points to get men involved in the Men’s Ministry of a local church.  One of those ways is by inviting men to attend a men’s conference your church plan to attend.  But why would a man want to attend a men’s conference?  To answer that question one needs to understand the purpose of a men’s conference and the types of conferences available. 

All conferences are designed to encourage men to be men God created them to be; but, not all men’s conferences are created equal.  Conferences are designed from many different perspectives.  Some are designed as an evangelistic conference or a conference that focuses on a particular interest of men.  Some conferences attract the younger generation and some conferences are more suited for the older generation.  Some conferences focus on a particular interest of the man such as a man who likes to be an outdoorsman.  Then some conferences are built around the keynote speaker.

There are many different styles and types of conferences men can choose to attend.  Most will only attract those men who are interested in the speaker, subject, or focus of the conference, limiting the number of men who would be interested to attend.  However, there is one type of conference that can connect with every man in your church and that is an Equipping Conference. 

An Equipping Conference does not limit itself to a particular subject or is it built around a keynote speaker, though there is usually one or two.  An Equipping Conference is designed for men of all ages and walks of life to hear from men’s leaders speaking on a variety of subjects.  Subjects that can help them to spiritually grow and speak into their family’s lives or into other men’s lives.  Men have the opportunity to attend Breakout Sessions to hear experts in their field speak on subjects such as discipling; husband, fatherhood, and grandfather tune-ups; developing a men’s ministry in your church; how to minister to men with addictions; how to be involved in mission projects; how to continue ministry beyond retirement, and many other subjects.  The list could be extensive. 

An Equipping Conference allows men to discover the many resources available to help churches reach the men of their respective churches and community and connects you with the leaders.  Men will have opportunities to actually speak and ask questions of these leaders developing a relationship.  One of the areas I struggled with greatly when I became the men’s leader at my church was finding resources and discovering experts in the men’s ministry field to help and mentor.  I had no idea of the amount of material available.  Through an Equipping Conference, you can discover these resources.

So as you plan your next conference experience be sure to give consideration to the type of conference that would best benefit your men.  Which experience would benefit your men the most and provide resources and connections that will continue for months even years to come.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

Being Intentional

Recently I was talking to a group of men about three areas every men’s ministry needs to work on to have an effective and vibrate ministry to men; Know Your Men, Create Multiple Entry Points, and Being Intentional.  One of the men asked me, “What do you mean by being intentional?”  Well, that is a great question.  Dictionary.com describes ‘intentional’ as something that is “done with intention or on purpose.”  But for me to help you understand what I mean by intentional I need to share with you some instances we see in the Bible that displays intention and from my own personal life.

First, let’s look at the Bible.  There are a few events that come to mind when I think of displays of intentionality in the Bible.  One is when Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and he saw Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew and he said to them “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4:18-19).  Then Jesus encountered Matthew and said, “Follow me” (Mat. 9:9).  Then Jesus called James and his brother John (Mk 1:19-20).  Then later Jesus spent the night praying and as a result, he called 12 of his disciples and called them apostles to join him on the journey he was taking (Luk 6:12-16).  He called them by name, essentially ‘tapping them on the shoulder,’ and saying: “Follow Me.”  

Several times in the gospels we read of Jesus ‘tapping on the shoulder’ Peter, James, and John to accompany him on a certain task (Mat. 17:1; Mar. 5:37; Mar. 14:33; Luk 8:51).  Permitting only them to be a participant of an event.  Then the most obvious one is when Jesus personally appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus to question Saul why he was persecuting Him and ‘tap on the shoulder’.  He instructed Saul (Paul) to continue on his journey to Damascus and there he would be told what to do (Acts 1-6).

Each of these is displays of Jesus being intentional.  Essentially tapping individuals on the shoulder of those whom he wanted to pour his life into to prepare them for the ministry he was calling them to.

‘Tapping them on the shoulder’ is a metaphor of personally speaking to the individual about building a relationship around the concept of disciple-making or mentoring in the individual’s walk with God. 

By Jesus’ example, we can transfer that to the calling God has placed on all our lives to “Go … and make disciples.”  We too have to be intentional in our mission of making disciples.  They do not just come to us.  Some may approach us on their own but most will not.  So we must invite them on the journey just like Jesus did and is still doing.  I have experienced this in my own life.  I have been ‘Tapped on the shoulder’ and I have been the one who has ‘tapped others on the shoulder.’ Let me share a few.

Many years ago I was talking with a few people after church when Mr. Tommy walked up to me and asked me if I would be interested in attending a Bible study with a few men on Friday mornings at 5:00 am.  I accepted.  I attended that group for the next three years.  It radically changed my life.  I grew more in those three years than I had in all the years before since I became a Believer.  Through that experience, I gained a new perspective of what it meant to disciple someone else and I learned what Jesus meant when he commanded us to “Go… and make disciples.”

From this experience, I learned to apply Jesus’ method by praying on who I should disciple.  God led me to other men too who I reached out and ‘tapped them on the shoulder’ and personally asked them if they would be willing to meet with me to study God’s Word or work through a book that would help enhance spiritual growth.  Most of the men that have participated have shared with me how important this became to them.  All because I did what Jesus modeled by reaching out and being intentional to individuals He led me to in my relationship with them. 

So, what does it mean to be intentional?  It means inviting someone to take a journey with you to grow spiritually so they will understand what Jesus meant when he said: “Go… and make disciples.”

All of us are called and commanded to make disciples.  Begin praying today for God to lead you to those whom you can ‘Tap on the Shoulder’ and invite them on a journey to grow closer to God.  You will be blessed and discover many rewards in your own life when you do.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

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