Do Not Forfeit Father’s Day

Do you realize that we are about a month from Father’s Day? Because of this, I want to ask Men’s Ministry Leaders and Pastors this question, “What are you planning to do to target your men on Father’s Day?”  I know not all men are Dads, but a good number are.  And all of us have Dads.  

Father’s Day is a great day to reach out to all the men of the church and community.  So, I have a statement for you – Do Not Forfeit Father’s Day!

As a Men’s Ministry Leader, I believe this day is a great day to target our men, and we should take advantage of the day.  

To give you a little history about Father’s Day, it began when Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington, who were one of six children raised by a widower, had an idea of having a day to celebrate our Fathers while sitting in church on Mother’s Day.  She went to local churches, the YMCA, and others to gather support for her idea. As a result, on June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day.  Though Father’s Day has become a commercial entity in today’s culture, it does have its roots in the church.

If we are going to use Father’s Day to reach out to the men of our church and community, we need to start planning now.

Several years ago, when I was a Men’s Ministry Leader in a local church, we gave out books to ALL the men who came on campus that day.  It was a book for all men, not just for dads.  We also invited the men to attend a six-week study of the book that would begin a couple of weeks after Father’s Day.  We had over 30 men take advantage of that opportunity.  As a result, we had several success stories from that book giveaway and study. 

One was a man who took the book to work and met with some of his coworkers to work through the book.  Great things came out of that experience. And, after finishing the book, the men wanted more.

This is just one activity you can do to reach your men through Father’s Day.  But there are others, and here are some thoughts of some actions you can take.  It is my hope this will whet your appetite for more.  As you ponder on these, maybe you can vision other activities your church can do.

  1. If the morning message is delivered as a result of Father’s Day, be sure it targets ALL the men encouraging them to be the men that God designed them to be.  This is one most churches do.  But be sure you talk to ALL the men and be careful of isolating a particular group.  But to be honest, I would recommend staying with the series topic you may be currently through. However, there is nothing wrong spending a few minutes communicating gratitude and thankfulness for dads to be dads.
  2. Have a Father/Son outing sometime during the weekend.  Men whose children are grown or men who do not have children could adopt a fatherless child for this event.  This way, you are inviting all men to participate.  If you have a military contingent in your area.  Think about the children whose dads are deployed during this time.
  3. Reach out to those men in your church and community in the military and are deployed.  Find out from their families what they would like to have and see if you can make it happen.  I have a friend who runs a ministry for military personnel called Operation Bandana. Check it out at Operation Bandanas.org as something you can do to speak into military personnel.
  4. Give the men a book that will encourage the men and offer a class relating to the book.
  5. Arrange an outing to a sporting event that all men can participate.  Or maybe a sports watch night in the fellowship hall or someone’s house on a big screen TV.

Here are some additional suggestions that may not be associated with Father’s Day weekend but can be done in conjunction with;

  • Reach out to Dads whose children are attending your local church’s VBS.  Maybe provide a gift certificate to a local restaurant or sports event or Fair they can take their child to.  Or maybe a father/child Hot Dog dinner.
  • If your church has a summer daycare ministry, think on the same lines for the men whose children are involved.
  • Think about the Dads whose children are involved in the youth ministry or other children’s ministry activities.

These are just a few of the ideas a church can do to reach out and target men.  If we desire to reach our men, we have to be intentional in our efforts.  Look around your church, and you may see many other opportunities to reach your men.

So, once again, ‘What are you doing to intentionally target your men during Father’s Day weekend?’  Intentionality is one of the areas most Men’s Ministries lack in their quest to reach men for the kingdom of Christ.  If you want to reach more men and get them involved, you must be intentional in your efforts. 

Just remember, on Father’s Day, don’t make it all about fathers but develop opportunities for ALL MEN!

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

So, You’re Retired… Your Ministry Has Just Begun – Part 3

For the last couple of weeks, we have talked about working for many years to raise and take care of a family.  Now we are entering or preparing to enter our retirement years.  So, what do we do?

When I retired over 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to spend my time pouring my life into other men.  My desire for many years was to be involved in ministering to men.  Maybe you don’t feel that call on your life.  But rest assure that as a child of God, He is calling you to some form of ministry.  It may not be what we typically think of as ministry, but God has a plan for your life.

The first thing I would recommend for anyone retiring is to have a Sabbath period in your life.  A time of rest.  A time to reflect and seek God in the direction He desires for you.  You could begin to seek that direction before you retire, but you need to take a period of time to rest.  Do some things around the house you want to do or maybe take that extended trip you always wanted to take.  But use the first few months of your retirement to just rest.

As you approach your retirement and during your time of rest, be seeking God, asking Him an honest question; “God, what are You calling me to do in retirement?”  Maybe it is to volunteer at a local hospital, relief organization, or a particular ministry.  God may move you into a position you would have never thought of during your career.  Be open to hearing from God.  Talk to your friends and family about what they see you possibly doing.  They may see skills and talents God has gifted you with that you have yet to recognize.

Remember the story of Moses when God told him to return to Egypt to be the leader of the Hebrews.  Moses, at first, did not think he could do this for several reasons. You can read about that in Exodus 3-4.  But God gave him a helper in his brother Aaron, and God went with him, guiding him for the next 40 plus years in leading Israel.

Maybe God wants to use you in developing a ministry.  I know of an individual because of their connection with the military began a ministry to encourage the men and women being deployed.  Another started a ministry to help military wives who are left behind with housing maintenance. Still, another who has a significant impact in prisons as he speaks to men and prepares them for when they are released back into society.

Many men in retirement are pouring their lives into the next generation, being a living example to the younger generation.  Remember the verse I shared last week from Psalms 71:18.

Even while I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come.

Or Psalm 78:4,

Tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, his might, and the wondrous works he has performed.

These are just a couple of scriptures that instruct us to pour our lives into the next generation.  Either through our children and grandchildren or into others.  Paul even told the Thessalonians in his first letter to them that,

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 Thess. 2:8)

So, as you approach retirement or enter retirement, pray that God would teach you how to apply Psalm 90:12 in your life to number your days carefully so that you may develop wisdom in your heart to minister to the next generation.

For more information on approaching and entering your retirement, I recommended Jeff Haanen’s book An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life.

I pray these last three articles have helped you to reflect and think through the plans God may have for you in your retirement.

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

You’re Retired… Your Ministry Has Just Begun – Part 2

In the last writing, I talked about working for many years to raise and take care of a family.  Now we are ready to retire and maybe relax by traveling or fishing or working on your golf game.  As we get older, we rationalize it was time for those younger to take over the leadership of the church.  We need to hand the mantel of leadership over to future generations at some point; however, we do not need to think our ministry is over.

Those of us in the retiring generation have so much knowledge and experience locked up in our heads the Lord has blessed us with; we need to share this with those who will be and are our future church leaders.

I shared with you last time Moses was 80 years old (Ex. 7:7) when he and his brother first appeared before Pharaoh to state, “Let my people go.”  Joshua was 85 (Joshua 14:10) when he finished marching into the promised land and begin dividing the land between the tribes.  So, what makes men think when we retire from our careers, we can retire from training future generations to lead in a manner God desires.  If you know me, you know I have a phrase I often say, “Often told – rarely trained.”

Let me share a few scriptures with you.

Psalm 71:18 says,

Even while I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come.

Psalm 90:12 tells us,

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.

Psalm 92:12-15 says,

The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon.  Planted in the house of the LORD, they thrive in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green,  to declare: “The LORD is just; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92:12-15)

It seems to me the Lord expects us to continue to proclaim and bear fruit in the years of our retirement. 

In Psalm 71:18, the Psalmist asks the Lord not to abandon him while he proclaims God’s power in his old age.  The Psalmist in Psalm 90:12 asks for God to teach us to use our days wisely, for we do not know when the Lord will call us home to be with him in heavenly places.  Then in Psalm 92:12-15, the Psalmist writes that we will continue to bear fruit in our old age.  This doesn’t sound like men who are spending their senior years relaxing.  These are men who are pouring their lives into the future generations to ensure the next generation leads the church as God has instructed.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul said, 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.”  Paul was ready to share his own life with those in Thessalonica.  As we approach retirement or as we are in retirement, are we pleased to share our own lives with the future leaders of the church.

We‘ gray hair’ men have so much knowledge stored away in our brains and have learned so much in life as we have grown in the Lord; why would we not let younger men know we are available to share that knowledge through discipling and mentoring.

I encourage you to approach your pastor about starting a ministry in your church for retired men to sign up as a discipler and mentor.  Watch how God will use you in the years of ‘retirement.’  You will be amazed.  Or maybe you just go and, after prayer, find someone and tap them on the shoulder and invite them to meet with you periodically. You will be blessed, and so will they.

You may be retired from a career or maybe thinking about it.  But remember, God is NOT through with you yet.  As long as He allows you to walk on this planet, He still has a mission for you.  Give strong consideration to disciple and mentor someone. 

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