The Three Common Mistakes Churches Make: #3 – Lack of Knowing 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.  Once they do you may learn a lot.  You want them to share about their lives, their interests, 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.

Barnabas Lunch Appointments (BLA).  My mentor, Jeff Kisiah, was big on Barnabas Lunch Appointments.  To my knowledge, he is the one that coined the phrase.  When he said 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 use this time to invite 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 couple of 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. One church developed a business card with a QR Code the men could scan to take 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.  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 Barnabas 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

Three Common Mistakes Churches Make: #2 – Lack of Multiple Entry Points

I have learned the importance of having numerous “on ramps” for enlisting men in the Battle For Men’s Souls (B4MS). Too many leaders only provide entry points on the “deep end” of the discipleship continum such as; In-Depth Bible Studies, Leadership Training Modules, or High Commitment Venues. This is only going to reach a small number of men.

The best image I can give you to reach the men of your church and community is a casting net. In ministering to men you need to cast a wide net of numerous entry points to bring the men in and help them grow to the point you can take them into those deep bible studies. Men who are on the fringes or has no interest in church will generally not attend any of the “deep end” studies.

We need to create activities that accentuates the Ministry of “Hanging Out.” We want to reach those who are on the fringes who remain disinterested of disconnected. We do this by providing a balance approach and offer entry points on the “wide end.”

In my expereince, I have seen God work uniquely in the lives of men through these various entry points . These “Entry Points” could be activities such as attending ballgames together, taking a hiking trip, attending racing events, or classic car shows. It could include a wilderness adventure – a retreat. One such event is a men’s outdoor weekend where the men have an opportunity to skeet shoot, throw hatchets, archery, etc. Maybe an all day fishing trip. And Yes, a monthly Saturday morning breakfast or evening meal during the week is an “on ramp” activity.

All of these can be included in your “Ministry of Hanging Out.” Most churches so often think within the box and only conduct events for men who are spiritually growing. I have heard leaders say but my men want those studies that dive into the Word. That’s great and I encourage you do those studies. But what about the man who is not there yet. You have to feed a young child milk first and help him graduate to the meat. Even the Apostle Paul recognized when people needed milk and not solid food (1 Co. 3:1-3).

I had a pastor once tell me that you need to take the men deep and then send them out wide. Though I will agree with him in concept, but he was forgetting on the front end that you have to get the men something (milk) that would bring them in to take them deep (solid food). So a church needs to cast the net wide, slowly bring the men in through various “on-ramps,” gradually take them deep, and then send them out.

To develop an active and effective ministry to men in your community a church needs to have something for men every month. Recognizing that not every man will participate in every event planned. Your leadership team should develop activities for men to hang out based on the interst of the men. Which leads us to the third mistake churches make when minitering to men and I will cover that in my next post.

So I will leave you with this question.

How balanced is your approach in reaching ALL Types of men?

To the challenge and adventure to disciple men. – Mike

Three Common Mistakes Churches Make in Ministering to Men

Men are the most neglected people group in our churches today. To emphasize this, I recently saw a video a church made to highlight the ministries of the church. The video was professionally done and was in fact pleasant to watch. But then I notice the video was highlighting the various ministries of the church. The video talked about the children’s ministries, the youth ministries, the college ministries, small groups, mssion opportunities, and a few other areas the church was involed. But I noticed the video did not mentioned the Ministry to Men or Women. I surmised from the video this active church did not have a ministry to women or men. Therefore I reasoned that men are not valued or important to that church.

Did you know that less thant 10% of churches in the United States have an active and effective ministry to men. Most churches associate men’s ministry around a monthly breakfast or supper gathering. Spending some time in fellowship and eating. Nothing wrong with that and it would be encouraged. Or maybe the church has a monthly work day for the men to help someone in need. Nothing wrong with that. But ministrering to men is much more than getting together to fellowship, eat, and do a few work projects.

Leaders often conduct the same event each year that will only reach a certain group of men in their church and community. Why? Generally it is because it is what they enjoy doing. It is easy. We have done it before. And the biggest misconception, “I enjoy it – so all men must enjoy it.”

So how do we move toward having an active and effective Ministry to Men? Over the course of the next few posts I will share the Three Common Mistakes Churches Make when it comes to ministering to men.

Let me know what you think as I expand on these mistakes. Maybe give some insight of your own,

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

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