Encouraging Men to Walk Together

4/12/2021

Remember when you taught someone how to perform a task, and you would tell them, “This is not rocket science?”  Well, after working in men’s ministry, coordinating events for men, discipling men, facilitating men’s small groups, and meeting one of one with men, let me tell you – ministering to men IS ROCKET SCIENCE!  I don’t say that to discourage you but to let you know that I know the frustration many of you may have as you seek to get your men involved in the ministries designed to bring men into a deeper walk with Christ.

I was talking to someone a while back who had started a small group a few weeks earlier, and I could tell in his voice there was a little frustration.  This was the first time he had ever attempted to lead a group of men.  I encouraged him to just be obedient to the calling God had placed on his life and let God do the work.  Continue to pour his life into these men, praying for them and being there for them.  Even if only one man shows up, that would be who God would want you to share life with at that moment.  Paul said it best to the people of Thessalonica when he wrote in his second letter to the Thessalonians, “Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (2 Thess. 2:8).

We often think we need to have a deep bible study when we get our men together, but sometimes we need just to do life and allow God to open the opportunities for us to share the gospel or a word of encouragement.  I meet with a group of men once a month to have breakfast just to talk and let them share what is happening in their life, getting to know them, and opening myself up to them, not having any agenda.  Another group I meet with once a week as we study through the disciplines of a godly man, all to develop relationships and impact the Gospel of Christ in each others’ lives by either just sharing life or speaking the Word directly into their lives.

When I first began to work in Men’s Ministry, I thought we had to have big events and get as many men to attend as possible.  I reasoned that if we had these events and could get men to attend, men’s lives would begin to change.  However, I quickly learned this is only a small piece of the puzzle.  There is nothing wrong with big events, and they do have a place; but, these events should be used to connect with men.  From these events, you should always be looking for ways to encourage men to take the next right  step; to become involved in a discipling relationship.

Working with men is all about developing those relationships for the purpose to disciple. Even putting yourself out there to share some of your life’s successes and failures.  Men need to see you as being just as fallible as they are.  They need to know you have overcome situations in your life, and your hope is rooted in your relationship with Christ.  When men see you as one of them, then they will begin to open up.  It doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time. 

Often we use Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” in our respective men’s ministries.  There is truth here, but the only way this can be applied in our lives is to spend time with other men who have a passion for growing deeper in a relationship with God.  We will permit other men to challenge us when they see us missing the mark, holding us accountable in our walk with Christ.  This can only occur if we are intentional about developing discipling relationships.

Let me encourage you if you do not have such a man in your life; find one.  You will be blessed to have that man who will challenge you, be a listening ear when you need to talk, and, more importantly, pray for you.  “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  To have someone in your life that will sharpen you, knock off those rough edges and smooth the edge so you can be ready to fight the battle that lies before us every day.

There is a battle for men’s souls happening all around us.  And we need men who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us every day.  Will you be a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder with another man in this battle?  Will you pour your life into other men?  Do you want to change families in your church?  Do you want to change your church to be more of an impact on your community?  Then start by sharing life with other men – the Gospel of Christ – developing intentional relationships that will sharpen each of us to be the man God desires for us all.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men,

Mike Sandlin

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

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