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

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

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