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