Cultivating a Man-Friendly Church

Cultivating a Man-Friendly Church
H.B. London Jr. /Focus on the Family

According to a news release from the Barna Group, Ltd., women shoulder most of the responsibility for the health and vitality of the Christian faith in the country.

There are between 11 and 13 million more born-again women than there are men in the U.S.
Eight out of 10 women say the word “spiritual” describes them accurately – 63 percent of men do.

Seven out of 10 women resonated to the phrase “deeply spiritual” –  among men it was 50 percent.

Forty-one percent of women said they have set specific spiritual goals for the next year or two – 29 percent of men have identified spiritual objectives.

Seventy-five percent of women say their religious faith is very important in their lives – 60 percent of men indicated that religious commitment is a critical aspect of their lives.

Barna says, “Women more often than not take the lead role in the spiritual life of the family. Women emerge as the primary or only spiritual mentor and role model for family members.” He says, “If the church is to stem the tide of biblical illiteracy and waning commitment to the Christian faith, men will have to establish themselves as partners and leaders of the spiritual functions of families. The apparent lack of spiritual leadership exhibited by millions of Christian men has hampered the spiritual growth of tens of thousands of well-meaning, but spiritually inept families.”

One-half of all women Barna surveyed strongly desire to be personally active in church, compared to just one-third of men (36 percent).

– There has been a 22 percent slip in overall church attendance since 1991 (55 percent to 45 percent).

– Women are much more inclined than are men to say they are “absolutely committed” to the Christian faith (46 percent to 32 percent).

– “We must impress upon men the importance that they model spiritual maturity and more actively participate in the life of the church.”

My Story

“Do I blame the women? Not at all. They were taking places they had been given. If men forfeit leadership in the church, they disregard the command of God. If they grow silent when it comes to making major decisions, they have no one to blame but themselves. If a man abdicates his responsibility in the home as the head of the house and shuffles the role of discipline off to the mother  in most cases, the consequences will be painful.

. . “I found that in at least 90 percent of those homes where the man took leadership, or came to know Christ, the whole family would follow.

. . “Balance of ‘true’ leadership in the church is a must. Male and female leaders sharing the burden of the families and their community.

. . “I gave my life to men. At times, four hours a day in personal interaction. In these meetings, I would attempt to establish answers to three questions.

I .Establish the level of a man’s spiritual background.

Many men have no established church background.

They are there or not because of the spouse’s influence.

. . Did you attend Sunday school?
. . Did your parents go with you to church?
. . Did you have a favorite pastor or youth pastor?
. . Did many of your friends attend church, or did
you go alone?
. . Were you ever disappointed by the church or someone
in whom you had a great deal of trust?
. . When you attend church now, do you enjoy it? Is it
relevant to the challenges you face?

II. Establish a common ground for shared interests.

. . . Get the men talking about themselves.
. . . Discuss events in their lives that were memorable (sports,
military service, work related, children, etc.)
. . . Give them center stage. No one-upsman on the part of
the host.
. . . Surrender to their turf, most men need to feel safe.

III. Establish the groundwork for ongoing relationship.
. . Trust is essential, as is honesty.
. . . We are never out to use a man.
. . . You must convey true concern and authenticity.
. . . Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.
. . . Don’t fall into the temptation to be “holier than thou.”

How do you convey these thoughts? By simple phrases:

. . . “If you ever need me, just call.”
. . . “I’ll talk to you soon.”
. . . “Is there a way I can pray for you?”
. . . “What happens to you matters to me.”

Keep It Simple

The more complicated a ministry to men becomes, the less likely it is to be successful. A promising men’s ministry should be a passion of the local church pastor and staff, one they attend and promote, one to which they give major priority.

1) Breakfast/lunch fellowship
Low key, directed, purposeful, personal, relevant, consistent, fun.

2) Accountability
. . . is a hollow concept if it is not enforced.
How? Agreed upon parameters. (It must be set by those who will participate.)

– Regular updates
– Open ended (David and Jonathan)
– Men with commonalties
– Progress from milk to meat
– Leader input of fresh ideas on a regular basis; men are easily bored
– Establish coaches to help the timid and the weak
– Priority must be established

3) Athletics

A team for everyone to play on, and a church that puts emphasis on fellowship and participation over just playing and winning.

– Each man who participates is at a different level spiritually �expectations must vary on behavior.
– Each man must feel he is making a contribution. Break up the “cliques.”
– Each man should feel good about, and safe, to bring his family to the event.
– The “after-game” camaraderie is more important than the game itself.

4) Activities

Whether it be one or two or a large group, men like to “herd.” The tendency in most churches is to either cater to the young man at the expense of the older or vice-versa.

– Promise Keeper events
– Couples conferences

Niche activities (cycling, hiking, woodworking, auto mechanics, etc., are essential parts of a man’s draw to the church). Not everybody feels comfortable in team sports.

5) Discipleship training

A large number of men feel uncomfortable in the church because they don’t understand the language, the customs and the expectations. In most cases, their wives speak for them and are much more knowledgeable of spiritual matters, especially the Bible.

The goal of discipline is not only to grow the man into maturity, but also to create a comfort level in the services when worship is in progress. How can they relate to the church on an honest level?

Most men cannot trace a long positive Christian heritage. We need to encourage them to put on a “new self”  background plays a huge role in how a person’s spiritual growth occurs.

6) Participation

Men who succeed in the church will feel a sense of importance. So often, the same people do everything. Men who can sing need to sing. Those who can usher need to usher. Those who can teach need to teach. Those who can influence your people need to be given that chance. Those who can coach need to coach, but . . .
. . . they need to be trained.
. . . they need to be coached.
. . . they need not go “solo” too soon.
. . . they need to show signs of spiritual growth.
. . . they need to be encouraged.
. . . they need to be relieved from time to time.
. . . they need to know they are making a difference.
. . . they need to know they are winners.

The Church

The badge of Christian discipleship is not a lapel pin, a cross around one’s neck, a bumper sticker or even membership in a church. It’s a lifestyle and identification with Jesus’ words, life and mission. It is a commitment not just to a cause and a creed, but also a cross-bearing lifestyle that demands our very souls.

There is an urgent call in this day for a once-and-for-all loyalty to the mission of Christ, a never-say-die commitment to His person and message. Because we live in a time of fickle followers, fair-weather worshipers and slumbering saints, it is vital that we take every opportunity to proclaim that it’s not easy to be a Christian it never has been and never will be. Because of that, we need a renewed commitment on the part of those who call Jesus Lord to stand up and be counted regardless of the cost.

As a young minister, I was handed a devotional book by the former chaplain to the United States Senate, the late Dr. Richard Halverson. One day, I ran across something he wrote in that book, A Day at a Time, titled “Destination Sickness” (Zondervan, 1974):

The syndrome of a man who has arrived and discovered he is nowhere. He has achieved his goals and finds they are not what he has anticipated. He suffers the disillusionment of the promised that petered out the payoff with the kickback! He has all the things money can buy and finds decreasing satisfaction in all he has. He is satiated and unsatisfied. He’s a pot full of nothing. He’s in the land of ulcers and cardiacs, alcoholism, divorce and suicide! He suffers from the 7ieurosis of emptiness.” He’s the man who has become a whale of a success downtown and a pathetic failure at home. He’s a big shot with the boys in the office and a big phony with the boys at home. He’s a status symbol in society and a fake with the family. “Destination Sickness” the illness peculiar to a culture that is affluent and godless.

Taken from Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper (H.B. London)

The above article, “Cultivating a Man-Friendly Church” was written by H.B. London Jr. / Focus on the Family. The article was excerpted from the book The Pastor’s Role in Establishing an Effective Men’s Ministry.

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”