Four Foundational Principles for Men’s Ministries

Four Foundational Principles for Men’s Ministries
By Dick Hardy

Principle #1 –  You must have the goods.

What’s that all about? Have you ever experienced bait and switch in advertising? You know the drill. The advertiser tells a person to come and buy ABC. When the person gets to the store he gets XYZ. That’s bait and switch. That lacks complete integrity.

Unfortunately, the church can be that way. Have you ever heard a pastor say something like, “Come out to this particular service and it will change your life!”? You went to the service and the only thing that was changed about your life is that you lost two hours when it was only supposed to cost you one. And then you were out $20 in the offering to boot.

When men and families come to your church, is it good? I mean really good? I’m not talking about whether it is spiritual. That should be a given. Is it really good in a sense that guest’s walk away saying, “Besides being deeply spiritual, those folks really do things well.”? If not, it can be.

So what’s your men’s ministry like? Is it same ol, same ol? You wish it were different but it’s not. Does it have the goods? There is no need for you to market men’s ministries as the latest and greatest, if everything around it in the church is the oldest and not the greatest. Messy nurseries. Less than spic and span restrooms. Poor preaching. Anything else you can think of?

Let’s start here. “Having the goods” means having the goods everywhere. When a person steps onto your property, is it the best? You say, “Well, that is in the eye of the beholder.” Not so! You need to look at the finest building in your community and work to have yours be as good or better. You say, “No way. We don’t have that kind of money.” Okay, then, is your facility the cleanest and best kept property in town? That is time, not money. That can be done.

What about departments or functions of the church? Are your Music and Children’s ministries the best planned and prepared ministries possible? What about your preaching? You may not be Andy Stanley, Rick Warren or John Lindell in style or delivery, but you can be as studied and as prepared as those guys.

For your men’s ministries, here is how you get the goods.
– Point to mission: Know what you are headed towards and always point that way.
-Plan:  Think beyond the present. Set in place a plan of attack to accomplish the mission of the church.
– Prepare: Whatever you do, be fully and completely prepared.
– Perform, Execute: Do what you planned and prepared for and then execute to mission.

Make sure all aspects of having the goods are evident throughout all of the ministries and functions of the church. In short, you must have the goods! Once you do, you then need to make the tough evaluation of how your ministry is driven. “Is it event-driven or process-driven?”

Principle #2 – Your ministry needs to move from an event-driven to process-driven culture.

Most churches are event-driven. Certainly most men’s ministries are event-driven. Making this shift is a long-haul process. This probably will take months and even years to change in the cultures of many churches.

What is event-driven? Event-driven means that your method of operation starts with an event, then moves to another event, and then another and another and another. There is no process in event-driven cultures. There is no development of discipleship aside from what might by chance happen in an event. When the event is over, there is no process to develop men. The church just jumps to the next event.

If you are going to market event after event after event this way, you will find yourself like a dog constantly chasing its tail. However, if you can change the culture to an understanding that the best ministry to men in the church is ministry by men serving the church, you will be miles ahead.

Market an understanding of process. Preach and teach on it constantly. Then once you establish a process-driven culture, you are then ready to pick up the all-important next principle.

PRINCIPLE #3 – You must acquire quick, short-term wins.

While trying to move men’s ministries in a specific direction, it is critical that the church and the ministry experience quick, short-term wins. What do I mean by that? I am talking about doing something that you are sure will be well-received by men and by the church at-large. You want to demonstrate an ability to win. Try some non-controversial things to have people see a “Win”. Be sure, however, those “things” do not build long-term obligations until you are sure you want in the long-term whatever you have done in the short-term.

Maybe you do not have any sort of hospitality on the parking lot. Mobilize some “worker bee” guys to greet people as they enter the lot, guide people, help with car doors, etc. Do this for a special month and see how the congregation responds. How about the thoughts of giving a Mother’s Day Month of May parking lot hospitality to the members and friends of the church. I guarantee you they will love it. And the guys who do it will be enriched. Be sure before you set this one in motion, that you help the parking lot guys see their work as the first impression to a spiritually lost person hearing the Gospel and accepting Jesus.

If you make the understanding of why the guys are doing hospitality in this way they will be even more enriched. In turn, you demonstrate process with a direct tie to mission. Then you will need to have the goods all the way through the system as they leave the parking lot and enter the building. Preach, or encourage your pastor to preach, a series of Biblical messages on servant hood. End the series with men leading the charge to mobilize volunteers in the church: men, women, children, and youth.
Try this one on for size. How about having your men demonstrate their work to the children of the church, kind of like a “Show and Tell”? These jobs must be the type that can be demonstrated. Fireman, Policeman, Construction worker, Banker. The point here is not to create layers of more ministries. But is to redirect men from “events for me” to “service of men to others.” Once you begin to experience quick, short-term wins you can then be prepared for the most exciting of the four principles.

PRINCIPLE #4 – You must get viral.

What is viral marketing? The best illustration of it is that of a sneeze. When you sneeze, just think of where all that stuff goes. It’s everywhere. It’s kind of like a machine gun approach to marketing. Let it fly and see what kind of hits you get. Then watch it spread. My wife and I just dropped a bucket-load of money on our first bedroom set in almost 32 years. Pat’s folks gave us hers in 1977. Why did we buy the Temperpedic mattress?

Because Haverty’s and Slumberland had such great promotions going? Because they produced such slick ads? No. Our friends, Ed and Pat, told us they had died and gone to heaven with their new Temperpedic mattress set. So we tried it out and bought it. We live in a Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, coffee shop world. The other day I had breakfast with a guy who asked me about my running. How’d he know? It turns out he saw that on Facebook. As you can guess I am into networking. He read my stuff. I guess I could assume he would know I’m a runner from my posts but I didn’t think about it. So use these kinds of tools to talk about the process of your men’s ministries.

Men talking to men I know women are better at this, but men do it, too. They talk. Please be assured, if men have their own version of every other church’s men’s ministry they will not talk. Or certainly will not talk positively. You will get no viral marketing bounce. However, if men can be part of a men’s ministries effort that is NOT event-driven, it releases more time to the guy. In addition, it is process-driven and will demonstrate itself in the process of serving others. The guys will talk. They will get viral real quick. Men want to be part of a winner. Men will do viral marketing, spreading the winning news.
Winning processes go viral. Losing ones don’t.

Promise Keepers was the perfect example of viral marketing. How in the world could you take a prayer group in Boulder in the early 90s and turn that into over a million guys in DC in 1997? Certainly it was a God thing. But it became a God thing as God used viral marketing. Stand in the Gap became the culmination of that virus. Now here is where the virus shifted.

Promise Keepers was entirely event-driven. They were never able to successfully develop process in the local church. Although they tried. Hence, they peaked in 1997. The PK leadership tried to deny that it peaked, but it peaked. Then the viral marketing stopped. Momentum was lost and the talk stopped. It wasn’t even bad talk. The talk just stopped. It was over. Now suppose you do adhere to all four of these principles. You have the goods, your ministry moves from event-driven to process-driven, you gather in quick short-term wins, and you get viral. Now what? Do you do traditional marketing?

There are all sorts of ways to market. Traditional ads, word of mouth, promos here and there, TV and radio ads, newspaper, etc. Where does a person start? Normally, a ministry or organization gets branded. Certainly you can build a look and feel around your men’s ministries. However, it must merge with that of the church at-large. You do not have to get branded, but it will happen either by design or by default. I personally like to have some input in the branding of something of value of which I am a part. I do not like important things happening by default.

Some churches will advertise. You can do snail-mailers or e-mailers. You can develop a brochure. You can do radio and/or web advertising. You can talk publicly from the pulpit.  Some might do a calling campaign. You could try putting in place a good promotional campaign, an “Every man bring a man” type of effort. Keep in mind, however, you can do these and other kinds of things until the cows come home. They are not bad things. But remember, none of these are worth a hoot if you don’t have the goods. Or if you are event-driven and cannot sustain the events. Or if you do sustain it, you go broke. Or if you don’t get any quick, short-term wins, it seems like whatever you do is a loser. Or if no one cares about spreading the word, no one gets viral.

From: web site. July 2008

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