Launching a Men’s Ministry in the Local Church (26-6)

Launching a Men’s Ministry in the Local Church
Mark Abernathy

The decade of the ‘90s witnessed a great spiritual awakening among men in our country. In churches everywhere, men began to feel the call to stand and be counted for Christ. The development of men’s ministries, designed to both engage men in spiritual growth and send them forth on missions, reached a new level of prominence. I am confident that the desire to ‘be the men God created us to be’ will carry on into the coming years, as Christian men face the challenges of a new millennium.

While missions involvement has always been, and will continue to be the forte of North Carolina Men’s Ministry, we also realize the need for a well-rounded approach that helps churches provide meaningful involvement for men in spiritual development, outreach and evangelism, as well as missions. This holistic approach provides different entry points that may reach men who otherwise would not be involved. Our desire at North Carolina Men’s Ministry is to see the men of our churches take up the challenge of living a Christ-filled life in every area—home, work and church.

Since beginning our emphasis on assisting churches in fostering well-rounded, vibrant Men’s Ministries, many exciting things have transpired. We are seeing more men, and younger men becoming involved in Church Men statewide. If this is something you would like to see happen in your church, you are not alone. The key to realizing this goal may lie in the ability to think “outside the box” of traditional Church Men’s work. While missions involvement is vital, we have come to see that if you win a man’s heart—his hands will follow. A well-rounded approach, providing multiple entry points for diverse interests, may lead to more active involvement by the men in your church. Spiritual development, evangelistic outreach and missions involvement are three main areas of focus.

This manual is designed to be a starting point in developing a well-rounded ministry to the men of your church. Much of its content is adapted from and/or inspired by Sid Woodruff’s comprehensive manual “Drawing Men to God”

LifeWay Christian Resources). This and other resources are highlighted in the resource section.

Our prayer is that God will provide the vision and passion necessary in order to see every man in our churches become alive with the desire to grow and serve in Christ’s spirit.

When consulting with local church Men’s leaders, I like to ask three questions:

• What do you hope to accomplish through Men’s Ministry in your church?

• What do you see as the barriers or challenges to having a successful Men’s Ministry in your church?

• What do you think are the key elements to having a successful Men’s Ministry in your church? Here’s what I often hear.

• What do you hope to accomplish through Men’s Ministry in your church?

I inevitably receive one universal answer for this one, “I would like to see more men involved.” How many of us have men in our churches who attend worship, but have no involvement with the Church Men? How many of us have women who attend our churches but whose husbands do not? The answer is—all of us. Other leaders tell me they would like to see men more involved in missions. Still others say they would like to see men grow spiritually and for the ministry to have a life-changing effect on their lives. Your answers are probably similar to these.

What do you see as the barriers or challenges to having a successful Men’s Ministry?

A qualifying question may be: “What reasons do men give for not being involved?” What I hear is that the men of our churches are saying, “I don’t have time.” “I need to spend more time with my family” and “I just have too much on my plate right now to be involved.” Sound familiar? To some extent, all of these may be true. I think we need to distinguish between two things: 1) what we hear them saying, and 2) what they are trying to tell us. I think what most of us tend to hear from this is that these men’s priorities are out of order. The truth is, for the most part, we do control our time. If something is important enough to us, we will fit it into our schedule. Aha! So what are they actually saying to us? My suggestion is that men may be saying, “My time is important to me; and if you want my involvement, you must be one thing—relevant.” Being relevant in our ministry means meeting men’s needs. Men want their time and their lives to be productive.

They want to be challenged. The days of having a meeting for meeting’s sake are largely over. Busy men are not likely to come to a Saturday morning breakfast that involves “chewing the fat, a little bit of planning, and then going home” just because it’s the fourth Saturday of the month. They may, however, come if a well-planned and thought-out missions project will take place afterward. They may come to a Thursday night supper meeting that involves worship and a message (video or live speaker) that will challenge them to grow spiritually, or toward being better husbands, fathers, or followers of Christ. They may come to a father/son outing that provides the chance to spend precious quality time together. They may come to a seminar that helps them learn how to share their testimony and/or share the plan of salvation with others. An important thing to always keep in mind is, “What can we do that we are not currently doing that will help equip our men to be stronger in their Christian walk and actively sharing their faith.” Think outside the box. The goal is not to “keep men busy.” Their lives are busy enough. It is to offer relevant opportunities that will help them realize and fulfill their God-given responsibility.

What do you think are the key elements to having a successful Men’s Ministry in your church?

Most leaders know that the first answer to this is effective leadership. It begins with having a vision for seeing the men of your church become involved in growing spiritually, effectively sharing their faith, and becoming active in missions. It continues with sharing the leadership responsibilities with those who share that vision and who may have the skills, talents and abilities to lead in a specific area of the ministry. Other answers include ‘good planning’ and ‘good promotion.’ Regular planning sessions with a leadership team can help make the dream of a successful men’s ministry a reality. Work out a system for promoting the variety of worthwhile opportunities your leadership team plans through phone calls, Sunday School announcements, the church bulletin, e-mails and cards. Finally, the most important element to a successful Men’s Ministry is prayer. This must be God’s ministry from the start.

Why Have a Men’s Ministry?

• Men want their lives to be productive, to have real meaning and purpose

• Men represent a tremendous, greatly untapped resource to assist in changing and influencing our world for Christ

• The needs of our world are great

The Needs of Men Today

• Understanding. They want a church that helps them truly understand the Bible. They want a church that seeks to understand them.

• Meaningful Relationships. Most men feel lonely, isolated and disconnected. They would appreciate a church that brings them in contact with like-minded peers in a non-threatening setting.

• Instruction for their kids. Millions of men want their kids to have positive Christian learning experiences.

• Solutions to life’s challenges. Men want the church to provide practical, tangible solutions to the difficult problems they face daily. They want to know spiritual principles that make life “work.” The church must answer the questions that men are asking.

• Knowing Christ. Many unchurched men have given up on organized religion but not on God. They want to know God but don’t know how.

Benefits of a Men’s Ministry
• Reaches unreached men
• Develops leaders
• Involves men in service
• Helps men grow in Christ
• Develops mentors
• Strengthens families

HOW TO HAVE AN EFFECTIVE MEN’S MINISTRY

An Effective Men’s Ministry Is…
• Christ-centered
• Prayer-driven
• Led by called leaders
• Open to all men (multiple entry points)
• Sustained by genuine relationships
• Balanced (evangelistic outreach, discipleship, ministry, missions)
• Actively supported by the pastor
• Well planned (meetings and events)
• Effectively communicated

Shared Leadership

A common situation I encounter while doing Church Men’s training sessions across the state is hearing a leader tell of how his church once had a strong men’s program but now is struggling to “get it going again.” The root of the problem is almost always leadership. No men’s church organization will function in a healthy, growing fashion without a leader who feels called to men’s ministry. Does this mean that in order to lead a well-balanced, effective men’s ministry—one that sees men come to Christ, grow in their faith, witness to others and serve in missions—he must be a gifted expert in all areas? Certainly not. But it is important that he have two things: 1) the vision to see these things happen, and 2) the willingness to share leadership with those who do have gifts in these areas.

Burnout is a common word among working men today. Unfortunately, and far too often, it happens to many of our church leaders. The best way to avoid burnout is to share the load of responsibility. Sharing leadership not only helps avoid burning a leader out, it also has the potential to add diversity and new direction to the men’s ministry. If you want to see your men’s group grow, you must think about how to involve those not currently active. This may require thinking “outside the box,” and offering a new direction.

There is probably a great (and possibly unrealized) need for spiritual growth among the men of your church. Perhaps there might be interest in men’s Bible studies or men’s small groups—vehicles by which men could build friendships and trust while growing in their faith. But maybe this is not where the skills of the Men’s Ministry leader lie. Not to fear! There is bound to be a man in your church who is gifted in teaching and has a heart for seeing just such a ministry begin. Perhaps this is someone who has never been involved in Church Men before because he didn’t feel like there was a place for him.

Share the leadership and give that area of ministry room to grow.

The same thing may be said of evangelistic outreach opportunities. Perhaps men of your church and community would enjoy fellowship, such as a wild game supper, father/son campout, or golf tournament. Maybe your church could reach out to other men by offering seminars in areas that are challenging to men, such as being a more effective father, facing sexual temptation, a Christian perspective on financial management, etc. Again, this may not be the Men’s Ministry leader’s “bag.” If he has a vision to see it happen, it can happen. Share the leadership and give that area of ministry room to grow.

But you say that men are not exactly lining up to take on these leadership roles and ease your burden. If only it were that easy. Most men need to be asked—or even challenged. Here are some suggestions:
• Pray for God to reveal His vision for the men of the church. Ask God to be working in the hearts of those he would lift up for leadership.
• With the help of your pastor or other church leaders, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, identify men in your church who may have the gifts needed for a particular area of men’s ministry.

Pray for those men.

Present to each one your vision for men’s ministry and ask him to prayerfully consider serving. Do this in a face-to-face, personal setting, not over the phone or as he is leaving church on Sunday morning. Don’t ask for an immediate answer but ask him to pray about it.

As men are led to grow spiritually, I am convinced they will desire to use their time and talent in missions. Sharing leadership develops future leaders. Share the leadership and watch your men’s ministry grow!

Qualities of a Leader
• Servant spirit
• Character
• Godliness
• Passion
• Giftedness

Proposed Men’s Ministry Leadership Team
• Men’s Ministry team leader
• Pastor-staff representative
• Evangelizing team leader (Outreach)
• Establishing team leader (Spiritual Growth)
• Equipping team leader (Ministry)
• Extending team leader (Missions)

Recruit Your Leadership Team
• Pray them out
• Develop relationships with them
• Meet one-on-one
• Share a job description
• Ask for a commitment

Train Your Leaders
• Small groups
• Committee meetings
• Books and courses
• Other resources
• On-the-job training
• Outside seminars and conferences
• Plan a Balanced Ministry
• Evangelize men to salvation and church membership
• Establish men to spiritual maturity
• Equip men for ministry
• Extend men on mission

PURPOSE OF MEN’S MINISTRY
• Evangelize men to salvation and church membership
• Establish men to spiritual maturity
• Equip men for ministry
• Extend men on mission
• Evangelize Men to Salvation

Christian Men Must…
• Accept responsibility for witnessing
• Pray
• Seek the Spirit
• Build witnessing relationships • Be prepared to:
• test for receptivity
• give their testimony
• share the gospel message
• lead in a prayer of salvation
• witness with a partner

Ideas for Evangelism/Outreach
• Testimony workshop
• Evangelistic events
• wild-game dinner
• sports event
• golf tournament
• father/child event
• businessman’s breakfast
• needs-based seminar
• Evangelistic ministries
• men’s health program or seminar
• ministry to deer-hunting clubs

Other ideas
• chili cook-off
• father/son campout
• father/daughter banquet
• activities for single fathers and their children

B. Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity
Some Ways to Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity:
• Small groups
• Men’s prayer teams
• Benefits of a Small Group
• Allows men to share on a meaningful level
• Provides a place to function as genuine Christians
• Provides a means to grow men in Christ
• Maintains the momentum of a large event or rally
• Offers accountability

Disciplines of a Small Group
• Optimum size is four to six men
• Agree on purpose, time, place, frequency
• Commit to regular attendance
• Leadership style: one leader or shared
• Consider balance of content and sharing
• Establish rule of confidentiality
• Encourage total group sharing
• Small Group Leader Qualifications
• Personal commitment to discipling men
• Reliance on the Holy Spirit
• Commitment to grow personally
• Leadership qualities
• Love for others

Other Ways to Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity
• Support groups
• Covenant groups
• Growing disciples weekend
• Spiritual growth retreats
• Bible studies
• 6. Guidelines for Mentoring
• Establish clear expectations and boundaries
• Combine transparent sharing with active listening
• Resist the urge to solve all of the man’s problems
• Don’t just talk; do something together
• Trust God for the results

Small Group Ministry

More and more, local church Men leaders are discovering the need to stretch beyond the traditional boundaries of Brotherhood and into areas that will attract non-active men to ministry. One of the keys is to help men grow spiritually. Men want to be challenged. Many want a chance to learn more about their relationship with Christ. Some want to be asked the tough questions that will add accountability to their lives. One way of doing this is to develop small group ministry among the men of your church.

Small group ministry can take on many faces. Some groups focus on prayer.

Others do a book study on a subject pertinent to men, such as fatherhood, Christian finances, or sexual integrity. Some do a combination of both. Each small group may be different, but they all hold some things in common. Here are some disciplines of effective small groups:

Optimum size is no more than four to six men. Any more than this and some men will not feel comfortable opening up. A small number also allows more time for discussion.

Group members should agree upon purpose of the group, how long each meeting will be (usually one hour), when and where the group will meet.

Members should commit to the group and to regular attendance and participation in it. Each group meeting builds upon the previous one in terms of trust and meaning.

Decide upon leadership style. A group of growing Christians should consider a shared leadership role with a different member taking the lead each week. Groups with new Christians may want to consider one person taking the lead until the others are ready for such a task.

Encourage openness in sharing. What each member has to share is important. Leaders should model this by being open themselves.

Establish a rule of confidentiality. One of the unique aspects of small groups for men is that most men will share things in this kind of setting that they would never share anywhere else. This will only happen if there is a high level of trust.

One way of beginning small group ministries is to hand pick an initial group that will meet for a determined period of time. Members who are picked should be those who show leadership ability and who have a desire for such a ministry. Use this first group as a training ground for future small group leaders. You may want to use a leadership training tool, such as the study “Jesus on Leadership” (available from LifeWay). Once this initial small group has completed the study, encourage each member to begin their own small group. A variety of different kinds of small groups (book study, prayer, accountability, etc.) may ensue. It would be wise to have someone on your Men’s Ministry leadership team be responsible for initiating and encouraging small group ministry.

Small group ministry may not be for every man in your church. Some will not want to participate—and that’s okay. But many will be interested, including some that would ordinarily not participate in a Church Men’s function. See it as another way of growing your Men’s Ministry. As men grow spiritually, they will seek ways to serve.

Where to Begin in Equipping Men for Ministry
• Discover each man’s unique makeup for ministry
• Use a spiritual gifts discovery instrument
• Match men with ministry
• Equip and encourage men as they serve

Areas for Involving Men for Ministry
• Teach Sunday School
• Work with the Youth/Royal Ambassadors
• Staff community clothes closet or food pantry
• Provide lawn care for senior adults
• Help with church building and grounds maintenance

Ways to Extend Men on Mission
• Handyman ministry
• Habitat for Humanity
• Firewood ministry
• Meals-on-Wheels ministry
• Garden ministry
• Correctional ministry

Other Ways to Extend Men on Mission
• State-sponsored volunteer mission projects (NC Church Men, Local Church Associations, Disaster Relief)
• National volunteer mission projects (Office of Partnership Missions
• —Church State Convention of NC, NC Church Men, Appalachian Regional Missions, North American Mission Board)
• International volunteer mission projects (Office of Partnership Missions—Church State Convention of NC, NC Church Men,
• International Mission Board, Cooperative Church Fellowship)

Meaningful Monthly Meetings From “Business Meetings” to Worship Rally

When the term “Brotherhood” or “Church Men” is mentioned, many folks automatically think of a Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast meeting in which men “meet, eat, burp and go home!” Unfortunately, this reputation is well deserved in many instances. But this is beginning to change. More and more, local church Men leaders are discovering the need to stretch beyond the traditional boundaries of Church Men into areas that will attract non-active men to the ministry. One of the keys to this is helping men grow spiritually. Men want to be challenged. Many want a chance to learn more about their relationship with Christ.

One area where men’s spiritual growth can be enhanced is the monthly men’s meeting. Rather than being a time for primarily reporting and planning, many Men’s Ministry groups are seeing the monthly meeting as a time for inspiration and growth. Most men are careful with their schedules these days. They are not likely to come to something they feel is not worth their time. Therefore, it is important that a monthly meeting be one thing—“relevant.” That is, relevant to a man’s needs— spiritual growth, involvement, challenge, fellowship.

Below are a few suggestions that may enhance the effectiveness of your monthly men’s meeting. Remember, a goal is not only to enhance those men who attend regularly but also to reach men who have dropped out of fellowship, or who have never been involved before.

Consider holding your monthly meeting as a weeknight supper meeting. Many men today will not want to give up a Saturday morning for a meeting. If the intent were to meet, and then go do a mission project on Saturday, most men would rather meet briefly at the church or worksite, and “get on with it.” Sunday morning may not be the best time either. Time is limited. There may be a “formal” feeling to meeting on Sunday morning, and some men will need to go back home after the meeting to pick up their family. Consider a Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday evening.

Find ways to add spiritual dimension to your meetings. This is what many men hunger for. This is also what will help you grow your Men’s Ministry. This will require a transformation for many as to what the purpose of the monthly meeting is. There should be a short time for announcements, planning and reporting, but those items are not the focus of the meeting. Focus on those things that will inspire and incite men to spiritual growth.
Singing. Believe it or not, men love to sing! You will need to find the type of music your men respond to most favorably. Many groups are finding praise songs and choruses (with the use of overhead or PowerPoint) effective in setting a worshipful, meaningful tone to the meeting. Consider the use of new Christian worship DVDs.

Teaching

This can be done with the use of a live speaker or video. Either way, it should be geared specifically to issues men face (how to be a better father, marital relationships, money management, sexual temptation, spiritual growth, etc.). Your pastor, visiting pastor, or speaker could be enlisted. A live speaker allows for interaction. There are also many good video series that are specifically for men. “The Man God Uses” by Henry Blackaby, “The Seven Seasons of a Man’s Life” by Patrick Morely, “Men Leading the Change” by Steve Farrar, and “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge are good ones. There are others (see resource section). This should be a time for challenging men and causing them to look at their own life and their walk with Christ.

Discussion

Once the teaching time is complete, organize the men into groups of three. Give them a sheet with three or four questions related to the teaching they have just heard, and ask them to discuss. This sharing will reinforce the teaching lesson. It is also a good introduction to the “small group” concept.

Prayer

Ask for specific prayer requests in the large group setting. Then ask men to pray in their small groups for these requests, as well as others they may share among themselves. Encourage targeted prayer for spiritual healing and awakening, not just physical healing.

Monthly or Quarterly?

Most Church Men’s groups choose to meet on a monthly basis. For the most part, this is desirable, since it gives continuity to the ministry. However, if you are making the transition from “business meeting” to a true men’s worship rally, you may want to consider starting out with quarterly men’s ministry rallies on a weeknight. Better to do it very well four times a year than struggle to provide a quality worship rally every month. Then, as your leadership and ministry grows, and as men grow accustomed to the worship rally setting, consider moving to a monthly format.

To be most effective, quarterly meetings are advisable only if there is some other consistent men’s activity on a regular basis (i.e. – an established monthly Saturday morning breakfast/workday; men’s small groups that meet weekly; regularly planned mission opportunities etc.) The men’s meeting then serves as the “hub” of your Church Men’s ministry, pulling together men who may be involved in various and differing activities.

The above article, “Launching a Men’s Ministry in the Local Church” was written by Mark Abernathy. The article was excerpted from Handbook for Launching A Local Men’s Ministry by Mark Abernathy, Southern Baptist Men’s Ministry Association. www.SBC.org. August 2016.

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.”

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