Ministry With Men
By Gary W. Demarest
In my continuing travel about the churches, I�m ever on the lookout for workable models of ministry that can be shared. A significant ministry with men, led by laymen, came to my attention in Washington, DC, and I asked Elder Craig Goodrich of the Vienna (Virginia) Presbyterian Church to write it up for me. Craig writes:
“It is our conviction that one of the greatest and most neglected needs in the church today is for Christian men to be in fellowship.”
Many Christian men are trying to make it alone. They vainly strive to be career men, husbands, and fathers, but often in the process succumb to the gods of this culture–money, sex, and power. Their faith, such as it is, is relegated to Sunday morning worship and perhaps personal prayers, but has little impact on the way they live their lives, love their wives and children, or pursue their occupations.
“Where are the godly men, the men of prayer; men who love their wives as Christ loves the Church; men who serve the Lord with their whole hearts, who consecrate their marriages, their work, themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ; men who hold each other accountable? Should we not aspire to be such men?”
Men’s issues we believe need to be addressed are
– What does Jesus Christ have to do with my job on Wednesday morning? How can my work advance the Kingdom of God?
– How can I balance the growing and competitive demands of career, marriage, and parenting, and still have anything left for church and even myself?
– How can I handle the sexual temptations that are so prevalent and be sexually responsible with integrity? Why isn’t this discussed among the men of the church?
– How can I develop and maintain spirituality under the pressures of business and travel?
– Where can I turn for help in times of crisis?
Though still in its formative stages, our ministry with men in and through Vienna Presbyterian began in my mind one evening while returning home on a business trip. It troubled me that our church, with many thriving programs, did not have one focused solely on men. I invited six other men of diverse ages and backgrounds, all with deep love for Christ and the church, to meet together for prayer and planning. In full communication with and support by our pastoral leadership, there has emerged a program with two components:
(1) a men’s breakfast every sixth Wednesday with a featured speaker, and (2) small groups of men meeting weekly for prayer, Bible study, and sharing. The breakfast meeting gathers at 7:00 a.m. and adjourns promptly at 8:00 a.m. The fifteen-minute “breakfast” consists of coffee and doughnuts. After an opening prayer, a presentation from a speaker on a theme pertinent to men’s concerns is given, and the meeting is closed with announcements and prayer. Speakers are chosen from various back grounds and vocations to bring us challenges and insights relevant to our faith journeys. The small groups bring three to eight men together weekly on different mornings, at a time and place convenient for each group. Some meet in restaurants or offices throughout the metropolitan area, some meet at the church. These groups are the backbone of the program, for here men enter into covenants with each other to meet regularly together; share confidentially their concerns and struggle, their joy and pain; encourage and be accountable to each other; and pray for each other.
The linkage between the periodic breakfast gathering and the regular small groups is crucial. The larger gathering serves as the point of con tact to invite other men into the fellowship, and at each meeting the invitation is extended to them to join a small group. Out of the small groups grow the concerns that need to be addressed in the breakfast gatherings.
Though still in our early months of the total program, the attendance has been most encouraging, with thirty-five to sixty men at the breakfasts (during the summer months!), and a growing number involved in various small groups. The core group of seven men, in close concert with our pastor, provides all of the administration needed for the whole process. We’re encouraged and enthused!
“We pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to bring men into the fellowship through our contacts and invitations. To us there is nothing more exciting than seeing men who have given their hearts to Christ, yet who have been going it alone, finding each other and encouraging one another to make Christ Lord of all”
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.”