Training and Equipping for Men’s Outreach
By Carl Bevins
I am going to assume that you’re ready to get to the nitty-gritty of doing outreach with the men of your church. But before you put on your first men’s outreach program, event, or ministry, you need to equip and train as many men as possible with the how-to’s of evangelism. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
* If your church or ministry hasn’t found resources to use for training, look for training materials that work well in your ministry setting. There are many excellent tools that God is using to expand his kingdom. Our church uses the book “Becoming a Contagious Christian” by Bill Hybels for outreach training. And we use “The Church of Irresistible Influence” by Robert Lewis for service outreach training. While outreach can happen without training and tools, it will probably be harder and take longer to accomplish your goals.
* Provide the opportunity for men to go through whatever training you’ve chosen at strategic times a few months prior to each outreach event. Be sure to provide practical information on how to (l) extend invitations to outreach events, (2) start spiritual conversations, (3) share their own faith stories, (4) talk through questions they might encounter, (5) pray with those who wants to receive Christ, and (6) follow-up and disciple people within your ministry’s guidelines.
* Realize that you can’t train everyone. But God can still use untrained and unequipped men to accomplish his purposes. Don’t get discouraged if a smaller number of participants seek training than you’d hoped for. Your role is to make sure you have the best tools to equip, the best time to train, the best teachers to present, and the best promoters to recruit. Let God take care of the rest.
Nineteen Steps to a Life-Changing Outreach Event
Now that we have laid the necessary groundwork, let’s get to that nitty-gritty you’ve been waiting for. First, we’ll look at nineteen things that you need to make sure you have a successful outreach event. Then we’ll list a number of outreach events that can work for your men’s ministry.
1. Study for the Right Event
Every church and every men’s ministry needs to establish what will work where they are. While we’ll list some successful events and ideas later, you must be discerning and understanding of what will work in your setting.
Begin by asking yourself, What kind of event would I bring an unchurched friend to? Dream out of the box, dream as if money and resources weren’t a concern. Then talk to trusted guys in your ministry, and ask them the same question. Ask what types of events, speakers, music, and activities their unchurched friends would consider coming to if it was held at the church or sponsored by the church.
Part of discovering the right event also includes getting ownership both in your men’s ministry and in your whole church. Ask church leaders if you can do a church-wide survey. Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” A survey provides a number of benefits:
* Men in your church will start getting excited about the potential event.
* They’ll provide you with much-needed information, perspective, and ideas.
* They’ll later feel ownership of the event, knowing they had a hand in creating it.
* They’ll supply other ideas for future evangelistic events.
Do your homework. A successful event will speak to men where they are and address topics that concern them. Don’t jump in too quickly. Before you make a final decision, take it to the streets. Ask some trusted guys outside your church, perhaps neighbors, men at your health club, or dads you meet at your children’s school, what they might be interested in. Simply tell them that your church might host a community-wide event for men and you want to get their input. Most will feel honored that you thought enough of them to ask for their input, and they’ll definitely give you valuable insight.
2. Research the Best Time for the Event
Your homework continues as you turn to studying the calendar. Begin with your own but continue by examining at least five others.
* Church calendar. Make sure you’re not scheduling a potential conflict with another major event at church. If you do, you’ll weaken your pool of leaders, laborers, and “inviters.” If you’re in a larger church, you might not find an open spot on the church calendar, but at least stay away from scheduling against activities that would draw men away from your outreach or that would cause facility conflicts.
* Annual calendar. Stay away from holiday weekends or even whole seasons that might create conflicts (such as summer!). If you want to schedule an outreach event related to a holiday or a season, consider holding it a week or two before the actual calendar days. For example, hold a summer kickoff before the school year ends in your area or hold a Christmas-themed outreach in early December.
* Local school calendar. If local students have a long weekend due to teacher in- service training, don’t plan anything that weekend because families might use the time to get away. Be careful about scheduling an event around the time of school graduations. Or if there’s a big cross-town rivalry sports event, don’t conflict with that date.
* Local community calendar. If your town has a community festival or celebration, avoid scheduling on those dates, unless you can arrange an appropriate outreach activity connected to the celebration. Imagine holding an event where all the men in town show up!
* “Men’s calendar.” What’s that? Typically, it’s the sports calendar. For example, stay away from Sundays in the fall (football games), Super Bowl Sunday, baseball postseason games, and basketball’s March Madness.
One more thought about scheduling: While you may not like the thought of catering to the world’s agenda, keep in mind the purpose of your event, reaching out to unchurched, worldly guys. You’re not compromising your faith; you’re simply being wise. God will certainly honor that.
3. Create a Rough Budget
Do an early estimate on what you think the event will cost, what you might need to charge, and how you can raise funds if necessary. Begin by asking what funds you already can tap for an event like this.
Make sure your men’s leadership team is fully on board with you. Ask them to help you estimate what the event will cost. Involving other leaders will help you be realistic. You’ll likely have at least one guy who will think, What if this doesn’t work? He’ll provide good reality checks along the way. You may have another leader who dreams bigger than anyone could imagine, without thinking of the limits of time or money. It’s good to have both types of thinkers represented on your team. How do you decide which direction to go with budget? I’ve learned to place extra emphasis on the type of thinker that I’m not. You don’t want to create a team of rubber scampers, guys who just go with the flow without some give and take. It’s the give and take that will take you a long way.
When it comes to finances, be sure that you communicate regularly with your church leadership. You may need your church to pay some expenses upfront. But if you present church leaders with a detailed plan and maintain open communication with them, they’ll be more likely to help out as much as possible.
Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. In many churches, there’s simply not enough money to do every ministry that everyone desires to do. Be creative when it comes to finances. Work within the guide-lines of your church but explore all possibilities. Ask guys to buy tickets for the men they invite, ask potential sponsors (usually businesses) to donate some aspect of the event, ask church leaders if people from the church can contribute beyond their church offering to cover costs of the event. Be innovative when it comes to your budget.
4. Hire a Great Speaker
Research the best possible presentation for your outreach event. The type of event you choose to hold will dictate the kind of speaker you bring in. Just make sure that your focus is on your audience, the unchurched guys you’re reaching out to. Perhaps you have an opportunity to bring in a tremendous Christian speaker, but you need to weigh whether a speaker known only in churches will draw in your intended audience. Instead, seek out someone whose name will be recognized by unchurched men in your community. If that’s not possible, look for a speaker whose name might not be known but who has a title that men will recognize. If the first two fail, then look for someone whose story is so compelling that men will want to hear it.
When it comes to someone with significant name recognition, it might seem impossible that you can secure this type of speaker. But you never know unless you try. Perhaps someone in your church has a contact with a nationally recognizable figure that you’re unaware of until you put out some feelers. At a more regional or local level, maybe a known athlete has a great message and is willing to speak at an event like yours. A local television anchor might also make a good speaker.
The next option for an outreach speaker is someone with title recognition. He could be a businessman, such as a company’s CEO. He could be a personality from a well-liked radio station. Or he could be someone with a leadership position in a group or organization. These types of men may be harder to find because you don’t see their names in newspapers, hear them being interviewed, or have speaking agencies go after them. But if God provides a lead for you in this area, go for it.
The third type of speaker is someone with a great story but without name recognition. Simply promote and connect the story to men. It may take more effort than simply tossing out a recognized name or the tide of someone at a well-known company or organization.
As you’re searching for any of these types of speakers, keep in mind some of the qualities you’ll desire in any speaker that you use. First, he needs to exhibit a mature, growing relationship with Christ. Second, he needs to show fruit that gives evidence to that walk with Christ. Third, he needs to have the gifted ability to articulate his faith and conversion experience. And be sure he communicates his experience in words that unchurched men will understand and relate to. That’s a lot to ask, but you can’t ask any less. How do you find out someone’s story? Start with research, and then request tapes, CDs, or videos that show him speaking. Require a personal interview with him in person or over the phone before finalizing an agreement. Ask some tough questions�make sure he understands what you’re doing and the purpose of the event.
5. Set Objective Goals
Refigure your budget, and set realistic goals. Now that you’ve researched and thought through more aspects of the event, get some objective numbers down on paper. Put real numbers to what a budget would look like and some realistic ideas of how you’ll get there. Get your best “money thinkers” involved in this process, people who’ll ask the proper and hard questions and think through details you might have overlooked or skipped.
6. Get Church Leaders on Board
Get your pastor and church leaders to support what you’re doing. Again, this certainly shouldn’t be the first time that you’ve discussed the event with them. At this point, you may want to present a formal proposal for their input and approval. They will probably have some great additional ideas, and it gives them a sense of ownership of the activity. It also provides accountability and can help you make tough calls if you’re dealing with an edgy topic or speaker.
7. Book the Event
Officially get your event on the church calendar and book your event’s presenter(s). Make everything official. Sign a contract, and pay a deposit, if required, to your presenter. Follow up with a letter detailing any additional expectations you’ve discussed verbally. This also applies to other presenters for example, a baseball clinic group, a comedy troupe, or an acting team.
By the way, if you are inviting more then one presenter or using an off-campus venue, make sure everything lines up before making the event official. If you have an event away from your church facility with a guest speaker and a guest music group, you need to make sure the off-campus facility and the guests are all available on the same date and time; also be sure that facility, speakers, and musicians will meet your expectations and requirements.
8. Plan Other Aspects
Now that you have your main presenter nailed down, what else needs to be done? It’s easy to fall into the special event trap of having a meal, an introduction, a prayer, a joke or two, and then the speaker. While the presenter can make that evening a success, could it be better? Can you connect with your audience in other ways through other senses? One of the things we know about humans, and most men are human, is that you connect with them in various ways. Can you add: active elements, interactive exercises, visual connections, musical ingredients, and intellectual stimulation? Think through the following questions to help with your planning.
* Can you add environmental elements or decor to catch guys’ attention?
* Can you incorporate a drama to set up your speaker and better prepare men for the presentation?
* What can you do to get guys laughing? Allowing men to laugh will soften them up to hear the message and make the event more memorable and enjoyable.
* Can you introduce your presenter with a video or create a video that introduces the theme?
* What about music? Is there appropriate music that you can put together for this event? Make sure it’s music that unchurched men would hear in their daily lives and that it’s done well.
* Can you add anything before or after the actual event that can make it more interactive and community focused?
* Is there an opportunity to include a meal? If you can get guys around tables talking and eating and having a good time, some great interaction and community building will take place.
9. Establish Timeline
At this point, you should still be at least four to six months ahead of the event. This would be a good time to list how you and your team (see the next step) will get everything done. See Toolbox page 220 for an “Outreach Event Timeline.” This is just a guide; if you have more time to accomplish each step, allow for it in your timeline. It’s also wise to recruit a couple of people to help you flesh out your timeline because you’ll likely forget something.
10. Recruit an Event Team
After you’ve established the main elements of the outreach, develop a team to cover all the bases. Establish an event leadership team that has one or two point people for each area, including food, traffic, decorations, music, drama, video, and promotion. Then (depending on the size of your church) encourage each leader or co-leaders to develop teams of their own for their area.
11. Brainstorm Promotion
Put as many brains together as you can to come up with ideas for getting information to your men and for helping them get invitations to their unchurched contacts. Personally challenge your men, and build anticipation toward the event. Their personal contact with friends will be crucial in establishing an outreach mentality in your ministry. Make announcements in Sunday school classes, hold informational breakfasts, send personal e-mails or letters, and sit in on men’s small groups.
Use every means possible to make your promotional efforts catchy, flashy, educational, and informational. Create high quality fliers that your ministry’s men can use as invitations. Be sure to include specific times, places, and a map to your location. You might also decide to do additional announcing and advertising in the community at large. We’ve found that radio spots and business posters work better then newspaper advertisements.
While promoting this event, make sure you challenge men and groups to step out in faith to invite other guys. For example, set up tables that seat eight, and pair up guys who are active in your ministry. Encourage them to fill up the rest of their table with invited guys from outside the church. This gives each man a goal.
If you’re selling tickets, make the price much higher for an individual ticket than for a pair or group of tickets. If you want guys to invite an unchurched friend, drive that home.
One last note: If you’re just starting to do outreach events or if you’ve had outreach activities before but you’re trying to revive your efforts after some failures, realize that it may take an event or two to develop or re-establish trust with your men. If they’ve been burned before when they’ve invited unchurched men to a sub par event, they may need to see an event first before they’ll trust you again. That’s OK�prove to your guys that you’re serious about providing a tool for them to reach their friends who don’t know Christ. They’ll wish they’d brought someone and will next time around!
12. Establish a Prayer Team
You’ll recall that we talked about prayer as a key value for any men’s ministry outreach event. Hopefully, your men’s ministry leadership team and others that you’ve asked have bathed your event in prayer up to this point. However, as soon as you finalize the outreach, establish a prayer team just for this event. This group can pray for:
* All the details leading up the event itself.
* Guys that your ministry’s men are trying to invite.
* The event as it occurs and for things to go as planned.
* God to use your presenter to reach unchurched men effectively.
* Commitments made, follow-up, and discipleship efforts after the event.
13. Create a Follow-Up Procedure
How will men attending your event be able to communicate the decisions or commitments they make during the outreach? How can they get plugged into other parts of your men’s ministry and into your church?
There are three traditional ways of making this happen:
1. Trust that God will touch unchurched men at the event and that the men who invited the guests will continue to work with them and that the men will let their guests know about other ministries of your church.
2. Use a follow-up card that allows men to mark commitments they’ve made or request additional information they want.
3. Direct men to a follow-up room during or after the event where they receive follow-up information on the spot.
For the second and third methods, you’ll also want to establish a two- to four-week discipleship process to follow up as well. Because of the “tyranny of the urgent” of putting on a first-class event, it’s easy to overlook this step or just throw it together. Don’t make this mistake. Be purposeful in what you do.
14. Hold a Kickoff
Announce sales of tickets. Distribute fliers and invitations. Ask your pastor to make an announcement from the pulpit. Place posters around the church facility. Use a video announcement. Perform a skit during the church service. Any way you can jump-start the event will raise the excitement level, create momentum, cast vision, and get your men mobilized.
15. Double Check Everything
In the final two weeks before the outreach event, go through your task list, check in with your leadership team members, and reconfirm arrangements with presenters. Use your timeline as a checklist. This may seem like overkill, but it’s not. You’ll be thankful you took the time and made the effort when you discover a significant item that you overlooked
16. Establish “Day-of” Requirements
The big day is here! You will want to establish some guidelines and requirements. The main things to keep in mind are making sure that your presenters arrive in town early and at your venue in plenty of time. Allow time in your day-of plan for unforeseen difficulties that are certain to arise! Make sure that all of your teams and their workers arrive early, as well. Don’t forget one of the most important aspects of the day, have fun! This is an exciting and memorable day. Make the most of it.
17. Execute Event Follow-Up
If you’ve remembered to plan for follow-up before the event, then this step should take place easily. If you do not have the speaker ask guests to make commitments at the event, then do all you can to funnel guys into a next event. That might be a special sermon series at your church services, smaller outreach events, and new small groups that cover material appropriate for new Christians or those on the verge of making decisions about following Jesus.
Another part of following up is making sure that you express your gratitude to your guests, and especially to your fellow leaders and any workers they recruited. They’re serving because of their heart, but your expression of gratitude will encourage them tremendously!
18. Celebrate and Evaluate
Invite your leadership team to a celebration party within a couple of weeks after the event is over. You deserve it. Your team deserves it. Celebrate the high points, and discuss together what you could do better next go-around. Giving men this opportunity for discussion will provide insight you would never get without asking.
19. Start Next Year’s Planning
Once you’ve pulled off a big event, look ahead right away. Schedules book up fast, and the more lead time and preparation time you have, the better. Your team will also feed off the excitement and enthusiasm of the event you’ve just been through. You can never start planning too early.
Article “Training and Equipping for Outreach” written by Group Publishers is excerpted from “Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century”.
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.”