The Process of Building Relationships with God and other Men
The bottom line in men’s ministry is to be able to get men into small groups, 2-7 men, meeting together regularly, ideally on a weekly basis. Men’s ministry is not about programming. It’s about building relationships with God and other men. Two men is enough to start a small group.
The purpose of meeting together is to know Christ better and become more like him, to encourage one another, and to be used in shaping and directing one another. Scripture tells us: “…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son”, (Romans 8:28-29); “…Let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25) and “one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
As we think about developing a men’s ministry, there are basic questions we need to ask when things go bad. Who do men talk to? Who can they be totally honest with? Who is their sounding board? Who do they take their advice from? When they fail, who will stand by them? Who do they face life’s struggles with? Who gives them a sense of accountability? It is in a small group where men can “honor one another” (Romans 12:10), “serve one another” (Galatians 5:13), and “build-up one another” (Romans 14:19).
There are seven benefits men will receive by meeting in small groups:
- It provides the opportunity to learn with other men how to live the Christian life.
- It is a safe place where men learn to express love to others.
- It is a place where men get to know each other in an atmosphere of love and acceptance.
- It is a place where men find strength to face trials, changes, and personal decisions
- It is a place where men are free to be spiritual.
- It is a place where men can worship and pray together.
- It is a place where men can discover their spiritual gifts in order to serve others.
The Relational Diamond
Think of a baseball game where the team moves from first base to home base in the diamond. The small group experience can be described in what we call the relational diamond.
- FIRST BASE: What happens at first base?
- This is the acquaintance level.
- Men begin to accept one another. Romans 15:7.
- The goal at this level is trusting on another.
- At this level you need to identify the group’s purpose or design.
- How much emphasis will the group place on supporting one another?
- How much emphasis on Bible study or on other materials?
- How much time will the group invest in projects?
- It is at this level where you decide what kind of group you will have. Will it bring together men with affinity (men with the same preferences, e.g., golfers etc.) or diversity (men with different preferences and likes)?
- You also negotiate with the men about how long will the group last. Will the group be open, allowing anyone to enter at any time, or closed, allowing only those who started the process to be in the group till the time the group negotiated to end? Other things to consider include how much sharing of pain and practical struggles the group will encourage. At this level it is important to let the group know one another by focusing on acceptance and time spent together.
- SECOND BASE: What happens at second base?
- This is the level where men begin to see themselves as friends.
- Men begin to encourage one another. Hebrew 3:13.
- The goal at this level is confidence in one another.
- It is at this level that the group moves into deeper relationships. This level helps men to understand each other and to be committed to each other. Men will discover that they see things differently as they grow together. It is important to agree from the beginning that it is ok to disagree.
- THIRD BASE: What happens at third base?
- This is the level where men begin to see themselves as brothers in Christ.
- Men begin to exhort (admonish) one another. Colossians 3:16.
- The goal at this level is to create a sense of accountability in love.
- To affirm one another
- To be consistent in meeting
- To pray for one another
- To be open
- To be honest
- To hold confidentiality
- Giving permission to hold accountable
- At this level men learn how to worship more intimately. They agree to certain covenants which make accountability possible.
- The new definition of relationship provides real freedom and acceptance. In its confine men express their commitment to God, worship, being themselves, and being shaped into what God wants them to be. This is the level where significant change and growth takes place.
- HOME BASE: What happens at home base?
- This is the level where men begin to move towards leadership and ministry involvement in the homes and other opportunities.
- Men begin to experience Christian maturity in building a Christ-like character. (Romans 8:28-29).
- The goal at this level is to coach another team such as family and friends.
- It is at this level where men begin to find their place in serving the family and the church. The group has been preparing for service. They are now ready to start the process of serving. The group also sees the need to continue in the process of sanctification.
- Men will discover the unique contribution they will make through the acceptance of the great commission and commandment to reach out to those in need in their families, the church and the world.
- Men will begin to recognize the tools they will need to accomplish this call of representing Christ at home, church and the world. Reaching home base means that the men have moved from being an observer to being a leader, one who serves.