By Minervino (Minner) Labrador, Jr.
An enthusiastic effort to encourage the men in our congregations through Men’s Ministries will help our church grow. Research shows that men have a greater impact than children and women on a family’s church attendance. One study shows that when a child comes to church about seventeen percent of the time the family will follow. When the mother comes to church about thirty percent of the time the family follows. But when the father comes to church about ninety-three percent of the time the family follows. (Promise Keepers at Work Colorado Spring. Focus on the Family, 1996) Today’s strong and growing congregations are reaching out to men.
Barna research points out that just thirty-five percent of men in the United States attend church weekly. In Europe it is five percent. According to the United Methodist Church Web Site on attendance in 1999 there were about 875,000 women in attendance at church every weekend to 248,000 men. This lack of men enlisted in God’s work is a serious problem to the healthy existence of our churches. Every wife’s prayer and mother’s desire is to see the men they love at church actively worshiping and participating. Let’s be purposeful in bringing them home.
Most men don’t complain about their needs. But when their needs are not met, when they are not challenged from our pulpits, and when other men they admire are absent they let us know their disapproval through their absence. Here are a few ideas on how Men’s Ministries can help men in your congregation get stronger and absent men return.
- Plan it – Men’s day of Prayer is the first Sabbath in September. Visit this page and download a prayer packet which includes ideas for this special day of prayer. This is a wonderful opportunity to invite missing men to church and encourage those present. Keep in mind that men do better with projects that have an ‘end’ date. Stay away from never-ending programs. Run a series of programs that have a start and stop date. Allow men to challenge the purpose and efficiency of your projects and programs. Men like to tinker to make things better and faster. Don’t be threatened by their questions or suggestions. Plan this men’s ministry weekend and other yearly events. In your planning include weekend outings such as camping, white water rafting, skiing, baseball and football games, tennis and golf are how men bond. Play hard with the men and pray even harder with them. Never think you are wasting time by spending it in one of these activities with the men of your congregation. It may be the best witnessing you ever do!
- Feel it – Never include exercises that make the male spirit uncomfortable. Don’t ask men to sit in a circle, hold hands, share their feelings or read publicly. If you need someone to read publicly ask them before the meeting. These activities embarrass most men. High-fives and pats on the back are effective.
- Live it – Men and boys learn by observation and men follow a leader, not a program. Live what you believe in front of the men—without ever being coarse or rough in word or deed.
- Communicate it – Vision, purpose and goals need to be clear. Men like to know where they are going and why they are going there!
- Say it – Stress the bronzed Man of Galilee as a powerful leader of men. Stress Jesus’ care and love for women and children but challenge the men like this: “Jesus said, ‘No one having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62) In other words, “Do you have what it takes? Are you fit to follow Jesus?” Challenge the men to action! Jesus was not passive. He daily confronted the religious order, the status quo, and the hypocrisy of the Jewish rulers. He walked on water, cast out demons, healed the sick and raised the dead. Jesus is powerful, bold, courageous, dangerous to complacency, confident and, above all, balanced in all aspects of life. In no way was Jesus a wimp. Help the men of your congregation to get to know Jesus as a role model for real men!
- Confront it – Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” With experienced and godly men address the everyday needs and questions of today’s Christian man. Wrestle with the heavy issues men face. Deal with issues like relationships, sexual integrity, work issues, being a good dad, being a good son, walking with God on a daily basis, identity, controlling anger, etc.
- Enhance it – In sermons, classes, small groups, etc. use stories of honor, respect and integrity to stir the male heart. We men feel more deeply than we like to admit. Men are challenged by illustrations of sacrifice both in times of war and for the faith. Try to build a passion for action in the cause of God. Also include male directed words like competence, power, proving oneself, results, success, competition, and so forth. When possible use technology such as videos and on-screen graphics to illustrate points. Men learn best by the use of visual aids and by observation. Sitting idle and passive in a pew while a minister ‘lectures’ is terribly boring to a man of action.
I received a call from a Men’s Ministries director in central Florida telling me about a white water rafting trip his Men’s Ministries department arranged. Only five men ended up going on the trip, but among them was one man that had not made a decision for Christ. His wife and the church had prayed for him for years. He returned from this excursion with the news that he wanted to be a member of the church and was baptized shortly after. What can Men’s Ministries do for your church?