Today I had the pleasure of speaking at the Moody Pastors’ Workshop on the campus of Moody Theological Seminary (MTS; MTS offers a fully-online, fully-accredited Master of Divinity degree [M.Div], and is one of only a few seminaries to do so). I presented two talks on reaching men in the church. The talks intended to go beyond the discussions in Where Are All The Brothers? by offering practical strategies for evangelizing and discipling men. I enjoyed my time with incredible speakers and participants.
I also spoke on the air on Equipped with Chris Brooks. Brooks is Campus Dean of MTS and Pastor of Evangel Ministries, Detroit. I am grateful to Pastor Brooks for hosting me for both events.
Below is a draft of summary notes of the two talks I gave—notes I promised to the participants. Also listed are links to the resources I mentioned during the talks, as well as a link to my title mentioned by Pastor Brooks. Thank you, MTS, for giving away copies of my men’s book to the participants, and for making it available by mail to registered participants who were not able to obtain a copy at the conference.
Introduction: By the term “reaching men,” we mean two things: (1) Evangelizing men who outside the church, or at least getting them into the church for a worship service or to a men’s event hosted by the church or other ministry; (2) providing discipleship opportunities for men within the church (e.g. professed believers) who do not seem to desire to do anything more than the easiest tasks within a local congregation.
Thinking about Scripture: What made men loyal to David—not just any men, but great men (1 Chron 11:10-47)? What made men follow Jesus? What made men follow Paul across the world even when, with Paul, they faced beatings, shipwrecks, and the like (2 Cor 11:22-33)?
Theological and Spiritual Assumption: Men are not really men until they become redeemed men. The vision God has for men in the Bible is to become redeemed men. This includes things like learning to express and seek forgiveness, developing patience, exercising courage as an act of righteousness, growing in emotional endurance, and investing in their own children with more than money. Every time we ask a man in church to do a type of service, we are asking with the assumption that the man has a disposition transformed by Christ—transformation of heart, mind, soul, spirit, motives, goals, intentions, emotions, and thinking (wisely rather than foolishly). We assume we are talking with someone who desires to honor Christ and prioritize the Gospel. Having the Gospel at the center of a life is the starting point for reaching men.
Five Things to Consider When Trying to Reach Men in a Greater Way
- Set the highest standards for the men that you approve to lead your people. Men naturally look to follow men who look like heroes, generals, and star athletes, not men who appear to be weak. Jesus was meek, but did not appear to be weak. He took on the religious establishment without fear. He spoke about being willing to die—to lay down his life—with absolute confidence. The men leading your men can lead other men to be gentle, but such men cannot do so if they appear to be weak. Spiritually strong men do not allow other men’s money, physical strength, or power in society to intimidate them. Do not fill an opening for a men’s leader simply with a male body. Do not give honor to fools (Prov. 26:1, 8).
- Challenge men, and also be committed to men. If it is worth doing a men’s ministry, it is worth having a pastoral staff member, elder, or deacon who is fully committed to it to run the ministry. If you are involved as the pastor, whether it is a large group ministry or one-on-one discipleship, clear your schedule of obstacles to the meeting and preparation times. Give your best preparation to men’s discipleship. You may have to cut out some ministry tasks in order to give focus to men’s discipleship. However, it will be worth it because the men will sense your commitment to their growth and the ministry. They will sense the value of the ministry to you as integral to their own success.
- Use larger circles to bring men into the church; use smaller circles to deepen men. Do not get it mixed up or backwards. The men’s thing that looks like a fishing trip, an event to fix women’s cars for free, or a really good meal masquerading as a men’s prayer breakfast is a prime event to which to invite the unchurched man who would not otherwise go to church. Make the topic of conversation about life in general or things common to all men. Remove the threat of being overwhelmed by theological jargon and/or a “public invitation” or “altar call” that many unchurched men fear or disdain. Talk about things like wisely investing money, marriage (in general), the ups and downs of the local sports teams, or politics. While the unchurched men are at this event, mention the upcoming “class” on the church and politics, or the forthcoming sermon series on being a godly man in the home. The unchurched man can make a decision on whether or not to explore the deepening event. For men in the church, however, the large-group event will excite men, but it will not deepen In contrast to women, who tend to talk more freely and speak with more emotions in the open than only anger—for anger, unfortunately, is the one emotion men feel free to express before people without fear—men, who tend to be less talkative than women, will not disclose anything negative or insufficient about themselves in a large group, unless a man already is very mature in Christ. You must create small arenas of safe discussion in order to challenge men to reveal areas that need more submission to Christ’s Lordship. This includes making the men’s group appear to be elitist—that everyone cannot get in, and there is a waiting list. Make men hunger to be part of something in which it seems that only the best of men can participate. Then walk men through a curriculum related to growth.
- Whatever you want a man to do, show him exactly what you want him to do; do not simply tell him what to do, but show him exactly what to do. If you want men to lead their families in family worship, show them the elements of leading their families in worship. Structure your discipleship meetings to resemble a family worship time. Give a man the tools necessary to lead his family in worship. Go over the structure, tools, and content for a year. In this way a man will feel fully adequate when he begins leading his family in worship; he will be confident that he can complete his task. Similar can be said of asking a man to lead a discipleship group, teach a class, pray in public, or mentor another man or younger man. Make sure men do not feel inadequate, ill-equipped, or that they will be embarrassed before others if they try to live the Christian life in fullness.
- A man will open up to another man about his own weaknesses and spiritual need, but only after it clear that the hearer will not judge him critically, and that he is free to say whatever he needs to say without any recrimination.
Curricula related to Growth
Starr Meade, Teaching Hearts, Training Minds
Starr Meade, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds
Lifeway, 33 Series
Navigators, Design for Discipleship (Book 1 listed in the link; seven books in the series)
Navigators, Growing in Christ
Eric Redmond, Ephesians: A 12-Week Study
Items related to the new LBGT climate
Christopher Yuan, Out of a Far Country
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting
Todd Wilson, “Mere Sexuality” Sermon Series