So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:22-25, The Message
I know that I write a lot in this space about the men’s ministry groups I’m involved with here at WFPC. But I can’t help myself – these relationships are that important and that meaningful.
Recently I was reminded how blessed I am when I fell into a “men’s ministry” conversation with someone from another church. The pastor wanted me to speak to their men’s group and to offer some inspiration and encouragement. The group meets once a month, he told me, “but not during the summer.”
In a large church, then, just one men’s group gathers. They all left the workforce many years ago; they meet at a restaurant over breakfast, maybe 8-9 times a year; their purpose is social rather than discipleship; and they dismissed my suggestion that they make it a special event and invite younger guys because, “They have no interest.”
Unfortunately, this is “par for the course” for so many churches. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of fellowship group, but let’s not mistake it for what the church needs to offer in the way of discipleship for men.
One mistake is in thinking that younger men either get on board with the old model or men’s ministry dies; another is looking around for some “program” that might attract additional participants, as if all that matters is more men showing up.
Getting dozens of men to show up for fellowship and a brief devotional might be nice, but it does very little to advance the Kingdom of God…
Getting dozens of men to show up for fellowship and a brief devotional might be nice, but it does very little to advance the Kingdom of God. What needs to happen in every single church where men’s ministry is fading into irrelevancy (and that is the majority of “mainline” congregations) is a specific and enthusiastic invitation to learn faith together, to promote active discipleship, to support and encourage one another in “doing life,” and to meet together in small groups – weekly – as if our lives depended on it… because they do!
Once a month, but not during the summer? Good grief. Both groups I’m involved with directly meet weekly all twelve months. Guys go on vacation, business trips, etc., but the average participant is there, being encouraged and held accountable by his brothers, over 40 times a year. Additionally – and this is huge – the depth of the relationships and the quality of our commitment mean that we share the story of our faith together in many other ways between meetings, via coffee, lunch, phone calls, emails, etc.
A Beautiful Moment:
One especially poignant moment (for me) occurred during 9:00 worship last week; we were celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Two small group brothers approached different stations to be served the bread and the wine, along with their families. Then, due to traffic flow, their paths crossed as they returned to their respective seats. I noted brief eye contact, a shared sense of God working in their individual lives, and then a subtle fist-bump as they passed.
For me, the moment was beautiful.
All this is by way of preamble for reporting that my Wednesday group met yesterday evening, this time for two hours instead of our usual 75-minutes. We invaded the church kitchen, everyone brought something to share, and we enjoyed “enhanced” BLTs before our Bible-study. August 10, slap in the middle of the summer, and twelve of thirteen men were able to make it.
So what’s going on? Was it the bacon? I think not! It was this sense of shared journey, this enthusiasm for following Jesus, this understanding that we need one another.
How about it, men? Want to get something this powerful started in your church? If so, shoot me an email and we’ll talk.
Peace, Blessings, and the constant Promise that is the new life in Christ – DEREK