Many of you have accepted the challenge of ministering to men, whether as a pastor, a men’s small group leader, or another position within the local church. However, before we can be an effective leader of men, we must have our own house in order. We must strengthen and develop our own personal relationship with Christ, and then minister to men where they are in their growth as a Christian. Please understand I don’t write this out of some sense “having arrived” in ministry. I only write out of personal experience and watching other great men of God as they lead their men’s ministry. I have found these reminders to be the very foundational in how we revolutionize ourselves as we minister to men.
Before we get into reminders, we must first understand why our ministry to men is so critical in the local church. When I started in ministry in the 1970’s, the normal thought was to build a successful bus ministry and the families will flock to your church, or develop a ministry to women and the church will grow. However, the statistics show that ministering to men has the greatest return on investment when viewed through a lens of church growth:
--If you lead a child to Christ: 3.5% of families will follow them to church.
--If you lead a mother to Christ: 17% of families will follow them to church.
--However, if you lead a FATHER to Christ: 93% of families will follow them to church”
It must become our vision, our passion, and plan to bring the Men to the forefront of the church. Some principles for revolutionizing ourselves as we seek to revolutionize men’s ministry are:
1. Remember that you are saved by a holy and loving God. Christ must be real in my life! Have you asked HIM to take up residence in my own heart? Is He your personal savior, with no reservations? This sounds silly, but if you are doubting your salvation experience with Jesus, the men you are choosing to lead will not have confidence in their salvation either.
2. Remember that God called you to this ministry. I have been in ministry for way too long to enjoy watching men serve in a place that God didn’t call them to serve, or that they are not qualified to serve in. Men without a calling can take the offering, shake hands at the door, sweep the church floor. However, before you step into the role of men’s ministry leader, you better have a calling from God, not simply an appointment from your pastor. If you don’t have that call the men in your church and the men community will eat you alive.
3. Remember that prayer is essential to the life of your ministry. As a man, there is a part of me that is jealous of the 12 disciples, and how they had a chance to sit and talk with Jesus one on one! Walter A. Mueller stated, “Prayer is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble: prayer is a life attitude.”
4. Remember to have a structured means of reading scripture. I have to have a plan to follow. If I don’t, I spend a lot time looking for things to do and not doing anything. An Anonymous writer stated, “Reading the Bible without meditating on it is like trying to eat without swallowing.” The famous football player Herschel Walker stated "I'd usually read the Bible a lot. Read little short Bible stories. And today, whenever I give speeches, I bring up a few of those Bible stories, because those are inspirations to me."
5. Remember to find an accountability partner that will encourage you and challenge your thinking. Over the year’s men like Robert, Mark, and my son Ethan have held me accountable and challenged my thinking, my actions, and my relationships. Someone else once defined an accountability partner as “...a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment.”
6. Remember to build a strong relationship with your pastor, because he may be one of the men you to whom you are ministering. I’m very saddened today by the number of men in the church that don’t have a personal relationship with their pastor! Pastor’s burn out of the ministry at an alarming rate because they have felt like they have no one watching their back in ministry. Be a men’s leader who stands with your pastor, defend him and his family from those who would wish to tear them down.
A note for the pastor: Fellowship with your men, but set boundaries and do not feel like you have to lead every ministry. Let other men step up to carry the load.
A note for the men: not expect your pastor to do your job; he is there to fellowship, not lead. Grow up and take the challenge to be a minister to men!
7. Remember to develop a clear vision for your men’s ministry. If you do not define the vision and goals for your ministry, something else will. Pick a vision and stick with it. Men love consistency and want to know what to expect when they get together. Consistency builds trust with our men, so have a vision they can trust and catch!
8. Remember to invest in yourself as a minister, even if you are not a pastor. Read books on men’s ministry, attend a conference, and spend time with your pastor just learning from him. Find a mentor who can invest knowledge and wisdom into your ministry.