Murder is the last word we think of in church life, and yet sometimes we inadvertently shoot ourselves in the foot, or worse, kill our own initiatives. Leading men’s author and authority Paul Louis Cole can help.
The generation of young men and fathers in our churches today has no “seed” of the Gospel. For most people under 30 worldwide, neither Grandma nor Grandpa nor friends nor any authority figure was in the Church or ascribed to a biblical worldview.
How do Christian men grow when starting from such a deficit? Even harder, how do Christian men stand against the increasingly hostile culture that portrays men either as stupid, chauvinistic, or absolutely toxic?
Ministering to men was the answer in Jesus’ day, and ministering to men is still the answer today. When Christianity is no longer the prevailing worldview, men need more tools and encouragement than ever to live as a counterculture balance to a postmodern world.
After forty-plus years of ministry to men, at Christian Men’s Network, we know how to build a local ministry to men that thrives. But perhaps first, it is important to learn the five ways that will guarantee your ministry to men won’t survive. You can likely add even more to this list from your own experiences.
Here are five ways to kill a ministry to men:
1. Make sure the senior pastor is not involved.
The pulpit is the propulsion center of the church. What is celebrated from the pulpit will be part of the life of the church, what is neglected will have no energy, and many will see it as secondary in importance.
The DNA of the pastor fills the life of the church, and the pastor’s commitment gives life to the ministry to men. We are trying to take men into a passionate, committed lifestyle of following Christ. This singular purpose must start in the heart of every pastor.
2. Make fellowship a priority.
Fellowship is always the by-product of purpose. The focus must be on building men strong spiritually. Keep the main thing the main thing. Have fun, hang out, and do fun events, but make the process the center of your purpose. Everything done must continually point to building strong men.
At CMN, we do events to bring profile and energy to the men’s movement, but that’s not the focus of a ministry to men. Events are the highly visible place that introduces men to your ministry to men. Discipling men was at the core of the life of Jesus, and discipling men is still our center priority.
3. Try not to offend anyone.
If you back off the passion of reaching and building strong men, you will not get anything done. Iron really does sharpen iron. Sermons don’t set men free—truth does.
Confront men with the life of Christ. What is it to be a real man, to be like Jesus? Don’t back off calling men to a higher level of living. Don’t lower the ministry to the level of your men’s lives. Bring them up to the life of Christlikeness. That challenge may make men uncomfortable, but it’s what they need to break out of a ‘normal’ (ie: stagnant, undiscipled) life.
The pain of staying the same must become greater than the pain of changing to move men to decisions that will bring transformation.
4. Nothing just happens
The ministry to men takes hard work. Here’s a great sequence to create and sustain momentum. It takes prayer, planning, preparation, perseverance, and perspiration. Then, repeat. And then repeat again.
“The very greatest things – great thoughts, discoveries, inventions – have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty,” -Samuel Smiles, Scottish Author
Put a system for discipling men into place, equip your leaders, empower them, THEN – watch, measure, adjust, push, lead, and encourage.
5. Guys are busy, don’t ask too much from them
The best guys are always busy… that’s why they get stuff done. Men who are not busy are not men of vision and capacity. Don’t ask a man to help lead the ministry to men just because he’s not doing anything else. For some of your men, you will have to help them adjust their priorities. In the void of not having an active ministry to men, they’ve made smaller things larger in their lives.
Jesus called men who were working. They were busy people. He never called a man who was just hanging out.
PRO TIP: One additional point is this. Don’t give leadership over the ministry to men to a man who is just itching to preach. He’ll make gatherings more about men listening to him, not men interacting with the materials you use for study, and with each other. It’s iron that sharpens iron, not a surrogate pastor building yet another platform and pulpit in your church.
And lastly, you can do this. This is what we’re called to do—make disciples of all men. Jesus wouldn’t have commanded it if it wasn’t possible to accomplish.
At CMN, we believe strong men make strong families, strong families make strong churches, and strong churches make a strong community and a strong nation. Our theme is to build men, build churches, and transform nations. We’d love to partner with you.
MajoringInMen.com is a FREE foundational online course developed from more than forty years of study, designed to build a powerful men’s movement in the local church, and brought to you by the most widely-used men’s discipleship resource in the world.
Christian MensNetwork is a ministry birthed in 1977 by a pastor, Edwin Louis Cole, out of the local church and continues to be presided over by pastors and to operate locally under the auspices of local churches.
Dr. Paul Louis Cole, president of the Christian Men’s Network, is a church planter and former pastor whose three children are all in local church ministry—two pastors and a worship leader. He conducts a podcast, BraveMen, and has a weekly email, Brave Men Motivational for men and men’s leaders