Creating Events That Win the Hearts of Men
Coach your men to execute details that will ensure your men’s outreaches and events will keep men coming back | by Paul Louis Cole
July 1961, Coach Vince Lombardi strode to the front of the meeting room, a football under his arm. Thirty-eight Green Bay Packers players sat waiting to hear what he had to say. The previous December they had finally made the NFL championship game only to lose in the last minutes to their rival Philadelphia Eagles, and they were still feeling the pain. But Coach Lombardi had a plan for the 1961 season—go back to the fundamentals.
“Gentlemen,” he growled, gripping the football in front of him, “this is a football.”
With that statement he began a new day in that team’s history. They started doing the fundamentals of the game. December 1961 they defeated the New York Giants finally to become the NFL Champions. Lombardi never lost another playoff game.
We must take our ministry to men back to the fundamentals on every level. It’s about leading men to Christ, employing men in their community and raising up men who disciple their families. Men who work, give, and love others. Men whose hearts run after God. We must build a men’s movement in our churches that draws men back to God and back to church.
Globally, men outnumber women 101 to 100. In churches, women far outnumber men by 900 to 100. Of the adult church attendance, 22.5 percent more women attend than men. As church attendance continues to decline, the disparity is growing. And yet, when a man attends church, there is a far more likelihood that an entire family will attend. And, when a father attends, his children will more likely stay in church when they grow up. It seems obvious that we must have a targeted, planned ministry that focuses on men.
Most often, the first place to begin is to create some momentum by motivating men toward a specific event. A “gathering” type of church event can motivate men. Or, you could hold a breakfast, a campout, a weekend “encounter.” Or, you may consider a service-oriented event such as a community-building project, after which you bring them together to celebrate the job done and give the vision for the future.
In Christian Men’s Network, for over forty years, the principle we’ve taught men all over the world is, “Fellowship is always a by-product, never a goal.” It is not enough to have an event just so the men can get together to see each other. Have clear objectives and let each event build toward an opportunity for real ministry.
Whatever event you choose, the men you are trying to attract will be frustrated if it is executed poorly, especially if it’s a church-based event with a speaker. Here are a few nuts-and-bolts points to teach your team. Download this article, choose your team, go over responsibilities, allow every man to contribute, and enjoy a successful event of any kind that will help you grow a population of strong men.
“Timing is the essential ingredient in success.” Before you begin your meeting, write out the times when you want to finish each segment. First, write the start and end times you have announced. Next, estimate the amount of time you will need for each item you want to cover. If it is a church meeting, that includes the opening prayer, remarks, going through the materials, discussion, prayer requests and prayer. If it is an outreach, that would mean what time you meet up, what time you arrive at your destination, and by what time you need to be headed back to the church or meetup location.
Plan backwards. Add the total time allotted for each segment. Subtract the total from the time you have announced you will end the meeting. This gives you the time you MUST start the first segment if you expect to end promptly.
There may be times when God is moving to change men’s lives and the ministry extends beyond the time parameters you have announced. Wonderful. Do it. Aside from that, your men need to know that when they come, the meeting is going to be precise and concise. Hold to it. Discipline yourself to it.
Start and End on Time
Start on time. Starting on time rewards virtue. Starting late rewards vice. Starting on time is an example of keeping your word. Keep within the parameters you have set before the meeting to build credibility and excellence in your group.
Remember that you are living in a world that rejects discipline. Only those who love and pursue excellence love discipline. There is a little “death” in all discipline. All discipline is based on preference, not hatred. You must lead men to prefer excellence. It is “death-dealing” but must be done. If you discipline your men to promptness, they will respond to it. The later you start the meeting, the later they will come. Be willing to discipline to achieve excellence.
End on time. This honors your men and respects their time. Dismiss those who must leave at the time you announced the meeting would end. Many of them will have engagements waiting and will appreciate your respect for their valuable time. Others will want to linger for fellowship or additional ministry. Let the men know the meeting times will be clear, sharp, punctual. They will respond to it. They will want to return the next time.
SPEAKING AND SPEAKERS
The ministry is more important than the speaker. Not all preaching ministers and not all of ministry is preaching. If you have a speaker, the speaker is an important vehicle for the Lord to bring His Word. But “ministry” is more than just speakers. It involves many people.
When men get together, you are now in a life-changing ministry. The speaker is just the forerunner for the actual ministry. Make sure you don’t feature the speaker and forget the ministry. The important thing to ask is, “What is God wanting to do in the meeting, the outreach, the event?”
Don’t invite anyone to speak out of sheer friendship.
If people don’t have a ministry or valid contribution to make, they should not be speaking at your meeting. You can miss many of the great opportunities that could have been present, simply because you lean into sentiment.
OPENING A MEETING
Always create an atmosphere of expectancy. Talk about God, not self. Tell of God’s power present to meet needs. Tell of victory, not defeat.
Start with a positive statement of faith that has the quality of immediacy in it. Example: “Tonight is going to be a great night because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is power. God is at liberty in this meeting.”
Make the statement strong but true. If you exaggerate, people know it and immediately turn you off. They witness in their spirit to truth and reality.
Never start the meeting with a negative statement. An apology concerning attendance, preparation or program creates negative images in attendees’ minds. “I’ve never done this before” or “I’m not really much of a public speaker” might make you feel better but makes everyone else uncomfortable. If you say that you didn’t know you were going to be there until a few minutes before, it makes people wonder about those in charge. Stating that you are not sure why you are there is just as bad. Start positive and finish strong! Write your opening statements and practice them until they are natural. Make sure to close with something the men can take away wanting more.
MAKING YOUR PRESENTATION
Speak with authority. Authority comes from knowing who God is, who you are in God and what God has promised in His Word for the meeting. When you are secure in your mind and heart about what God wants from the meeting, how it is to be conducted, what is the outline, then you can speak with the authority of “knowing.”
Watch Your Speech
Elocution, diction, vocabulary are vital in communication. Sloppy, lazy speech patterns are boring and banal to the listener. It may take work, but it’s worth it to write out your opening, introductions or whatever you will need to say. Learn them. Memorize them. Then ad-lib when you actually speak.
Appearance is Vital
First impressions are lasting. Good shoes, pressed pants and coordinated clothes are an indication of carefulness and thoughtfulness.
Speak to the Back Seat
If you’ll speak to the people in the back of the room, you’ll have the attention of everyone in front of them as well. Never speak to just the front seat, or you will lose the back half of your audience.
RECEIVING AN OFFERING
An offering and an altar call are synonymous. Both are asking for a commitment. Always be prepared for an offering. We “receive” an offering. We don’t “take” an offering because we are only receiving it for the work of the Lord. If you are in a meeting where an offering is necessary, even if you have never received an offering before, here are some guidelines:
- Always know what the offering is for before receiving it.
- Offerings are sacred and should be regarded as such. Therefore, they should never be belittled by humor or degraded by greed.
- The Word of God is the source of faith in giving so it should always be employed in receiving the offering.
- Prayer is vital for both the person who receives the offering and the person who is giving to the Lord.
- Giving an offering is an expression of faith. The person receiving the offering should always do so in a positive manner.
- Make the presentation simple but clear. What people do not understand, they do not cooperate with easily.
- People respond to need. Christ came to meet needs. Let them know what the need is, and then ask them to meet it. Never be embarrassed about asking people to meet the need. It is the Lord’s pattern. He instituted it; therefore, it is a glory, not an embarrassment.
- The Holy Spirit is always at work in people’s lives. When receiving an offering, always determine prayerfully what the Lord wants to do in the people’s lives.
- Give the Spirit time to work in the lives of those who are to give. Don’t grieve the Spirit with haste.
- Always give God glory for what He does.
Ask your ushers to look at every man as he gives. A smile to each man who gives is a gracious way of saying “Thank you.”
EMBRACE THE HOLY SPIRIT
Don’t be averse to letting men share what God has done in their lives, but make sure it is of the Spirit and not of the flesh. When it is of the Spirit, it edifies, exalts or elevates.
You discipline to the level of the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life. Teach your men the reverential awe and fear of the Lord and discipline them to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Some men may not understand, but they are not in leadership.
The anointing breaks the yoke. Different men have different anointings for different ministries. Recognize the various offices, functions, gifts and ministries from Scripture.
Any testimony from men should always edify, exalt or elevate. Don’t cater to the flesh of anyone. Avoid the mundane, repetitious or banal. Let Christ be Lord in your meetings.
AFTER THE LESSON
If you have a speaker or lesson, remember the ministry is not just the speaker or the materials. These are just part of the total ministry for your group for a particular day. When the programmed speaking is over, you may choose to enter into ministry with prayer, an altar call, or additional statement that you feel the Lord has given you for the men or a variety of other things. Sometimes, you can simply pair off men into prayer partners and let them finish by ministering to each other.
Remember one thing, however. You are stepping into an anointing when you stand up to speak, and it is very easy to go way too far. The ministry is what is important. When you come to the end of the message, let there be ministry, not more speaking that can wear out the people. RESIST the temptation to re-teach what was just taught.
CLOSING THE MEETING
People in the theatre say, “Always leave them asking for more.”
Biblically speaking, the principle is that there are only two things you ever do in life: enter and leave. If men leave on a note of condemnation or resentment, they will be reluctant to want to enter again. Let men leave with a positive note so when they think about entering again, they will think about it with warmth instead of coldness.
Always promote the next meeting or start of classes or outreach making it clear what you want them to do next. Every gathering should lead to another of some kind.
Finish as succinctly as you began, fully prepared and not prolonging the close. When the meeting is over, the men might want to stand around and talk for an hour to share the blessings of the Lord. Great. But don’t make that hour a part of the meeting.
Send the men away filled but desiring more. Close before the meeting ends.
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