Grow Your Church by Growing Your Men

Christian leadership includes a commitment to discipleship. Praying for men by name fosters unity and growth. | by Paul Louis Cole

One surprisingly simple action changed everything for a pastor friend of mine named Mark Jackson. The practice will do the same for you. It will change the character of your men — and the atmosphere of your church. The result will be growth, strength, and clarity of mission.

We’ve all taught on the power of prayer. Consider these verses:

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:22 NIV).

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

We all believe in the power of prayer. We’ve seen miracles, experienced new seasons of faith, and built stronger relationships in our families through prayer.

But Mark Jackson discovered something unique as he went through the “Majoring in Men” ministry course. It stopped him cold, in fact — and it changed everything.

These prayers can change lives.

He discovered an important principle, and it was simply this: Praying for your men — individually and by name — changes lives and grows churches. Pray for each man, by name, and individually.

We so often pray corporately, “Lord, bless my men” or “Father, be with my brothers.” But when was the last time you purposefully and by name prayed for your men? One at a time? I know it takes time — but it’s your investment that will build deeper love among your men.

These prayers produce intimacy.

Mark heard the challenge to pray individually for his men, then he acted on it. And something remarkable began to take place.

Prayer produces intimacy: with the one you pray to, the one you pray with, and the one you pray for.

Ever meet a pastor or missionary you had never met but had been praying for over a long season? When you meet there’s an instant sense of brotherhood — you feel close to him because you’ve been praying for him.

As Mark began to pray for each of his men — taking the time to speak out each name on his list — he began to wonder about some of them he didn’t know well. He began to listen to them talk in the lobby after church, heard stories that hadn’t registered with him before. Asked questions he hadn’t asked before.

Prayer produces confidence, hope, and faith — defeats fear, despair, and anxiety. As he prayed for his men, Mark began to sense the same things for each of his men. He began to feel closer to them. A sense of brotherhood filled his heart. And his men felt it. They sensed something deeper happening, even if they didn’t know what it was.

These prayers unleash purpose.

Praying for his men gave Mark a purpose to his prayer and devotional times. It gave him confidence in his men he hadn’t felt before. It opened doors to smooth relationships that had seemed strained or distant.

The admonition in Philippians became personal:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

Tensions about motivations or personal agendas began to resolve. Deeper conversations became normative. Openness to new ideas replaced hesitancy.

Mark encouraged key individuals to follow his example. As they began the practice of praying individually for the men of their community, his leaders began to experience the same thing — deeper conversations, more open hearts, and stronger relationships. Men began to connect in fellowship more often. They began to be concerned about each other — to be their “brother’s keeper.”

Learn to pray from the top down.

As Mark talked about his experience, I realized the key ingredient: Praying for the men has to start with the lead pastor.

It wasn’t something Mark could have begun as a program or directive — it had to start with him. He said, “I used to be anxious about competing agendas, distracted men, and weak motivations. But now, I’m filled with hope — and energy. I used to make six calls to get two men to help with work at the church, now I make two calls and six men show up.”

Serving a community of faith has complexities and challenges that no other profession will experience. We also have some tools for community that no other profession has, including prayer.

As pastors, we have the privilege and responsibility of taking our brothers to the throne of God. When we do, we will find a great promise:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14 NKJV).

It is God’s will that all men would live in unity. This does that. It builds an atmosphere of brotherhood. And, that fuels growth, life, and hope!

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