86 – A Theology and Philosophy of Men’s Ministry
Foundations for the Battle for Men’s Souls™
Christian writer J. C. Ryle wrote, “He must dig down very low if he would build high.” The potential height of a building is limited to the actual depth of its foundation. What foundations are deep and strong enough to support us in The Battle For Men’s Souls™?
This article raises what we think are some of the central foundations that a church must have in place to be successful in winning the battle for men’s souls.
1. THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST
Our most important question is not, “How do we do the ministry?” but “Who does the ministry?” (Dick Kaufman’s insight). Christ does the ministry. Christ ministers the gospel through us, Christ overcomes the obstacles, Christ raises the money, Christ sets the agenda, Christ changes life, Christ seeks men’s souls, Christ transforms the heart, Christ uses events to reach men, Christ helps men use resources and books, Christ starts the small groups, Christ develops the leaders, Christ builds the team, and Christ builds the church.
The direction, agenda, and results of the ministry belong to Christ. Our job is not to produce a particular outcome. Our job is to be faithful-to execute the plan Christ revealed to us. And our plan must be the person of Jesus Christ. We have no other plan. He is our agenda. He is our message.
2. THE CENTRALITY OF THE HEART
Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” To help a man change the core affections of his heart is easily the greatest contribution we can make to Christ’s work. We need to encourage men to let Jesus be their highest and best thought in every situation. It is an error to deal with the outward actions and not deal with the motivational structure of the heart. The focal point of our message must be a man’s heart.
Let’s go beyond asking men to conform. We are not merely concerned about the specific sins a man commits, but the unbelief that would make a man sin at all.
Idols make promises they cannot keep, which is why you can be on a winning streak and still feel empty. We will help men understand that the battleground is the heart. The issue is looking to anything except Jesus Christ for what we need. An idol is anything of which we say, “I need this to be happy.”
Our culture anesthetizes the heart. We are so distracted by the promises of worldly pleasure and a desire to dull our pain that we choose to simply exist, rather than really live. It’s easier to put on a façade of spirituality than it is to find an authentic heart relationship with Christ.
Men need someone who will challenge them afresh to “Not have any gods before Me” and to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
3. THE CENTRALITY OF LEADERSHIP
How many leaders do you have in your church? How many do you need? Can you think of any better way to raise them up than discipling men?
Everything boils down to leadership. There is a leadership deficit in the church. Men are not stepping up, they are not motivated, and they don’t know how to live for and serve God. Often they have not encountered a faith for which they would be willing to forsake the world. As someone has said, “Until you find a cause worth dying for you will not have a cause worth living for.”
Church consultant Carl George explains that every trained group leader results in ten new people in the church. This alone is ample reason to develop a relationship-based ministry to men.
4. THE CENTRALITY OF DISCIPLESHIP THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS
At Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York it is said, “If you’re not in a small group, you’re not in the church.” The purpose of bringing men together in relationships is to give Jesus an opportunity to transform a man’s heart. The soul is the goal.
One of our foundational principles at Man in the Mirror is that most lasting change takes place in the context of church-based relationships. Some people will change just by hearing, others just by reading, but most will change as they enter into a relationship with someone who cares.
One of the key functions of relational ministry is leadership development. Seven years ago my brother-in-law, Hal Wilson began a small group using our materials at Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Today his ministry has grown to seven groups with 128 men. His church needs about 150 leaders to function properly. One hundred of those leaders have come through his groups. He notes that approximately 75 of those men-1/2 of the church’s leadership!-started as cultural Christians who would not have otherwise become church leaders.
The second role of small groups is to provide the first line of pastoral care. Carl George says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Men need a place where they feel Christianity is taking them seriously. People come the first time for many reasons, but they stay if they find a friend.
5. THE CENTRALITY OF GOD’S WORD
The Scriptures have the power to solve the problem that 63,000,000 do not know Christ: “Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life” (John 20:30-31).
The Scriptures have the power to solve the problem that 90,000,000 are not disciples: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
J. I. Packer said, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
I have always said that I have never known a single man whose life has changed in any significant way apart from the regular study of God’s Word. It is the Word of God that transforms us into new life, gives us power and an authoritative reference point.
One of our goals in the battle should be to help men become saturated with the Word of God.
How are you doing in the foundational areas we’ve been discussing, both personally and in your ministry to other men?
- Christ – Is Jesus the central focus of your life? Are you divided or lukewarm in any way? Why is talking to men about the person of Christ so important?
- Heart – “To help a man change the core affections of his heart is easily the greatest contribution we can make to Christ’s work.” Do you agree? If so, what are the implications for the ways you are currently trying to reach men? In your ministry to other men, do you go beyond “news, sports, and weather” and help them deal with the issues of the heart?
- Leadership – Do you have a leadership deficit in your church? Does it make sense that discipling men is a long-term solution to the leadership problem? Are you fulfilling your leadership potential and, if not, what is something concrete and practical you can do about it?
- Relationships – How have small group relationships impacted you in the past? How could small group relationships bring change to the men of your church and community?
- God’s Word – Can you picture any way that men will be able to change their lives apart from getting into God’s Word for themselves? If you agree about the centrality of God’s Word, what should happen to your program for men?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
©2000. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved. This may be reproduced with proper attribution for non-commercial purposes.