Is There Too Much Fragmentation in the Men’s Discipleship Movement?
Whether we talk about a local church ministry to men or a national para-church ministry, it’s hard not to notice that everyone is doing their own thing. The entrepreneurial spirit has sent men’s discipleship in as many directions as there are churches. There is a lot of reinventing the wheel.
There are two possible explanations.
First, this scattering could be a diaspora of the Spirit as in the book of Acts. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
However, the disciples stayed huddled in Jerusalem. It was not until the persecution after Stephen was stoned that the disciples were “forced” to obey. Acts 8:1 puts it this way, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” God sovereignly orchestrates his will in unique ways!
Second, this could be a diaspora of the flesh in which men are trying to make a name for themselves or be “somebody.”
What Does It Mean?
Whether spiritual or carnal, we must deal with the facts the way they are, not as we wish them to be. The men’s discipleship movement is fragmented into tens of thousands of small pieces. It is not centralized, but distinctly decentralized. There are no Exxons or Hondas. And there doesn’t appear any force or the will to change it.
Therefore, I see two choices. One is to rail and row against the tide. The other is to go with the flow. When the Pharisees didn’t know what to do with the disciples they had arrested, Gamaliel said, “In the present case I advise you: leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39). The Bible goes on, “His speech persuaded them.”
For that reason, I suggest let’s see how this plays out. If it is of the flesh it will peter out. But if it is of the Holy Spirit then it will not fail. Who know? A decade or two from now this fragmented movement could easily gain the force and organization of the early church. All God has to do is say the word.
In the Meantime
In the meantime, let each of us humble ourselves before our mighty God and ask him to search our hearts to see if we are in any way ministering from the flesh. Are we serving at the pleasure of the most high God, or are we trying to make a name for ourselves? These can be difficult questions.
John 3:27 exhorts us, “A man can receive only that which is given to him from heaven.” Let us each be content with our lot in life. If you are an innovator, by all means, continue to come up with new concepts, experiments, resources and models. If you are an adapter, continue to change things to suit your own purposes. If you are an adopter, then align yourself with a capable ministry practitioner who can guide you.
But in every case, for this movement to succeed we must work together. We can do more together than we can do alone.
Humanly speaking, we need to figure out how to forge men’s discipleship into an industry. We need to give men a viable career path in men’s discipleship. We need to reboot the priorities of the Christian church. We need churches to abandon old worn-out wineskins and look for new paradigms to disciple their men.
It’s hard to picture this happening with the movement so fragmented. It will be interesting to see how God leads us in the days ahead. And I pray what we’re doing is not of human origin, but that the Spirit is preparing the soil for a great spiritual revival and awakening among men.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.
© 2010. Patrick Morley. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for non-commercial ministry purposes with proper attribution.