41 - Why Your Church Should Have a Men's Minister
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Wednesday, December 10 2008 09:59|
We believe the most effective way to reach men for Christ "long term" is for every church in America to build a purpose-centered men's ministry.
So recently, we've conducted Men's Ministry Leadership Workshops in cities where we've been invited to implement the Success That Matters™ Strategy.
The question we address in these workshops is, "How can you build a men's ministry in your church that will last?" Attendees are pastors and lay leaders who already have a men's ministry going, or would like to.
We open by asking "How many of you have a full-time men's minister on staff?" So far, only one church has. In the hundreds of churches with which we are familiar, only a small handful have men's ministers.
The follow up question is, "How many of you have a full-time youth minister?" At this, the raised arms sway like amber waves of grain.
A terrific way to nail down a lesson is to overstate your case to make the point. Jesus often did this. For example, "If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out." Is that literally what He meant? I don't think so! So in the same vein, after asking these two questions we say, "If you had a men's minister in your church you wouldn't need a youth minister."
Of course, a youth minister makes a wonderful contribution, and we don't want churches letting them go! On the other hand, if for the last 50 years the church had focused on hiring men's ministers in the same way they have hired youth ministers, would today's father and husband be so ill-equipped for his role as spiritual leader of his homes?
What Would Jesus Do?
What would Jesus have done? Would He have focused on youth ministry or men's ministry? Of course, we don't have to leave this to our imaginations.
Men's ministry was the ministry of Jesus. In fact, the earthly ministry of Jesus was almost exclusively a men's ministry! By His example and teaching, Jesus showed the men what they were supposed to do. Jesus focused on making disciples of men, then He left it up to them to disciple their wives and children.
Jesus is the foundation of the church, but he called men to be the backbone. Instead, today women often form the skeleton that holds the church together. But that's not the way Jesus would have done it.
Take, for instance, the spiritual instruction of our kids. Biblically, responsibility for the spiritual training of children rests squarely on fathers. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). While certain aspects of this instruction can be delegated to a "paid professional" (the youth minister), the responsibility always remains with the fathers. I worry, though, that our delegation often turns into an abdication.
Jesus intended for the flesh of the church to be hung on the bones of its men. Everything was to come out of the overflow of what was happening in men's lives. Leadership in the church was to be male-initiated.
Today, instead of male-initiated, leadership is often male-abdicated to a staff of paid professionals. Is this really the way we want to go?
After thinking about the methods of Jesus, I can't help but believe He would want our "first focus" to be on men. I can't help but think that if we reached men first, everything else would fall into proper place. Would Jesus have put men's ministry before youth ministry? What do you think?
Obviously, this is the ideal. Not every church can afford the staff they already have, much less any additional staff. But here are a few thoughts.
What if your church isn't large enough to staff more than one pastor? Or, perhaps in your church even the pastor is part-time. In these churches, we believe the pastor should see himself primarily as a men's minister. If he reaches the male sheep and leads them into spiritual maturity, will not the rest of the flock follow?
Or, what if your church already has a youth minister? Why not elevate men's ministry to the same level of importance as youth ministry? Sure, you may not be able to hire a men's minister today, but why not get a "blank box" on your organization chart? Fill the position with a lay volunteer, or perhaps a part-time staff person. Then later, when the church budget grows, you will know where to put the money. And who knows? You may have a few key laymen who would be willing to fund a men's minister after they read this article!
What if your church is finally ready to hire more staff to help the senior pastor? The "usual" step would be to hire a youth minister. Here's a totally radical idea. Why not hire a men's minister instead? In fact, in an ideal world, if men learned how to father, would we even need youth ministers?
The Benefits to the Senior Pastor
For years, perhaps decades, the senior pastor has been crying out to God for fresh ideas to motivate his men who are merely "going through the motions." These men on the "fringe" just never seem to grow much.
A men's minister can give intentional, focused energy to reach these men with the gospel, to encourage them to have passion for God, and to equip them for spiritual service.
As the men's minister helps the church create momentum through events, capture that momentum with interesting follow up opportunities, and sustain momentum by helping men get involved in a long term discipleship process, things begin to happen.
One day the senior pastor hears a loud knock on his door. It's a man who was a "Sunday only" Christian for seventeen years. But two years ago the church sponsored a seminar to create momentum among men on the fringe, and this man attended. The message rang his bell and, when they offered a six week follow up discussion group, he leaped at the chance to sign up. At the end of the six weeks, the leader asked him for "six more weeks" to go a little deeper. Eventually, the group gelled into a long term Bible study and prayer group.
This man, and many others in the church like him, have come to know and love God with a passion. So this day he says to his pastor, "Pastor, you must give me a work of service, a ministry, that I can do. As I have grown to understand the unfathomable work of the cross, I can no longer sit idle. I can no longer be happy unless I do something to serve this great God. What can I do to help you?"
This is a great day in the life of the pastor. The long hours of building into the lives of his men, the countless prayers for God to send workers, all seem to be worth the effort. Other men begin to trickle, then flood, into his office. At the five year mark after hiring a full-time men's minister, the senior pastor runs out of ministries for men inside the church! His ministries are at full employment! Now he starts "sending" workers into community-based ministries.
One day the financial secretary brings him a report that they have a surplus. As the men understand their role as stewards they begin to be much more generous. Gone is the need to plead for finances. Suddenly, the pastor can respond to additional requests from missionaries for support.
One afternoon his secretary announces at 3:00 P. M. that all his marriage counseling appointments for the day are finished. "What?" he says in shock. As the men have come to understand their duty to love and nurture their wives, marriages heal and the counseling load dwindles. On that day the senior pastor actually gets home early and has a meaningful conversation with his own wife!
Then one day, the youth minister brings him a report that the youth facilities are out of space. Apparently, as the young people have watched their fathers transformed before their very eyes, they want in on what's happening. They flock to the youth meetings to learn more about this Jesus, this radical person who changed their fathers lives.
Growing men. More workers. Bigger budgets. Restored marriages. Curious youth. A balanced work load. Spiritual satisfaction. A calling come true.
Perhaps there is no better investment for the church today than a full-time men's minister.
Have I overstated the case? Maybe, but do you see the point? Why not put it to the test?
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.