Excerpt #11: Sustainable Men’s Ministry
In conjunction with the release of our new book about men’s discipleship ministry, No Man Left Behind, we are publishing 12 excerpts to give you a taste of the book. This one is from Chapter 11, “Sustain Momentum through Relationships.”
HAVING A LONG-TERM, SUSTAINABLE MEN’S MINISTRY
Perseverance and Patience Required
Manage your expectations and those of your leadership team. Don’t expect more than the Bible promises. When you use the Vision–Create–Capture–Sustain strategy, expect men to drop away every time you ask for deeper levels of commitment. Why? Because the command to make disciples is juxtaposed against the principle of the parable of the sower. In other words, as you go along, some of the seed is snatched away, some withers, and some gets choked by life’s riches and worries.
We should not expect a man to hear “the ten things every godly man believes” and completely “get it.”
Some men will need several “cycles” of the create–capture before they’re ready for the longer term spiritual growth of sustain. But by the end of each cycle you will also have new men staying involved in your discipleship process.
But don’t expect less than the Bible promises either. (See John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15, Luke 19:10, Matthew 13:24, John 15:9, John 14:12.) The problem is not that our plans are too big, but too small. Raise expectations. Educate leadership (and yourself) about what’s really going on. There is a spiritual battle raging for the souls of your men. The secular symptoms we see like crime, divorce, and workaholism are actually results of this spiritual war. God wants us to build Christ’s kingdom.
Figure 15 shows the net effect on your ministry—long-term, sustainable growth. Notice the incremental increase in the number of disciples over time.
Usually Not a Linear Process
Graphs such as the figure above make the process seem very neat and orderly. Create always leads to capture and then to sustain. In reality, though, these processes often overlap and intermingle. When a man is young in his spiritual journey, you have to keep creating compelling reasons for him to be involved in the discipleship process. Remember, your ministry to men, and the paths men take toward spiritual maturity, will not be linear.
The create step for one man may be the sustain step for someone else. For an unchurched guy, being on the softball team last season was a create step. He really enjoyed the end-of-season BBQ when he got to meet the pastor (a capture step). For him the next season of softball is a sustain step. For another man on the softball team, giving his testimony at the BBQ was a create step on his path to leadership. At the same time, one member of the team recruited another member to join his new small group (a capture step).
Sustaining momentum is the last step in the system. Now you have a complete picture of The No Man Left Behind Model. But understanding the concepts is not enough to actually make a difference in your church. So, in Chapter 12 we help you map out what it will look like in your church.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.