Don’t Squander This Summer of Spiritual Opportunity
By Brett Clemmer
This is not your normal summer. Many summers see lower church attendance and a drop off in activities, but this summer is coming at the end of a catastrophic spring.
Economist and CEO of Crown Financial Chuck Bentley notes:In the last four months we’ve seen three separate crises: a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social crisis. Will there be a fourth crisis? A spiritual crisis? Or instead, could there be a spiritual awakening? Click To Tweet
Pastors and leaders, we are at the starting line of a spiritual opportunity that could bring about a resurgence in faith and practice that has not been seen for a long time. All across the country, men are chomping at the bit to regroup and reconnect with others.
Those on the fringe of the church are in full-on spiritual isolation, and they are hurting. Cultural Christians are coming to the end of their weak reserves of faith and feeling hopeless about the world and helpless to do anything about it. Biblical Christians are aching to reengage and grow. And leaders are eager to speak into men’s lives once more.
This is the summer of spiritual opportunity.Pastors and leaders, we are at the starting line of a spiritual opportunity that could bring about a resurgence in faith and practice that has not been seen for a long time.Click To Tweet
Are Men Really Eager to Reengage?
In a word, yes. Man in the Mirror held a webinar called Relaunching Your Ministry to Men earlier this month. (Watch it here.) With just a few days’ notice, more than 200 men signed up and attended. They were eager to get moving.
Similarly, our local Man in the Mirror Bible Study has met weekly for 34 years, with men in groups at round tables. Over the last four months, those tables have met on Zoom instead and many groups have grown in size over the course of the spring! Our brothers at Forge, another local Bible Study that had moved online, were finally able to meet live last week and packed out a local BBQ restaurant owned by a Christian brother.
We’ve heard from many men who have continued meeting through Zoom during this season of social distancing to go through a men’s study. One leader, John, shared:
“Ken, one of our guys, told me, ‘I am so happy for Zoom as it allows us to stay connected and fellowship. I need you guys more than ever. This format will enable us to love each other and support what’s going on in our lives. I look forward to this group every week!’ Ken came to our men’s group two years ago, a broken man looking for answers and help with his inner demons. He has shared with me that over time he has developed several relationships with men that allow him the freedom to be real with them. As a result, he is growing in his relationship with his wife, kids, and the Lord.”
Another leader, Gary, told us last week: “Bible studies and small groups have been meeting online but now some are beginning to meet outdoors at parks or in backyards with lawn chairs.”
As many men as there are who have fought to stay connected during the last few months with other brothers in Christ, there are many more who are unsure of where or how to start. They are waiting to be personally invited and included, and that’s where you come in!
Two Principles Before You Start
Follow your church’s lead. Whatever the guidelines your church has set about re-opening—facility usage, group size, masks, etc.—be compliant with those requirements.
Write everything in pencil. As we make plans, it’s important to stay flexible. In fact, expect your plans to change and be ready with contingencies. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Do These Things First
Start with your leaders. If your men’s leaders haven’t been meeting, get back together, whether that’s online or in person. Before you start setting dates and planning activities, spend some serious time in prayer. Pray for each other. Pray for the men of the church. Pray especially for the hurting men in the church—those who lost jobs, lost loved ones, have had a difficult marriage get worse in isolation, or suffer from depression or substance abuse issues.
(Don’t have a leadership team? Check out this resource to help you get started on developing a team this summer.)
Check in with your pastor. No pastor alive today has pastored through a set of crises like they have in 2020. They’re weary. Their leadership skills have been tested. Their relationships have been stretched. And their spiritual health has taken even more of a back seat than usual to the needs of their staff and congregation. Attend to your pastor’s needs so that they can continue to shepherd the flock.
Ask your pastor this key question.“How can we serve you?” Find out the plans for the church moving forward and ask how you as the men of the church can engage and help.
Assess the state of ministry to men.Some men’s groups have met straight through this crisis. Others have stopped completely, and the guys have scattered. Check in with your allies and ministry leaders and get a picture of what’s going on. See what you already have to build on.
Check in with your men. You need to find out how guys are doing. What have they been involved with at the church? How is their family? Is their job secure? Have any loved ones gotten sick? How are they feeling about the racial unrest? Have they engaged in that issue?
You can use a simple tool like Survey Monkey and email your men. Or better yet, just call them! Divide the men among your leadership team and make calls. Reach as many as you can. It will be powerful for guys to hear from their leaders.
Ready, Set, GO
So, you’re ready to start planning but you’re not sure how to start. Think of this easy paradigm: FUN-SERVE-GROW.
Start with getting guys together for a FUN social activity, subject to your state’s reopening guidelines. For example, we heard from Rob about his church’s plans to do a bonfire Friday night on church grounds to get guys out and reconnecting. “There’s no agenda for this,” he added. “They just need to bring what they want to cook and hang out with the guys.” (They already have their “Capture” step planned to make the most of this fun activity as part of a larger ministry strategy!)
Once you help guys reconnect with each other through a fun activity, help them think outside themselves. Find some projects that guys can join together to SERVE others in your church or community. For example, your men could help your elderly parishioners with lawn and garden work. Or you could volunteer to organize and clean at a food pantry.
One group of college-aged men from a church in Florida went to a local protest in their community to pass out water bottles and pray with both the protesters and the police officers working. They were able to share the gospel and a message of hope and unity.
After an apartment building fire not far from our Man in the Mirror headquarters, men from several local churches helped residents remove their belongings and recover keepsakes, while also serving food.
Gary in Ohio shared with us: “A couple of groups are providing breakfasts and lunches for school children of families in need. Others are serving food to service workers in hospitals and police stations. They all prepare the food at church wearing masks and then deliver it.”
Many people are hurting in our communities right now, and helping your men meet some of these needs will bring them together and help them show the love of Christ to others.
Finally, re-engage guys in spiritual-growth opportunities. Start a new men’s class to gather guys and move forward together spiritually so they can GROW.
Don’t let men who either can’t or don’t yet feel comfortable gathering in person get left behind! Chris, one of our Area Directors in South Carolina, shared: “One of my churches is offering a hybrid face-to-face/Zoom breakfast. All men in person and online will get the book, The Christian Man, and pair up for the summer to do The Christian Man Mentoring Experience. After 10 weeks, they will gather again and unpack all their takeaways.”
If you need ideas for content, we have several heart-oriented resources with discussion questions included to help you make the most of your time together. Email us and we will help you find the right resource for your men!
Undoubtedly, 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19, the economic shutdown, and racial unrest. Our prayer is that it is also remembered for the incredible scientists who found a cure or a vaccine, an economic recovery that left no one behind, and a new thirst for racial equality and justice. But I hope that’s not all.
Our biggest prayer is that 2020 is remembered for a great spiritual revival that took place in the hearts of men, as the fragility of life and the importance of righteous thought and deed reminded them of their need for a powerful, loving, and merciful God.BIG IDEA: Leaders, don't squander this summer of spiritual opportunity! The need for men to be connected to the gospel and to each other has never been greater.Click To Tweet