Keeping Men Engaged at Your Church

5 03 2014

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You are probably aware of the quiet move by men away from the traditional Christian Church. It is even being noticed in the secular press (Are Men Anti-Church?). It may be happening in your church without even much notice. Guys are increasingly finding the traditional form of church irrelevant and not compelling enough to keep them engaged and so are disappearing from the pews on Sunday morning(The Church’s Male Exodus). Voices like Dave Murrow, Church for Men and Why Men Hate Church, are sounding the alarm that things need to change if we are going to hold onto or engage men in the organized church. Even popular speaker and author Don Miller (Blue Like Jazz, etc) has entered the conversation with his latest confession that he just doesn’t get anything out of the current Sunday worship.

Does this mean that men are leaving their faith or turning away from God? On the contrary. Men today are searching as much or more than ever for true and authentic relationship with God. They want to know that He is real and that they can know Him personally. It’s just that they are not finding the traditional forms of worship, sermons and even curriculum studies compelling enough to keep them engaged. They are hungry to find environments that ignite their minds, hearts and spirits with the living reality of Christ.

What do those compelling environments look like? Are they hard to produce? Is it possible to create the kind of experiences that will sustain men’s interest and assist him in authentic spiritual growth? Certainly corporate worship, sermons and Bible studies have their place but nothing engages men like an intentional yet simple man to man friendship. This was the objective of Jesus. He taught, He prayed, He sang a hymn or two, but what sustained the training and spiritual growth of His disciples was His friendship with them. He referred to His guys as His friends and that Spirit infused friendship transformed their lives. It was the glue that kept all but one (and even that one may have been overwhelmed by a friendly jealousy) committed to the values and mission of Himself and the Kingdom.  

There is nothing that sustains men like authentic, life on life friendships. This is how men best grow and share their faith in Christ. It is how men are best discipled. Again, taking from the example of Jesus, every pastor or men’s leader needs to adopt this basic principle: make sure that every man is connected through vital friendships. Beginning with the pastor and out through the men’s leadership team every man needs to be networked in an ever expanding circle of friends. Even before Google thought of “Circles” or “Communities” or Facebook came up with “Friends”, Jesus taught and modeled to His followers how to build upon relationships. He had the three, the twelve, the 70, and the 500. That was Jesus’ ever expanding network and example of vital relationships.

Let’s help our men stay engaged in the life and work of our churches by giving them opportunities to build solid relationships. As Phil Downer says in his book Eternal Impact,

           Discipleship is a relationship, not a program…At its core,

           discipleship is sharing your life with someone else less

           mature in Christ in a way that causes them to grow in

           his spiritual walk. You share both your successes and

your failures; in the process, you both mature.

Start now to help every man in your church find a friend that will commit to join him in his journey with Christ.

Dennis Deardorff, President, NWMC


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