The average church service in the United States is attended by an adult audience that is 61 per cent female and 39 per cent male. Approximately 90 percent of boys raised in church reject it in their teens or twenties, most of them for life. One out of five married women worships without her husband. Less than 10 percent of churches have a thriving men’s ministry. Churches today tend to ignore the things that are important to men. But there are ways to reverse this tendency.
Men judge a church by its pastor. A pastor whose masculinity they respect will attract them. They want a man who can speak their language in his sermons and in prayer. Plainspokenness is valued by men, as is brevity; it is important to honor men’s time. Excellence of execution is important in all aspects of the service, in the sermon and the prayer, but also in the music, programs and church facility. Respect men’s need for a barrier of personal space; don’t emphasize touching and hugging. Regularly stress the importance of men in your church.
Offer a Meal
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Use the truth in this old saw to advantage. North Coast Church in Vista, California, does an annual breakfast called the Real Man Breakfast in which they use hearty food, contemporary music and an inspirational speaker to attract new men to their community. New Life Christian Fellowship in Pacifica, California. has an open breakfast at Denny’s Restaurant every Saturday morning. Men of all ages attend. It is a spawning ground for small groups that go deeper into relationship and study.
Gather for Study
“Guys who meet frequently, care about the spiritual welfare of other men . . . and talk honestly about their struggles, make steady progress personally, spiritually and relationally,” says Kenny Luck, Men’s Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. His church used big to get small by launching an eight-week large-group study called “Men at War: Addressing the Battles Men Face,” which led to the formation of a number of small-group studies. North Coast Church offers a series of Real Man Mornings each week from Wednesday through Saturday, where men gather in groups of various sizes for study and encouragement.
Launch a Program
Chapel Hill Church in Gig Harbor, Washington, has a successful yearlong series called “Men’s Life” that looks at various aspects of authentic manhood. Men gather for a talk by senior pastor Mark Toone, then break into small groups led by a trained discussion leader. A similar program, “Men’s Fraternity,” was developed by Robert Lewis of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. It offers a series of three one-year-long studies.
Offer an All-Men’s Event
Every Man Ministries (www.everymanministries.com) will come to your church and put on a conference to help you launch a men’s ministry. The object is to develop excitement and “provide you the followup you need to channel that excitement into a small group network where life change continues to happen.” Or organize a male sports day. Franklin Road Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, holds an annual “Father and Son Sportsman’s Day” that features bow hunting and turkey-calling contests, a climbing wall, a wild-game dinner and a preaching elk hunter. Organizer Ted Bratcher says the idea is “to tell people who don’t like church about Jesus and to show them that churchgoers can be fun people.”
Fellowship Trips or Retreats
Have the men get away by themselves for a few days. North Coast Church holds a couple of annual weekends for men. Their Oakbridge Experience features, “an unplugged, unfiltered message aimed directly at men, guest speakers . . . hanging out with friends and participating in plenty of men event options like paintball, mountain biking, hiking, golf, sports and great food.” The “Desert Rat Experience” is “a man’s weekend designed for guys who are into all kinds of off-roading, driving motorcycles, quads, rails and 4x4s with a bunch of guys who consider the desert a big playground. There’s lots of riding time, a poker run and three hot meals with lots of meat, and a few brief "refueling" meetings where a couple of our staff will share some relevant teaching out of God's word.” Send men out into the world to help those in need. Chapel Hill Church has developed its men’s ministry to the point where it is able to send 60 to 70 men to Mexico each spring to build homes for worthy Mexican families. They routinely find this to be a life-changing experience.
Worship for Men
Organize and present a Sunday worship experience aimed at men, once a quarter or as often as once a month. Choose a man-friendly theme, then build the service around it; everything from décor and videos to songs and sermon topic should illustrate the theme. Church for Men.com has a complete guide on their website as to how to plan and execute what they call “Go for the Guys Sunday.”
Men’s Support Groups
Men share some of the same issues as women, such as grief over the loss of a loved one, dealing with major illness such as cancer and substance abuse. There are other issues such as sexual addiction and anger that affect men more than women. Start support groups in any or all of these areas specifically for men, safe places where they can feel free to share their hearts and souls with other men in similar places.
Church and Community Service
“The best ministry to men in the church is ministry by men serving the church,” says Dick Hardy, Founder and President of The Hardy Group, an Executive Consulting firm for senior pastors of churches. Start a parking lot hospitality team of men. This is good both because it gives men an important function to perform and it also makes men highly visible to other men arriving at church on Sunday morning. Use men to keep up your church facility; make full and frequent use of their carpenter/plumber/painter/paver/ fencepost digger skills. If you have men that do jobs that are fascinating to children, have those men come to Sunday school or the church preschool and share. Form a group of men like the Back Up Buddies at Chapel Hill Church that mentors at-risk elementary-school boys once a month at the church.
Special Interest Groups
David’s Mighty Men is a group of motorcyclists from the Family Worship Center in St. Augustine, Florida, who have formed small study groups and are active in community outreach through activities like Bike Day, with food, games, kid stuff and music for all. They also minister at the local correctional institution. A group of men from Chapel Hill Church (an outgrowth of that church’s Men’s Life program) took up the cause of a grandmother and her grandson, helping her upgrade her home so that she could gain legal custody of him.
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