Category Archives: Men’s Ministry

The Challenge Of Engaging Men In The Church

Encouraged In Challenges

Why is it so challenging to get men involved in the church, discover the problems and potential answers.

Why is it so challenging to get men involved? In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller is joined by the pastor and author Roger Thompson from Man In The Mirror Ministries. Today they discuss how to attract and engage men and what we need to do to welcome them into the church.

PODCAST:

TRANSCRIPT:

Vince: This is Resolute and The Resolute Leadership Podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re in a series looking at men’s ministry. Today, discussing the topic of the challenges with engaging men in the church.

Welcome to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission at Resolute is to disciple and develop men to lead. And if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or men’s ministry – then you need to go to our website today at beresolute.org. We have a number of great tools for men who are leading other men.

Also, if you want to follow us – you can find us on Facebook or LinkedIn. And if you prefer to listen, you can find us on every major feed – including iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow along right there, or also in our app. But now gentlemen, let’s dive in.

Well, guys, I’m excited to introduce to you today, Roger Thompson. Roger is a good friend and a Pastor who’s worked in ministry over 40 years. He brings with him a lot of wisdom, and he is the author of a fantastic book called, “Do the Next Right Thing.” He currently works with Man in the Mirror Ministries, which works to equip men in churches to develop their men’s ministry. Roger, thanks so much for being with us again today.

Roger: Great to be with you again, Vince.

Vince: Yeah, yeah it’s awesome to sit with you again. Today I just kinda want to hear from you. I know that you’ve been a Pastor for a long time. I know that you have also engaged in men’s ministry for all your life. I want to talk about the problems with men and the church, specifically around the difficulty that we have sometimes to maintain a men’s ministry – or even build it. And I’m kinda wondering from you today, why is it so difficult for churches to maintain or build a men’s ministry?

Roger: Well I think there are many ways we can look at that. I’ll take a couple of glancing blows at it. When I enter a church, especially when I’m preaching at a church. I’m always thinking about the guy who is uncomfortable in that setting. And he’s the go-to guy all year. All week long in his job – he’s the expert, he’s got the domain expertise in IT or sales or engineering or whatever. So all week long he’s answering questions. People come to him, and he has the answer. He helps them solve them.

But something happens when he walks into the church. Because he’s afraid. I think many men are concerned with how they look, how they’re going to come across. And they are – they’re afraid that somebody might ask me to look up the book of Leviticus. Or pray out loud. Or say something about theology. And men, I think are deathly afraid of appearing unschooled or incompetent. I have a big heart for these guys. ‘Cause I would feel the same way at a software convention.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: After 5 seconds of showing you how to turn the machine on, I’m done. I don’t know anything else. I have nothing else to say. I’d like to learn. But I want to learn in a safe place. So I really have empathy that – whether the church is projecting it or not, we – perhaps we never intended. But I think many men feel unsafe in the church at that level.

Vince: Yes.

Roger: And so in that sense, they come in. And what do men do when they don’t feel competent? They just hide.

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: They don’t want to be picked to be the short stop. Because they don’t want to handle that hard grounder coming at them. And so I have high empathy. That’s one of the issues for men. I think – the other issue is that many men have had negative experiences with so-called men’s ministry.

They’ve maybe been invited to join a small group that wasn’t well led? Or it disappointed them in some way. And so they’re hesitant to join in again. But I think the biggest issue demographically and societally – is that 4 letter word called “time.” Men just don’t have much discretionary time. And we can bemoan that. We can lament that. We can try to guilt them through that. But I think that’s a huge issue in many homes and in many men’s lives, is the issue of time.

Vince: Okay so those are some pretty significant factors. Like one of them comes from personal confidence or competence. Just kind of says, “I don’t feel comfortable leading, or I don’t feel equipped.” Some of it is the busyness of life, and some of it is due to poorly handled or poorly run ministry events or happenings. So there are factors all around these guys that seem to prohibit engagement, is what I hear you saying. Is that right?

Roger: Yeah. And there’s potentially much more.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: But depending on the individual guy.

Vince: Yeah. But I really like how you said – the personal competence thing. Because there is this world that they live in all the time, where they have a high level of competence. They get trained, they feel strong. And then they enter this church, and they do sometimes feel weak. And I’ve bumped up against those issues as well in my time. Now, Roger, we know that – there were times though when men’s ministry was big. Do you remember those years at all? It seemed like there were some big years for men’s ministry.

Roger: Oh yes, yes, yes.

Vince: Of course the Promise Keepers days were probably some that we all look back on. And I often hear older guys talk about the experiences they had. I went to Promise Keepers for a number of years and would say that those events were excellently run. That they were – they really impassioned men. That men really engaged. And yet, sometimes when men came home they kinda disengaged. So, but there was something that happened during those Promise Keepers years. Maybe for a decade or so, that was very inspiring for men. What do you think that Promise Keepers had going for it, that we could really learn from?

Roger: Wow. I’m not really sure. I’m going to throw this into the clouds. And whether you would define it that way, or others would define it that way. I saw the Promise Keepers Years as kind of a revival type of situation. Where God in his sovereignty simply put Coach Mac and others – and put together some things that the spirit of God just used in an amazing way to bring revival across the country to many men in the Promise Keepers dimension. Just kind of like the Jesus People days when–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Some things happened that we can’t explain, and we’ve never been able to replicate.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So on the one hand, I don’t want to look back with longing saying, “Where did we go wrong? We don’t have that anymore.” I want to look back and say, “What did God accomplish?” And we – of course we still long for that. But here’s the way I would put it in my own language. That was a period of revival – where God was stirring up the Body of Christ, and bringing many people into the kingdom. And now I think we are doing the work of renewal.

Vince: Yeah, that’s good.

Roger: And I think renewal is – by nature – slower–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Less spectacular. It’s more grassroots.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And maybe I’m just trying to console myself, I don’t know? But that’s how I deal with it.

Vince: You know what? I actually like that. Because I’ve always thought of Promise Keepers as a movement.

Roger: Yes.

Vince: Of God, rather than necessarily a specific in church ministry. Which was somewhat challenging for them, as we know. But I wonder if today – looking back at those Promise Keepers years, and attempting less to compare today to then. That we live in our own day, with our own problems. And you’ve spoken into this a little bit. But I kinda wonder if we’re not dealing in men’s ministry today, with cultural issues that are preventing men more than they have in the past with really engaging.

You mentioned lack of feeling of competence. You mentioned busyness. You’ve even mentioned the lack of excellence, maybe in men’s ministry or at a men’s ministry event or a men’s happening. How can we speak into some of these things, Roger? What would you say would be the right voice and the right way to speak into some of these cultural issues, to help men reengage?

Roger: Well I think – to start with, I think we just have to acknowledge that – at least in my world, I think the pressure on men has escalated. Even since 2008 and the financial crisis that we went through.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: I notice that men are much less willing to push the margins of their personal time off, or they’re much less– They’re much more reticent to refuse travel or a new assignment. Because so many more men are thinking now, “Well wait a minute, at least I have a job. I’m not going to risk that. So like there’s a societal pressure there that the economy has put on men. Travel has increased. Mobility amongst trades and different corporate structures has increased. And I think we – first of all, just need to acknowledge to men that we see the pressure. We know that you’re not just being flaky.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Because you’re not involved. And then I think we have to– And this has been the genius of the living church throughout its history. Is I think we need to change the wineskin, and not assume that guys can come for 52 weeks a year.

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: To something. But we have to build in the margin that says, “You are welcome for whatever you can engage in. And we are going to design something that you can feel good about, even if you miss 20% of the times together.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So some practical things. We often design small groups and say, “This group will meet 8 times.”

Vince: Right.

Roger: And then we’re done. Then you can reassess. Or, “We’re going to meet every week, but every week is self-contained. So come when you can. Come all the time if you can, come anytime that you can.” I think we need to take the pressure off men right away, cause–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: I’m a man, and I think – I always feel like – if I’m not going to complete it, I don’t want to start it.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And so whether that’s a new thing or not, I think that’s part of our culture.

Vince: Yeah, so – what I hear you saying is, we’re in a new cultural time, a new cultural season. We have new issues to address. We need to find new ways to address them. That may be the big event of the Promise Keepers day has come and gone for that season. And that we have new challenges to face, and new ways to deliver ministry. New opportunities that are before us. And we need to find new ways to engage these men without shaming or embarrassing them, or defeating them more. And yet, still providing an excellent opportunity for them to grow in their faith. And saying, “Look, come when you can. Like we want you here. But come when you can.” I would assume that over the years that you’ve done ministry just as a Senior Pastor, you’ve watched the changing of seasons. Is this part of the challenge of leading a ministry, Roger? I mean is it just approaching it in a different and a new way? And does this happen about every decade from your perspective?

Roger: Well yeah, it sure does. I mean there’s many – there are many hot seasons for different topics. There are hot fads that go through the church. And sometimes things really catch on, and then they fade. And I think we just have to be ready for the fact that we cannot stop the process of discipleship no matter what the landscape looks like.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And God in his providence, and with his Holy Spirit and his word – has said, “I have provided you everything you need for life in Godliness, including the life of your ministry.” And so there’s a way to do this if we just find out how. And I think – you kind of touched on it. I think there’s always a voice, and there’s a voice in me that does this too. “Hey, I’m tired of messing around with you guys, let’s just – let’s just call out the marines. And if you don’t have the guts to show up every week on time, early, with your knapsack packed and–”

Vince: Yeah

Roger: “Just don’t even, don’t even worry about–”

Vince: Right.

Roger: You’re not serious about Jesus.

Vince: Right.

Roger: That – it comes up to me once in a while too. But I think what that really is saying – more about my ego and my frustration than it is about the needs of the men.

Vince: Okay, so that – let’s talk about that for a second. Because that is – there are probably men’s leaders listening to this. And there’s probably some Pastor’s listening to us, Roger. I know, and I can agree with you that sometimes you just want to call it out. You want to say to guys, “Look, do something. Because you’re not doing anything.” And I would say that apathy is one of the predominant issues among men. Men can become apathetic or have excuses.

Roger: Sure.

Vince: For sure. But then there’s the – the other end of the spectrum when we go Mark Driscoll on people if you know what I’m talking about. We kind of get in their face, and we say, “Look, you need to move out of mamma’s house. You need to get a job. You need to lead your family spiritually.” And we as men, I know that I sometimes – I need that Mark Driscoll in your face approach. And then sometimes I need the softer approach. Going, “Yeah, I already feel guilty enough.” How do we handle this as leaders? Because as leaders we have to lean into these problems. And we don’t want to give up on our men. And we don’t want to push too hard. How do you navigate that?

Roger: Well I’ve always viewed myself as standing inside a swinging door of a kitchen.

Vince: Okay.

Roger: Like a restaurant.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And the waiters are coming and going, and the door swings both ways. And I want to swing the door open and invite men in. And they have every opportunity to let that door close. But then when life gets hard, when the stress gets up, when something fails, when he’s really scared – I want him to see that that door swings open, and I’m still standing there.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: The invitation’s still there. So I think it’s long-term, low pressure. Constantly inviting.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: We can’t force, we can’t disciple guys who aren’t willing.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So I lean on the side of – some people might say this is soft. But I don’t think it’s soft. I think it’s simply dignified. I lean on the side of invitation. Invitation, invitation. And if a guy needs to be confronted about something, I will do that individually.

Vince: That’s good. That’s good wisdom.

Roger: And even in my latest Resolute course.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: I went to 3 or 4 guys, and I handed them the card and I said, “I think you need to do this.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And I’m convinced they wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t done that.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: But it wasn’t a guilt trip. It was more, “I want you there. Would you join me? I believe in you.” I was using more that leverage of relationship, than of guiltiness or pressure.

Vince: Yeah, shaming or whatever it might be.

Roger: Right.

Vince: I really like that. So – okay so – I want to think about one other thing before we close off this podcast. And that would be this. It’s – there are all kinds of men to engage in the church, for sure. But I know definitely if you’re really wanting to engage men of the church and move people past some of the issues, you’ve got to have some different audiences engaged. I can think of 3 specifically that you guys talk about in Man in the Mirror, that have to be engaged for you to have an effective men’s ministry that can push through some of these challenges. Who are those 3 audiences, and how do you engage them?

Roger: Well I think there’s always the pre-Christian or nominal Christian on the – if we put it on a chart, it would be on the far left side. Our churches have a huge – let’s call it a fringe of guys who show up.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And man, I think that’s a – that’s a huge harvest field. And those guys need a long-term, low-pressure approach. To say, “Hey, we like to have you here.” We’ve got to engage them. And I think what we need to first of all do, is change their perspective of how they view other church men. And so we play golf, we do Frisbee golf.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: We take them fishing. We have a great barbecue dinner. We do all kinds of things to just create in them an expectancy that – hey, being around Christ honoring men is really some of the best relational time I’ve ever had in my life. So we’ve – that’s the way we go about those guys.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: I think that the next notch over would be, what I would call the growing Christian or the biblical Christian. The guy who does show up. Who does come? He knows his Bible, or he’s learning it. And he’s one of those faithful guys. And I think what we need to do with those guys, is challenge them to take the next step. Which is stop sitting and soaking.

Vince: Right.

Roger: Now let’s send you out to lead something. So we need to create opportunities for them to have a ministry. And it’s not always going to be Bible study.

Vince: That’s right.

Roger: We had this – don’t get me started here but–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: We have this tendency to say – we think all discipleship has to center around being a scholar.

Vince: Right.

Roger: And obviously I want my men to know the Bible. But many of my men are going to thrive if they can bring their skid steer to the camp, and knock down trees and lift boulders and serve Jesus.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: In a way that he knows why he’s doing it. And in doing that, he grows. And he engages other people in that.

Vince: Oh that’s good.

Roger: Other guys can do service ministries and things like that. So it’s not always going to be a Bible study that we’re going to ask guys to step up to.

Vince: Yeah, exactly.

Roger: And then I think the – let’s go to the far right, and there may be some other gradients here.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: But then you’ve got the guy that says, “Hey listen, what we need to do is – we need to have guys in a 15 year study of The Book of Romans.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And I’m all for those guys. I love those guys.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: They’re the guys that really know the word. We’ve got to find ways for them to mentor other young men.

Vince: Yes, correct.

Roger: And it could be in a small group. It could be 1 on 1.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: But guys who have it, need to graduate from sitting themselves – and they need to be engaged. And we need to help create structures where they can. Because I’ve done this myself. I freeze up when somebody says, “Will you mentor me?” And I think most men freeze up.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And this is the story of your life.

Vince: Right, exactly.

Roger: They freeze up when they say, “You’re mature enough, you ought to be able to mentor someone.” They just don’t know how to do that. So we need to create a platform where they can do that. And I think that engages men across the spectrum, in ways that–

Vince: Yeah

Roger: Really helps them engage their own discipleship.

Vince: I think just you talking that through, Roger – is a great example of the challenge that we have in men’s ministry, really to engage men in the church. Is that there’s a variety of different types of guys. A variety of different types of issues. We’re trying to bring all these guys together and engage them at different levels and put them to work. And this is not a new problem.

This is just an ongoing problem. But it’s worth the time. Because we’re engaging in discipleship in a variety of different ways. Using different methods – through different challenges, different changing of seasons and guards. And so Roger, with that we’re just going to close off our podcast today and give guys – maybe a little bit more direction on how they can engage with you, as we look forward. So thank you so much for being with us today.

Well that’s the show. Thanks for listening. As we close, I want to remind you of 2 things. First, Roger Thompson is hosting a “No Man Left Behind” seminar in the Minneapolis, St Paul area. So if you live around here, and you’re looking for a tool to equip you to lead the men of your church – you have to go to this event. It’s called, “No Man Left Behind.”

It’s a one and a half day seminar that will train you, and give you time to plan, discuss and consult with your leadership team. And it will leave you with a game plan to reach all of the men of your church with powerful vision and a sustainable strategy. There’s nothing like this on the face of the planet. It is fantastic. It’s like drinking from a fire hose of leadership. It’s going to equip you and inspire you to lead the men around you. You need to attend it. If you want to find out details about this event that Roger’s hosting, just go to beresolute.org/nomanleftbehind. It’s /nomanleftbehind. Go there today to get tickets, or to register. And I would highly encourage you to bring a man or 2 with you to this event.

Also, if you’re looking for men’s content, we have great content for men on our website for you. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. Go to our website today – beresolute.org, and find out more. And with that, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. But please know – that the time that we spent together today is worthless unless you choose to act on it. So do something today. By getting off the bench and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of The Resolute Podcast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engaging And Attracting Men In The Church

Attracting-Mens-Ministry-Bible-Study-BlogHeader

Engaging men in men’s ministry is challenging, so how can we do it better?

How do we get men engaged in church? In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller is joined by the pastor and author Roger Thompson from Man In The Mirror Ministries. Today they discuss the why men have trouble engaging and how to think about engagement and attraction differently.

PODCAST:

TRANSCRIPT:

Vince: This is Resolute and The Resolute Leadership Podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder and host. And today we’re in a series on men’s ministry. Discussing the topic of engaging and attracting men in the church.

Welcome to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission at Resolute is to disciple and develop men to lead. And if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or men’s ministry – then you need to go to our website today at beresolute.org. We have a number of great tools for men who are leading other men. Also if you want to follow us, you can find us on Facebook or LinkedIn. And if you prefer to listen, you can find us on every major feed – including iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow along right there. Or also in our app. But now gentlemen, let’s dive in.

Well guys, I’m excited to introduce to you today, Roger Thompson. Roger is a good friend, and a Pastor who has worked in ministry over 40 years. He brings with him a lot of wisdom, and he is the author of a fantastic book called, “Do the Next Right Thing.” He currently works with Man in the Mirror Ministries. Which works to equip men in churches to develop their men’s ministry. Roger, thanks so much for being with us again today.

Roger: Great to be back with you Vince.

Vince: Okay. So I don’t know where we’re going to go with this one. Which makes it probably pretty fun. But I know that sometimes men don’t like to go to church. I know that’s true. I know that sometimes they don’t feel welcome at church. I know that David Morrow and his famed book, which has been a big seller for men’s ministry and men in general that work with men. He – the title of his book is, “Why Men Hate Going to Church.”

Roger: Yes.

Vince: Which I feel is a little strong. Because sometimes I want to say, “Well men don’t hate going to church, but he– But some men do, I guess. And there’s lots of reasons for this. But he – he puts up a good argument for why men don’t like to go to church necessarily. And all these obstacles. And much of his book is about the environment that men walk into.

For example, if we were just to walk into church for the very first time – he suggests, David Morrow suggests that some men are going to see environments that aren’t all that welcoming to them. That aren’t fitting for them. Or aren’t like most places in their life. And he spends a lot of time talking about how to create an attractive physical environment for guys. I’m wondering your opinion about this. Because to be quite honest with you, environment does make a little bit of a difference to me. But is it just about the physical environment? Is it maybe about other components within the church that make it difficult for guys to engage?

Roger: Well I think some guys are oblivious to their environment. We know some guys like that. They just don’t care. But I think there are many, many sub-signals that we send. Let me share a wake-up call I had. I was standing at the gas pump a few years ago. One of my first experiences with – the video screen lit up, and showed me a little 1 minute television show.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: While I’m pumping gas. And it was high definition. They told me I could be friends with them on Facebook.

Vince: Yeah, right.

Roger: I don’t know who does that, who wants to be friends with your gas station? But it was a wake-up call for me, because I’d had men telling me, “The technology at our church is really tacky.”

Vince: Yeah. Or dated, yeah.

Roger: And I – it was a wake-up call to me saying, “All around me – men, women, children are being schooled subtly in a culture that is getting more and more high-tech, more high definition. Everything is cleaner and crisper. And if a guy walks into a church and he has the sense from the environment that something died here–

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: And again, I don’t want to get into a race to the top. I don’t– We can never quite keep up technologically.

Vince: No.

Roger: But there are signals that send to a man that – whoever’s doing this is really not current. So that’s I think one of the signals. I think the signage is another. I think speaking in plain language is something that we need to do. I kind of bristle when I hear people using the word blessed and blessing and– Sort of stained glass wordage. If we’re going to use a theological term in our preaching, I think we should explain what it means.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And do it without shame. If we’re going to use the word sanctification, I think we should say what that means – and not assume what people have. If we’re going to quote a verse, now we can throw it on the screen, so that guys aren’t fumbling around looking for it.

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: Now some of that may keep people in some spiritual infancy. But I think it also creates an environment of comfort. Where a guy says, “This is like the old Vince Lombardi speech. This is a football–”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: “Let’s all start with the basics.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And I think we have to send that message, in particular to men every time they walk in the building. “We’re all on the same footing. You’re welcome here. We’re going to go somewhere.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: “And we’re going to go somewhere at a pace that you might find challenging. But you’re going to know why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Vince: Yeah. I like that. That’s – and maybe later you could explain to me what sanctification means.

Roger: Yeah.

Vince: But I think that – the interesting part is that it is important to pay attention to the symbols. To the signals that we’re communicating to people – whether intentional or unintentional. And that they sometimes communicate to different audiences that you’re in or you’re out. You probably had this experience as well. I’ve gone to the country club before or visited people at a country club. And I sometimes feel like I’m on the outside there.

Roger: Oh yeah.

Vince: And not welcome, by how I’m treated at the door. The exclusive language. The way people dress, or the way that they talk. The expensive cost of things. The way that people engage in relationships immediately and leave me on the outside. That can be damaging for how people engage, or maybe for some people can be very attractive. But it doesn’t matter, we’ve got to pay attention to it.

So I’m hearing you say – environment does make a difference. And that we’ve got to help people to kinda move down the field like Vince Lombardi helped them to do, right? Or any of the great coaches of all time. They just kinda help people to understand the first steps, help them to take those steps. And then challenge them along the way. But not challenge them with how they engage initially.

But let’s jump into this other topic now. Where I’ve heard David Morrow say that maybe church has been a little bit effeminate for men? I don’t know how I feel about that in particular. But I can say that maybe at times it does feel a little effeminate. Do you agree with David Morrow’s assessment of the church?

Roger: Well I think it can easily get that way. I mean, if you look at just demographics and he– He does a wide overview of churches where he says, “Many, many church cultures are 65% women.”

Vince: Oh yeah.

Roger: Including in most of the leadership positions.

Vince: Right.

Roger: Well I think then it does become effeminate. And by the way, I’m all for feminine persons.

Vince: Yeah, yeah right, right, right. Yeah.

Roger: I love women. I love being around them. I’m around some of the best women in the world. But when men sense that they’re being feminized, they don’t like that and–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So I think it can happen. And I think it happens kind of subtly.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And–

Vince: More than directly, right?

Roger: Yeah, more than directly, yeah.

Vince: Yeah. I agree with you on that. And sometimes I’ve heard people talk about church decor being too feminine. Or singing and the way we do it is too feminine. Or kind of the style or the approach that we use to engage people is too feminine. And I think we’ve just got to pay attention to those things. But let’s move away from some of these physical features, and talk about how do we create an environment for men in how we think, and how we address men. Even how we create an environment for them spiritually. How do we do that, Roger? How do we help guys to engage with a culture that feels maybe a little bit more masculine than feminine?

Roger: Well I think it – we’ve started kind of talking about the sociological environment.

Vince: Right.

Roger: And I think that’s super important and very important. But I – I think it leads us – your last question leads us into what I think is even more important. That the sociology, that we don’t create sociological barriers is important. So that we can challenge men to the depth of their soul with the message that we have. So it’s not about watering down the message, it’s about putting the message in the language that will confront men.

Vince: That’s super clear.

Roger: At their deepest heart.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So it does include – obviously, the preacher. It includes the music. It includes the way it’s presented. And so I think if men are invited into an environment where they know they are going to be challenged with things that are deep and lasting – they’re going to have to walk away thinking about this. Men want a challenge. They don’t want to be coddled. They don’t want to be a project.

Vince: Right.

Roger: They want to be challenged to something. So for example, if we have a preset mentality that every mature Christian man looks like St Francis of Assisi.

Vince: Yeah, right.

Roger: He’s friends with the birds and the lambs. That he’s this relational sponge. That he’s there to help and nurture and relate and do all these things. And there’s everything right about that. But many men also relate to excellence and efficiency and a challenge. And seeing results for their investment.

Vince: Right.

Roger: Well there’s nothing wrong with that either.

Vince: Right.

Roger: Because the gospel teaches that, the Apostle Paul modeled that. So I think we have emphasized the former set, which is basically feminine values – and nothing wrong with those.

Vince: Right.

Roger: In fact, Jesus modeled that.

Vince: Right.

Roger: But we have often not modeled for men’s ministry or ministry to men. The other side of the equation which says, “You know what? God wants you to have goals and purposes in your life that will challenge you to the depth of your shoes, and take you someplace you’d never anticipated.” We’ve got to challenge guys at that level too.

Vince: Yeah, this makes me think about – and I don’t know really where I want to go with this. But this makes me think about all the things that made Jesus Christ a very challenging person. Like he stood up for his faith.

Roger: Yeah.

Vince: That’s something that we can accentuate, right? Or he called Zacchaeus out of the tree, right? Or when he was being persecuted in front of the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin, he said the truth in a challenging moment.

Roger: Yes.

Vince: That cost him his life, to be bound and beaten. Or he’s – he doesn’t do necessarily the comforting thing by showing up at the grave of Lazarus before Lazarus dies. He allows Lazarus to die. Allows people to experience pain. And then he says, “But I told you I’m the resurrection in life. Let me show you all the wonderful things that God could do.” I think we sometimes don’t – we paint a picture of this nice, soft Jesus – maybe in our churches? And we theologically expound things. And we dig into the text. But then maybe – I wonder if we miss this like– What – some people see as a soft side of Jesus, really is a strong, challenging, in your face side of Jesus. Right? Did we miss that?

Roger: Well that’s – isn’t that the challenge? I mean, we’re forever going to be pointing out new facets of Jesus.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Because neither is Jesus the MVP quarterback.

Vince: Right, yeah.

Roger: He’s not the macho man either. In fact – I had a man in our ministry, I was very grateful for his comment. We were planning an event. Kind of a kickoff event. And he was on our men’s team. And he said, “You know what? I have to say this.” He said, “I’m a – I’m in a middle management position. I’m in IT. I deal with people all day. I’m in an educational institution.” And he said, “I’ve heard enough quarterback stories.

Vince: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Roger: Let’s bring somebody who can challenge me in my world.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And in my – my need. So it’s both sides – all – it’s both ends. But I think – again, if we lock our assumptions about what it looks like to be a disciple into an artificial framework – then we lock out a whole bunch of men.

Vince: Okay, so maybe let me start to summarize some of the ideas that we’ve shared today as we’ve kinda – tried to navigate this touchy subject without offending women or-

Roger: Yeah.

Vince: Over – making men’s ministry over-macho, right?

Roger: Right.

Vince: It’s trying to navigate a sensitivity for men. Like we would do anything. Addressing guys that are young in their faith, by being sensitive to those guys. Guys that are old in their faith that is looking for something maybe more deep and challenging. It’s addressing maybe the natural tendency to be effeminate, maybe in our churches?

Because there are more women leading and engaged. And the tendency of being too macho on the other side. It’s ignoring. It’s only seeing the cute side of Jesus, and the soft side of him, right? Versus not seeing the maybe challenging and – let’s say the aggressive side of him walking to the temple and breaking out a weapon, slapping some people upside the head.

And it’s navigating these challenges by keeping men in mind. If we really want to engage them, then maybe the environment just isn’t about physical things. It’s about us having a sensitivity to that. I know that what I’ve done in recent years is paid a lot more attention, Roger – to my teaching and preaching.

And one of the things I’ve paid more attention to is how I use practical, everyday stories that aren’t just about sports. That isn’t just about hunting. I get kind of fed up with that. Because we need to help the guys who are leading. Who own businesses. Who are facing challenges, career changes, depression, marital issues? We need to engage a broad sense of the masculine heart. And create an environment where all guys can be engaged. And yeah, your IT guy feels like he’s at home too, right?

Roger: Right.

Vince: Are we getting somewhere with this, does–?

Roger: Well it goes back to what we said in our last podcast. And that is that – don’t think that we have to do everything in men’s ministry that only the church corporately can really accomplish.

Vince: Yeah, that’s good.

Roger: So we want to affirm all these different aspects in our specific ministry to men. But we also want to say that not everybody’s going to be a part of that. So don’t try to be a home for every type of man at your pancake breakfast.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: It’s just not going to happen.

Vince: That’s great, yeah.

Roger: We need to affirm the overall ministry of the church. The Pastor’s ministry. The ministry of preaching, the ministry of worship, and the ministry of serving. All these are places where men can engage and–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And become their true self in Christ.

Vince: Oh that’s really good. Thank you, Roger, again for being with us. And we look forward to seeing you soon. Well, that’s the show. Thanks for listening. As we close, I want to remind you of 2 things. First, Roger Thompson is hosting a “No Man Left Behind” seminar in the Minneapolis, St Paul area. So if you live around here, and you’re looking for a tool to equip you to lead the men of your church – you have to go to this event. It’s called, “No Man Left Behind.”

It’s a one and a half day seminar that will train you, and give you time to plan, discuss and consult with your leadership team. And it will leave you with a game plan to reach all of the men of your church with a powerful vision and a sustainable strategy. There’s nothing like this on the face of the planet. It is fantastic. It’s like drinking from a fire hose of leadership. It’s going to equip you and inspire you to lead the men around you. You need to attend it. If you want to find out details about this event that Roger’s hosting, just go to beresolute.org/nomanleftbehind. It’s /nomanleftbehind. Go there today to get tickets, or to register. And I would highly encourage you to bring a man or 2 with you to this event.

Also, if you’re looking for men’s content, we have great content for men on our website for you. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. Go to our website today – beresolute.org, and find out more. And with that, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. But please know – that the time that we spent together today is worthless unless you choose to act on it. So do something today. By getting off the bench and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of The Resolute Podcast.

Developing A Vision For Men’s Ministry In The Church

Developing a men’s ministry in the church is one of the most challenging missions, but perhaps we need a better vision.

Every ministry of the church needs a strong vision, and men’s ministry is no different. But do we understand the best version and expression of this? In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller is joined by the pastor and author Roger Thompson from Man In The Mirror Ministries. Today they discuss the topic of developing a vision for the men of your church.

PODCAST:

TRANSCRIPT:

Vince: This is Resolute and the Resolute Leadership Podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re in a series looking at men’s ministry. Discussing the topic of developing a vision for the men’s ministry in your church.

Welcome to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission at Resolute is to disciple and develop men to lead. And if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or men’s ministry – then you need to go to our website today at beresolute.org. We have a number of great tools for men who are leading other men. Also if you want to follow us, you can find us on Facebook or LinkedIn. And if you prefer to listen – you can find us on every major feed, including iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow along right there, or also in our app. But now gentlemen, let’s dive in.

Well, guys, I’m excited to introduce to you today, Roger Thompson. Roger is a good friend and a pastor who’s worked in ministry over 40 years. He brings with him a lot of wisdom, and he is the author of a fantastic book called, “Do the Next Right Thing.” He currently works with Man in the Mirror Ministries, which works to equip men in churches to develop their men’s ministry. Roger, thanks so much for being with us again today.

Roger: Thanks, Vince, good to be with you again.

Vince: So today I want to talk with you about just discipling men. I know that you’re a guy who believes that discipleship should be the focus of men’s ministry, right?

Roger: Yes.

Vince: Okay. So while there’s a lot of different things we could focus on in a men’s ministry – in a lot of ways, we can compare it to other ministries. Discipleship is the core focus. And it’s not a new idea, right?

Roger: No. This is as old as Jesus, and even before that obviously.

Vince: Yeah. Well clearly, beginning of time. I mean if you turn back to Deuteronomy, it was the call for Jewish fathers to disciple their families, and to engage. And of course Jesus – it was his mantra. He lived and died for this. And he engaged his 12 men in discipleship, which is the reason that you and I are sitting here today. It’s because Jesus discipled people. So why do you believe though – that discipleship should be the focus of a men’s ministry and not something else?

Roger: Well I think I should start first by defining what we mean by discipleship. And what I mean by that is simply somebody who’s following Jesus into ever-growing stations of faith. And what I think we tend to think – when you pose the question, “Why should discipleship be the center of men’s ministry?” I think the default – in most men’s minds is, “How do I get men into a systematic Bible study?” And again, nothing wrong with that.

Vince: Yes.

Roger: But discipleship has become equated with books, where I read the Bible and I fill in the blanks in the books.

Vince: Right.

Roger: So have I, “Have you ever been discipled?” “Well no, I’ve never been through that system, I’ve never filled in the blanks.”

Vince: Right.

Roger: I’ve never done that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a great learning mechanism.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: But I think we tend to equate discipleship purely and only with disciple– With Bible study.

Vince: Yeah, or mental education of some kind.

Roger: Right. So I’ve had people over the years come to me many times, and they’ve said, “Where is your discipleship ministry in your church?” And I’ve said – sort of stumblingly, but now I believe it with more conviction.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: I’ve said, “Well, I’d like to think that everything we do is discipleship.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And so, what I want to say is – I want to redefine or change a paradigm. From talking about men’s ministry to talking about a ministry to men.

Vince: Yeah, say more about that. ‘Cause I love the way that you say that. Because sometimes guys will come to you, and they have a concept of what they think of men’s ministry as. And it’s a program, it’s a system, it’s a process. But then they miss the other side of it. Which is how do we really mobilize men? How do we get them to embrace the lifestyle that Jesus lived, that is laid out in God’s word, but not see it as exclusively either a system or a process. Or on the other end, only as a Bible study, right?

Roger: Right.

Vince: Is that kinda what you’re getting at?

Roger: Yes. I’m saying that your men’s ministry, there does – there is a need. Let me say, first of all, there is a need for men to be alone with other men and there’s discipleship that can happen only in that setting, and best in that setting.

Vince: Right.

Roger: But I also want to say that discipleship is not up to the men’s ministry to do. There – it happens in many, many other places. So in other words – let me say it this way. The healthier the church, the less footprint the men’s ministry will have – or need to have.

Vince: Okay, say more about that. ‘Cause that’s intriguing.

Roger: In other words – if the church is healthy, you’re going to have men involved working with children. You’re going to have men in your choir, your worship team, ushering.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Parking cars. Going to have them giving and serving and going on mission teams.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And being part of couple’s Bible studies, and leading adult Bible fellowships.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So if the church is healthy, there are men everywhere.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: That’s a ministry to men.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And so in Man in the Mirror, we are trying to open people’s eyes to the fact that when a guy gets hot about doing a men’s ministry – a lot of times what he says – sometimes overtly, and sometimes just through his body language. He basically says, “Hey we’re starting a men’s ministry, and if you don’t come on Saturday morning, you’re not worth squat.”

Vince: Yeah, right, yeah.

Roger: You’re not serious about your spiritual life.

Vince: Exactly.

Roger: And I don’t want to convey that because I have elders–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: In our church. Men that I would die for, and who would die for me. And they are spiritual, Godly men. And they don’t come to any of our men’s ministry stuff.

Vince: Or, or you’ve probably seen this. Where you’ve got an incredibly committed guy who runs a business, who leads a Bible study at his workplace. And is mobilizing men to engage, not only with their work but with life overseas or in their neighborhood or community. And we wouldn’t say that they’re not engaged in men’s ministry, right?

Roger: We should be – and let me finish my thought about my elders.

Vince: Yeah

Roger: I don’t hold them–

Vince: Yeah

Roger: Guilty for that. I applaud them. Because they are fully engaged–

Vince: Yes.

Roger: As disciples, doing what God has assigned them to do.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And so with your thought – yes, I think we need to go find that guy – and be a cheerleader for him, and a firm hand to say, “You know what? You are doing what God wants you to do, and I couldn’t do that. Nobody else in our church could do that. But Jesus has deployed you to do that.” That’s our ministry to men–

Vince: Okay so–

Roger: And it’s our ministry through men–

Vince: Yes. There you go.

Roger: And so we need to have a much bigger framework to say, “Let’s look around. What – what can we accomplish in men only situations? And what are the most important things? Let’s do that in our men’s ministry. And then let’s affirm men who are growing as disciples in every other aspect of our church’s life.

Vince: Yeah so, what I hear you saying is that we need to have a larger view of what men’s ministry could be. Or a larger vision – not be so exclusive or myopic about saying, “It’s only a Bible study. And if numbers come to my Bible study, then I’m successful.” Or – if we have 100 men that come to a men’s retreat, then we’re successful. It’s more about how are we mobilizing men throughout the church? We’re giving them opportunities to grow in their faith, by using their gifts and exploring service and projects and engagement with the whole church – not just with us. That really is a healthier view, it sounds like?

Roger: Absolutely. Yes. We have a man in our church named John, who retired – I don’t know? 15 years ago from teaching. Very vigorous guy. And his ministry was to our church camp. Where there are hundreds and hundreds of first-time decisions for Christ made every summer. And thousands of re-dedication. And John started taking trips to Trout Lake to do building up there. And he’s probably got 30 men in our church who go with him. It’s very quiet, it’s under the radar. They go up there, and they do tremendous work. They’ve given literally millions of dollars of free labor. Skilled labor to this camp. Where children come and are saved and discipled. I mean – yeah, he’s a Bible student, but they don’t go and study the Bible.

Vince: Right.

Roger: They go and work, they have fellowship, they encourage one another. Some of these guys have had accidents at the camp, they’ve gone to the hospital with each other. They – I think I could safely say, they have a brotherhood that’s been born of physical labor – shoulder to shoulder, that most of us men would envy.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And it’s happened because he’s exercising what God has given him as his vision and gift, and he’s included other men in that. And I see personal, spiritual growth in those men. They’re more committed to our church. They’re more committed to the mission of the camp.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And I think they’re more committed to each other as a result of that.

Vince: That’s so funny, ’cause I – I think I know a little bit of that story. I’ve actually heard that told up at Trout Lake Bible Camp before. Funny thing was, I spoke at a men’s retreat this last week at Camp Victory – if you’re familiar with that? In Zumbro Falls.

Roger: Oh yeah.

Vince: And they had just finished building a – oh what is it? A dining hall. It’s brand new. And the contractor was out there. And the camp director came into the hall and said, “The guy who built this is right outside. Tell them to thank you, because he built it on his own dime. It’s incredible. Built it on his own dime with volunteers.

Roger: Yeah.

Vince: And I looked at it. I mean we’re talking about a million dollar facility that he built on his own dime with other guys. They were out there laying stones and finishing the woodwork and laying the carpet. I’m like, “Yeah, that is the ministry.” And it’s not only ministry to men, it’s a men’s ministry that actually is mobilizing the – for movement of the gospel in amazing ways. Because I was eating in a facility with other men that needed to hear about Jesus Christ, along with all kinds of other kids and children and adults and families that were being changed by that. I think that’s a bigger vision for men’s ministry than probably we care to embrace sometimes.

Roger: And the way that stays on track – is that the Pastor or the leader sees what’s happening, and reminds that guy–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: “Thank you for serving Jesus in this way.”

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: ‘Cause it’s easy for us to substitute sweaty, hard work from the worship and service of Jesus. I remember an incident out of Everybody Loves Raymond. Where his father is an usher at the church.

Vince: Oh yeah.

Roger: And these ushers are in the back room. And the only reason they’re ushering is so that they can avoid the service.

Vince: Exactly, yeah. Yeah.

Roger: That’s not the kind of labor we want to affirm. We want to affirm – you’re not doing, you’re not building log cabins to avoid other–

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: This is your spiritual worship.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And I love that – I love to come alongside men.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: And say, “Don, thank you because in your serving Jesus in this way, you made it possible for these things to happen.” And all of us kinda lose sight of that.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: We lose sight of what our ministry does for others. And we have a great opportunity to encourage men in their discipleship by doing that.

Vince: Yeah, I wonder Roger if-if we don’t really need to embrace this new vision for men’s ministry. Not a new – it’s not really new. But in our time, in our culture today this sounds like it works, right? It works for men in their time, in their place, with their gifts. Facing some of the challenges we talked about last time, and the problems that men have regarding competency or their gift. They bring the bear to the kingdom, or the way that they lead, or how they engage, the time they have. It sure sounds like to me, if we could cast a bigger vision for what our men’s ministry looks like – not exclusively as a Bible study or as a single event, then maybe we’d create broader engagement? Have you – I know you’re seeing this work at your church, ’cause you lead there. But have you seen this work in other churches across our country?

Roger: Oh yes. I – I mean, I think– I think that there are many churches that are– And maybe it’s just, they just need to rename it or refocus on it? But there are many churches that are very successful in reaching hunters or fishermen or-

Vince: Right.

Roger: Softball players, or basketball kids. And it’s not viewed as men’s ministry though. It’s viewed as sort of an offshoot of something. Viewed as fun or whatever. But I think we need to affirm that these things can be used as doorways to discipleship.

Vince: Yeah, yeah.

Roger: And on the other end of the spectrum – many churches are mobilizing men in things like Steven Ministry.

Vince: Yes.

Roger: To go to hospitals and care for others.

Vince: Correct.

Roger: And to be that listening ear. To help NGO’s and non-profits in ravaged areas like Houston and Florida and places like that. I think we need a much bigger vision for those of us who are leading – to go and affirm those men, and just remind them and refocus them on why they’re doing this, and–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Thanking them for serving Jesus, because of what it means to us.

Vince: I don’t know what you think about this, and maybe this would be a good place for us to close? Maybe I’m opening up a big topic? But we’ll see. I kinda have felt like – and I know Man in the Mirror teaches this as well. That the engagement of a Pastor, of a men’s leader, and of a men’s team – is powerful – can create powerful movement in a church. And I have seen churches live out a vision like you’re talking about. Where you’re saying, “Let’s move toward a ministry that mobilizes men, rather than tries to retain and capture them in certain environments, right?

Roger: Right.

Vince: But I know that there is something powerful. When you have a senior Pastor who understands this kind of a vision. And a passionate men’s leader who wants to spearhead it. Along with a team of other men. When they get this, they start affirming this. And it seems like – you’re kind of moving with the stream a little bit more. And then that stream turns into a river. And it starts to embrace a little bit of a new vision. Would you say that those people elements right there are very important to involve, and – in creating some of this momentum?

Roger: Well absolutely. I mean the Pastor doesn’t have to be that man’s man that goes out and skins a buffalo every morning before breakfast.

Vince: Right.

Roger: But he – he’s absolutely essential to give his affirmation to somebody who does want to reach men

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: Because it’s going to go nowhere if the Pastor is fearful or threatened by someone else fulfilling a role that he wishes he could fulfill, but perhaps never can. So yeah, the Pastor’s role is essential. But Pastor’s got to have a team.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: In fact, it’s better if the team has the Pastor, rather than the Pastor has the team.

Vince: Yeah, yeah. So in other words – the senior guy is supporting, cheerleading, engaged as needed. And then you’ve got some sort of passionate leader at the helm calling – calling for the vision and leading the way. And you’ve got a team of guys around him, mobilizing other people. That’s kind of what it sounds like to me is that–

Roger: Yes.

Vince: The senior guy’s just behind it. And he loves what’s going on. He supports it, and maybe gives some to it as time allows?

Roger: Absolutely. And I guess truth in advertising here. Even when you have that, even when you have a team and you have a Pastor fully pulling for that. And you have an environment that’s conducive to ministry to men – I believe it is the hardest ministry to sustain in the local church.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: So let’s not get dazzled about–

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: How this is going to just fall into place. It is going to be an uphill pull. That doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding.

Vince: Yeah.

Roger: But it is – it is hard to sustain, because we think it ought to be easy. And that’s the subject of another podcast.

Vince: Yeah. That’s the subject of– Roger, thank you so much. This is very insightful, and we look forward to having you back again.

Roger: Thank you.

Vince: Well that’s the show. Thanks for listening. As we close, I want to remind you of 2 things. First, Roger Thompson is hosting a “No Man Left Behind” seminar in the Minneapolis, St Paul area. So if you live around here, and you’re looking for a tool to equip you to lead the men of your church – you have to go to this event. It’s called, “No Man Left Behind.”

It’s a one and a half day seminar that will train you, and give you time to plan, discuss and consult with your leadership team. And it will leave you with a game plan to reach all of the men of your church with a powerful vision and a sustainable strategy. There’s nothing like this on the face of the planet. It is fantastic. It’s like drinking from a fire hose of leadership. It’s going to equip you and inspire you to lead the men around you. You need to attend it. If you want to find out details about this event that Roger’s hosting, just go to beresolute.org/nomanleftbehind. It’s /nomanleftbehind. Go there today to get tickets, or to register. And I would highly encourage you to bring a man or 2 with you to this event.
Also, if you’re looking for men’s content, we have great content for men on our website for you. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. Go to our website today – beresolute.org, and find out more. And with that, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. But please know – that the time that we spent together today is

Also, if you’re looking for men’s content, we have great content for men on our website for you. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. Go to our website today – www.beresolute.org and find out more. And with that, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. But please know – that the time that we spent together today is worthless unless you choose to act on it. So do something today. By getting off the bench and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time for another edition of The Resolute Podcast.

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