Author Archives: Vince Miller

Tripped By Pride

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Tripped By Pride

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.—Proverbs 16:18

Men who accomplish an extraordinary level of position, prosperity, or prestige frequently become immortalized by the world. We all know at least one athlete, business leader, or well-known author to which this has happened. Sometimes the elevation of these men by others has a way of distorting their view of self and the world around them. I am sure you can think of more than one example of a man whose fame has gone to his head.

But a man who knows his pride, and when and how it manifests itself can resist it before it distorts his perspective and ruins his identity, character, and relationships. This is what was so amazing about Jesus. He was willing to live out his status and position with power humbly and yet persistently redirect attention away from himself to his Father.

DO THIS: Know your pride and say no to it.

PRAY THIS: God, help me to know my version of pride and keep it from "tripping me up" today.

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How To Build A Mens Ministry

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Building A Men’s Ministry (That Grows and Sustains)

Here's something to think about...

I love it when men want to build a ministry to men in their church. The heart and passion is something to celebrate, not something to quench and set aside. People within the church notice right away that almost every other ministry flourishes (i.e. children, teens, women, and even the quilting club) however, the engagement of men, across all age groups, is notoriously low. And if you don’t believe me, here are the facts.

Fact About Men In The Church:
“The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.” (“U.S. Congregational Life Survey – Key Findings,” 10/29/03.)

While some will find, these facts disturbing this has been true for centuries. It's not a new phenomenon. But I, like you, believe we can change this. Here is some of my thinking and learning on this topic from my last 28 years of ministry that has helped me build a ministry to men that grows and sustains.

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First | The Men You Want May Not Be In The Church

In fact, you're reading this because they aren't there.

We must begin by changing our mindset about ministry when reaching men. An adjustment is needed because men’s ministry does not play by the rules of every other effort in the church. I watch as ministry leaders frequently assume, like the women’s ministry, that men will just show up when invited—and this is not the case. For men, you need more strategery. And before you start devising a strategy, consider this fact about your market audience and what it teaches you about men.

Fact About A Man's Engagement With The Church:
“More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.” (Barna, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America.”)

So, you better read that a couple of times, because this single fact gives us clues to at least two marketing challenges. The first challenge is that Christian men are fine with “things as they spiritually are.” (FYI, status quo, leads to the greatest sin of men—apathy). The second challenge is that marketing to men during weekend services will reach only 1 out of 6 men in attendance. Even then, it might fall on deaf ears. Embracing this hard reality about our market is essential because this is where we must start working smarter.

If you are going to build a men's ministry, you must remember you are working with these facts. And they're facts; you cannot change them. You can only change how you work knowing them. So if men are not coming, you are going to have to find creative new ways to reach them as your market demographic.

Here's an idea—Lead With Power

One solution that I have seen work is aiming a men's effort at becoming more inclusive to Christian men within the larger community. This builds broader awareness, is naturally more inviting, and sometimes gets churches working together in their efforts for men. One group that has been very successful at doing this is Leading With Power, based in Wisconsin, founded by Keith Tompkins. They have hundreds of men in attendance at several in-state and out-of-state locations using a simple model that is attracting men. And here it is.

Each month men are invited to join other men, from all walks of life, for a gathering around a meal. They enjoy an excellent sit-down meal while hearing from male speakers who will motivate you on topics of leadership, marriage, and family. The speakers they host are men who have backgrounds in business and entrepreneurship and are recognized leaders in the community with either spiritual undertones or a direct gospel invitation. And this all happens in a one hour experience. And while this event requires a lot of work and planning, they have experienced massive success in reaching Christian and pre-Christian men in the community.

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Second | Flip The Acquisition Funnel

So try something different

In the sales and marketing world, customer acquisition funnels are used to clarify the process of acquiring clients so that you can build a client base. They attempt to capture potential at more significant events and turn them into first time and repeat customers. I know this is a lot of business thinking.

Simply put, they start with a large pool of potential customers at partner events and funnel them into a sales cycle, one step, and one decision at a time. While this works, it is cost, time, and energy prohibitive in most church situations. Especially given that you probably have a small men's team with a $200 /annual budget, which is the case 90% of the time. And let's be honest, building a customer acquisition process for men is going to require a large men's team, a $100k/annual budget, and a ton of time.

But when planning to build our men's ministry, we tend to default to the large event (acquisition funnel events) because they work. An example would be your staple Men’s Breakfast, Men’s Retreat, or Men's Conference, which men host a few times a year. Now, these events do work, and if you have the team, time, and money to do them—do them! But be intentional and strategic because they are not as successful as we always want them to be at moving men down the funnel toward more in-depth engagement.

Here's an idea—Develop A Small Movement

One solution that returns much higher engagement and costs less, requires less time, and keeps men engaged longer is a leadership themed small group. This flips the funnel in the other direction.

Fact About Small Group Explosion
"With 1 small group of men, I was able to build a ministry to 480 men in 40 small groups over 9-months. I did not think it was possible as a 20-year ministry veteran, but I had never tried it before. Why are we so surprised? Jesus's ministry still continues to grow using this model."—VInce Miller

If I were a senior pastor or men's leader in a situation with limited resources, I would recruit my most capable Christian man and have him lead a small group focused on mentorship, discipleship, and leadership development with a team of men. Yep, pick your most capable male leader in the church and have him develop a group of men. This is very biblical; Jesus did it. And while this is initially a slower process, it's right-sized for a volunteer team running on limited resources. I would tend toward materials with a general discipleship and leadership focus and spend time turning those men into leaders in your church—that build the acquisition funnel with you.

If you ever want more in-depth advice on this, send me an email. I have seen 98% success in recruiting to this type of model, and an increase of 87% total engagement over one year with groups taking this approach weekly. Yep, not a joke. And it is much easier to deploy.

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Third | Think Deploy Not Retain

Don't gather them; send them.

Okay, here is where things get interesting. I think men’s ministry, as it has been done in the past, is not a good idea.

Now, before you get too frustrated with me, let me tell you what I mean.

I think too often we look back to the olf movements like Promise Keepers with Coach Bill McCartney, and wish we could manufacture that moment again. We think, “Let’s gather men, have them all at a stadium event, and we will show the world what God can do!” And while the enthusiasm is to be celebrated, the approach is not going to work like it used to.

So, why not stop defeating yourself?

Just stop trying to retain men. Stop it all together. They aren’t coming anyway. Here are the facts.

Fact About Men in the Church Activities:
“Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.” (Barna Research Online, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America,” 4/6/2000.)

Since these men are not coming to weekly activities, they must be doing something. So what are they doing? Well, they are busy. They work. And I know one thing, they want to do this better. So maybe instead of fighting against our market, we need to join with them. Instead of trying to lure them to our stuff, we need to help them succeed with their stuff in their way on their terms—but still with God's truth.

And rather than letting this lack of engagement frustrate us, I have found a focus on deploying men to be life-giving. Now this is a missional idea and more descriptive than prescriptive, I have seen deployment success stories that thrill me on three different levels.

  • First, on a base level, a man is deployed when he is now leading devotionals with his kids, praying consistently with his wife, and reading his Bible for personal devotion. Wouldn't it be more exciting to have every man in your church doing this, rather than attending your larger events anyway?
  • Second, at a mid-level, I love it when men are deployed into other ministries of the church and serve in youth ministry, education ministry, or even on a committee or board. Wouldn't this be helpful for church balance, engagement, and expansion?
  • Third, and my favorite sign of high-level deployment, is when a man leads ministry efforts in their place of business or decides to mentor a group of men on his own. This is where replication becomes biblical.

So rather than retain men, maybe deployment would be life-giving to you and men's ministry. And again, this is biblical and requires a new mindset.

I think one ministry that does this well is ours—Resolute. We have no desire to retain our men. We want to deploy them into your church and the world. And we hope that our content will so impact them that they will want to use it with other men, or will take on a leadership role in the church. If we can be responsible for discipling and developing in a way that serves a pastor, I get excited.

And FYI, retention of men is a fallacy. We cannot retain them, because they do not belong to us, only to God, and they are called to serve his mission.

If you are looking for material for your men’s group, or are looking for help with your small group leadership, reach out to me and I will help in any way I can. I would even be willing to come out and train your team. See more here: Men's Training

PICK ONE OF THESE NEXT STEPS:

Slow It Down

Dirty Fighting Techniques In Marriage a blog by Vince Miller

Slow It Down

"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention." —Proverbs 15:18

We cannot deny we all have moments of anger. Yesterday I witnessed multiple accounts of anger throughout my day. I saw a parent shouting at their teen, two adults arguing while driving down the road, a woman at a customer service desk infuriated about service, and then listened to a friend who was enraged about a situation at work. This verse is clear; anger brews inside us all. Like a crockpot coming to a boil, we each have a speed by which this happens—some get hot fast, and some get hot slow. Yet only you know your rate of boil and the triggers that accelerate the boil. Therefore, give pause to the triggers that make you "hot" and learn to moderate because unmoderated anger only stirs up strife.

DO THIS: Write down one thing that triggered your anger yesterday. Identify the trigger and moderate it today.

PRAY THIS: God, help me to moderate what triggers my anger before I become a hot-tempered man.

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Do You Devise?

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Do You Devise?

Do they not go astray who devise evil?
    Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.—Proverbs 14:22

There are three men I imagine above. There is the man who plans evil, and they plan to go astray. Then there is the man who plans good, and they plan to meet steadfast love and faithfulness. But there is also the man who plans nothing, and they get nothing. All three of the men get the result they devised. So what are you getting? Could it be precisely what you planned?

DO THIS: Plan for spiritual growth. Write down one thing you need to grow spiritually.

PRAY THIS: God, provide me with [insert your one thing here] this week so that I can grow and mature in you.

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Poverty’s Benefit

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Poverty's Benefit

The ransom of a man's life is his wealth,
    but a poor man hears no threat.—Proverbs 13:8

We all want more wealth and security than we currently have. But it's hard to tell the person who wants more that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Yet if you want to be wise, take a lesson from King Solomon, who was one of the richest men ever to live. He discovered that wealth came not with security but with the stress of insecurity. He called it ransom—the ongoing fear of theft and threat that resulted in the need for perpetual self-preservation. And while we all want more than we currently have, don't forget there's a burden that comes with more—it's the energy needed to preserve that wealth. But a poor man does not need to exert this energy and effort. He hears no threat and is relieved of this burden, finding his security only in God for the provision of the day.

DO THIS: Turn all your insecurities over to God and be secure in Him, and let Him be your Provider.

PRAY THIS: God, I need you to provide today, precisely what I need. God, you know my need to decimal. May I accept your generous provision.

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They Win Every Time

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They Win Every Time

The hand of the diligent will rule,
    while the slothful will be put to forced labor.—Proverbs 12:24

As you mature, you realize there is something about hardworking people. There is wisdom for us to learn from their diligence. They understand that eventually, they will win, not because they're smarter or more gifted than others, but instead, they are a little more diligent than others.

So are you about to quit? Have you hit your wit's end on a challenge or relationship?

If so, pray to God for strength but be diligent and don't become slothful. You have no idea what one more day of diligence might teach you—and the payout is great.

DO THIS: Write down one thing you want to quit on, and why you want to quit.

PRAY THIS: God, I want to quit on this [insert the thing you wrote down] because [insert your reason] but give me the strength of your Spirit to carry on.

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Be Just

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Be Just

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
    but a just weight is his delight.—Proverbs 11:1

We long for justice. Want proof? Pay attention when someone:

  • Cuts you off in traffic.
  • Takes credit for something you did.
  • Yells at you for circumstantial issues out of your control.
  • Disregards the agreed-upon rules.

In these moments, a justice trigger alerts each of us. But these moments of injustice are not only irritating, but they're also infuriating when they stem from a false balancewhich indicates an intent to deceive.

On the other hand, a just weight is lifegiving to humanity and delightful to God.—which indicates an intent to not deceive.

DO THIS: Instead of unfairly weighing the balances of justice in your favor determine to be truthful and bring attention to justice which is the delight of God.

PRAY THIS: God, may I be justice in all I think, say, and do today.

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A Great Lay Up

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A Great Lay Up

The wise lay up knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.—Proverbs 10:14

Wise men do things differently than foolish men. One difference is that they know how to lay up the right things. And while all men have the opportunity to lay up all kinds of things, wise men are well aware that sports stats, market awareness, monetary possessions, and retirement assets don't make the list. Their knowledge is craftier than the witty words of the world. They hear ruin coming a mile away.

PRAY THIS: God, bring knowledge and understanding across my path today and help me lay it up.

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Don’t Waste Your Time

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Don't Waste Your Time

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.—Proverbs 9:8

Some efforts are a complete waste of time, energy, and investment—like admonishing a scoffer. And we all know a few scoffers. They are people who are unreceptive, unwilling, and unteachable when presented with shreds of truth. At times they are so unreceptive that they turn to hate the person presenting the truth. But while you'll be quick to list off all the scoffers of your life and even recall their resistant moments, perhaps you would be better served by the wisdom of Solomon if you asked yourself if you are the scoffer? And there is one way to know. It's a simple reflective question: "When people reprove you, do you, in response, genuinely love them?"

JOURNAL THIS: I am resistant to the truth because...

DO THIS: Accept reproof regardless of the person, and thank them today.

PRAY THIS: God, make me wiser, but also make me more willing to accept the reproof that leads to the wisdom I desire.

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The Best Advice Ever

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The Best Advice Ever

All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.—Proverbs 8:8

Have you ever heard someone say something so profound you've embedded it in your memory forever? I bet the emotions you felt at this moment, and the events you experienced reinforced the power of these words. These moments have an echoing effect on our lives and have the power to shape our thoughts, attitudes, and actions for years. Yet the words of Wisdom, (personified above), have a lasting impact in the right direction. If we could learn to read them, listen to them, and heed them when these emotional events arise, we may soon discover that King Solomon was correct—there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.

DO THIS: Trust God's Wisdom before human opinion regardless of how emotional the moment might be.

PRAY THIS: God, help me to listen more carefully for your Wisdom today.

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5 Principles For Discipling Your Son

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5 Principles For Discipling Your Son

This article is a repost written by Ryan Sanders is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. He is married to Tonia, and they have three children. He received the Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a Fellow at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Ryan serves as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan.


Based on our recent survey of you, our reader, your top three biggest challenges are that you battle feeling like a failure, you want to be more intentional, and you struggle with discipline and training. This post will help you start tackling all three of these challenges, starting with intentionally discipling your son. Let’s rock and roll. 

In our handy, dandy father and son bible studies, we call these the “five vital principles.” Why? Well, when it comes to intentionally discipling your son, they’re “vital,” and they’re “principles.” There’s also five of them. Kidding aside, many of you feel like you just can’t seem to get your son to open up. One dads’ survey response struck me. He said, talking about his son, 

I wish we had the type of relationship in which I could speak into his life

How bad does it feel to think you aren’t speaking into your son’s life? On the flip side, how empowering would it feel to know you’re doing everything you can?

I want every dad reading this post to feel like you’re speaking into your sons’ life—and your son is listening.

Here’s the deal, do these five things. If you invest your time in doing these five vital principles, you’ll be intentionally discipling your son. You’re welcome in advance. You can thank me later. 

1. Take ownership of the process.

You have a small window of opportunity, don’t we? My kids are just starting to be the age where they have their own lives. You know? Like, their own “stuff” to be at. It sucks, not going to lie. What’s that saying, “the hours are long but the years are short”? It’s in those “long” hours that magic can happen—if we own that time.

Intentional fatherhood looks different compared to the world. Ephesians 6:4 has a different reference point for us as dads. There’s a purpose to it and our role. God’s Word instructs us to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Dad, don’t leave this to chance; bringing up boys to be godly men will not happen on its own. So own it—it’s yours for the taking. 

2. Be humble, honest, and helpful in all your conversations.

Remember, the goal is to raise your son into authentic, godly manhood. Within reason and depending on your sons’ age, be prepared to share areas where you struggle in your faith and pursuit of being a godly man. Let your son see you are a man who needs God’s grace as you work toward godliness.

Sure, your sons’ journey to manhood should be found in Christ’s model of manhood. But, he should be able to see an example—right in his own home—you! As you teach your son how to be a godly man, you will need to have the trust of your son over the world.

3. Engage in conversations, not lectures.

Kent wrote in our State of Biblical Fatherhood report a point I needed to hear. He said, “Stop trying to ‘be God’ to your children, instead reflect His character.” Whoa, what’s that sound? Oh, that’s Kent stepping on my toes. Let’s all agree to talk out the issues and help our kids come to the answers on their own, with your guidance. Remember that more is caught than taught.

MJ Dad pro tip: take questions to God, seeking wisdom in prayer and from His Word—in front of your son.

Good or bad, our kids’ first thoughts about who God is are shaped by how we dads relate to them. Some of my most challenging, yet best moments, as a dad, have been when I’ve apologized to my kids for wrongdoing.

4. Continually learn about your son.

One dad in our survey said, “Sometimes I’m all business/work and find it difficult to slow down to play ball or catch with the kids; in fact, we seem never to do this.” We can do better if we aim higher. One big goal is to know your son’s heart, which means you’ll need to peel back layers constantly. Learn to ask right questions and continually improve at numbers 1, 2, and 3 on this list. 

Use the discussion questions in our 1-on-1 bible study guides if you need to. We can tell you what to say and when to say it. Another MJ Dad pro tip: Put your iPhone on airport mode or in a separate room—away from you—for intentional times of connecting. Let your son know he has your undivided attention. I’m just preachin’ to myself now. 

5. Apply biblical wisdom to real life.

The Bible provides answers to our questions. It’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Remember, biblical manhood most easily starts with biblical fatherhood.

You will need to be digging into the Scriptures if you’re ever to be intentionally discipling your son. At the end of the Book of Matthew, Jesus gives us our mission in life to “go into all the world and make disciples…” (v. 28:19).

What if you started by intentionally discipling your son?

Question > Which one of these five vital principles do you struggle with the most? We’re here to help. You can always email me or tweet @ManhoodJourney.

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