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.
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?
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.
Roger: But discipleship has become equated with books, where I read the Bible and I fill in the blanks in the books.
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.”
Roger: I’ve never done that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s a great learning mechanism.
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.
Roger: I’ve said, “Well, I’d like to think that everything we do is discipleship.”
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?
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.
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.
Roger: Parking cars. Going to have them giving and serving and going on mission teams.
Roger: And being part of couple’s Bible studies, and leading adult Bible fellowships.
Roger: So if the church is healthy, there are men everywhere.
Roger: That’s a ministry to men.
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.
Roger: And I don’t want to convey that because I have elders–
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.
Roger: I don’t hold them–
Roger: Guilty for that. I applaud them. Because they are fully engaged–
Roger: As disciples, doing what God has assigned them to do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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–
Roger: “Thank you for serving Jesus in this way.”
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.
Roger: And I love that – I love to come alongside men.
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.
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-
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.
Roger: To go to hospitals and care for others.
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–
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?
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.
Roger: But he – he’s absolutely essential to give his affirmation to somebody who does want to reach men
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.
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–
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.
Roger: So let’s not get dazzled about–
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.
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.