Starting a men’s ministry? Thinking about re-launching in the fall? In my work with churches across the nation, I’ve encountered many men’s ministries that are either non-existent or ineffective. I want to challenge you to think through some of these concepts as you consider launching your men’s ministry in the fall.
1. Start By Asking The Hard Questions
Ask yourself, “Who Is This For?” And “What is the Best Outcome?”. When it comes to men’s ministry, most leaders don’t have an answer to the first question other than, “It’s for men.” Well, do we want young men? Dads? Non-Christians? What are the men dealing with? What do the men need? Answering these questions will help you in your planning. (i.e., if you want young men, Saturday mornings might not always be the best time).
The second question is, “What is the best outcome?” This helps you determine what is success looks like. To most men’s ministry, it’s numbers: “We had 15 guys out to our breakfast”. But is that really all you care about – how many guys? What is the best outcome for your ministry? Mentorship? Guys leading in the church? Guys inviting their friends? Guys coming to Christ? Well, if those are your desired outcomes, it’s going to change what you do and how you do it.
2. Make The Ministry Invite-able
Guys have no problem inviting their friends to something they know they’ll love. If guys are not inviting their friends, then it’s either because they have no friends or they’re not too keen on inviting them. I’m going to assume it’s almost always the latter.
Guys don’t invite their friends to men’s ministry stuff for a few reasons:
It’s inconsistent They don’t know what they’re going to get, week to week. Sometimes it’s a Bible study, sometimes one guy talks the whole time. You need to make sure that there is a level of quality and consistency in your men’s ministry.
It’s full of weird people. Sometimes guys can be weird. They tell dumb jokes. They mock one another. They talk politics or say abrasive statements. If there are guys in your group that are allowed to behave in that manner, it will limit the invite-ability of your ministry. It’s important to have a talk with the guys in your group and remind them that we always want more men to come. Sometimes you have to enact the golden rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
It’s not relevant. If the topic or the event is actually helpful to the person I’m inviting, then it’s easy for me to invite them. But if we’re talking about “How to be a Godly Husband,” it’s hard for me to think about inviting my non-Christian friend. Create easy on ramps for inviting by addressing timely topics with relevant truths that don’t use Christian-eze language (i.e., Mental Health and Manhood). Spoiler alert, you can talk about Christian faith and spirituality in plain English.
Ministries grow because people come to them. People come to them when they are personally invited. Invite-ability is a key aspect of a vibrant men’s ministry.
3. Embed Leadership Development and Mentorship in The Ministry
A big part of a growing men’s ministry is the ability for men to “own” the ministry. If one guy does all the talking, praying and reading, then it’s hard to be a part of it. Create multiple opportunities for every guy to lead; have a different guy pray, read scripture, add their opinion, prepare a devotional or plan an aspect of the ministry.
Remember, guys don’t want tasks; they want to be developed. So make sure every opportunity to serve is also an opportunity to grow. Have every guy serve in a team of two and make it their job to pray for one another and challenge one another.
Every guy needs to be mentoring another guy. Embed the idea of praying for one another and rejoicing with one another deep in the ministry. Guys need to see this as something they do, not something they attend. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated just make sure there are 3 ingredients:
Prayer. Pray for one another. This transforms a hang-out time into a spiritual moment and reminds men that prayer can happen any time and any ware.
Care. It doesn’t stop at “I’ll pray for you.” Instead, men are encouraged to care for one another in practical ways.
Share. Guys need to be challenged to be real. A mentor creates a safe place where honest and open sharing can occur.
4. Think Short Term and Think Tactile
Most men’s ministries I’ve experienced start off strong then taper off. Men have a hard time being consistent over long periods of time. So, utilize seminars, workshops and series to create easy on/off ramps for guys to come in and out of the ministry without feeling like they have to commit till Jesus returns. Have something invite-able every 3-4 weeks that allows new men to join.
Also, think tactile. Most guys won’t keep coming to a Bible Study every week without something tactile. Add in a serve day or a bike ride/golf day in the mix to keep guys doing stuff with their hands. Volunteer at local organizations within your community. When guys are active and use their hands, they feel like they’ve done something.
5. Don’t Make Men Feel Obligated
There was a time when we said, “Good Christian men come to the men’s breakfast.” I don’t think that’s helpful or wise to browbeat men into attending your men’s ministry. Every person in this world is always asking, “Am I loved?” and “Am I needed?” Your men’s ministry should answer those 2 questions all the time.
Men in your church should be made to feel loved and needed whether they come to your men’s ministry or not. Men should know that they are loved by God and that his desire is for them to continue to grow into the living image of Jesus Christ. And that can happen in community. Guys should know that they are not obligated to attend a men’s ministry but that their church family loves them and needs them.
As you look to start or re-launch, what are some of the things you are considering?