COVID-19 has changed how we do life, even if it feels like life is returning to some type of “normal.” For most churches, men’s ministry has come to an end for the summer months. But I believe there are some big questions men’s ministry leaders must face now so they can be prepared for what could be coming as we look to the fall months.
In part one of this series, I explored the question “Are You Sure Your Men Will Return to Church?” We need to understand the trends related to this question and how it could impact our men’s ministry work in the fall months.
Today, I want to look at the second question:
Question 2: What If Virtual Is the New Reality?
On some levels, this is a ridiculous question because virtual has been the reality for large portions of the population long before COVID ever hit us. What COVID has done is expose the fact that ministry was not using the online world well as a platform to disciple people. In some cases, churches have been able to change quickly. They have built some outstanding online experiences – particularly for Sunday morning worship services. In other cases, we are still struggling and are holding out hope for the day when we will all be able to gather again, and things will go back to “normal.”
Give Up Your Wishes for Normal
If going back to normal means discipleship will only happen when people are physically gathered in the same space, then you need to give up your wishes for normal. Many leaders are rightly helping us to understand that we live in a Netflix culture – even within the church. People want to structure their own lives and connect with what will help them faithfully follow Jesus, but on their time.
Some young parents have discovered the gift of being part of an online small group. The fact that they can join a small group AND stay home with their kids without the cost of a babysitter each week has brought a new dimension to their spiritual growth. They are not likely going back to whatever our view of normal is.
Problem: Men’s Ministry Plans Are Based on Physical Gatherings
The problem is that most men’s ministry plans are exclusively focused on physical gatherings. By now, your region likely has rules about the size of gatherings you can have. The truth is, nobody knows if this will continue to progress by this fall, or if we will have to take steps to shut down again.
At best, you may be able to get some of your men into the same physical space. How will you equip the men who cannot or will not participate in those in-person gatherings?
At worst, you will have no men’s ministry activity this fall, and men will have gone six months or more without any further spiritual equipping and friendships in their life. How will you make sure you are investing in men’s lives even if you cannot gather?
Your Plans Need to Be Both Live and Virtual
Your men’s ministry strategy from now on needs to be both live and virtual. If you want to help as many men as possible, you must create opportunities to connect with men in either environment. It is essential to see these as two rails on a railroad track. They should work together to pull men in the same direction.
In the coming months, we will provide further training to help you strategize well for not only the fall months but for many years to come. If you would like to begin to get some help in developing this kind of strategy, then I encourage you to ask for more information about our coaching services.
As I look to the future of local church ministry – including men’s ministry – in-person and virtual connecting points are a new reality. I believe you want to have maximum impact with your men’s ministry. To do this, you need to begin now to think about how to do both in-person and online ministry as part of your ongoing men’s ministry strategy.