Four Ways to Change Your Ministry from Being a Club to Becoming a Movement
Trevin Wax, the author of Counterfeit Gospels, writes in his book about one of the oldest monasteries in the world built by Emperor Justinian to protect the monks in the region at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt. The walls of St. Catherine’s monastery are made of granite and are between 8 and 35 meters tall.
Up until the last century, there was only one way into the monastery: a tiny door more than thirty feet above the ground. People entered the monastery through a system of pulleys and ropes. The monastery itself contains ancient icons and many treasures. But up until recently, it was mostly inaccessible to the outside world.
Trevin draws a parallel between our tendency as a church and St. Catherine’s monastery. “Our churches naturally drift toward becoming like St. Catherine’s monastery: a fortified, doorless organization that focuses upon its own preservation rather than its specific mission. […] Our hearts drift toward tribalism, the tendency to gather with people just like us and to reflect ourselves rather than the missionary heart of God. We’re always putting up mirrors around the light of the gospel when we should be putting up windows.” (Counterfeit Gospels, 143.)
How then can our ministry to men avoid becoming a doorless ministry where no one can enter and crack new windows so others can see and be invited?
Phil Wagler, in his book, Kingdom Culture: Growing the Missional Church, talks about four practical and powerful declarations that can help keep the focus of your ministry in the right direction. I say the “right direction” because moving forward and growing does not mean growing in the right direction. A battleship and a cruise ship are both sailing in the ocean. However, they are going about opposite direction – they are moving, but not towards the same goal. So, the direction is crucial.
No One Gets Left Behind
The first thing Phil says is, “No one gets behind.” To borrow a phrase we often use as a ministry to men – “Leave No Man Behind.” This is something we believe wholeheartedly! Why? Because God does. God desires that everyone will come to the saving knowledge of the saving faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus also gave us a command to go and make disciples (Mt 28:20).
A practical way to move away from being a club into a missional movement is to be intentionally and passionately focused on leaving no one behind because Jesus loves them and entrusted us to go after them for Him. And this is only possible with the second declaration: “Our leaders lead.”
If you want to keep your men on track of going and making disciples, it is your job to first and foremost model it and to keep it in front of them, always! As a leader, we have to continually remind them where we came from, as in, someone came to us and brought Jesus to us, and that we exist for the mission of God.
Let me give you a word of caution, though. Yes, we do exist for the mission of God. However, we will not accomplish it by “guilt-tripping” our men to do it. John Piper says that “missions exist because worship doesn’t.” We help and encourage our men to go and make disciples by consistently presenting to them how awesome Jesus is, and how much greater his purpose is for our life, that is greater than any of us, and it is worth giving our lives to him!
It’s About Jesus’ Kingdom
A man with a clear understanding of a purpose greater than himself is a man that knows he is a disciple of Jesus. The third declaration is, “I am a disciple of Jesus, and I contribute to His kingdom.” A disciple of Jesus knows this is about Jesus’ kingdom, not his little kingdom.
Let me ask you this. In your plan for your ministry year, with all honesty, what is the main focus that you have? Inward? Or Outward? Jesus would regularly take his disciples to the other side of the sea (Mk 4:35). The other side of the sea is where the pagan villages were located. He intentionally took his men into non-religious environments to bring life and hope. In your events and activities, what are you focusing on? Are you aware and making your events open to visitors? To strangers? To non-followers of Jesus? Or are your events focusing on what your men want?
Do you have practical tools to give your men to equip them in specific areas where they are showing their friends, co-workers, neighbors, that they live and operate by different values, not only external behaviors but real, meaningful and practical beliefs? For example, when the world is obsessing to find their own identity, do your men know who they truly are? How is this identity being practically manifested as husbands, fathers, workers, business owners?
Who Will You Bring?
Lastly, Phil reminds us that “we exist for the world our Lord came to save.” All the efforts and all we do has this one main goal; to communicate to the world that Jesus loves them and came to save them. One very practical thing this ministry does and teach is to encourage guys to think: “Who will you bring with you?” The idea behind is to prayerfully invite a friend to join in every single men’s activity you do. Always keep challenging men … who will you bring?
Four practical declarations, “No one gets left behind,” “Our leaders lead,” “I am a disciple of Jesus, and I contribute to his kingdom,” and “We exist for the world our Lord came to save.” These are foundational of what it means to be Christian and have powerful and practical implications that can help your ministry to men to stay away from the course of becoming a cruise ship, rather than a battleship.
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