There has been a shift taking place for the past several decades, and things have moved into high gear as a result of COVID-19. The shift is the slow decline of people gathering together in the same place and time for Christian activities.
When your church begins to reopen and men begin to show up again, this shift will impact your men’s ministry plans. Some of what I’m about to share I owe to the thinking of Carey Nieuwhof (If you aren’t familiar with his work, please visit his website).
Most of us grew up on Cable TV. In many ways, this approach to television viewing was a reflection of society. One of those ways is that it was always about appointment viewing. Your favorite TV show was on the same night at the same time each week. If you wanted to see the show, you had to create an appointment with yourself to be watching television at that time.
Over time, we were introduced to things like PVR’s, YouTube, and Netflix and our habits for watching television began to change. Now, we can watch what we want to whenever we want to watch it. Yes, we still have appointment viewing for certain things (one of the reasons why TV companies pay so much money for live sporting events). But our life no longer revolves around one event at one time during the week.
What does all of this mean for your men’s ministry?
I believe that if you live in a world where your men’s ministry is only about the events or small groups you create, then you will be speaking to less and less men over time. When you think of your ministry as only being for those who agree to show up for a certain time on a certain day of the week, you are still doing ministry like Cable TV when we live in a Netflix world.
When you think of your ministry as only being for those who agree to show up for a certain time on a certain day of the week, you are still doing ministry like Cable TV when we live in a Netflix world.
Yes, there will always be important things where men will want to be in the same space. COVID is not the end of the physical gathering of God’s people. In fact, we may even go through a time where there is a bump in attendance because people have been stuck alone for so long. But don’t make the mistake of believing everything will be what it once was.
If you want to see every man in your church and community growing as disciples of Jesus, then you will need to create multiple ways to invest in their life – including, but not limited to, live/in person events or groups. You need to celebrate the men who show up, but also assume a larger number of men won’t. Stay invested in every man, not only the men who attend.
Here are a few ideas to do that:
1. Create a call list of every man in your church.
Give your men’s ministry leadership team the names of every man in your church. Commit over the year to calling each man at least one time and asking how you can be praying for him. I’ve been doing this for years with men and it is often one of the most significant forms of ministry you can have.
2. Encourage men to connect with God’s Word and other men.
We suggest the YouVersion Bible app, when men can choose reading plans that line up with your church’s sermon series. Reading plans can be shared between multiple people and there is space to interact with each other over what you are reading in the Bible each day.
Your guys can also sign up to receive our daily devotional for men delivered by email to their inbox everyday. They can sign up here.
3. When you have a special event or workshop – record and/or livestream it.
This allows you to share the event with men who can’t attend. Even if they can’t watch it live, they can still benefit from the teaching.
4. Get men to sign up for a resource of the week – whether it’s sent by text or email.
5. Create flexibility with your small groups.
There are many men who will return to commuting to work or who have young children and can’t as easily go out at night. Continue to use tools like Zoom for some of your small groups so men see how they can connect without leaving home.