Several months ago, someone I know started to explore the most popular podcasts among the men in his church. He was surprised to discover many men were frequent listeners of the Joe Rogan Experience.
For those who do not know, Rogan is a color commentator for the UFC, and his podcast has more than 13 million subscribers on YouTube alone. I am not here to endorse Joe Rogan or almost anything he believes in. However, if you are serious about reaching men with the Gospel, you need to understand the influences in a man’s life. Every man who listens to Joe Rogan is becoming a disciple – just not a disciple of Jesus.
An article from The Atlantic describes the popularity of the Joe Rogan Experience amongst men in this way:
“This moment in American history is not rich with role models for men. Plenty of the role models that men choose for themselves draw eye-rolls from everyone else, or dire warnings, or #cancel tweets. Men have spent centuries earning this degree of suspicion, but if we’re all going to make it through this era alive, men do need alternatives to look up to.
But that’s not why people are obsessed with him. In reality, it’s because Joe Rogan is a tireless optimist, a grab-life-by-the-throat-and-bite-out-its-esophagus kind of guy, and many, many men respond to that. I respond to that. The competitive energy, the drive to succeed, the search for purpose, for self-respect. Get better every day. Master your domain. Total human optimization.”
One podcast episode can last up to three hours (who says men won’t listen for a long time?) and features any mix of thought-provoking conversations to a couple of guys talking about random opinions on life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your ministry to men:
Can a man speak whatever is on his mind?
I’ve been in conversations with men who intentionally use language designed to test whether they can have an honest conversation with me or if I will shut them down. Joe Rogan is popular with men who need a space to put words to what they are feeling and experiencing.
Do you embrace the drive to succeed?
Most men are not looking to coast through life. They want to win. The only question is whether they are succeeding at what matters. When two of Jesus’ disciples wanted to be considered the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus showed them that becoming a servant was the path to true greatness. Embrace the desire men have and use that language to help them succeed from the perspective of Jesus.
Who are the male role models you are celebrating?
Men have always needed role models to aspire to imitate in life. I have always believed one of the secrets to the success of Marvel movies is the variety of role models for men. How do you celebrate godly men in your church? You need to help men identify spiritual role models they can model their life after.
Do your men believe you are in their corner?
Rogan seems to be popular because he thinks the best is possible. Do you believe the men in your sphere of influence are capable of great things? Make sure they know you believe in them as they follow Jesus. Be their encourager and show respect to the men you are leading.
One definitive difference between what Joe Rogan offers and what you can provide is Jesus. Every effort for men to find purpose and success in themselves will ultimately lead to frustration and emptiness because they will never measure up. Jesus is the one who was perfect for us – so we don’t need to carry that burden.
He is the creator of everything and calls men to follow him. There is no more significant role model for a man than Jesus. But more than a role model, Jesus is our Savior. He rescues us from our failures and limitations. He calls us into a life that matters not for a few decades but eternity.
We have a more extraordinary story for men than Joe Rogan ever could. Still, we can learn from him and understand the questions and conversations stirring in men’s hearts. The realities men are feeling and experiencing are your doorway to actual good news for their lives.