“Spiritual growth happens in environments that are conducive to spiritual growth.” It’s a lesson I learned early on in my ministry. We didn’t run programs or teach bible lessons, we sought to create environments that were conducive to growth. Our desire was to see every person grow in their relationship with Jesus and we wanted to be the place where that happened.
This principle still guides me today in men’s ministry. I want to create an environment where growth will happen. My focus isn’t on the topics of study or the events we run, but the environment I am creating for that to happen. With that, it doesn’t matter if I’m at a breakfast, a workshop, a golf tournament or a bible study, I apply these three simple ingredients that will produce a spiritual growth environment.
Share. We want men to share what’s happening in their lives. We don’t need to make it a whine fest, but we can open the door for guys to share what’s happening in their lives. Ask clarifying and open-ended questions as guys are sharing to pull even more out of them then they though they were going to share. “How did that make you feel?” “What do you think you’d do next time?” “Where did you see God in that?” Asking men questions like, “how is your soul?” or “what did God say to you this week?” may feel awkward at first, but if you stick it out, it will become a part of the regular banter. Men sharing with each other is a powerful tool for spiritual growth.
Prayer. Whatever we are doing, we need to pause for prayer. Taking time to pray will take any event and bring it to a spiritual level. Don’t just do a cursory prayer, take time to pause and reflect and invite the men to say a silent prayer to God. You can also get a few guys to pray. This helps normalize prayer as a great way to connect with one another and with God. Have guys pray in pairs for each other. Have guys share prayer needs and pray for one another. Whatever you find yourself doing in your men’s ministry, take time for prayer.
Care. We want guys to follow up and care for each other. Send a text. Drop in to help. Whatever it takes, there needs to be more than just a meeting. Care extends beyond our social time into the day to day of our lives. The best way to care is to put it in your calendar. Follow up on a specific date. Keep notes on the guys and ask questions when you see them later. If guys can practically help in any way, encourage them to do it. The more powerful way we can show someone we care is to show up and meet their needs. Caring for others increases our empathy and produces in us a desire for the well-being of our fellow man.
If you want to have an environment for spiritual growth, apply “share”, “prayer”, and “care” every time you gather together. You will see it begin to happen naturally as the men in your group pick up on it and begin to do it without you instigating it.