The Spiritual Health of Men: 5 Trends Every Leader Should Know

In Articles, Leadership Tips, Men’s Ministry by Dean Brenton

 “I am struggling with my belief that god really loves us.” 

“I have been struggling with my faith for a while…there is confusion and disappointment towards God.” 

“My marriage is falling apart.” 

“I’m a hurting man who knew Jesus but have fallen back into drug addiction and alcohol abuse…ruined my marriage by lies and lust, and I’m spiritually hardened.” 

“I need help.” 

These are just some of the heart-wrenching responses from our most recent Spiritual Health of Men Survey. For several years, Impactus | Promise Keepers Canada has conducted an annual survey to assess the spiritual health of men. Respondents come from across Canada, from various denominational perspectives, and have interacted with our ministry in the past (from past conference attendees to content subscribers). 

The engagement with these surveys has been excellent over the years, and as a result, the data has strong reliability to provide some key ministry insights. 

There were 821 total respondents in 2021 out of 8493 surveyed. In 2022 there were 811 out of 7559. The completion rate for 2021 was 9.7%, with an increase in 2022 to 10.7%. 

Here are the top 5 findings from this year’s survey. 

1. Spiritual Health has been Eroding 

The overall health of men is down again this year. It is the worst cumulative score we have seen in the past four years (FY19 – 7.38, FY20 – 7.49, FY21 – 7.59, FY22 – 7.35; scored out of 10). 

  1. In the past year, there has been a noticeable and consistent decline across all surveyed areas, although there are some cases where there are some improvements over the survey two years ago. 
  2. Two years into the pandemic and its effects, these results, although not surprising, should give us concern. A decline in health is never a positive development. The marriages, families, churches, and workplaces affected by this decline should drive us to our knees and back to the ministry drawing board. 

2. There are Signs of Life and Hope

  1. The areas of regular Bible reading, integrity in the workplace, and balance of work and family life emerged as areas of strength in the survey. These are encouraging signs. 
  2. From a 3-year perspective for all questions, the following are the clear frontrunners in terms of the absolute score out of 10: sexual fidelity, workplace integrity, and church financial support. 
  3. Though numbers are down in general, it’s heartening to see relative to other categories that these men value the Christian pillars of marriage, work, and tithing.   
  4. Despite COVID fatigue, we can celebrate that men continue to value what’s important in life: marriage/family, work, and supporting the local church. 

3. Missional Priority is Fading

  1. Areas of mission, evangelism, and outreach are typically low performers when we survey men. The erosion, however, has continued.  
  2. Areas that include helping the needy, inviting people to church, and evangelism are down significantly. 
  3. This is highly disconcerting when we superimpose these areas on the priority of the Great Commandment (Matthew 28) that Christ left his followers. Men can and should be leading the way for others to know Christ through their words and actions. They can become disciples who make other disciples. 

4. Frustration with the Church is Real

  1. Both the scoring and additional feedback from the survey indicated a significant amount of discontent with the local church. 
  2. We can surmise with some accuracy that this has been related to pandemic factors, fatigue, and fallout. Many men have not only expressed exasperation and disappointment, but some have completely disconnected from a local body of believers, no longer seeing its value or importance.  
  3. Polarization, controversy, and disunity have undoubtedly contributed to and resulted from this frustration. The great need of this day may be less about programs and events but healing, patience, and restoration.   

5. Men Need Help

  1. The survey gave much evidence that not only men have been struggling, but they need and are open to help. Many tangible examples emerged, including a lack of intimacy and struggles in marriage, fathering, addictions, doubts, disappointments, and loneliness. 
  2. The level of transparency and vulnerability through many of the comments was insightful. There is a hunger and desperation that Christ and the gospel can fill. There is an open door for churches to minister to men at their point of need. These are more than challenges. They are opportunities for ministries to men to customize their programming to have a meaningful impact.  

Men need help. They are open to help. This is a wide-open door for real ministries to men to connect to the real needs of men. We have the answer. The question is, how will we respond? 

About
Dean Brenton
Dean is the President of Impactus | Promise Keepers Canada. He has been an active part of denominational, national, and parachurch committees, initiatives and events as well as international and local mission projects. He previously served for 13 years as the Executive Director of Ministry Development and Strategic Initiatives/Executive Director of Church Ministries for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAONL). He also served as a Part-Time Instructor with Tyndale University (Toronto, ON) and Queen’s College (St. John’s, NL).
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Dean Brenton
Dean is the President of Impactus | Promise Keepers Canada. He has been an active part of denominational, national, and parachurch committees, initiatives and events as well as international and local mission projects. He previously served for 13 years as the Executive Director of Ministry Development and Strategic Initiatives/Executive Director of Church Ministries for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAONL). He also served as a Part-Time Instructor with Tyndale University (Toronto, ON) and Queen’s College (St. John’s, NL).