Fire is an amazing thing, isn’t it? It can be incredibly helpful—warming your home, cooking your dinner, and when focused, can even cut through steel. Men are similar to fire. Men can either warm families, churches, and communities or they can burn them to the ground. That’s why every church must minister to men in an intentional and strategic way. Ministry to men is challenging for many reasons. Kris Dolberry, who helped with this post, leads our men’s ministry strategy at LifeWay. After years of speaking with pastors and men’s ministry leaders around the country, Kris believes there are at least 3 unique leadership challenges facing a local church’s ministry to men:
1. Men do not want to fail.
Do you remember the story in Mark 10, when James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus and requested, “Allow us to sit at Your right and at Your left in Your glory”? Much can be said about what is happening here, but it reveals something fundamental that exists in the heart of every man. Men want to win. It’s why we love sports and guy movies. It’s also why, if we’re not good at something, we’d often rather not even try. A man’s desire to never fail adversely impacts the way he engages with group Bible studies. They fear they won’t win. For example, if a man doesn’t know the Bible as well as he or someone else thinks he should, one of two things will happen: Either he will silently sit in fear that he may be called on and thus prove to everyone that he is the failure he feels he is or he will simply not show up. Both stifle his spiritual growth. Leaders of men must be diligent to disciple men with the Word of God, no matter where they are currently in their understanding of it.
2. Men do not have a felt need to gather.
One of the most common questions Kris is asked is something like, “How can we get and keep men interested in coming to our group?” This is no easy task because, generally speaking, men do not have a felt need to gather. Generally speaking, women look for opportunities to gather together more than men do, which can make ministry to men more challenging than ministry to women. Wise leaders of men work hard to help men understand why it is critical for them to connect with other godly men.
3. Men are extremely busy.
One of the most common frustrations we hear from men’s ministry leaders around the country is that men are increasingly busy. In her 1997 book The Overworked American, Juliet Score indicates that in 1990, Americans worked an average of nearly one month more per year than they did in 1970. Statistics indicate this has only gotten worse in the last 20 years. Men are not less busy. Men with full calendars present a great challenge to men’s ministry leaders attempting to schedule a men’s group or Bible study.
If you’ve experienced one or all of these challenges, we want to help, and we want you to know about our Unfolded Online Bible Study. Unfolded is a men’s Bible study, one I was honored to put together, to help men understand the whole story of the Bible. The online study is a great option for a busy man who may not have the time to join a traditional men’s group. The study will begin on January 19, 2017. It’s free to sign up. All you’ll need is a copy of the Unfolded Bible study book. I’d love to have you or some of the men you serve join us.