So many men want to know how to have a healthy, thriving men’s ministry. At each of our Mantour Conferences and other men’s events I participate in, I hear two main thoughts:
1. Men’s ministry is really hard, how do I get men to come to our men’s group.
2. Keeping a men’s ministry going strong is even harder, how do we keep our men’s group growing and healthy?
These are great questions! However, I want to look at this from a different perspective. Instead of looking at strategies of how to build a thriving men’s ministry, I want to look at 6 sure-fire ways to destroy your men’s ministry. These 6 ways are fool proof steps to take to completely kill any momentum and enthusiasm among your men. If you follow these 6 steps, your men’s ministry will die a painful death, unable to ever rise again! On the flip side, avoiding these 6 methods, you can help grow a strong, thriving men’s group and avoid the traps that many groups fall into. Let’s get started.
1. Keep your Pastor out of your men’s ministry
I am a firm believer that without pastoral support, men’s ministry will fail. Now, I am not saying a men’s group needs to be run by a pastor. I am a realist. Pastors are so busy and don’t have time to be in charge of the men’s ministry. I believe that lay men with a passion for men’s ministry run effect men’s ministries. However, men’s ministry can’t work without Pastoral support.
After every Mantour Conference, we send out surveys asking men for feedback. One question we ask is “How did you hear about the event?” Around 85% of responses say they heard about the event at church from their pastors! Pastors need to be strong supporters and advocates of men’s ministry. They need to be promoting the events, encouraging men to attend, etc. They don’t need to lead the men’s ministry, but they need to be your #1 cheerleader and promoter. If not, your men’s ministry will die a slow, painful death. But with a pastor’s support, it can be a healthy thriving ministry of the church!
2. Focus too much on fun
One of the most popular strategies that has emerged in men’s ministry is, in my opinion, one of the quickest ways to kill your men's ministry. The theory is this: “If your men’s group isn’t fun, then men won’t come.” Why is this so dangerous?
Because if all we seek to do with our men’s ministry is have a good time, we won’t produce true disciples. Now I know where the original theory was going. It was saying you have to throw some fun stuff into your men’s group to make it enjoyable and to do outreach. I 100% agree with this. It is vital for men to occasionally have a good time together. I think men need to do fun things from time to time like attend a conference like our Mantour’s, or go hunting or fishing together. But just like you don’t eat honey for every meal, you can’t have a steady diet of fun in your men’s group. To have a healthy, thriving men’s ministry, fun needs to be a condiment used sporadically on your diet of Biblical meat and discipleship.
Jesus had fun with his disciples. They joked and talked. They fished together. I bet they pulled pranks on each other. But these were occasional events. The majority of their time together was Jesus pouring into these men, teaching them, training them, and helping them grow leaps and bounds in their walk with God. We need to follow Jesus’ example and stop making play the main diet of men’s ministry. Like sugar, it is good in small doses, but if you make it the bulk of your men’s ministries diet, your men’s ministry will get sick and die.
3. Never Challenge the men
Men love challenges. Men THRIVE on challenges. Normal, sane men will do the STUPIDEST things in the world if they are challenged to do it. Why don’t we utilize this God-given attribute inside of men to our advantage and challenge the men in our men’s ministries?
People say we can’t offend people or challenge them to make changes in their lives. Why? Why would we not do this? Jesus constantly challenged his men. He always risked offending them. Over and over, Jesus challenged his disciple’s way of thinking. He tore down their stereotypes. He made them see life through different eyes and challenged their preconceived ideas. He made them think about the difference between God’s kingdom and the culture around them. He pushed them. He egged them on. He pushed them past their comfort zones and got them to take spiritual risks for God. Why have we stopped doing this?
Why aren’t we challenging our men? Why don’t we present needs and causes to them and encourage them to fix them or meet the needs? Are we afraid we will turn them away? Guess what, you probably will turn a few away. Jesus did. But the ones who stayed, the ones who accepted the challenges, grew and thrived, and they changed the world! So if you want to grow your men’s ministry and strengthen your men, than challenge them. However, if you want to kill your men’s ministry, never challenge your men.
4. Exclude younger men
Soon our country will be heading into another Presidential campaign. Candidates are already announcing their presidential runs. Soon all the old topics will come back up for debate. One such topic is sure to be energy. The candidates will begin debating things such as renewable energy resources. They will make the point that our guys are too dependent on oil and eventually the oil that fuels our country will run out. Whether you agree or disagree, renewable energy is a hot topic.
Guys, younger men are our renewable energy resource for men’s ministry! We need to focus on including the younger men around us in our men’s group. One of the biggest crises in the church today is the trend of young men aging out of youth groups, and then leaving the church. They feel they no longer belong. There isn’t a place for them. Guys, we NEED these younger guys in our men’s group!
We need their passion and vigor. We need their energy! We need them growing in their walk with God and continuing the work God has us doing in our church and our community. We need them to replace us. We need them to outgrow us spiritually, and then push the next generation to do the same.
We need to be teaching them how to be a man of God. Many of the young men have grown up without a dad, and they need spiritual dads to help them and teach them. They are the lifeblood of our men’s ministry. Men’s ministries will die without them. We have to include them if we want men’s ministry to thrive. But if you want to kill your men’s group, make sure to exclude younger men!
5. Exclude single men
“Um, Jamie, isn’t that the same as point 4”?
Not at all! Single doesn’t mean young anymore. People are staying single longer and longer in today’s culture. Men are waiting until they are out of college and have a career before they marry. Many Christians are condemning this and pushing for men to marry younger. As a result, single men feel unwanted and not accepted.
Now I am not going to debate the right and wrong of marrying early or late. I am a realist. Let’s deal with what is. The fact is men are waiting to marry, and even if you don’t like it, it is true, and these men can’t be ostracized from men’s ministry.
How are single men being excluded?
They are excluded when we make every discussion on relationships be about being a husband and father. Single guys have relationships too even if they aren’t married with kids.
They are excluded when every lesson about sex and pornography is discussed as how it damages your wife and your marriage. Do we really thing married men are the only ones who face sexual temptation? Trust me, it is just as hard if not harder for a single guy. They live in the same sex driven culture, have the same temptation, but as godly men, have to stay sexual pure and inactive while the culture constantly tells them they are abnormal for doing it.
We need to make our men’s ministry a safe, inclusive place for these younger men who haven’t yet married, and we need to make our messages just as relevant for them as we do for married men with kids. If we don’t, we will kill our men’s ministry.
We also need to make sure that we include the single men who are single due to divorce. Again, I don’t want to debate if it is right or wrong to be divorced. We all want marriages to last and stay together, but making divorced men feel like outsiders can’t be an option to force this to happen. As with men staying single longer, we need to be realistic and deal with what is, not how we want things to be.
Divorced men need accountability and discipleship just as much as single or married men. They need to be lovingly taught how to be a godly man. They need to be lovingly instructed how to be a loving dad to the kids who are in the middle. If we ignore these men, it will cause damage to our men’s group. But if we minister to them, we will not only help them, but help strengthen the entire group of men.
6. Focus solely on pornography
Pornography is a major struggle for men. This cannot be denied. It is used often as a trap of the enemy to destroy God’s men. We need to learn how to resist it and overcome. However, we cannot make it the focus of every men’s meeting, men’s discussion, or men’s event. We need to realize it is one of many traps men face.
It is dangerous to focus the majority of your men’s ministry to sex and pornography. Why? Well, two reasons:
1.) If you teach on it over and over, men will eventually start tuning it out. Eyes will roll as the old “second verse same as the first” trigger we all have in our brains clicks on, and we will slowly tune it out, making us complacent and susceptible to the very thing we are teaching about.
2.) When we focus so heavily on pornography, we aren’t teaching men what they need to know about so many other traps and temptations. Men need to learn how to resist other huge issues they face like anger, pride, immaturity, etc. They need to be discipled and mentored. If it is all sex and sexual temptation all the time, we leave our brothers unprotected from a host of other attacks from the enemy.
I guess what I am saying is you wouldn’t eat the same food day after day after day without it having adverse effects. Eventually you would get REALLY tired of eating it, and eventually your body would deteriorate because it isn’t receiving well-rounded nourishment. We can’t do the same to our men. We need to teach them the whole Gospel, not just the parts about sex. So if you want to murder your men’s group, teach about porn all the time, but if you want a healthy, thriving men’s group, present a solid, well-rounded diet of Biblical teaching on all areas men face in their daily lives.
As you can see, these six things can be detrimental to any men’s ministry. That is why I felt it was important to focus on them. On the flip side, if we do the opposite of these six methods, we will be able to build strong, healthy thriving ministries that reach all men of all walks of life. That is the thing our churches need, and the thing our enemy fears. The choice is ours, choose to run a knife into the back of our men’s ministry, or take action to ensure it stays healthy and thriving for years to come.
Looking for help starting or sustaining your men's ministry? Mantour Ministries founder Jamie Holden is available to consult your church's men's leaders and help them identify ways to continue growing and expanding their men's ministry. He is also available to come speak to your church's men. For more information, contact Jamie at firstname.lastname@example.org