Why We Urgently Need to Go After the Men in our Congregations
- Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Two-thirds of our congregations are women and children. One-third is men.
But ask yourself: Which category most influences the other? Intuitively, we know the ripple effect men have on the people around them - for better or for worse.
More poignantly, we feel the impact of unhealthy men when we look at families and the root causes of the problems there. The sad reality is that a large proportion of our men cannot give in their relationships what their hearts do not possess.
That is why a pastor I know in Texas targets men on purpose. He bet the health of his church on his plan when he said, "Kenny, if I reach the man, I reach every relationship he has."
Not a bad strategy, but is it biblical? With so much church energy naturally coming from our women and flowing toward our children, it's time to reflect on our ministry (or lack thereof) to the men in our backyards.
Most importantly, what is God's mind in men's ministry? As we’ll see, God is very Purpose-Driven when it comes to men.
Men: God’s Priority
"The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the Garden of His delight. He looked for justice but saw bloodshed; for righteousness but heard cries of distress.” Isaiah 5:7
In the Song of the Vineyard, God talks about his affection for his people and then, interestingly, he singles out the men. As the passage continues, it describes activities (negative ones) that the men of the time engaged in. The context here is clearly men.
So, let's see what his heart is for men...
First, they are "the garden of his delight.” A garden is a place to sow, and a place to go to enjoy what you’ve sown. A garden is a place of refreshment, and a place of beauty that ministers to us. Lastly, a garden is a place of productivity and fruitfulness. To God, the men of Judah represented the possibility of all these things.
Second, "he looked for justice… for righteousness.” When God turned to the Garden of His Delight, he was looking for something specific. His father’s heart is revealed in this text as he looks for his own character to be reproduced in his men.
Why do you think we feel so full as fathers when our sons aspire to be like us, imitate us, and develop the good character qualities they see in us?
Third, the consequences of undeveloped character in men became disastrous for the faith-community they inhabited. If you continue reading this text, you see sick characters diving into sicker conduct producing broken relationships. Greed, materialism, hedonism, narcissism, callousness to spiritual things, and moral relativism reeked havoc on the community, and these things were unleashed through the men!
As a shepherd of men, I believe God has given me a special trust: to work in His Garden and grow the men.
Some questions I ask myself are: What does He see when He ventures over to the 'Saddleback Section' of the Garden of His Delight? Is He seeing His character being reproduced? Am I raising up men whom God can take pride in and feel full of joy over? Are the men of Saddleback, like the men of Judah, unable to escape the deadly influence of the world because God's character remains undeveloped in them?
I want God's every look into our 'Saddleback Garden' to be progressively pleasing. More importantly, I am discovering that God wants the vine of men's ministry to be productive for the entire church, and I believe he wants that for your church also.
Men: God’s Agents for Corporate Renewal
“If you will return, O Israel, return to me. If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.”
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