With Men, Go Big for the Sake of Small
- Monday, July 28, 2008
I stood in a room full of forty pastors at the Crab Cooker in San Jose, California and could not get over the fact that all of them were coming together for one purpose – to reach their men.
Congregations of all shapes, sizes, denominations and dispensations were suspending the things that divide for this mission that united.
I was there to talk about men’s ministry - models that are working; things we've learned at Saddleback; and the upcoming San Jose Everyman Conference.
Most importantly, I impressed upon them the need and value of raising up and training leaders for the men’s small groups which would be forming out of the conference and planted back in their churches.
THIS, it seemed, made it worth the time and effort to participate in a large men’s event.
New thinking: I am willing to go big to get small
Getting Small is Good
At Every Man Ministries there is a lot of debate over the tools and methods of discipleship but there is no debate over the value of three to four men connecting for the purpose of spiritual growth. Guys who meet frequently, care about the spiritual welfare of other men in the body, and who can talk honestly about their struggles, make steady progress personally, spiritually and relationally.
Secrets lose their power as God’s men become God’s presence and deliver God’s provision for individuals in an Every Man group.
More specifically, God’s plan is not for a man to turn to himself for answers when he is in crisis. For men, turning to God alone seems fine, even preferred, because they can avoid the potential embarrassment that comes with vulnerability and confession.
We have all seen how men will - at great cost - choose isolation and endure frustration or unrelenting loneliness just to protect themselves or an image. The great failing of this approach (which the majority of churches perpetuate) is that the longer a man remains unsupported and alone with his struggles, the worse he becomes.
On the other hand, pastors everywhere are deciding to get small (through launching triads or men’s small groups) and helping men discover that they are not alone in their struggles sexually, or in their marriage, finances, careers, or spiritual growth – the truth is, other men share those struggles.
Solomon’s reflection “there is nothing new under the sun,” (Ecc. 1:9) is discovered when we get to know other men in the body.
The reason the devil works overtime to prevent churches from getting serious about connecting their men is that - once a church has moved from isolation to connection with men - the power of the isolation, which enslaves men, is broken.
Strategic thinking says: pursue strategies that help men find small group community with other men.
With Men: Getting to Small is Tricky
In the mind of a man “small” stands for a lot of things but in the context of his church connection, oddly enough, “small groups” translates to emotions, sharing, feelings, and nurture.
This is a bad start in the mind of a man because most men have trained themselves (culturally and emotionally) to treat emotions like smelly socks – something I stash away in the back of the drawer. Men of all cultures, generally speaking, avoid and neutralize the threat of unplanned rogue emotions.
So what on earth would make us think that getting guys together in “small groups” would be easy!
Growing healthy men’s community is the number one "Catch-22" facing pastors worldwide.
Why? For starters, a man's natural disposition: men hide and mask anger. Men internalize pressure, bury losses, and deny being hurt. Men withdraw in the face of hard truth, push people away, and close off.
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