On the other hand, men want and need caring friends in their space who lovingly confront, help them face the tough issues, accept responsibility, and strengthen them when they are weak. Men are stuck. The church is stuck. The women and children depending on them are stuck. The Body of Christ is poorer because men are not fully transparent.

David captured his own dilemma - as well as the one facing the church with regard to men - when he exclaimed to God:

"Don’t let me lust for evil things; don’t let me participate in acts of wickedness; don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do evil. Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they reprove me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it." (Psalm 141:4-5, NLT)

We see a man with desires in conflict – at war within himself. He’s got God to talk to but that’s not enough. He knows he needs other men, but he also knows that he is naturally resistant to the very thing which will take him to the next level.

He begs God to help him connect and grow! (See also Psalm 101 on David’s desire for a first circle of brothers.) 

Imaginative thinking says: solving this will unleash great spiritual power in and through the men in my church. 

Using Big to Get Small

I will never forget when the men’s ministry at Saddleback decided to go big to get small for the first time. It was when we launched a series called Men at War: Addressing the Battles Men Face.

It was a large group Bible study (advertised topically) and about eighty guys showed up. We arranged the room with round tables so that we could facilitate group discussion as a part of the series.

For eight weeks we met on campus, taught through the material interactively and ended with 20 minutes of table discussion each session until the series was completed. On the final meeting day, we helped the guys who had been sitting together for the series connect into small groups so they could continue to meet off campus.

We gave them a new curriculum to begin the following week. At the end of the series, we launched 15 new men’s groups which continued meeting in the community. To our amazement it was not hard at all, not a push, and highly effective. We have never looked back.

At a recent Everyman Conference at Saddleback Church, we had 1,200 men show up for a day and a half conference. This conference had three small group discussion times built into it, one after each main session.

At the end we conducted a similar connection-type group formation. We were able to launch 84 new men’s groups in one day. For me to do this one-by-one might have taken five years!

My point: big is not bad if you use big to get small. 

Ideas: 

Plan your next retreat to include small group discussions after the main sessions, and identify leaders to lead each group as they answer some prepared questions. Form groups with the idea that they will meet regularly after the retreat is over. 

Launch a centralized (campus-based) men’s morning Bible Study that is interactive and includes small group discussion. 

Bring an Everyman Conference to your community. Go to www.everymanministries.com to find out how.

Promote and launch an Every Man Bible Study Series in your church, one that meets for eight weeks and then transforms the discussion groups into small groups who meet across the community. Make it topical. For more information, go to www.everymanministries.com and click on Resources. 

Productive thinking says: multiply the impact of gatherings for connection of men and discipleship (raising up and deploying new leaders). 

If I let a guy walk out of a men’s event with a bunch of content and no connection, then I feel I've failed him. He has not been given help in the way God says he needs to be helped. 

Ringing in my ears is the admonition of Paul to Timothy on the topic of growing spiritually. 

“Flee youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, joy and peace with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22, NIV) 

The way men begin to consistently say “no” to temptation and “yes” to God is through connection with other men who are headed in the same direction. 

The result is a men’s culture in our churches that sparks a resurgence of godly purpose, radical trust in God, fun, adventure, and the peace of being connected and known by God and man.