Churches Striving to Make Unchurched Men Feel Welcome
- Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Suggesting guys get together to talk about their feelings won't cut it, according to Navigators leader Geoff Gorsuch.
"The word 'feelings' is a bad word for men," Gorsuch told men's ministry leaders attending a Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center. "You avoid that word. You just don't go there if you are trying to start a men's ministry group."
Instead, he said, "Give him a challenge. Tell them we are going to meet together because we want to take the Christian life more seriously; we want to build better families or we want to change this community. You can't get them there by saying you want to develop a deep, intimate group."
Men's Fraternity provides one avenue for addressing topics of particular interest to men. Available from LifeWay Christian Resources, the curriculum draws the work of Little Rock pastor Robert Lewis, offering three year-long studies.
At least some Texas churches are catering to the unique needs and personalities of men, with the goal of reaching them with the Gospel and then discipling them.
Buddy Griffin, minister of men and prayer at Sagemont Church in Houston, said portraying Christianity as weak or unmanly misrepresents Scripture, and his church has designed a program that trains hundreds of men each year to be disciples of Christ.
Sagemont strives to gear evangelism and discipleship programs uniquely to men. The church started a Men's Fraternity program three years ago that has ballooned to more than 700 participants. A recent fishing tournament was designed to reach lost men and served as an entry point through which at least one lost man started attending the church regularly. Sagemont has even decorated its men's restrooms according to themes that might interest some men -- including bass fishing, duck hunting and golf.
Sagemont currently has an average worship attendance that is 55 percent women and 45 percent men. But Griffin, who has worked with the SBTC to help other churches grow their men's ministries, has a goal of reducing that gap each year until worship attendance is 51 percent male in 2014. Other goals include filling 70 percent of church leadership positions with men and matching 95 percent of the congregation's fatherless boys with a man for mentorship.
"Where do men go to be cheered on for the noble and righteous things in life?" Griffin asked. "Men always go where the noise is. So we try to make a celebratory atmosphere among our men when they make godly choices."
Rodney Thompson, a layman at First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, emphasized that a top-notch men's ministry is not only for mega-churches like Sagemont that have a full-time minister for men. First Baptist, which averages approximately 1,000 in worship, began a Men's Fraternity program last year and plans to begin the program's second year this fall. Additionally, the church holds a weekly morning men's prayer time.
Thompson, who serves on the men's ministry leadership team at First Baptist, said the key to reaching and discipling men at smaller churches is the pastor and other staff members. If men see staff members who have a strong work ethic, it will motivate them to join the work of ministry as well.
When men see ministerial staff "doing more than just the normal doing the announcements during the service and leading the music" and "not sitting behind the desk," they will be motivated to make extra effort in church activities themselves, he said.
Scott Moody, pastor of First Baptist Church in Silsbee, Texas, has found Thompson's thoughts on ministerial work ethic to be true. In the past year, Moody has dedicated himself to organizing and starting a Men's Fraternity program at his church, which averages 400 in worship.
After reading an article about men's ministry last summer, Moody acquired Men's Fraternity materials and asked Griffin to mentor him on how to do men's ministry. In the fall of 2006 First Baptist Silsbee launched its Men's Fraternity program with two classes each week.
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