Churches Striving to Make Unchurched Men Feel Welcome
- Tuesday, September 18, 2007
In response to Moody's work, 27 men finished the Men's Fraternity course in April. The church launched its second year of Men's Fraternity in August.
"We have seen men's lives transformed where they have become leaders of their families and stepped up to the plate," Moody said. "We've seen marriages transformed."
Glenview Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, also has focused much of its men's ministry effort in a Men's Fraternity program. The church, which averages 1,500 in worship, has completed two years of Men's Fraternity, averaging approximately 125 men each year.
"I never have seen anything that really has impacted men and their families like this," said Jim Kendrick, Glenview's associate pastor for pastoral care ministries. "The pastor is constantly having wives saying, 'That's one of the best things you've ever done to bring the Men's Fraternity in.'"
In addition to Men's Fraternity, the church tries to make sure some of the congregation's décor is friendly to men. When a deacon recently enlisted his wife to help decorate the men's ministry bulletin board, Kendrick objected, telling the deacon the bulletin board needed to be designed by a man.
"I said, 'I don't want a men's bulletin board that looks like females (designed it). We want people to look at that and know it's a man's bulletin board,'" Kendrick said.
Glenview also hosts men's movie nights. At a recent movie night men ate hamburgers and watched "Facing the Giants."
Reaching men has not been limited to larger churches. Ridgewood Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, averages 180 in worship and has launched a thriving men's ministry. Ridgewood offers Men's Fraternity as one option in its Sunday night program of classes, and it plans beginning in August to hold Men's Encouragement Nights in homes periodically. The encouragement nights will involve men and their sons and include a challenge for men to live out God's calling on their lives.
Taking a page from Sagemont, Ridgewood is remodeling its men's restroom in a Western theme.
"A lot of times men come and they feel like there's nothing for them," Kyle Campasi, Ridgewood's pastor of pastoral care, said. "They feel like there's something for women, something for children, something for youth, but nothing for them. This is one small step we're taking right now to make it feel more manly."
One of the biggest challenges for Ridgewood is teaching men to embrace their God-ordained roles in the family and the church, Campasi said.
"We see a lot of women stepping up and trying to take leadership because their husbands aren't doing what they're called to do," he said. "So going back to the teaching of the roles is what we're fighting for.... We're for the teaching of what the Gospel says the role of a husband and the role of a father should be."
At Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas, Pastor Steve Garrick said the church intentionally keeps the number of church activities to a minimum so that men have the time to be "the pastors of their own house." Families, he said, can become splintered among many different weekly church activities.
"We don't want to undermine the family by ministering to its various segments, rather than to the family as a whole." On those occasions when men are needed to assume leadership for particular areas of church ministry, Garrick said the matter is addressed directly at a men's meeting, instructing and encouraging, while not chiding, the men to assume their role as leaders.
Heritage Baptist laid the groundwork for such an expectation of men when Garrick took them through a course from the life of David, emphasizing how he showed initiative and leadership. "This has helped us define leadership, and to counteract the passive role that is often exemplified for men in the world." The concept is also addressed in premarital counseling, he said. "We want our families starting off right."
Churches, Garrick said, must do a better job of teaching the role of men and women in the home and church, declaring confidence in the inspired Word of God.
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