“Oh wow! It’s almost November!” This was my exact thought a couple of weeks ago as I sat down to think through our ministry calendar for the next few months and I realized how quickly 2019 is drawing to a close. As the calendar for the next couple of months fills with events and activities for the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas season, my mind for re-launching our church’s ministry to men shifted to the first few months of 2020. And I would like to challenge you – as I have challenged myself – to strategically evaluate what next year will look like in the light of our mission to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all men . . .” (Matthew 28:19). However, instead of simply asking, “What are we going to do?”, may I suggest this important question to consider first:
“Where are we right now?”
If I were to ask you how to get to a certain location, the directions you would give me would be determined by my starting location. Where we are starting from will, in large part, determine what we do and where we go next.
Man in the Mirror’s “No Man Left Behind Model,” gleaned from 30+ years of ministry with thousands of churches, defines five types of men with which our ministries will inevitably come in contact:
1 – Natural Man – The Natural Man’s primary focus is “Me.” He is not interested in discipleship or church, and he has most likely not made a decision for Christ. Perhaps he attends his child’s preschool graduation or is on a church softball or basketball team with a friend but typically does not attend regular services.
2 – Cultural Christian – His primary focus is “ME + God”. Cultural Christians typically fall into one of two groups. First is the man who only attends church for special events or holidays. While he may be a member on the church roll, he is absent the rest of the time. Second is the cultural Christian that is a regular church attender. He comes out of tired routine; he is “there,” but not “really there.” Neither of these men are engaged in the life of the church or truly interested in discipleship. Rather, they are satisfied just blending into the crowd.
3 – Biblical Christian – This man’s primary focus is “GOD + me.” This man has an interest in growing as a disciple. He will attend a small group and has a hunger to learn God’s word. He is consistent in attending men’s events and is truly committed to Christ.
4 – Servant Leader – The primary focus of a Servant Leader is “God and Others.” This maturing disciple is not only focused on God, but he now seeks ways to help others grow in their walk. Not just the up-front leaders, these men are willing to serve in whatever way is necessary to advance the Kingdom.
5 – Hurting Men – Across all the other four categories are men who are hurting or in crisis, whether they are experiencing financial difficulties, a marriage breaking down, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a bad report from the doctor, etc. These men are focused on “Am I going to be okay?” and “Where is God?”
So, my challenge to you is simply to think about your ministry and consider from where it is that you are starting. Certainly not in a way that judgmentally “categorizes” the men in your church’s ministry, but in an honest way that strategically helps you plan your ministry year to benefit the men you serve. Perhaps you have a ministry that has a high percentage of Natural Men and Cultural Christians. What will you do in 2020 to help them take the right next step in their journey to Biblical manhood? Maybe you have a solid core of Biblical Christians. How will you help them begin to mobilize as servant leaders? Let’s get away from doing events just because we’ve always done it that way and really be about the work of moving men forward as disciples. Just as the phrase “Ready, Aim, Fire” suggests order, a thoughtful evaluation and strategic plan for the events, studies, and programs a church offers will prepare us, focus us, and launch us into actions that make the biggest Kingdom impact on the men we serve. When we take an honest look at where we are, we are then ready to move forward toward the goal.
Until Every Church Disciples Every Man,
Jonathan Murray serves as the Central Alabama Area Director for Man in the Mirror, a nationwide ministry that seeks to serve pastors, train leaders, and disciple men. He believes that Discipleship Changes Everything and works to help pastors and men’s leaders develop discipleship pathways for all their men, at no cost to the church. If you would like to talk to someone about ministry to men in your church, please reach out to Jonathan.