At my local church, Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho, I’ve served for the past two years on the men’s leadership team. This experience along with many others in other men’s ministries at other local churches has taught me that sometimes men’s ministry focuses on doing lots of activities without clear direction. In this article, I want to trace a few ways that this important ministry can change so the Church can effectively reach men with the gospel.
In my experience in the local church, many church’s men’s ministries are anemic. If the local church has a men’s ministry, the approach to it is one where they might as well not have it. Men know when they are being cared for and also know when they are not being cared for. Men’s ministry requires laser-like gospel focus and intentionality. Often times in men’s ministry, we apply biblical truth to men in an inappropriate way. We focus rightly on what a man should be but don’t help him understand that through a gospel prism. The gospel is the only hope for men. The gospel saves us, is sanctifying us, and will one day glorify all of God’s people.
When we speak about biblical principles in the Christian life, we’re talking about the indicative (what Christ has done) informing the imperative (what Christ commands). This distinction is critical since without it we can easily focus on the imperative (the principles) instead of how Christ calls us to new behavior and new attitudes because of the indicative. Many men’s ministries in my opinion get this wrong. They focus only on principles (imperative) divorced from the gospel (indicative), which in turn produces disciples who are moralistic at best, legalistic at worst. Some may even think they can live however they want since they are saved.
As we’ve changed the objectives of our men’s ministry, we’re slowly finding more men coming to our events. This is a conscious culture change for the men’s ministry. We desire to see men come and grow in the Lord together in community with one another. We want to see older men modeling a godly life to younger men. We desire to see younger men involved in the local church. Since our church is already intergenerational in its focus, this isn’t about a culture change in our church, it’s about being more intentional. Men’s ministry, as with any ministry, should focus on taking the gospel and applying it specifically to people’s lives.
How do we apply biblical principles to the lives of men in our local church?
In our culture, men are told to be superheroes, which means they must not bend or break. In the Bible we see men being broken by God. We see significant stories of men in the Bible who were broken by God and then were greatly used by the Lord. Jesus is the perfect example of this, except He wasn’t broken. Jesus is more than just an example: He is our sinless Savior, our victorious Lord, our triumphant King, and our exalted High Priest, Mediator, Intercessor, and our Advocate before the Father.
Three Ways to Apply Biblical Principles to the Lives of Men
First, men need events and spaces in which they can openly share their hearts with one another. This is why in my Bible study we spend the first of two hours sharing what’s going on in our lives and then praying for one another. We then spend a half an hour to forty-five minutes studying the Bible. If we have time left over often there are left-over questions about the topic and then we discuss them.
Second, men need space to develop relationships with other men. Every six to eight weeks, we take a break from our study to have someone share their testimony. Men need space to be given permission to connect with others beyond the surface level and instead at the heart level.
Third, men need to see that biblical teaching is for their lives. As a Christian leader, I believe it’s important to share about what I’m struggling with (and I’m not talking here in an overbearing way), just a few simple things I’m dealing with, and how they relate to the text we’re considering together. It’s important that Christian leaders above all be real about who they are since they are called to live lives worthy of imitation (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Lastly, men’s ministry needs to focus on connecting with the heart of God, which results in connecting with the heart of men. God has called men to be leaders in the home, in the church, in the workplace, and in public. God created Adam first, and then Eve. Jonathan Edwards called the home a mini-church. As men, we need to step up and be the gospel men He’s called us to be.
Men, we need to be 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 men. We can be this type of man because of the gospel. Men, step up and stop hiding in the shadows. In a culture where fatherlessness and a whole host of other issues abound, I’m calling you out men of God! You can and must have a powerful ministry because of the gospel. Reach out to other men and watch as God uses you in powerful ways for His glory.
A Final Thought
By providing places where men can open up, share honestly, living truthfully in community by gathering around the Word and praying for one another, church leaders by God’s grace will see changes in their men’s ministries. Pastors, the men in your church need you—they need to see and hear how God is working in and through your life. They need not only robust teaching but to see you model your love for Jesus in every area of life. This is why I urge you to find a group of men seeking to love and serve the Lord and call them to join you as you follow Jesus. After a period of time, send them out to do the same. By doing so you’re making, maturing, and multiplying disciples to the Risen Christ.