15 Lessons I’ve Learned Ministering To Men
15 Lessons I’ve Learned Ministering To Men
By NCMM Member, Jerry Wright of Men Living Up
Serving men in ministry can be the most frustrating, time-consuming, least appreciated and yet, most rewarding ministry callings. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in trying to speak into the lives of men.
- Men Are Busy – Men’s lives are full of activity. These activities can include work, sports, relationships, and the ever-growing social media influence. Busyness can be confused with productivity. If we closely examined all of the things that men are individually involved with on a daily or weekly basis, we would find that many of the activities are counter-productive to their lives and their families.
- Men Are Distracted Easily – The average attention span of an adult male ten years ago was twelve minutes. With the increasing influence of social media the average attention span has declined to five minutes.1 Teaching men how to be a disciple can seem pretty boring to them, especially if you are using the method of traditional, long-winded preaching. If a man’s attention span is five minutes, no wonder men don’t absorb, apply, and use the lessons we teach.
- Men Gravitate Towards Pride And Lust – Men are wired to be prideful. Who doesn’t like to be the leader of the pack or finish first and then tell the world about it? God wired men to appreciate the beauty of women. Our eyes can lead us to linger in our thoughts and commit mental adultery on an hourly or daily basis. Pride surfaces in hurt feelings while ministering to men. Lust seldom surfaces due to men’s isolation, guilt, and shame.
- Men Desire To Be Focused – If you give men the choice of participating in chaos or structure, they will choose structure every time. While men may live in chaos, they want structure. Structure can help men follow direction in their life. What comes to my mind is the United States Marine Corp. If you have ever been around a Marine who has been out of military service for a long period of time, it will be obvious that they are still a Marine. Semper Fi baby! That training stays with them their entire life. Wow, if we could only achieve a small measure of this in men’s ministry and discipleship.
- Men Want To Learn More – Men have a curious interest in a wide variety of things. This curiosity is demonstrated in everyday conversations. The guy who knows nothing about cars will talk to a trained mechanic for hours to gain a little understanding about why his brakes squeak all of the time. Some of this curiosity is simply to avoid embarrassment in front of other men. Almost every man wants to impress other guys in some way. Men sure don’t want to be embarrassed in front of a lady.
- Men Need To Be Strong And Courageous – God made men physically stronger than women. Men were made to protect, hunt, and gather. Bravery is an unspoken expectation for men. That bravery needs to be available at a moments notice to protect the family. Men’s strength must be fostered and channeled. Courage comes from biblically-positioned beliefs and attitudes.
- Men Need The Respect Of Their Mate – Men and women are different. What a brilliant statement! Women need to know their husband loves and cherishes them. Men need to have the respect of their wife. Helping men understand what they need, and what their spouse needs, in addition to how to communicate and express each other’s needs, is fundamental in helping couples have a great faith-filled marriage.
- Men Need A Great Cause And Purpose For Their Lives – Men realize very soon after adulthood that much of life and work is very ordinary, repetitive, and mundane. Get up, shower, go to work, come home, watch the news, have dinner, play video games (I had to add this for the millennials), go to bed. Many men enter adulthood with expectations that life will be a great adventure. Often life becomes so disappointing because they don’t know their mission and purpose. Men need something bigger than themselves to inspire and motivate them to great achievement.
- Men Have Hidden Feelings Of Inadequacy – Men tend to be on an island by themselves. It is extremely rare for a man to openly share his feelings of inadequacy. We all have them from time to time, but as men, we are expected to have all of the answers. Men can’t even bring themselves to stop and ask for directions when they are lost. Speaking to these feelings can help men discover that they are not alone.
- Church Can Be The Least Effective Place To Reach Men – The four walls of your church building is a great place for worship, teaching, relationship and community. This is a great setting for women to connect. It is rarely a great place for men to deeply connect. Men need small circles of manly dialogue. Have you ever wondered why most great business discussions occur in the men’s room at work? Gather in a group of two to four men, and the conversations are stimulating, interesting, and dynamic. Gather 100 men in a church service at greeting time and the discussions are brief, routine, and superficial.
- Very Few Churches Are Focused On Reaching Men – David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church has it right. Most churches create an atmosphere that is pleasing and geared towards women. The décor, music, and soft messages of love and understanding are designed to speak to the women in attendance. The preaching is too long, the message is taught in a auditory fashion, and with the short attention span of men, men can rarely tell you what the preacher preached about. Men need to be taught using object lessons. The lessons need to be short, relevant to me, and high quality. Men need to be in small group settings, preferably in circles, not rows.
- Culture Is Corrupting The Role Of Men – At almost every turn men are being portrayed as weak and fumbling idiots. Check out any sitcom on television and you’ll see a man being portrayed as a bumbling fool, incapable of doing anything worthy or important. We all laugh at this, but men are being molded to fill this role without even knowing it. We must paint a different picture in the minds and hearts of men.
- The Fight To Win Men Is Long And Can Be Full Of Discouragement – Who in men’s ministry has not experienced discouragement. Men are difficult to reach. (Is that the understatement of the year?) Men already believe they have it all together. Men are too busy to grow spiritually. “I’m doing okay” is their internal thought and feeling. It’s usually when things fall apart they come to you with their problems and struggles. There are times we would love to say, “I told you so.” But, we don’t because we know how men are and God has called us to love and disciple them anyway.
- Men Can Change The World For Christ –With all of the challenges in leading men’s ministry, why do we continue? Because, men can change the world through and for Christ. Jesus chose 12, and spent about three years discipling them. Jesus discipled them on the side of the roads, in boats, on hills, at the dinner table, and occasionally in or around the synagogue. The 12 learned in two significant ways; they listened and they watched. Jesus provided many more object lessons than sermons. When he did speak, it was to the point and brief. The disciples didn’t always understand what their teacher was saying or doing, but later the Holy Spirit revealed it to them.
- Choose A Few To Reach More – The most important lesson I’ve learned has been to quit trying to reach the thousands and focus on a few. I am not capable of going deep with thousands. I am capable, with God’s help, of going deep with a few. When I ask a few to repeat the lessons with a few others, the results are generational and exponential. Did you realize that if each of us were to disciple three men for a year, and asked those three men to do the same, in 17 years (17-levels) we would reach every man in America.
Men’s ministry is a challenging calling, full of disappointment, opportunity, and joy. All of us trying to reach men should share our successes and failures so that we may glorify God in fulfilling His purposes in the lives of men.
Jerry Wright is a minister, author, and business leader and also serves as a speaker and venue moderator at one of America’s largest Christian men’s gatherings at Falls Creek’s “Rewired.” Jerry is a Board Certified Pastoral Counsel, BCPC (candidate) and a Certified Sexual Addiction Specialist, CSAS (candidate) with the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is the founder, editor, and publisher of “Men Living Up,” a resource for the most challenging issues for today’s men including sexual addiction topics.