If you’ve worked in men’s ministry, or if you know anything about men’s ministry in the Church today, you no doubt read the title of this post and thought, “yah, right!” More smoke. More mirrors. No substance.
It’s tough slogging in the men’s ministry world in most churches today. First of all, most churches aren’t doing a great job of reaching men at all let alone getting some of them into a ministry focused on men. Second, while there are all kinds of great, exceptional programs and curriculums now available, few seem to have holding power with men consistently over time. Sure, there are great successes out there. But there are far more wound-licking men’s ministries than there are successes.
Here’s part of the reason, in my view. We’ve hit the perfect(ly bad) storm.
- Most churches, having leaned too far into women, have ostracized men.
- Many men’s ministries are really women’s ministries with male leaders (note how many of them use words like “sharing” and “caring”).
- Most men’s ministries are playing catch up. We’ve raised a generation or two of men with no compelling vision for what it means to be men who follow Jesus. So we’re having to do a lot of ground work with men on the basic issue of what it means to be a man. It’s important work. It’s necessary work. But it’s hard work to take a guy fairly formed in his own view of manhood, tear that view down by grace and then build a new man out of him by grace.
If we are going to build men of high impact, if we are going to build high impact men’s ministries, we’re going to have to continue to find ways to re-masculate the church; to put testosterone back into the Gospel and worship; and to build men into followers of Jesus.
But beyond that, if we really want to do men’s ministry right from here on out, then we ought to start with our boys. If we can capture our boys with the power of Jesus early on, if we can train our boys to follow Jesus into heroic manhood, while at the same time re-masculating our churches and putting the testosterone back into the Gospel and worship, we could change the trajectory of the church, men’s ministry, and men, in one generation.
A couple of ways to start:
- Perhaps men’s ministry becomes a mentoring ministry—where the men of the church step up and teach boy’s Sunday school or confirmation classes, etc.
- Perhaps men’s ministry implements an on-going rite of passage program that strategically trains boys to be men (see Following Jesus: A Heroic Quest for Boys)
As these boys are enculturated into manhood, they have then been trained to understand that the ultimate purpose of a man is to train boys to be men. Since they have been mentored, since they have been taken through a rite of passage by men in the church, they have the experience, tools, and vision for investing in the next generation of boys.
What would it look like if men’s ministry consisted of men being trained to train boys to become men?
The challenge for 21st Century Men’s Ministry: We are so busy trying to help “lost men” rediscover the purpose of manhood that we’re failing to instill in them a vision for building boys into men. And we’re losing our boys. 70%-90% of them will leave the Christian Church and most won’t come back.
Turn that around and we’ll turn the church around, men’s ministry around, manhood around, and the world around.