Help me reinvent men’s ministry

Help me reinvent men’s ministry March 13, 2013

For years I’ve wondered why men’s ministry programs don’t work for most men. It’s a mystery – there is some absolutely fabulous men’s curriculum out there, packed with great Bible teaching. Yet almost every church that launches a men’s program meets with failure. The men just don’t seem interested. Here are the facts:

  • The vast majority of men’s programs die within two years of launch.
  • Fewer than ten percent of churches offer any ongoing ministry to men at all (compared to 90% that offer women’s and children’s ministries).
  • Those churches that do offer men’s ministry programs see very low rates of participation.
  • The typical men’s teaching session and/or Bible study group loses about half its members within 4 months of launch.
  • The annual men’s retreat is disapearing in many churches.
  • Major national men’s ministry organizations are shrinking in size and influence.

Am I saying that all men’s ministry is a failure? Certainly not. Some men are thriving under our current models. Bible studies and large-group teaching sessions can be tremendously effective for some men.

But the statistics don’t lie. The vast majority of churchgoing men do not participate in any form of men’s ministry – and the under-30 crowd is particularly disengaged. There’s clearly room for a new approach to men’s ministry.

Or maybe an ancient one.

A few years ago I began praying and dreaming about the future of men’s ministry. I put aside all my pre-conceived notions of what men’s ministry looked like. I started with nothing more than a blank sheet of paper and a Bible.

I observed how Jesus developed his men. His methods bore little resemblance to the small-group Bible Studies and large-group teaching sessions we favor today. Instead, Jesus led his men through a series of faith-testing ordeals. His goal was not to nurture men’s faith, but to challenge it.

Out of that study emerged a model of men’s ministry that I’m calling Men’s League.

Men’s League is a discipleship structure based on the very first Christian men’s group: Jesus and the twelve. Men’s League develops twelve men at first (Luke 6), and then expands to seventy-two (Luke 10). Men’s League not only delivers powerful teaching, it also gives men personal coaching and a structure that keeps them engaged.

Men’s League is built around the metaphor of a modern sports league, but its methods are as old as Christianity itself. Men are specifically called, paired and placed in teams. The League is built around shared struggle. They grapple with weekly challenges. They never know what’s coming next. Men’s League engages the body as well as the mind.

Reading and study are encouraged, but not required. As such, Men’s League could be a way to disciple the estimated 30% of U.S. men who are functionally illiterate, or for whom English is a second language.

It’s been about three years since I posted the Web site. To date, I’ve received hundreds of inquiries about it from men all over the world.

The problem is, I haven’t actually run a Men’s League yet. It’s still just an idea.

So I need your help. The next step is to identify a bold church of substantial size that will allow me to come in and prototype the League. This will mean leaving my family and job behind here in Alaska for a time, but I am convinced that God is in this.

What will the church get in return? The opportunity to re-invent men’s ministry. A core group of up to 84 men who are loyal to Christ and their church, organized into functioning teams. A model that could finally engage more young men into the life that Christ promises.

So if you know of a church that might be willing to work with me in this, send me an e-mail. I want to begin this fall, perhaps with an 8-week large group session for all the church’s men, using this to identify the 12 men who have what it takes to form the League.

If you’d like to learn more about Men’s League, click here.

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