“Society has deteriorated to an all-time low. Our world is on a downward path of self-destructive behavior. That must change—but how?” writes Pastor Tony Evans in the flap of his book Kingdom Man. The premise of the book is the call for men to step up to what God has created them to be: men who “visibly demonstrate the comprehensive rule of God underneath the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of life.”
When I first started pastoring 25 years ago at a small church in West Texas, my mentor told me, “The biggest bang for your buck will be investing in men.” Why would he conclude that? It’s because statistics show that the role of a man in a home is a game-changer. As Tony Evans writes, “Virtually every adult social pathology has been linked to fatherless homes or homes with a father and/or husband who was absent, abusive or neglectful.” I certainly don’t want to minimize the role of a mother, but research reveals that the father has a major influence in the home.
If men have so much impact in the lives of families, and subsequently the church, are you investing in the men in your church? And how might we go about doing that?
CREATE A CULTURE. Every church has a culture, an environment that speaks volumes, whether you want it to or not. If I were to mention the names of a few churches, a certain culture might come to mind, such as “purpose-driven,” “prayer-focused,” or “missional.” I don’t believe those are mutually exclusive. But, if you want to reach men with the gospel and raise them to be “kingdom men,” you must create a culture that speaks to men. I’m not necessarily talking about the music, the facilities, the messages, the dress code, etc., all of which David Murrow addresses in his book Why Men Hate Going to Church. I’m speaking about a culture that is open for men to “come as they are.” In the first church I pastored, one of the men in our church was a “country and western” singer who entertained in bars and nightclubs and, by his own confession, would often come to church somewhat “hungover.” He wrote, “Looking back, I can see a few components that were effective in reaching me and others, one of which was a conducive environment. In other words, [our church had created] an environment conducive for men to be broken. One thing that caught my attention was men hugging each other after praying at the altar. This kind of encouragement in a church setting creates an atmosphere to be real.” Here’s another: “[You played] a strong role in grabbing men and getting them interested in church. . . . It wasn’t a small agenda for you; it was a major item, and you poured your heart into it.” Does your church have a culture which is inviting and convicting to men?
CAST A CHALLENGE. I believe men WANT to be challenged. Gordon Dalbey, author of Healing the Masculine Soul, once said this concerning challenging men—“Most often, we draw back from challenging men to greater commitment, assuming their laziness. We then wonder why men have so little respect for the church—even as we presume so little respect for them. But what if we told men up front that to join the church of Jesus Christ is to enlist in God’s army and to place their lives on the line? This approach would be based on the warrior’s spirit in every man, and so would offer the greatest hope for restoring the authentic Christian manhood to the Body of Christ.” Author Dennis Rainey concurs when he writes, “I found men eager to answer a clear call to grow up, man up and step up to the great adventure of the Christian life.” Are you lowering the bar for the men in your church, or are you willing to issue a bold challenge to step up and be the men God has designed them to be and in which design they will be most fulfilled and effective? Here is another testimony from a man in our church concerning this very issue: “A big part of it to me was your passion and ability to challenge us to stand up and be accountable. Plainly, I just did not want to let you down. I think most men have that desire in them not to fail, especially when they have a dedicated leader.” This is why I started weekly meetings of men to challenge them to be “kingdom men.”
CULTIVATE THEIR CALLING. Russell Rainey, executive director of Adventures for Life, asked a number of men why they didn’t go to church. A common response was “There’s nothing for me to do.” Far too many times we ask men to serve, when some of the only spots we offer are parking lot attendant, greeter, usher, teacher, etc. I certainly am not diminishing those roles, but what do you do with a man who has the spiritual gift of leadership? Let them lead or at least be a part of your leadership team. Instead of attempting to put a square peg in a round hole by trying to fit your men into a position in your church for which they are neither gifted nor passionate, why not find out to what God has called them, and then resource and release them to fulfill that calling? There was a gentleman in our church who had passion for jail ministry. Consequently, his ministry would preclude him from attending many church events, but this was his calling, and now he is a most fulfilled and effective kingdom man.
Feel free to contact me for recommendations on how more specifically you can reach, raise and release men to be what God has created them to be, and for what our families, churches and nation are desperate.