By CTA – Christ to All
Decades of research have revealed that women are often more engaged in the church than men. A steady stream of research suggests that women outnumber men not only in the pews but also in the overall life and ministry of the church.
This is not new. As far back as 1692, New England clergyman and writer Cotton Mather wrote this: “There are far more godly women in the world than godly men. . . . I have seen it without going a mile from home, that in a church of three or four hundred communicants, there are but a few more than one hundred men, all the rest are women.”
However, recent research suggests that the longstanding lack of men engaged in church life may be changing. It seems as though amongst younger generations such as Gen Z, men may be outnumbering women when it comes to identifying with a religion.
Whether the pews have more men or more women is not what matters. Instead, what matters is finding intentional and meaningful opportunities for people to engage in ministry, worship, and the church. A thriving ministry depends upon deliberately connecting with individuals where they are and with what they need most. Sometimes this requires ministries and fellowship opportunities that are specifically intended for men. CTA offers many great resources for meaningfully engaging people in ministry—including plenty of tools to benefit and aid in creating a strategic plan for men’s ministry!
Why Men’s Ministry Matters
Peruse the pages of Scripture and you will find all kinds of examples of how “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV). Moses needed Aaron to hold his arms up when he grew weary and tired (Exodus 17). Moses also needed Joshua to help him lead God’s people with boldness and courage (Numbers 27:12–23). David needed Jonathan to encourage him and to be a friend to him (1 Samuel 18:1). Peter needed Paul to speak the truth into his erring ways (Galatians 2:11–14). Timothy needed Paul to guide and mentor him in life and ministry (1 Timothy 4:11–16).
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that men need other men to sharpen, support, challenge, and encourage one another. Men’s ministry is essential to thriving ministry and congregational life. This does not undercut or ignore God’s plan for the church being an expansive community of men and women, young and old, and “a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7 ESV). Rather, in a curious way, it supports it!
Women’s ministry, care ministry, and children’s ministry are vital parts of the whole church. And, in the same way, so is men’s ministry. Providing opportunities for men to engage in life and ministry together strengthens a part of the whole church. When each of these specific parts of ministry and congregational life is strong, they share their strength with the whole church. The apostle Paul puts it like this:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19–22 ESV, emphasis added).
With Jesus as the cornerstone, a congregation is a cohesive structure composed of various parts and pieces. If one brick or stone is crumbing, the entire structure is weakened and vulnerable. Yet, if a brick or stone is especially strong and supportive, then the whole structure becomes stronger as a result.
Having a strong and vibrant men’s ministry will strengthen the whole structure of a congregation. Every congregation needs to create intentional opportunities for men to sharpen one another through God’s Word, prayer, fellowship, and encouragement. Strengthening this part of your ministry will help strengthen other parts of your ministry—and the structure as a whole!
The ABCs of Men’s Ministry
Since men’s ministry is vitally important for the well-being of a congregation, it is important to invest energy and resources into developing ministry opportunities for men. However, developing men's ministry goals and objectives can seem overwhelming especially if you’ve never had experience in leading a Christian men's group or if you are a volunteer. The following is a list of tools to benefit men’s ministry—simple suggestions and strategies, known as the ABCs, for creating and developing a thriving ministry for the men in your church.
All Year Round
Father’s Day is a clear occasion for thinking about men’s ministry. Many people celebrate fathers and other godly men in their lives by giving Father’s Day gifts. The time leading up to and right around Father’s Day is the perfect time to evaluate what you are doing for the ministry. This can be an ideal time to launch a new men’s Bible study or fellowship group or to offer a one-time event for men to attend.
However, a thriving, life-changing men’s ministry must be something that happens All year round. If your congregation only provides intentional ministry opportunities around Father’s Day, then it will struggle with discontinuity and a loss of momentum. The A stands for All year round—creating ongoing and repeated ministry programming is essential to creating a thriving ministry. This provides for consistent relationship building, for spiritual growth, and for ministry momentum to form. Consider the following ideas for all-year-round men’s ministries:
Offering a weekly men’s Bible study does not need to take hours of preparation. Consider creating a Bible reading plan and three or four guiding questions to consider. Men can gather once a week to discuss what they read through the plan and answer the guiding questions. Possible questions could include:
- What did you see that you hadn’t seen before?
- What challenged you?
- Where did you see Jesus?
Additionally, those same questions could be used each week since the Scripture readings will change. This makes it so that the leader of the group has very little planning or work to do ahead of time.
- One-time ministry events can support ongoing men’s ministries. If your congregation has ongoing ministry opportunities for men, consider how one-time events can serve as on-ramps and invitations for new men to engage in these existing programs. Something as simple as a men’s breakfast can allow men of different ages and involvement to come together. This “hub and spoke” way of doing men’s ministry allows for specific men’s groups (spokes) and central gatherings (hub) to work together in a coordinated way.
Bible-Based Men’s Ministry
An effective men’s ministry must be Bible based. Being in the Word of God is where transformative iron-sharpening-iron ministry happens. An inaccurate caricature of men and their ministry as a whole is that they’d rather be golfing or grilling than giving time to the Word of God. This is simply not true—like all people, men are strengthened, challenged, and comforted by hearing and studying God’s Word. Yet, this does not mean that your ministry must be composed of Bible studies and nothing more. Consider the following ways for weaving the Bible into your various offerings:
- Do not underestimate the simple power of beginning or ending your men’s events with the Word of God or a devotional reading. CTA’s devotions for men include the Word of God with engaging reflections and prayers. This allows men's leaders with any level of experience to bring God’s Word into the midst of your ministry. All the golf or grilling in the world cannot transform men the way God’s Word does!
- The heart of a thriving ministry is Bible study. However, this does not mean that fellowship and other activities do not have their place as well. It can be intimidating for some men to be part of a Bible study. However, it is easier for a guy to play in a golf scramble or help with a service activity. These fellowship or service activities can serve as low-pressure entry points for men to engage in ministry. After having golfed or served with other guys, it’s much easier to gather around God’s Word with them!
Concrete and Constructive
Finally, the ministry should be both concrete and constructive. In other words, make sure that there is something tangible and that men have an opportunity to accomplish something together.
Men are not often known for their ability to pick up on subtleties or nuance. So, it is a good idea to be concrete and direct when it comes to ministry invitations and opportunities. Invitations that are personal, direct, and actionable are best: “Hey Jim, you should come to the men’s Bible study this weekend.” If you are offering a Bible study or men’s breakfast, then develop some sort of plan where people receive a personal invitation to the event. A direct and personal invitation is always more effective than a general and impersonal announcement during services or in a newsletter.
Similarly, it is important to be concrete when it comes to welcoming attendees and helping them to remember the experience. Providing men with something concrete such as a multi-tool or a pocket knife is a permanent reminder of the event. Every time a guy uses that multi-tool, he will bring to mind the event where he received it. This allows a one-time event to have ongoing staying power for men.
Along with offering something concrete, it is best for the ministry to be constructive. Though they certainly have them, men do not like to sit around talking about their feelings. However, get them in a golf cart while golfing or on a boat fishing and suddenly everything is different. It is amazing how many deep, personal, and very vulnerable conversations can happen while men are doing some sort of activity or project. Because of this, getting men involved at church is essential to a thriving ministry.
Constructive men’s ministry opportunities abound in any church. Serving together and working on a unifying project can be a powerful catalyst for developing vital relationships and building an effective men’s ministry. While it might take longer and require some more logistical work (how many men does it take to screw in a lightbulb?!), it is best for a group to work on tasks within the congregation. Rather than having one guy do a task alone, try to get three or four working together. Not only do many hands make for light work, but also there is an opportunity for fellowship, mentoring, and relationship building. Consider developing a culture of group life in your congregation so that serving side by side is valued more than simply getting it done.
Men’s ministry is vitally important to the church. Yet just because it is vitally important does not mean that it must be virtually impossible to do. The ABCs of a life-changing men’s ministry are really all that you need to know: It should be all year round, Bible-based, and both concrete and constructive. It’s really that simple!
CTA’s men’s ministry resources provide you with great resources for implementing the ABCs discussed in this article. CTA can provide Bible-based books to benefit men’s ministry throughout the year, as well as plenty of options for men’s gifts so that they receive a concrete memento to remind them of the ministry. All you need to do is fire up the grills, grease the griddles, invite the guys, open up the Bibles, and get to work doing transformative men’s ministry!
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