By Matthew Schultz
If you’re in the church world, you probably know the stats. Only 44% of men who are affiliated with a church attend church on a weekly basis, while 50% of the women do. Churches around the country seem to have the 70/30 split. 70% of the worshiping congregation each week is women, 30% men. Men are less likely to be active in daily prayer and devotions. (Statistics taken from a 2018 Pew Research Poll). The list can go on and on, and so can the sense of dread for church leaders. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
While there are a number of obstacles to men being involved in church, there is a solution. Think small.
Too often, churches and church leaders think that bigger is better, so we put a ton of energy into large events to try to attract people, especially in men’s ministry. We host a big Super Bowl party, or we have a monthly men’s breakfast. We gauge our effectiveness based on how many people show up.
But is this really the best way of going? Dave Treat, the Director of Discipleship at Friendship Church in Athens, GA, talks about the issues that men have in joining a small group in an article entitled “Effective Small Groups for Men” (www.smallgroups.com). Some of the challenges he points to are fear of being exposed, fear of feeling out of place, too much time away from other things, among others. However, when asked, Treat finds that men want to be part of a small, close-knit group of guys! They know they need it!
That’s why going small might be the secret to unlocking the ministry potential for your men’s ministry. Think about it: For many men, coming together to sit and talk is a daunting idea, but coming together with a few other guys to take on a project? That’s just a good time! The saying goes, “Women connect face-to-face. Men connect shoulder to shoulder.”
By inviting a small group of guys to get together to take on a project, whether inside or outside the church, you are giving them the space they need to connect naturally with other men.
At my church in Michigan, we used to have what we called “Man Day.” One of the guys would have a project that needed to get done at their house. It could be anything from building a rock wall to finishing the Man Cave. We would reach out to a few guys from church that we wanted to get more involved. We’d invite them to help with the project. Nine times out of ten they would say yes and come with their tools in tow! We’d get the job done, have some fun, say a prayer, and let them know that we would be calling them again soon. I can’t tell you how many of the guys looked forward to that time with one another. It also led to many of them being more regular in church attendance because now they knew someone else a bit better and felt more accountable.
It doesn’t have to be work all the time though. It could be a weekly football watch party with a quick devotion at halftime. It could be going to car shows as a group on Saturdays. It could be skeet shooting, going to the gym, or even just grabbing lunch once a month. Personal invites to an activity with ten or fewer guys make the social aspect less daunting and the conversational ministry more effective.
While we want to do more and get bigger and bigger, if we want to reach the guys in our church and community, going small truly does make a huge difference.
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