by Neil Kennedy
As the CEO and founder of FivestarMan, I travel near and far every week to speak to pastors, leaders, congregations, and most importantly—men. The last few years have provided me an acute overview of the state of so-called men’s ministry—or often the lack thereof. It’s not for want of trying or good intentions. Most pastors are passionate in their desire to reach men, but are often frustrated by poor results.
My observations across a broad swath of this nation have led me to understand that past practices, myths, and perceptions regarding men are usually to blame for the poor results. If you want to be effective in reaching men here are 10 things you should know about men and why you should rethink your mens ministry.
1. Men are spiritual but not religious.
Overwhelmingly, men say they believe in God, and namely in the reality of Jesus Christ. According to Barna Research, 9 out of 10 men are spiritual; however, only 1 out of 6 attend church on any given Sunday. Men’s perception is that the church is for women. We can change that.
2. Men are practical in faith, not pious.
Early church dogma created a huge chasm with men through the use of High-Church practice and language. Latin was the proscribed language; other languages outside of the church were referred to as Vulgar Latin. Even though we have dropped the use of classical Latin, the church still speaks in clichés or Christian-ese.
The terms we in the Church have become so accustomed to using are like a foreign language to outsiders—not much better in some ways than the early Latin. Our language can strike others as pious or overly-religious. How can we hope to get men to identify with us if we don’t speak in the vernacular of the day. I am not advocating coarse or vulgar language, but we need to speak to men in a practical, easy-to-understand way.
As an aside to illustrate my point, I was speaking at an all male conference recently and offended two ‘sanctified saints’ for using a term they deemed vulgar. I will use more wisdom and tactful words in the future; however, I’m sure the men I addressed in that room were facing much stronger language in their daily lives. Piety.
3. Men want more than Sunday church.
This seems contrary to what we are told about men. We’ve been convinced that men only want and need an hour-long service on Sunday — that they’re too busy and uninterested to devote more time than that to God. However if you analyze other things men are interested in — football, hunting, fishing, or golf — you’ll see they willingly spend time and money on their passions. Read on to find ways to add a strong passion for God and authentic manhood to their pursuits and daily lives.
4. Juvenile terms and sophomoric games do not appeal to real men.
Paul said, “When I was a child, I thought like a child.” Yet, for some unknown reason, men’s ministries are named after comic book heroes, militaristic terminology, movies, or religious terms. The tee shirts are goofy. The appeal is worthless to men on the street.
There are two phrases that are completely irrelevant to our present culture for men: Men’s Ministry and Bible-study. In fact, if you want to isolate your effectiveness of reaching men to just the small band of brothers within your church, use these phrases. These phrases repel men.
That’s why we use the name FivestarMan. It’s a non-religious, generic name, yet it well represents the five passions that reside within every man. Further, when churches launch their own FivestarMan groups we urge them to not tag the name with local identification such as First Church’s FivestarMan, or FivestarMan Men’s Ministry, etc. Doing so eliminates any hope of reaching outside of our church and into the community.
5. Men’s breakfasts have outlived their ability to win men to Christ.
Many are hanging onto this strategy with all they have and yet it is one of the least effective. It is basically women’s ministry for men. The communication styles are feminized and include emotional devotionals. The music usually follows the same script. This creates a disconnect that repels men of strength and ambition. Men do want a spiritual encounter and actually desire the presence of God and His empowerment. But they want to relate to each other as men, not sharing feelings and emotions, but rather through strength, courage, and a get-things-done attitude.
6. Church has become an anti-pornography campaign.
Most efforts to reach men are simply an attempt to discipline a man for looking at porn. The pious leader is normally very angry while he speaks down to men as if they are juveniles. No amount of personal discipline can make a man sexually faithful. It is a matter of the heart. That’s why FivestarMan speaks to the five purposes of men. When men gain an understanding of those purposes, their life becomes a passionate pursuit of authentic manhood, and they cast off the things that restrain them.
7. Men need a greater risk than ushering.
A recent survey of local churches found the primary goal of the church’s men’s ministry was to recruit volunteers for teams to usher, greet (clean breath required), drive golf carts, be parking attendants and join the security team. Men like to work, but they have an innate need to be challenged. They want a cause. FivestarMan motivates men to schedule a monthly excursion with other men where they get out on the field of contest and relate man-to-man. Men relate on the field in a way that is unlike any other venue.
8. Men don’t want to be exploited.
Often, successful businessmen are deemed to have avarice to the church because they are usually approached inappropriately. They’re treated nicely for the money and position they have — not for the men they are — which leaves a bitter taste in their mouth. Successful men don’t want to be exploited, but they do want to accomplish great exploits. It’s in their nature to reach for a cause. To these men, it’s not about cars, clothes, and cottages — it’s about a cause. Champion a worthwhile cause and watch these men rise to the challenge.
9. Men’s events must have a strategic goal.
It’s not enough to gather thousands of men to hear a potpourri of speakers all bidding for accolades and attention of the men. Whether the venue is a church or a stadium, the men don’t want wasted time, romance worship, and wimpy sermonizers in skinny jeans. Men want to hear practical and empowering messages that give them the tools to lead their families and change our culture. Men want to sing declarative anthems of praise.
10. Men read.
I recently spoke at a conference where I heard one of the leading influencers of why men dislike church make the statement that men do not read. That’s not true. Men do read. However, the communication style to men must be strategic and useful. We recently launched The Daily Champion, which is a daily, written-word encouragement for men to read based on Proverbs. We provide links to the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the day of the month and I am pleased to say the website traffic has soared 500 percent!
We’re living in dangerous times and our culture is hanging by a thread. Amazingly, unlikely sources are recognizing the feminization of men and the threat it presents. Camille Paglia, a lesbian-feminist professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, stated, “Our society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age… there is no prestige for men in the military… There’s no room for anything manly now… this is how a culture commits suicide.”
No one can influence your world like you. It’s time to rethink your men’s ministry. Join the movement to resurrect authentic manhood — FivestarMan.
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