What Leaders Have to Say About Reaching Young Men for Christ
The theme of this issue of Equipping the Man in the Mirror is "Reaching Younger Men for Christ." We asked our Field Network Leaders to give us their insight into this important issue. Check out these answers from:
- TC-Tom Cheshire, Illinois
- IN-Ike Newingham, Virginia
- JH-Jon Harmon, Idaho
- RG-Rich Gerberding, Illinois
- ML-Mark Lubbock, Louisiana
- JS-Jim Shields, Indiana
- NB-Neil Brown, North Carolina
- BP-Bill Pasierb, New York
- JP-John Plug, Illinois
Was there someone that Impacted you as a young man (teens or twenties) What did they do that made an impact on you?
IN: The man who led me to Christ at 16 had a huge impact on my life. We did Bible studies together. He had me memorize 15-20 verses a week (I am not exaggerating). I didn't know that was impossible, so I just did it. We hung around a lot together ... ball games, rebuilding car engines, etc. His life was a great example of what a Christian man should be.
RG: A campus ministry leader took the time to get to know me without every interaction feeling like it was about getting me saved. He'd answer questions honestly, patiently, and wasn't scared to say when he didn't know. I'll never forget him saying, "I like talking with you because you're a skeptic, and when God gets a hold of you He's going to do great things through you:'
JP: A pastor and a coach had a huge impact on my teenage years. They both gave me confidence, built my self-esteem, and showed a genuine interest in me.
How have you seen churches effectively draw and retain younger men?
TC: Younger men are hungry for the Gospel. They want answers from God's Word, and pastors who can teach and preach Scripture effectively from their cultural perspective have great influence in younger men's lives.
IN: Those that I am familiar with are very relational. Small groups are a priority. High energy programming for their men,
JH: Three key things that I have seen: 1) Youth leaders who are trained and focused on the needs of teens at different stages of their development. 2) A young adult ministry whose leader(s) can come alongside them, mentor them, and provide-age appropriate discipleship activities during these critical growth years. 3) A men's ministry that is prepared to continue the transition they are making from the teen years to the adult years.
ML: The churches that are drawing young men have group activities that bring the men together, but also have responsible roles within the church for them to fill.
Based on conversations you've had, what repels younger men from the church?
TC: Fake Christian people. Young men respect honesty and other men who are real, in the sense they are willing to share and admit they don't have it all figured out.
JS: Lack of relevance, lack of mentoring.
NB: Older congregation, traditions, archaic style of worship, churches still living in the 20th century, lack of use of technology.
BP: It's old. It's boring. They are too busy (with life).
Are the needs of today's younger generations of men different from those that came before them? If yes, in what ways?
TC: Younger men are even more wounded than the previous generations of men. Political correctness, feminism, lack of strong role models, media, pornography and on and on. They are marrying later, hitting transitions in life later, which will move the "mid-life" crisis and other transitions later.
IN: The biggest lie of the enemy today is that men aren't interested in spiritual things. They are. However, I do feel the challenges of younger men are greater because of generally weaker or non-existent male leadership, temptations are rampant, ethical and moral standards are very low. It's a tough time to be a follower of Christ.
ML: The social interaction that takes place today is different with the instant connectivity offered through cell phones and Pc. Yet the basic "needs and wants" remain the same.
If you were to sit down with a younger man (18-30 years old), what would you say to him to "make the case" for committing his life to following Christ and becoming involved in the local church?
IN: This is going to be abbreviated. I would tell him that God loves him and wants him to experience life to it's fullest. That's because of Jesus' death and resurrection he can have a brand new life, and have everything to live for including heaven (1 Pet. 1 :3-4, The Message) I would tell him that if he believes in Christ and gives (surrenders) his life to Him that his sins past, present, and future will be forgiven (Romans 8:1, NLT) I would answer all his questions and concerns as best I can and then the Holy Spirit is moving in his life, I would lead him to Christ.
TC: First I have to have established a "real" relationship with him. That being said I would discuss the struggles and issues he has are all addressed by the Gospel. While having a gospel-centered life will not "fix" everything, it will help it all make sense. I would ask him to walk with me and some other men and process life using the Gospel as our filter. I would encourage him to engage with other Christ-followers and commit to a noble cause like a strong marriage, being a strategic father and serving Christ with his gifts and abilities. Then ask him to have grace and mercy on all he encounters just like Jesus does for him.
From Equipping the Man in the Mirror, Volume 5, Number 3, p58-59.