by J. P. Jones
Even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals that God is looking for men. Ezekiel 22:30 says, “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.”
God is looking for men with humble hearts; men who will sacrifice anything for Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom.
Robert Coleman says it this way in his book, The Master Plan of Evangelism.
It all started by Jesus calling a few men to follow Him ... His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow ... Men were to be His method of winning the world to God. (Page 21)
Why are there so few godly men? Why does every church I know of have a leadership problem?
One of the reasons is a lack of an intentional strategy.
This was the case of my church six years ago. I was hired to be the teaching pastor and director of men’s ministries for Coast Hills Community Church in Orange County, California. After several months of men’s breakfasts and personal appointments, I organized our first men’s retreat, and 68 men attended - 68 men out of a congregation of 3,500!
Fast forward five years: Our fall retreat last October drew over 500 men; our weekly men’s Bible study draws over 150 men; each week close to 600 men gather in discipleship/accountability groups.
We’ve developed a men’s recovery ministry, a men’s mission extension, a men’s sports ministry and a men’s prayer ministry. Every one of our Elders has been discipled through our men’s ministry and is currently serving as a leader in men’s ministry. I could go on and on.
Obviously, this is a God-thing! But in seeking God, we have followed an intentional strategy.
Let me share three principles that are the heartbeat of Coast Hill’s men’s ministry:
The first principle is a bottom-line dependence on prayer: I know every church wants to believe this is true, but at Coast Hills our men’s ministry was literally birthed in prayer.
Five years ago, after our first men’s retreat, I gathered about ten guys to debrief and seek God’s vision for our ministry. I told them that if God was going to do miracles, then we were going to have to ask Him. We agreed to meet every week and pray for an hour to ask God for His direction on this ministry.
Sometimes all ten guys showed up, sometimes it was just me, but for a year we prayed every week. We asked God for miracles. We prayed for men’s salvation. We prayed for men’s marriages. We prayed for men to be spiritual leaders.
And every week we prayed for the next year’s men’s retreat. We believed that that event, if anointed by God, could catapult our men’s ministry. A week before the retreat, our prayer group drove to the retreat site and went on a prayer walk (A practice we repeat every year).
We prayed for miracles in the coming week. What began as 68, turned into 285 men who attended our retreat! The momentum was felt immediately. Small groups formed and a weekly men’s large group Bible Study started.
We now have four weekly prayer meetings. We call them the “Power Team.” Every week about 30 intercessors gather to seek the Lord and ask for miracles.
This is no “let’s pray for my Aunt Susie’s next door neighbor who has an ingrown toenail” kind of praying. These are men who passionately - and with believing hearts - seek God and ask Him to do what only He can do.
I lead the Thursday 6:00 A.M. meeting, and I have volunteers who lead the other three meetings. We open with a Scripture reading and then we pray. We don’t talk about prayer; we pray!
We don’t share prayer requests; we pray them. We spend time in praise and thanksgiving; we pray for our small groups, our leaders, specific men in need and we pray every week for our men’s retreat!
Lou was one of the men at that first men’s retreat; in fact, he stepped over the line and gave his life to Christ. Lou immediately connected with some other men and began the exciting process of discipleship.
I sensed Lou’s faithfulness and began mentoring him on a regular basis. Lou is one of our prayer warriors. He faithfully prays for people on a daily basis. As a real estate appraiser, Lou meets new people but never meets a stranger. Without fail, before leaving a client's home, Lou asks how he can pray for the person.
More often than not, he prays right there, often sharing the Gospel. Lou is one of my prayer support team members. He prays for me daily. God is using Lou to change our church and to advance His Kingdom. God is using prayer.
A second ingredient in our strategy to reach men is to unashamedly create a masculine culture. Most churches have a feminine mystique. I don’t mean the pastor is effeminate, but the culture of the church appeals more to women than to men.
We decided several years ago that if we could reach men, then we would also be able to reach their wives and their children. We began having men share their stories during weekend services. We launched a men’s sports link. We promoted events with speakers that appealed to men.
One of the biggest changes, however, was with me. I began to be much more vulnerable, sharing personal struggles as well as victories. I became more bold in challenging men to step up and be men of God, at the same time acknowledging that I needed other men in that journey.
We have a saying that every man has a “bag of stuff” (feel free to use whatever adjective is appropriate to your men!). Our small groups are the most intimate groups of accountability I have ever seen. Men literally share their “bag of stuff” and then receive encouragement, accountability, truth and love. It’s awesome to see men be men!
I first met Greg at a Promise Keepers event several years ago. His father was involved in our men’s ministry, leading the men’s recovery group. Greg attended our men’s retreat and I was reacquainted with him as our bodies collided at our annual old guy’s verses the young guy’s football game.
Greg is about 6’2” and weighs 275 lbs. He is a combat promoted marine from the Gulf War, and when you look up man in the dictionary, his picture is next to it!
Greg’s heart for the Lord is as big as he is, and at that retreat we talked about mentoring and unbeknownst to me, Greg prayed that I would become his mentor.
God answers prayer.
Not only was I drawn to disciple Greg, but I eventually asked him to join our pastoral staff. Turning down a $200,000 a year salaried job, Greg is now my partner in crime working with men. He’d tell you that God used the masculine culture of being real men, to not only connect him to our church, but to lead him into full time ministry. God is using Greg to serve Him and advance His Kingdom because Greg is a real man.
The third principle of our ministry is that - without apology - we challenge men to become authentic spiritual leaders. Our mission is “to connect men with God and to other men, so that they become authentic spiritual leaders in their families, in the church, in the community and in the world.”
What this means is that we do ministry with the end in mind of discipling men into mature reproducing leaders. Paul said in Col. 1:28-29, “We proclaim Christ, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ and for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
Our outreach events, our Bible studies, our discipleship groups, our prayer meetings and especially our retreat, are all prayed for and programmed for challenging men to be spiritual leaders.
This leadership process follows a strategic discipleship plan. As men are connected to God in salvation through events such as our Super Bowl outreach, men’s retreat, or through one of our weekend services, they get connected to other men through our weekly large group study called 1st Appointment.
At 1st Appointment they build friendships, learn the basics of Christian growth and become part of a men’s movement. From 1st Appointment they are challenged to join a small accountability group where, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)
In their small group they are held accountable and encouraged to grow spiritually and are equipped to become spiritual leaders. As potential leaders are identified, they are apprenticed and challenged to step up.
At each growth level more attention is given to one-on-one mentoring. The highest level of training occurs in the Pastors Mentoring Group. This is a handpicked group of men that I personally disciple and pour myself into their lives.
The vision for this group is spiritual multiplication, “And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2)
This leadership strategy has enabled us to send men from our men’s ministry into all the other areas of our church, including volunteering with children, becoming small group leaders with high school students, positions of leadership on our Elder Board, developing outreach to the poor and needy and serving in cross-cultural missions.
Men’s ministry has become the sending ministry of our church.
John is a man who has been called and sent. He has been around our church for a long time and has served as a small group leader and Elder.
For some time John was drifting. Like many of us, he was making a half-time adjustment. Part of that transition included going on a mission trip to South Africa. John’s heart was forever transformed by his mission experience.
I asked John to be in my Pastor’s Mentoring Group and his vision was infectious. Several of our guys joined John on a trip to Africa. God used them, but He also changed them. John shared his vision and experience at our men’s retreat and many responded and joined John on subsequent trips to Africa.
Two men in particular, our youth pastor and our couples pastor, had life changing experiences. To make a long story short, from that vision and from those trips, our pastors are being sent out from our church to serve Christ full-time in Africa. Most of their monthly financial support is coming from men in our men’s ministry.
Their presence will allow us to send more men as ambassadors for Christ. God is using John to advance His Kingdom because John is an authentic leader.
God wants your church to be filled with men who love Him more than anything else; men who will pay any price and serve in any capacity to bring Jesus Christ glory. Those men are sitting in the pews. They are at the gym. They are in your neighborhood.
And they are waiting for the church to pray for them, to welcome them, to encourage them and to train them to be men of God.
Posted on Pastors.com®- February 2004