Want your church to grow? Then bring in the men
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow?
If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.*
"I doubt that comes as a great surprise to most people," said Sid Woodruff, men's ministry and deacon ministry specialist in the church resources division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. "We don't have to have statistics to tell us this is true. There is something in the hardwiring of creation that naturally causes wives and children to look to husbands and fathers to lead out."
The statistics, Woodruff said, shout the importance of churches becoming more intentional in their development of ministries for men.
"If you reach the men, you reach the families," he said. "But to reach the men, you have to enter into their world."
Of about 94 million men in the United States, Woodruff said, 68 million don't attend any church, but 85 percent of those say they did grow up with some sort of church background.
These men aren't necessarily opposed to going to church, Woodruff said. They just don't see churches as being "male-friendly."
"Churches by and large are doing a great job in women's ministries," Woodruff said. "In some ways, it's easier to arrange than men's ministries. Women, by nature, tend to enjoy getting together and talking to each other. Men don't necessarily think about doing that. In fact, men tend to isolate themselves. We need to find ways to get men talking to each other and forming relationships around topics and activities that interest them."
Toward that end, LifeWay has launched "There Came a Man" (TCAM), an emphasis named from the first four words in John 1:6 (NASB), seeking to fill a missing blank in men's ministry, by equipping them to minister to each other and reach out and minister to others through short-term mission projects.
"It's no surprise that men like to do things," Woodruff said. "We like projects."
Begun last year, There Came a Man strategy will continue through 2008, with different emphases for each church year.
The goals for 2002-03 are to assist pastors in identifying at least one man in each Southern Baptist church who is committed to developing a disciple-making men's ministry, provide training and resources to equip this leader and assist him in forming a core group for men's ministry.
In July the aim is to involve 1 million men in a simultaneous mission outreach effort in North America and around the world. Churches already involved in mission work can join the effort by simply informing the North American Mission Board or International Mission Board of the type of work they are doing and the number of men involved.
In 2003-04, TCAM will focus on men developing their walks with God.
In 2004-05, the plan is to assist men in developing their home, family and work relationships.
In 2005-06, the goal is to assist men in finding and developing their place of ministry.
And in 2007-08, TCAM intends to assist men in impacting their workplaces, communities and world for Christ.
"There Came a Man is a vision to see men spiritually transformed and become Great Commission Christians who positively impact their families, workplaces, communities and world for Christ," Woodruff said. It is facilitated through a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources' church resources division and the NAMB and IMB lay mobilization units.
There Came a Man supports pastors and local churches by modeling biblical principles, honoring church practice and achieving Kingdom results: numerical growth, spiritual transformation, ministry expansion and Kingdom advance.
Getting the pastors behind a men's ministry program is crucial, Woodruff said. "Men will see it as important only if the pastor supports it."
Using his own church, First Baptist of Hendersonville, Tenn., as an example, Woodruff said his pastor, Glenn Weekley, took a positive step by inviting men to participate in a weekly men's prayer group.
"What we started was a 6:30 a.m. men's prayer time every Saturday morning," Woodruff said. "There has never been a mighty movement of God apart from prayer," he said, noting that the prayer group has been meeting every Saturday morning for five years. The leaders of the church's men's ministries have been drawn from this group of praying men, Woodruff said.
"The pastor has been able to use this prayer group as a means of entry for men who visit the church and ask what's available for them," Woodruff said. "The pastor isn't involved in every ministry we do for men, but by being involved in this prayer group, he can bring a man to the prayer time, then introduce him to other men there who can help guys plug into a group where they will feel comfortable."
For more information, visit the "There Came a Man" website at www.lifeway.com/therecameaman. From there, links are available to LifeWay, NAMB and IMB sites for training opportunities, resource support and mission assignments. Sid Woodruff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Statistics from Focus on the Family Publishing, "Promise Keepers at Work." (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: A MAN'S HEART, MEN AT PRAYER and PASTOR'S STRATEGY.