Guest editorial by Mark Taylor
Over the next three weeks, we’re looking at three groups—men, women, and children—and considering the topics that each often face. We kick things off with the gentlemen and some words from our publisher and editor of Christian Standard, Mark Taylor.
While attending a conference, a friend and I visited a local church. My friend is a minister and Christian college professor who spends his free time exploring mountain trails and forests—a true outdoorsman. He had a question for this congregation’s young preacher after the service.
“Who decorated your church building?”
“One of our ladies,” the preacher replied.
“If you want to attract men to your church, your lobby needs to look less frilly,” my friend said. “Bouquets and candelabra have little appeal to men.”
His advice reminded me of Don Wilson, pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona, and his passion to reach men for Christ. Even the design of the CCV church building was created to appeal to men, he said: “More like a corporate center than a church. Even with the color schemes, we said, ‘Are we appealing to men?’”
Dane Johnson, who leads men’s ministry at another Christ’s Church of the Valley, this one in San Dimas, California, echoed Don’s approach. “In too many cases, the church, from the minute people walk on the campus, is designed for women and children. The colors, the flowers, and shrubbery on the stage.”
This focus on externals is just an indication of the attention to men that permeates the approach of both churches. Their experience reaching men, combined with that of other men’s ministries I’ve heard of, suggests several strategies:
1. Model what men value.
“Men value risk, reward, sacrifice, action, adventure,” said Don. Instead of talking to men about having a personal relationship with Jesus, Don suggests, “Would you like to have an adventure with Jesus Christ?”
“Jesus endured unimaginable pain and death in order to accomplish his mission, emerging as a conquering King,” said Dane. “That’s a message guys can relate to.”
2. Allow men to relate to men differently than women relate to women.
One man in my church hosts football nights when NFL games are aired on TV. He makes an effort to invite non-Christian as well as Christian friends. He provides plenty of snacks, with several games playing on different TVs. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where men can get to know each other slowly. And it plants seeds for evangelism.
3. Remember the boys.
More than one men’s ministry has developed a way for middle school boys to learn about manhood from Christian men. Back in 2008, First Christian Church, Fort Myers, Florida, developed MOI (Men of Issachar), a discipleship program for middle schoolers including Bible studies, spiritual disciplines, Scripture memorization, and peer accountability.
Rick Bundschuh, teaching pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship in Hawaii, leads 11- to 14-year-old boys through a weekend of stress camping combined with wise counsel from Christian men to initiate the boys into manhood. The event culminates with each boy being assigned an adult who will pray for him, watch out for him, and be a resource in his life.
These strategies cause me to conclude: Reaching men with the gospel is often different than reaching women, and if we reach men, the women in their lives usually will come with them (but men less seldom follow their wives to church). Church can slip into something that feels foreign to men unless we actively work to prevent that from happening.