Drawing Men into Small Groups
A proven plan for reaching reluctant men.
As one leader put it, "A man is a hard thing to reach!" Yet few ministries have as much potential to revive our families, churches, and communities. When one man turns to Jesus Christ, it breaks a chain of bondage to sin and broken relationships. One changed man can set a family for many generations on a new course of joy, peace, and reconciliation.
Here's how churches are redesigning their systems to produce men who love God, provide spiritual leadership to their families, and serve the Lord:
1. Begin with a clear understanding of your purpose for men in the church. The first step is to write down what you're trying to accomplish and why. If your purpose statement were "To equip the men of our church to be spiritual leaders," you probably wouldn't focus on service projects. Instead, you would focus on discipleship groups.
2. Find a leader. All you need to get started is one man with passion to reach other men. You need to put one of your best men on this—someone the other men respect. You need to give him a budget. And you need to give him support from the pulpit. Don't let a man elect himself to leadership if the others think he is a loser.
3. Build a leadership team. Invite a few other potential leaders to meet regularly for Bible study, prayer, and, eventually, strategic planning. Your leadership team must be more than a planning committee; it must be a living demonstration of what you want to reproduce. Men want to be a part of something going somewhere. If your team can offer a purpose-driven plan (versus event-driven), other men will gravitate to it.
4. Create initial momentum. This is best accomplished by a momentum-building event built around a topic men are drawn to, such as sports, financial success, or fathering skills. We reach fringe men by providing what they need in the context of what they want. But the event itself is not the most important tactic here: it's men engaging other men that makes the difference.
5. Capture momentum. Give attendees a definite next step that they can visualize themselves taking. Don't shift them from first to fourth, offer them second gear—perhaps a small-group study that lasts three, four, maybe six weeks in length. Give men every chance to hook into something. Offer Bible studies, book studies, ministry projects, leadership development with the pastor—whatever you can imagine—to sustain momentum.
6. Repeat the cycle. You will experience drop-off at every step. That's why it's important periodically to re-create momentum.
1. What might you (or your husband, father, brother) see as the most compelling reason to join a small group?
2. Why is "men engaging other men" more important than clever programming?
3. What kinds of needs or wants do the men in our church have? How could we plan a momentum-initiating event around those needs?
— Patrick Morley, "Reaching The Disconnected Male," Leadership (Winter, 2001)
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