A Final Word
A Mandate for Men
by Neil Kennedy
My strategy failed.
I have started two churches and served as executive pastor at one of the nation’s largest churches. By some measures, we were successful. We had thriving youth and children’s ministries, a good core of small groups, and vibrant women’s ministries. We grew numerically. We built buildings. We saw hundreds, even thousands, saved. Yet I failed. I failed — we failed —because we did not have a specific strategy to reach men.
The few churches that attempt to reach new men, or retain those they have, often do so with sophomoric themes — naming their ministries after movies, video games, or militaristic styling, all of which treat men as juveniles. We must admit the occasional men’s breakfast doesn’t win many men to Christ, and an annual retreat seldom gives men the spiritual stamina to face the challenges of manhood.
For the most part, churches have grown in their efforts to reach women, children, and teenagers. They have become very aware of the need for outreaches to specific groups. They know the likes and dislikes of children, teenagers, and, of course, women. However, our churches have not worked as creatively and effectively at communicating to men. For the church to be successful, it must put more thought and prayer toward reaching men.
Many pastors and leaders believe the myth that men are not spiritual. According to Barna research, however, more than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. Yet only one in six men attend church.1
There is a huge disconnect between men’s interest in God and the value they place in the local church. In reality, nine out of 10 men are already interested in God. Knowing this should give leaders confidence that if we change a few things and become creative and strategically acute in our efforts, we can see an enormous growth in our churches. We can witness an amazing harvest of men who believe in God but who also receive value, and add value, to the local congregation.
I honestly believe there has never been a more perfect time to reach men. Today’s men are aware they need God. They sense that their lives have a higher purpose than chasing after cars, clothes, or cottages. They’re ready for a cause — one with eternal significance.
The Bible says, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5 ESV).2
In my book, Fivestarman: The Five Passions of Authentic Manhood, I identity five things that motivate healthy men: an adventurous spirit, an entrepreneurial drive, a desire to be gallant in relationships, faithful in character, and the longing to leave a legacy through a philanthropic cause.
We can reach more men by appealing to their deep need for purpose. By challenging and equipping men to fulfill their God-given purposes, we can empower them to cast off the things that restrain them.
A passage of Scripture concerning the life of David says, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war ... David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace…” (2 Samuel 11:1,2).
This moment brought tragic consequences for David and the nation of Israel. A night of boredom aided by losing sight of his relationship with God led King David to commit sins of adultery and murder. When David withdrew from the pursuit of his purposes, he gave in to lust.
Recently while giving an altar call at a large men’s conference, I asked the question, “How many of you are bored with your life?” Overwhelmingly, the majority of the men’s hands were raised. I believe men are bored.
We must speak to the purposes that drive men and help them understand those purposes. When a man has a meaningful mission, his life becomes a passionate pursuit of biblical manhood.
It’s time for us to resurrect biblical manhood and draw out the purposes of the men of our congregations. We need a strategic plan of action — daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually — that will communicate to men’s purposes.
This issue of Enrichment has thoughtful ideas and strategies that every church and pastor should employ in their ministry to men.
1. Barna Research Online, “Women are the Backbone of Christian Congregations in America,” March 6, 2000.
2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright 2001, Wheaton: Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.