Those two words right there cause a lot of feelings in people. For some it is a feeling of brotherhood and friendship, for some it’s fellowship doing things with other guys that you have in common, and for some it causes mixed feelings of insecurity, hurt, and frustration.
I have always had a difficult time with what the church identifies a man or men’s ministry. I have never fallen into what the church considers a man or someone who would come to or be involved in the men’s ministry. My own personal experiences do no reflect the church I attend now or a particular church at all, but a combination of my observations and experiences with the church in general.
In my mind when I hear those to words this is the image that comes to mind: a bunch of men, in their 40′s and 50′s either sitting around together in a church classroom drinking coffee and talking about hunting, sports, their businesses, and cars or all of these men going on trips together to fish, hunt, or camp. When that image comes to mind I want to run away as far as I possibly can. It’s not me, it doesn’t reach me, it doesn’t impact me at all to do that. I am not the person that the majority of men’s ministries reach out to or that the church’s idea of a man is.
I will be the first one to admit that I have given into a lot of stereotypes about the whole situation that are not true and some of my feelings are probably completely baseless if I were to give it a chance. The issue is that there has never been anything presented to me in the context of men’s ministry that has caused me to see past the stereotypes and misconceptions and be drawn into what they are offering.
I know that there are very effective men’s ministries that have deeply impacted and changed the lives of men across the country, I’ve heard stories and have met people that have come out of those types of ministries. But for me, it’s like meeting someone who said they were changed by a pink, flying unicorn – it’s nice and I can tell it’s changed, but, personally, I’ve never met one. I know I’m probably coming off as cynical, but I’m just being honest.
I was thinking about this whole issue today because of some great things happening with some guys I have met through Twitter and because of a conversation that I had about a month ago that got this whole thing going. What is the real issue here? Is the issue that the church has a misconstrued definition of who a man is and how he should be ministered to or is the issue that we’ve gotten so comfortable with accepting that we will never be a part of the “men’s ministry” we have become complacent to actually do anything about it?
We always throw around the phrase “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” but the opposite is true. If we are at a church that we love, feel connected to, and know that God has us there to use us and the gifts he has given us, why are we willing to allow an opportunity for growth and maturity to pass us by because we don’t fit in? Why are we not seeking out other guys in the church that feel the same way you do and try to put something together that will meet the needs of those individuals? That is something I’m internalizing because I am excited about what God is doing in me and through the group of men I have connected with through social media, but I still need guys that I can go out with and have a coffee or grab dinner with and have a real, tangible relationship with in person. Accountability, prayer, encouragement. We all need that.
So, what do we do? Where do we go from here? Men, I’m talking to you. I know I’m not alone in this, I’ve talked to you and heard your frustrations. If the church is not reaching out to men as a whole, not just the ones that fit into the stereotype of church guys, what can we do to change that? Who do we meet with, who do we talk to, what things can we do quickly so that we can become better men, husbands, and fathers? In your church, in my church.
What has been your experience with men’s ministries? What can you do now to make changes?