Updated: Feb 18
How to Invest in Men's Ministry at Your Church
by Sean Breeden
Men's ministry can be hard. Statistically men are not as engaged in the faith as women. Relationships don't come as naturally. The struggle is real. There is no 'silver bullet' or one-size-fits-all approach to ministry because we have to constantly be open to how God wants to engage a certain group of men in a certain place at a certain time. However, reflecting on my own life, there are some fundamental principles that can be helpful. It's not a formula so much as a methodology - a mindset as you approach men's ministry.
Sometimes in ministry our first step in trying to lead people closer to Jesus is to try to persuade them of the truths of the faith. Anyone who has ever led with this knows that while it is extremely important to engage our reason, it is rarely effective as the first step in bringing people to the Lord. In my own journey deeper into my faith, it was always the sense of belonging and the experience of real Christian community that brought me in. In my high school youth group for example, feeling like people really cared about me is what kept me coming back. The free pizza also didn't hurt! That led to an openness to having an encounter with Jesus at a youth conference. Once the Holy Spirit gave me the conviction that Jesus should be the center of my life, it became second nature to engage in my faith on a deeper level. Diving into my Catholic faith, going to Mass and confession, and reading the Bible were simply the organic outgrowth of being immersed in real community and encountering the love of Jesus in a tangible way.
EXPERIENCE - ENCOUNTER - ENGAGE
- Experience Real Brotherhood -
- Encounter the Love of Jesus -
- Engage More Deeply in your Faith -
There is a cliché phrase I'm sure you've heard many times that says, "People don't care what you know until they know that you care." It happens to be true. How do people know you care? You start by treating them like human beings with dignity who are loved by God. I know, it's a revolutionary concept. Men know when you are treating them like a project or a means to an end to increase numbers at an event. Be real, be authentic, and meet your brothers where they are. The need for belonging is particularly true for men because men need concrete and tangible experiences of brotherhood for it to be real for them. We need joint projects working side by side, a common goal and purpose, and intentional time set aside time with brothers built into our schedules.
That's why I love Warriors of St. Michael. As imperfect as we are, we strive to provide different kinds of fellowship and service-focused events where men can simply be together. Whether it's a bacon breakfast or the Men's Night coming up with delicious bratwurst and a few cornhole boards set up, it's important to carve out space to just be brothers. I joke around that our core values are food, fire, and fellowship. But, there is some truth to it! It was also amazing to see a group of 30 men cleaning out the lower level of our church to prepare for the upcoming renovation project, and to see men show up to set up for the annual women's retreat. We are still figuring it out, and we have fallen flat on our faces more times than I can count. But, we know that putting our faith into action with brothers by our side is the perfect recipe for the kind of lived discipleship that Jesus is calling us into as men.
However, while the foundation for men to encounter Jesus is partly dependent on their trust and comfort level with their brothers, just having fellowship is not enough to get them to care about their faith. If our community is not rooted in and oriented toward an encounter with the love of God, then our efforts will be short-lived. There are a thousand ways that men can encounter Jesus, but we have to provide consistent opportunities for that encounter with God to take place. To keep this important focus central to our efforts with Warriors of St. Michael, we have praise and worship at our monthly 'Armory' meetings, we have more extended worship nights a few times a year, and we have an annual men's retreat. Times of worship and prayer; Mass, adoration, and confession; retreats, conferences, and the list goes on. Just ask the Lord how he wants to encounter the men of your parish, and then be obedient to what he says!
Ultimately, only God can convict a man's heart to make Jesus the center of his life. An experience of real community as brothers and providing opportunities to encounter the grace and mercy of Jesus can truly lay the groundwork to lead men to engage in their faith in a way they never thought possible. Obviously there is a lot more to the puzzle. But, hopefully this basic mindset when approaching ministry helps us lead the men of our parishes closer to Jesus so that we can all bear great fruit for the Kingdom of God!