Sunday Service – 11:00 am – 1:30 pm
1st, Sunday – Prayer Service
2nd, Sunday – Holy Communion
3rd, Sunday – Thanksgiving service
1st, Saturday – Board of Elders’ Meeting
Men, what are you looking for in your local church? (Lightstock file photo)
I am often asked, "Why are the men leaving the church today?" Sometimes it comes out as, "What can we do to keep the men of this church?" or "How can our church reach more men?"
There is no easy answer, but in this article I would like to provide some basic principles that will help you develop a male-friendly church. The overriding principle is simply this:
The environment you develop is more important than the events or programs you put on. A man is looking for an environment that is consistent with who he is as a man and a place where he feels comfortable belonging and becoming the man God wants him to be.
1. Relevance. Most men in our society today do not see the value of going to church because it is not speaking their language, and it is not addressing the issues they face. For example, a recent survey showed that 92 percent of church-going men have never heard a sermon on the subject of work. The unspoken message is: What you do for 60 to 70 hours a week does not relate to what you do on Sunday mornings. The most important issues for men are their work, family, marriage, sexuality and finances—and rarely are these addressed from the pulpit today? Some of the key questions men are asking are:
2. To be involved in a cause greater than themselves. Men want to be involved in something driven by a compelling vision. Men want to know what hill the church is climbing, where we are going, what we are about. The church has the greatest and most far-reaching mission on Earth, and we should not be bashful about challenging the men of our congregation with it.
3. A shot at greatness. I have never met a man who wanted to be a failure or a loser. Men want to win. They want to be heroes. They want to come in first. Unfortunately, it seems the church today wants nice men, not great men.
4. To be challenged. Men tend to view the world around them as something to be overcome or conquered. It's high time we told them they do not have to check their competitive drive at the door of the church. If they are seeking risk, adventure, change, competition and expansion—tell them how to find it within the mission of Jesus.
5. Action. Men today are looking for something to do; they do not like sitting around and theorizing about the 27 views of the second coming of Christ! Men measure themselves by productivity and gain a portion of self-image based on what they do. Their desire for adventure is often expressed in the desire to be on the solution side of things. Many churches today are in maintenance mode, rather than being missional.
6. Men are looking for leaders, and they want to be leaders. This principle is simple: Men do not follow programs, they follow men. They want to follow a bold, courageous, visionary leader. Establish an environment where strong leadership is attractive. Not only are men looking for a leader to follow, they want to become leaders themselves. They want to lead in their family, workplace, church, community and world. One of the things you can do is equip them to lead.
7. Fun. If men walk into a church and see a bunch of serious, stoic-looking people, shouldn't they wonder if Christianity really is a killjoy? The world is a serious place; men are looking to laugh and have fun to balance that reality. They love a good joke, funny story or movie. I encourage you to develop a ministry environment in which men have fun together.
8. Brothers. Most men have many acquaintances, but very few men have a good friend. According to statistics, the average man over 35 years old does not have one close friend. Men need teaching on how to develop and strengthen friendships and an environment where they can find genuine male friends.
9. Healing. Many are using socially unacceptable means to deal with their pain—making their work or their hobbies their life, misusing sex, drugs or alcohol. Unless these wounds and hurts are dealt with in a healthy way, they will never become the man that God wants them to be. They will never be able to have healthy relationships or move on from childish behavior.
I hope some of these insights from my own ministry to men will serve you well as you seek to minister more effectively to the men of your church and community.
Steve Sonderman is the associate pastor for men's ministry at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wis., and the author of How to Build a Life-Changing Men's Ministry.
For the original article, visit men.ag.org.
Consistent discipline has been touted as the key to raising godly children. Yet here's what's missing from that line of thinking. (iStockPhoto | Kevin Russ)
"Consistency is overrated." I love that statement!
"That is the most freeing statement I've heard in a long time." That's what one mom said when we freed her from the guilt she experienced because she couldn't always be consistent. She continued, "It makes so much sense now. Thank you." Here's what we told her.
If you're doing simple behavior modification, then consistency is essential. Giving the reward or punishment every time you see the behavior will reinforce change. But if you're using a heart-based approach, you have more effective tools you can use to make lasting change.
Behavior modification as a science began in the early 1900s when Pavlov made some exciting discoveries as he worked with dogs. If he consistently rang a bell just before he fed the dogs, then he could get the dogs to salivate by simply ringing the bell. This discovery of how to motivate a dog was picked up by Watson in the 1920s and he began to apply behavior modification to people. In fact, it wasn't long before behavior modification became a primary way to help people stop smoking, lose weight and deal with a host of other behavioral issues.
Kids Are Not Animals
People, however, are different from animals because they have hearts and that affects the learning process. The heart contains things like emotions, desires, convictions and passion. In short, the heart is a wrestling place where decisions are made. A child's tendencies come from the heart. When a child lies to get out of trouble, that's a heart issue. If a brother reacts with anger each time his sister is annoying, that's a heart issue. Simply focusing on behavior may provide some quick change, but lasting change takes place in the heart.
Parents who simply use behavior modification often end up with kids who look good on the outside while having significant problems on the inside. Consistency can teach kids to appear good, clean and nice, but other parenting skills must be added to the picture in order to help children change their hearts.
Here's Rhonda's Story
Rhonda finds this principle particularly helpful. "I have four kids and a household to run. Invariably I'd have to sacrifice consistency in an area with one or more of my kids to accomplish my other tasks. When I realized that there's more to parenting than just being consistent, it freed me up to work on bigger goals with my kids. Now I realize that there's much more to parenting and I feel empowered with other tools as well. I'm continually asking question about my children's hearts and I'm learning a lot about how to mold and influence them to go in the right direction. I'm seeing more change in my kids with this new approach."
Please don't misunderstand us. Consistency is important, especially when kids are young. But if you think more broadly about parenting and embrace creativity into your training, then you'll be more effective at molding the hearts of your kids at any age. Your primary task as parent is to teach your kids, and a little work in the creativity department can make all the difference.
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 not only tells parents to train their kids, but it tells them how to do it. Notice the opportunities God designed for creativity: "Therefore you must fix these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, so that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
If you take that verse apart, you'll start thinking about your own home and your own kids and creative ways to teach them about life.
Even in Old Testament times God knew that kids learn best through life experiences. Thinking beyond behavior, to the hearts of your kids will give you new insights and freedom.
This parenting tip comes from the book, The Christian Parenting Handbook, 50 Heart-Based Strategies for all the Stages of Your Child's Life by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. These 50 strategies help you add creativity to your parenting and see beyond the behavior problems.
Heart issues don't have to be immovable mountains. (Flickr)
There is a tremendous shaking, sifting and shifting happening right now across the body of Christ. The heat of the season and the pressure that has come with it is bringing a lot of "dross" to the surface in many hearts.
Last night as I was falling asleep I heard the Lord say that issues of the heart are being brought to the surface in many lives and are overwhelming and looking like mountains. The "issues of the heart" that have come to the surface for many have become so intimidating and so big that many have become "stuck" in the revelation of the wounding, lies, strongholds and struggles that have come to the surface.
I felt the Lord saying these "issues of the heart" have not been brought to the surface to intimidate you, to overwhelm you, or to discourage you, but actually to POSITION YOU for HEALING.
The Lord has REVEALED these things because He wants you HEALED. As you get before Him and share these "issues of the heart" with Him, radical healing and wholeness is going to take place. Perfect love is going to be PERFECTED in you. Shame, fear, struggles, anxieties, worries, crippling strongholds and lies are going to be melted away by His perfect love.
Don't look at this "heart issue" that has come to the surface as a mountain that cannot be moved. It's about to be melted away. Don't become a victim of this mountain, don't allow yourself to fall into discouragement or condemnation but KNOW that you are moving into greater realms of wholeness and healing.
The Lord is extending you, He is strengthening you, He is awakening you MORE to the TRUTH of WHO YOU ARE.
You may feel like these "issues of the heart" are causing a "breaking" and they are, but it is a glorious breaking. A glorious breaking to release you into greater dependence upon Him, greater trust, greater revelation of His love and who you are. You are actually being promoted into new levels of dependence and revelation of His DELIGHT in you and radical LOVE for you.
He is undoing you with His love and goodness, bringing you into greater freedom.
In this glorious undoing, not only are things that have entangled you melting away, but He will flow through you more powerfully than ever before.
The breaking process can be painful and uncomfortable but He is carrying you, surrounding you with His love and comfort to BRING YOU TO LIFE. His arms are wrapped around you. You are safe in Him and there is no reason to fear. He is loving you to life!
You are actually moving to a place of greater strength in Him than you have ever been as you embrace this process. Anything hindering you is being broken off. It's time to let go. To free fall into His arms, and see that is the SAFEST place for you to be. To let go of striving, to let go of performance and step into the overwhelming beautiful revelation of His love.
Embrace to process, fall into His arms and you are moving forward in greater WHOLENESS into a WHOLE NEW WORLD!
Lana Vawser has a heart to encourage the body of Christ and individuals in their walks with Jesus, to have deeper intimacy with Him and to learn to hear His voice. She operates in the prophetic and loves to share the heart of God with others. Lana has written her first book, titled Desperately Deep—Developing Deep Devotion and Dialogue with Jesus, and loves to see others grow in all that God has for them.