“You build a church with men,” says Dr. Waylon Moore. He goes on to tell of when he first saw that principle in action. In the 1950’s when he as a seminary student, just getting his feet wet in ministry, went to visit his second cousin — a fiery, Bible-thumping, fundamentalist preacher in south Texas. Moore asked, “How do you grow a church?” He’s never forgotten the reply. “Concentrate on winning men, and the women will follow them gladly.” He could see it working in that church.
Moore saw it in the 1970’s too, when his friend pastored a church in Miami. Dr. Homer Lindsay, Jr. [who later used the same ministry strategy to grow the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida from 3,000 to 18,000 members] baptized a thousand new believers in one year. When Moore asked him his secret, Lindsay gave him some amazing statistics. In the course of that year, during home visits, Lindsay had given a full gospel presentation to 38 men. That may not sound too impressive, but consider the following numbers. Of those, 32 made professions of faith, and Lindsay baptized 28 of those men — along with their families! [Homer was responsible for over 100 baptisms of families by focusing on the fathers.]
With 50 years of ministry under his belt, Moore still thinks men are the key to church growth. From his days of doing one-on-one evangelism with [Chicago] skid-row bums and guys on campus at Harvard and M.I.T. through his years in the pastorate, Moore has had a passion for reaching and discipling men. One reason is that he has seen what happens to a church when women take on key leadership functions. “The men retreat,” he says, and he doesn’t mean they go on weekend getaways. When the men withdraw or get involved only in congregational finances, leaving spiritual concerns to the women, the church loses the next generation — especially the teenage boys.
What advice does Moore have for a pastor who wants to reach men? A starting point is to realize that men need more than preaching. They want to see something that really works — practical Christianity lived out.
Mentor men yourself, one on one. Always be on the lookout for guys who are hungry for God and ready to grow spiritually. Moore found that early morning small group Bible studies and annual men’s retreats were good opportunities to spot men like this.
Have laymen give testimonies during services. This gives men a chance to see what a committed Christian looks like. When pastor Rick Warren surveyed irregular attendees at Saddleback, their favorite part of the service was hearing ordinary believers tell what God was doing in their lives.
Expose your men to “mighty men” of God. You can do this by taking them to conferences where they’ll hear challenging speakers. Another way to do this is to build a library of cassettes or CD’s. Loan one to a fellow and say “After you listen to this, let’s get together and talk about it.” Moore says you can do the same things with books, but most men don’t read that much.
Baptize men during the Sunday morning worship service. Have each new Christian give his testimony beforehand, too. That way the Sunday-morning-only guys get to see that Christianity isn’t just a woman’s thing.
Get men involved in real ministry. Take a guy you’re mentoring with you to make evangelistic visits. Showing is better than telling.
Moore has plenty of other ideas and insights on mentoring. Check out his website at www.mentoring-disciples.org. His book, Living God’s Word, is a practical tool for a mentoring group. First Steps is a great entry-level tool to follow-up new believers.
From “TrendScope” column, by Dennis Cone, Current Thoughts & Trends, NavPress, November 2001, Vol.17, No.11. [I recommend it highly to quickly broaden your reading.]
Searching for Some Teachable Women
[Let me add to Dennis’s conversation with me in the “TrendScope” article with some other observations that God has really used in ministry. First, let me slightly modify my comments above by emphasizing that a growing church must have godly women. They give the Body of Christ balance in ministry. Women are more sensitive to people than men. They are more easily won to Christ, and trained in Bible study. Have you noticed the staggering tens of thousands of women in Ladies’ Bible Study groups? Older women “need to be teachers of what is right so as to train the younger women . . .” in six areas (see Titus 2:3-5 for these six areas).
My wife, Clemmie, along with majoring on our three children was totally with me in heart and ministry as I pastored. She mentored women individually, and taught a ladies’ Sunday school class for years. Some of those she mentored, in turn, mentored others. The Lord also uses unusual women to mentor men, such as Henrietta Mears in California who had a major influence in the life and ministry of Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. She also impacted Billy Graham!]
Tragically, pastors or peers are mentoring few men. Why? There is a lack of focus on Jesus' and Paul's modeling God's ministry! Many pastors are copying the public pulpit ministry of gifted preachers in mega-churches. Yet this biblical model is not the priority ministry of Jesus and others in the book of Acts. Their goal: world evangelism. Their focus to reach this goal was to spend quality training time with men. Paul stated his passion for being alive: to further the faith of those newly saved (see Philippians 1:23-26 ). Jesus and the heroes in the Acts mentored in the context of evangelism, church planting, and discipleship. Intake — How to get in the Word and devotional life. Output — Living out the Word and touching others in ministry. Having output without intake results in disaster.Another reason men aren't being mentored is that they are much harder to win than women. And when won, they are more difficult to “lasso” into strict Bible study and evangelism disciplines. The pay-off of a man hungry for Jesus and His Word is so eternal and church impacting, however, it is worth any cost. Dr. Howard Hendricks, Dallas Seminary teacher has said, “The greatest crisis in the world is in leadership. And the greatest need in leadership is character.”How do you find people who are willing to grow? There is a principle that helped me lock on to the right people to disciple. “Overexpose people to the Word of God, and they will pop out of the mediocre mass, revealing where God is at work.” What is Vacation Bible School? It is five days of Bible teaching; a month of Sundays in a week. It is an overexposure to the Word in a short period of time. Children get saved and begin growing with this maximizing of the Word of God. What is at the heart of a “Revival” meeting, an evangelistic mission, or a Bible Conference? They all feature an over exposure of the Word in a condensed time span. We, in and of ourselves, can't help anyone grow. But if we can discover where God's Spirit is already at work and follow His lead, reaching out to a person, wonderful changes will take place!
At my last church we scheduled two men's retreats each year. Our leaders looked and listened. Where is God's Spirit touching a heart? When the Spirit is working, men ask questions; want to discuss Scripture, share personal needs and convictions. This openness gave us a door to listen, pray, and lead many men into the Word. Some were willing to be mentored or join a small group. Also we searched for “hungry” men by asking a man to help with a fish fry, or help paint a widow's house, visit a lost man with us, or to work with kids. We moved them into the Bible and ministry. Looking around my church I saw fire in the hearts of men everywhere. Those flames gave off sparks, then more flames. Men and women everywhere growing. Those I mentored were sheer joy for over 13 years in my last church; then God led me into a new ministry.