PHOTO BY TAXI
Men are a whole different animal. I think thats pretty obvious by now. Those
of you who have raised little boysthose of you who were little
boysknow exactly what Im talking about. They dont do tea parties. They dont
play games like wedding day or mommies and daddies. You practically have to
threaten them to get dressed up for church. Jeans with holes in the knees are
preferred, and smelly T-shirts. Or capes and swordsany bathroom towel will do.
Or cammoboys love to play army. They want to jump off the roof. They want to
blow up stuff. They want to ride their bikes fast, downhill, with no
hands. Little girls dont invent games where bloodshed is a
prerequisite for having a good time, where large numbers of people die
as part of the fun.
Now, boys may grow into men, but nothing really changes. Look at the movies
men loveits all right there. Braveheart, Top Gun, Gladiator, Saving Private
Ryan, any of the James Bond or Indiana Jones episodes. Women didnt make those
movies box office hits. Men did. Have you ever wondered why?
strategies to activate men
What makes a mens ministry effective?
If the focus of the ministry is just inward, on our men,
then thats problematic, says Greg Belser, pastor of Morningview Baptist Church
in Montgomery, Alabama. The focus has to be on helping men to flesh out their
faith in a way that serves God by serving others.
But how do you change from an inward to an outward focus? Heres a
three-point strategy. Help men commit to Gods mission. Hold them accountable.
And help them find opportunities for involvement.
Offering men the opportunity to commit to something worthwhile has helped Herman Brandt work with other men to start
mens work in Canada. We were so ripe for it, he says. Many people have been
saved. We have new church members asking, Is there a mens ministry going
Men arent made to sit still or just study something, hes found. Nor is that
Gods purpose for men. The Lord is looking for men to do something. Its a
journey Hes taking us on, and that journey ends with our becoming conformed to
the image and likeness of Christ.
Im convinced that you cannot have a strong mens ministry without some kind
of accountability, says Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin
Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Because if you let them go out
by themselves, they can dry out. With accountability theres someone who will
help you to be the man of God that God wants you to be. That statement guides
the mens group at Franklin Avenue, which pairs men into accountability teams of
Its a priority for us because of how I see it has benefited the church. If
you want to fix the city, want to fix the state, want to fix the neighborhood,
want to fix the family, youve got to fix the man, Fred says.
The final secret to successful mens involvement, according to Scott Overby,
mens ministry leader at Morningview Baptist Church, is to match their talents with needs in the
community. We go to our jobs every day, and sometimes we dont realize that God
has designed us to be a minister even in our own jobs, he says. When you can
take a man and pair his vocational skills with a specific need, it lifts him up
and affirms him even more as a man called by God, set apart by God for a
The effectiveness comes from linking men with ministries
that fit themcase in point, Cole Portis, a local attorney and member of
Morningviews mens group, who currently is using his organizational skills to
coordinate a Bible study in his law office. Were asked to do this and this and
this, Cole says. But I know Im not geared to do all those things. There are
some things that God has gifted me to do, and I know that I should be doing
Sean Taylor, National Director
Baptist Men On Mission
North American Mission Board
All men share certain desires desires that God has written into the
masculine soul. If you test this against what boys love to do, or the films men
love, I think youll agree with me. Every man wants a battle to fight, an
adventure to live and a beauty to rescue. Its what he lives for. Its what makes
a man come alive.
Nowwhat do our churches have to say to a man longing for battle, adventure,
It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out why many guys are
not excited about Christianity. The way we talk about the gospel, the
way we describe Jesus, the way we do churchfrankly, to the ears of some men, it
all sounds very effeminate. To them church seems like a class run by Miss
Manners, and Jesus looks like Mr. Rogers with a beardthe worlds sweetest
And this view is not confined to the non-Christian man. When all is said and
done, I think many men in the church believe that God put them on the
earth to be a good boy. The problem with men, we are told, is that they dont
know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives or
raise their children. But, if they will try real hard they can reach
the lofty summit of becoming a nice guy.
Thats what we hold up as models of Christian maturity: Really Nice Guys. We
dont smoke, drink or swear; thats what makes us nice. Now let me ask
my male readers: in all your boyhood dreams growing up, did you ever dream of
becoming a Really Nice Guy? (Ladies, was the Prince of your dreams dashing or
At a recent church retreat I was talking with a guy in his fifties,
listening really, about his own journey as a man. Ive pretty much tried for the
last 20 years to be a good man as the church defines it.
Intrigued, I asked him to say what he thought that was. He paused for a long
moment. Dutiful, he said. And separated from his heart. A perfect description,
I thought. Sadly right on the mark.
If you want to reach a man with the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have to get
two things straight. First, you have to recover the masculine side of the
gospel. Second, you have to speak to a man as a man. You have to speak
his language. This is what Paul meant when he said he became all things to
all men (1 Corinthians 9:22). Paul meant that he was willing to adapt his
approach to people depending on their situationswho they were, where they
lived, what they lived for.
Notice the simple invitation of Christ to Simon Peter and his brother
Andrew: Come, follow meand I will make you fishers of men (Mark 1:17).
He appeals to them at their levelfishing. This is what they know and love. He
doesnt say, Follow me and I will make you mothers of men. He doesnt say, Follow
me and I will make you have tea parties with men. He speaks to them as
And then Christ takes it up a notch and invites them into the big
A battle to fight
As I write this, my three boys are tearing around the house with toy guns,
trying to take each other out. Jumping over couches, sneaking down stairs.
Bang, bang, bangyoure dead! Ktchhh, ktchhhgotcha! As they run past my office,
they toss in an orangea grenade. Boom! one of them yells.
This is not some psychological disturbance brought on by violent television.
It is the very essence of the image of God in a boy. Have we
forgotten? The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name (Exodus 15:3).
Our God is a warring God, a God of battle. I think even a quick read of the Old
Testament would be enough to convince you that war is a central theme
of Gods activity.
Think of Exodus, where God goes to war to set his captive people free.
Then its war to get to the Promised Land. Moses and company have to
do battle against the Amalekites; again, God comes through. Then its war to get
into the Promised LandJoshua and the battle of Jericho, and all
After the Jews gain the Promised Land, its war after war to keep
it. Israel battles the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Midianiteson and on it
goes. Deborah goes to war; Gideon goes to war; King David goes to war. Elijah
wars against the prophets of Baal; Jehoshaphat battles the Edomites.
Interview with Sons of Virtue author
Lance Witt is Pastor of Discipleship and Small Groups
for Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He and his wife, Connie, have
two children, Jonathan and Meagan. Lance was a Royal Ambassador growing up in
Albuquerque. Hear what the Sons of Virtue author had to say to On
OM: What is Sons of Virtue?
LW: Sons of Virtue is a 10-week experience designed for fathers to
work with their sons. Outlined in book form, it focuses on 10 biblical virtues
and the development of godly character.
OM: So its a book for fathers?
LW: Fathers, yes, but sons, tooand men who will work with the boys in their
church. The spiritual potential of fathers having a regular weekly time of
spiritual training with their sons is staggering. Its been said that
Christianity is more caught than taught. The impact of one father spending time
with his son or a couple of boys is potentially greater than one leader
spending an hour with 10 boys. Its about turning fathers hearts to their
OM: Why is that important?
LW: Scripture says the ministry of John the Baptist was to turn the hearts
of the fathers to their children. This was to help make ready a people prepared
for the Lord (Luke 1:17). Turning the hearts of fathers to their children was a
marker of spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ. When the pursuit of
mens hearts is more toward their kids than their careers, they are spiritually
OM: Is the need truly relevant?
LW: According to Focus on the Family, tonight 25 percent of all children in
the United States will go to bed in a home without a father. Almost half of
those kids, 40 percent, havent seen their fathers at all in the past year.
There is a growing conviction that business as usual is not adequate for the
challenges of the 21st century. Its no secret that families across the country
and across our congregations are being devastated. No church is isolated or
exempt from divorce, abuse and dysfunction in its families.
OM: What can parents do to help stem the tide?
LW: We are convinced that if church leaders and pastors begin to scratch
beneath the surface, they will indeed discover boys who have simply gotten lost
in the shuffle of everyday life. Many of these boys in our churches have loving
parents, are well provided for and are good kids. Yet, for all the good things
we have provided, have we failed to provide the best things? Every church,
every pastor and every Christian mom and dad desire these outcomes for their
sons. Yet, in the swirl of everyday life, these priorities get lost. Raising
godly sons will only happen by design, not by default. Parents need a plan.
OM: And Sons of Virtue delivers the plan?
LW: We believe so. Deep down every father longs to equip his son for life.
Yet, they often dont know where to start and have no tools that give them
confidence to train their sons. Sons of Virtue offers a user-friendly
curriculum that gives any father confidence in leading his son or a handful of
boys. No training is necessary. Just take the book and use it.
OM: And after 10 weeks, whats the next step?
LW: The beauty of Sons of Virtue is that fathers and sons enjoy the
experience, and they can continue on through the Personal Growth Plan books of
the Royal Ambassadors organization. Royal Ambassadors is undergoing an overhaul
to make the organization even more viable for your church.
OM: So Sons of Virtue bridges to Royal Ambassadors?
LW: Sons of Virtue introduces the concept of RAs. Combined with the
new curriculum, it allows a dad to lead Royal Ambassadors with his own sons and
perhaps a few of his sons friends. Hell be able to meet in his own home and at
a time that works best for his family.
Are you getting the picture?
And many people think the theme of war ends with the Old Testament. Not at
all. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew
In fact, the birth of Christ was an act of war, an invasion. The
enemy knew it and tried to kill him as a babe (Matthew 2:13). No pale-faced
altar boy, Christs whole life is one marked by battle and confrontation. He
kicks out demons with a stern command. He rebukes a fever, and it leaves Peters
mother-in-law. He rebukes a storm, and it subsides. He confronts the Pharisees
time and again, to set Gods people free from legalism. In a loud voice, he
wakes Lazarus from the dead. He descends into hell, wrestles the keys of hell
and death from Satan, and leads a train of captives free (Revelation 1:18,
Ephesians 4:8-9). When he returns, I might point out, Jesus will be mounted on
a steed of war, with His robe dipped in blood, ready for battle (Revelation
War is not just one among many themes in the Bible. It is the
backdrop for the whole story, the context for everything else. This is the
essence of Christianity that may be most misunderstood by the church. We
are at war. God didnt create man to be His altar boy on earth. He didnt
set within us this heart for battle to simply become nice guys minding our
manners. He created us to join him in His battle against evil. Thats what gets
a mans blood going; thats what gets his attention. Battle.
And so, if we are going to reach men with the gospel, weve got to tell them
the whole story, not the Christianity of Miss Manners. That may work with
pre-school children, but it will not work with men.
An adventure to live
And what about adventure? Just yesterday my son Luke, nine years old,
finished building a go-cart from some scrap lumber and four old wheels. He used
a rope for steering, an old 2x4 for brakes. And as soon as his race car was
finished, you know what he did? He took it to the top of our street, the
highest hill he could find, jumped on and let er rip. Men long for adventure.
Its a spiritual longing given to us by God Himself.
Eve was created within the lush beauty of Edens garden. But Adam, if youll
recall, was created outside the garden, in the wilderness. In the
record of our beginnings, the second chapter of Genesis makes it clear: man was
born in the outback, from the untamed part of creation. Only
afterward is he brought to Eden. And ever since then boys have never been at
home indoors, and men have an insatiable longing to explore. We long to return;
its when most men come alive. As John Muir said, when a man comes to the
mountains, he comes home. The core of a mans heart is undomesticated and
that is good. I am not alive in an office, as one ad has it. I am not
alive in a taxi cab. I am not alive on a sidewalk. Amen to that. Their
conclusion? Never stop exploring.
Our modern theology has gone so passive weve lost the adventure God has for
us. To many men we want to reach, church appears to be boring; they
think theres nothing daring, nothing radical about becoming a Christian. Church
looks like a program for moral improvement. Period.
But, my goodnesslook again. Every time God gets hold of a man in the Bible,
He invites him into a great adventure. He calls Abraham to leave his job, his
401(k), his relatives and his club membership to follow Him to a country hes
never even seen. He sends Moses back where he is wanted for murder to demand
the release of his people from the ruler of the mightiest nation on earth.
Moses doesnt have an armyhe has a speech impediment. God sends a young David
against a Philistine giant, and all the kid has is a slingshot.
Jesus calls Peter out of the boat and onto the water. That is the
picture of Gods way with a man. If men knew that Gods invitation to them was
the greatest adventure of their lives, theyd have a whole different attitude
toward Christianity. He isnt asking us to become ushers; hes calling us into an
adventure of the highest order. Of course, until we know that, until
we have adventure with God, its going to be pretty hard to convince
non-Christian men of that. God has a mission for us and for thema mission far
beyond a course on proper dress and behavior.
A beauty to rescue
If you look again at the movies men love, youll see that nearly every one of
them involves at some point a beauty to rescue. Theres nothing that will get
the attention of a man like a beautiful woman. You do recall that before the
fall of man, God said something just wasnt right. It is not good for man to
be alone (Genesis 2:18). Adam needed Eve, and when God stands her before
him, Adam is wowed.
Model of effective ministry
Becoming Baptist Men On Mission
Ask Keith Robinson what makes the difference between
business as usual for men and being about Gods business as men, and hell tell
you without pausing: Baptist Men On Mission.
Its been a good way to help men who in the past have just started out for
fellowship, says Keith of First Baptist Church, Bremen, Georgia. Baptist Men On
Mission helps men not just fellowship but also accomplish something as they
fellowship. They can become closer. They can become true brothers in Christ
through Baptist Men On Mission and see Gods message delivered through them.
The purpose of Baptist Men On Mission is summed up in the commitment
statement Keith and other men make as they join a group.
As a Baptist Man On Mission, I commit to become a man who:
Seeks my place in Gods mission of reconciliation
Adjusts my life by learning mission skills to become more
effective in Gods mission
Uses mission skills in personal mission fields where I live
Partners with Christians to fulfill the Great Commission
around the world I believe that Jesus has called each one of us onto the
mission field, Keith says. I believe its my job on a daily basis to tell people
about Christ. Baptist Men On Mission helped me learn where I need to start and
how to help others do the mission. I feel like thats my calling right now, to
be a Baptist Man On Mission and to lead others to be on mission.
But it doesnt just help men who have matured into Gods mission, says Keith.
It can also help newer Christians too. I know of one church where I started a
group. There was one man who has told me several times that he would not have
stayed in church if not for Baptist Men On Mission. It was part of what kept
him coming back.
A man wants to be the hero to the beauty. Guys going off to war carry a
photo of their sweetheart in their wallet. Men who fly combat missions will
paint a beauty on the side of their aircraft; the crews of the World War II
B-17 bomber called those flying fortresses names like Me and My Gal or the
Memphis Belle. Who would Robin Hood or King Arthur be without the women they
love? Lonely men fighting lonely battles. Indiana Jones or James Bond just
wouldnt be the same without a beauty at his side, and inevitably he must fight
You see, its not just that a man needs a battle to fight; he needs someone
to fight for. Remember Nehemiahs words to the few brave souls
defending a wall-less Jerusalem? Dont be afraidfight for your brothers, your
sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.
The battle itself is never enough; a man yearns for romance. Its not enough
to be a hero; its that he is a hero to someone in particular, to the
woman he loves. Adam was given the wind and the sea, the horse and the hawk,
but as God Himself said, things were just not right until there was Eve.
How does a life following Christ provide a man an opportunity to rescue a
beauty? Well, theres his wife, but many men dont know that she needs to be
rescued, or how to do it. If we could show men that becoming a Christian is the
door to the kind of relationship they really want with their wives, it would
get their attention for sure. And I mean also the kind of sexual
relationship men want with their wivesshow them the Song of Songs. Ask them:
What kind of God would put that book in the canon of Holy Scripture?
Too many unsaved men think God is a prude, some sort of Puritan party-pooper.
It would get their attention if they actually read what He wrote and found that
He wants the same for them.
Men want to matter; they want to come through, they want to be
heroes. If we called upon them to fight for their wives, their
daughters, for the hearts of Gods people (the Bride He fights for), I think
they would respond. Most men have no idea this is what Christianity is all
about. In fact, they think it has nothing to do with Battle and
Adventure and the Beauty. No wonder they couldnt seem to care less.
Evangelism for men
What does all this mean? Whether were trying to reach men for Christ or
involve Christian men in the adventure of evangelism, we need to adjust our
approach by always treating men as men, not as creatures who need to
be tamed. Here are some practical implications. Think about what makes men
tick, come alive: battle, adventure, beauty. Whether you are simply trying to
strike up a conversation, or invite him to an event, here are two
recommendations for engag ing his heart, the first step in evangelization and
1. Talk about movies
When Im talking to a man, I usually start with the films he loves. It doesnt
take much to get a guy talking about a movie that turned his crank. Look at the
movies guys watch, and youll see an incredible opportunity to talk about the
In Braveheart, William Wallace is the kind of man every guy wants to be
like. Start there. Then go on to say that you think Wallace is what Jesus is
like. Youre kidding me, will be the likely response. But lookWallace is fierce,
and brave. And at the end, he gives his life for his people. He dies, that they
might be free. Thats the gospel! Ill bet the men youre trying to evangelize or
involve have never made the connection.
Maximus does the same thing in Gladiator. He, too, is a mans man and a
picture of Christ. In a promotional for the film, Maximus is called the general
who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator, the gladiator who defied
Is not Jesus the Lord of Hosts, the captain of angel armies? You bet He is.
But when He came to earth, He came as a bondservant, from the lower class. And
as I pointed out earlier, He did not come as a pacifist but as a warrior to
fight for us and our freedom. Gladiator means swordsman. And Jesus brought down
empirenot the Roman empire (though that did happen eventually), but the
kingdom of darkness.
See how cool this is? The gospel is all over the place in the films men
Seriously, what would the guys you know do with the idea that Maximus has
some of the characteristics of Jesus? It would blow all their misconceptions
and categorizations. And we need to start by intriguing a man, shattering his
stereotypes of church and Jesus and Christians.
How about The Matrix? Its a pretty rockin movie. And its also based on the
gospel. A world held in bondage to darkness. A man dies to set them free.
Or what about Saving Private Ryan? The mission is a man, as the promotions
for the film had it.
All that effort to save just one guy. Didnt Jesus say He would leave the
ninety-nine to find the one (Matthew 18:12)? You bet He did. In the movie, they
die that he might livejust like Christ.
2. Do guy stuff together
If you want to reach a man, take him to the driving range. Watch the Final
Four together. I ask guys to go fishing or bird hunting. Thats where a man
comes alive. Now, many churches do this sort of thing, but too often it feels
like a bait and switch trick. Come to this cool eventthen you hear the gospel
and learn how to be a nice guy, a Ned Flanders kind of Christian.
Its tragic that so many men think Christianity is irrelevant to the life
they really want. But when youre out there, doing the things men love, you
connect with them. They begin to realize, Wowmaybe Christians arent such
geeks after all. I mean, these guys are cool. They really enjoy life.
Some friends of mine invited a buddy to come with them on a mountain-biking
trip to Moab, Utah, to ride for three days. At the end of the event he said,
Theyre a bunch of Christians who ride like crazy. I like these guys. Reactions
like that open the door. In the midst of the adventure, you can say stuff that
dismantles his misconceptions about God. Isnt it cool how God made us to love
this stuff? you might say. I mean, I used to think that God didnt want us to
have fun. Then I began to read about Jesus. Did you know He said He came that
we might have life (see John 10:10)? Walking with God is the biggest
adventure Ive ever known. Something like that.
Here are two suggestions. First, we have to recover the gospel for what it
isbattle, adventure and beauty. The reason so many men ignore Christianity is
simply because what little of it theyve seen ignores what God made them for.
Second, we have to go for a mans heart. Its not about getting him into
a suit and tie and into Sunday school. Its about reaching his heart for God.
Thats where the action is. Thats what Christ came for.
John Eldredge is the author of Wild at Heart, winner
of the Gold Medallion Award for inspi- rational books. He is director of
Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Extend your men on mission
NAMBs Mission Education team partners with other teamsfrom Evangelization to
Church Planting to Mobilizationto help men be on mission. Check out
these resources that will help you train and send men (and women too!) into the
mission fields around them.
Who Me? Help Start a Church? not only
teaches lay people how to be involved in church planting it also serves as a
strategy to put them directly on the field with a new church plant.
Power Plant is a partnership that
combines church planting with the effectiveness of World Changers and mission
education for students.
Sons of Virtue is a study guide designed for
fathers and sons to work on 10 biblical virtues and develop godly
To order the resources above, call 866-407-NAMB.
Kurt Warners Good Sports Gang is a video series
featuring real-life football star Kurt Warner and his band of animated sports
ball characters. Available at Christian and mainstream stores.
Ransomed Heart Ministries www.ransomedheart.com
Solid Rock Climbers for Christ www.srcfc.org
Association of Resort & Leisure Ministers www.arlm.org
Relational evangelism and postmodern evangelism training through rock climbing,
camping, and backpacking www.527adventure.info
Yosemite Christian Ministries home.inreach.com/ycm
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC