As a young man in his teens and 20s, Josh was a 6-foot-tall, hot-headed,
blond-haired maverick. His friends and family kept their distance from this
Tasmanian devil, as even the slightest offense would set Josh ablaze with rage.
But all of that changed when he turned 30. Josh discovered Buddha.
When Josh was a boy, he adopted the Christian beliefs of his family. He
tells the story of his Christian rootsand then how everything changed when he
announced he was in love with someone other than his wife. After that, what
Josh remembers most is a steady stream of preaching from his mother and a
comment from his sister that he would burn in hell. Tired of the strife, in
1999 he cut off most contact with his well-meaning family and found acceptance
in a support group for students of Buddha.
In his new Buddhist faith, Josh says he no longer feels at odds with God,
his rage is gone, and he no longer feels that his creator is distant from
himquite unlike how he felt before. Christianity taught me that God was closer
when I behaved a certain way and farther away when I didnt.
I never felt I was good enough to be close to God. If Josh were your friend,
what would you do?
Different men, same rootsThe story of Joshs life may
seem extreme, but most of us know men in very much the same boat. They may not
be considering Buddhism or promiscuity as lifestyles, but they are on a path of
deception, distraction or ambivalence.
And, for many, they feel quite happy on that path. Even though some women
struggle with these same problems, the numbers comparing men and women show a
marked difference: According to a Barna survey of American adults, while 75
percent of women say their faith is very important to them, only 60 percent of
men say the same. And the bottom line: about 46 percent of women have accepted
Christ for salvation, compared with 36 percent of men.
Its interesting, however, that just as many men as women say they are
searching for meaning and purpose in life. The stats suggest that men are
looking for that deeper life, but it will take a major mind-shift for them to
seek solutions from a church, a group of Christians or even from Jesus Christ
The numbers also add up to a safe conclusion:
Reaching men for Christ isnt easy. Patrick Morley, author of Man in the Mirror, said it well: Reaching
men is a lot like playing basketball. Getting the job done amid arm-waving
opposition is what the game is all about. The natural resistance we encounter
in reaching men is part of the game.
So, if you and your church are having a hard time reaching men, know this:
Youre not alone. But giving up is not an option, and just one man turning to
Christ can revolutionize an entire church or community.
Before looking at how to lead a man to Christ, its helpful to examine the
plight of men in our culture today. What are their pressures, frustrations,
Whats bugging men
today Men are trapped
in the rat race. The 12-hour workday shows no signs of slowing. Men are so
wiped out by their work and family duties, they rarely have time to confront
their spiritual needs. They are literally working themselves to spiritual and
physical sickness and death.
Men are bored. Boredom isnt necessarily cured by busyness. Men are bored by
the endless list of things they are doingthings they never signed up for in
life, things to keep a standard of living or to preserve an image. Many men are
even bored with their churches. They are overcome by the mundane, with no
energy to break free.
Men are underchallenged to do the things they love. On the job, men feel
economic pressure to stay where they are, even if their dream would carry them
to something entirely new. This can be especially true in some Christian
settings where men are encouraged to be conservative and always play it safe.
Rather than being challenged to live on the edge, to reach for their dreams,
they are asked to have patience, to wait until God speaks before they make any
Men have lost touch with their masculine core. Men have been feminized, they
have forgotten (or have never known) the unique abilities and perspectives they
have as menand how desperately they are needed by women and children. Men need
to feel free to act from their masculine nature.
Men are falling for the notion that their best years are over. Our culture
worships youth, and men are believing that the young are more valuable. They
sideline themselves from the game at age 50right when energy and experience
begin to synergize.
Men are trying to be somebody other than themselves. Too few men have felt
the surge of confidence they can have by being themselves, rather than trying
to be a copy of somebody elseor trying to live the macho image depicted by
todays billboards and commercials.
If the truth were known, nearly all menincluding men of strong Christian
faithdeal with one or more (or all!) of these issues at some time. And heres
how all this intersects with evangelism to men: Effective faith-sharing recognizes our common needs
and struggles, so we can relate to men where they are.
When we want to reveal the truth of Christ to other men, it often starts
with a no-agenda friendship where trust is built as men talk about their common
needs and seek solutions together. Fortunately, a guy named Gary had somebody
in his life who understood friendships, patience and trust. It ultimately saved
his life. Lets look at his story.
Case Study: The rescue of GaryFrom a distance, nobody
wouldve expected problems in Garys life. He seemed to be a confident and
successful businessman and husband. In public he and his wife of 11 years
seemed like the perfect match. It took only three years in a Fortune 500
company for Gary to prove his business acumen, and he was quickly promoted into
Intoxicated by his work, the hours in the office extended later into the
evenings, with more travel each month. On the business trips, Gary found
himself relaxing more often with a drink, and an old habit of heavy drinking
Being apart from his wife, and with his marriage clearly drifting, Gary
still focused on his work. Then came the bomb: One day his wife announced she
was no longer in love with him, and she asked for a divorce. She later told
Gary about the other man. The pain was more than Gary could bear on his own. He
continued his drinking and then turned to drugs.
One evening, driving home after work, Gary was pondering what went wrong in
his marriage, and he decided he wanted to share the whole story with Emilio, a
next-door neighbor and longtime jogging buddy.
Emilio had been praying for months for the right time to share his faith,
but he had never felt the time was quite right with Gary. When Gary called,
Emilio knew it was time. He suggested packing a lunch and hitting a running
trail the next Saturday for some talking and exercise.
Emilio let Gary do most of the talking that day. But before the run was
over, Emilio told a similar story about his own lifeand how God broke through
at just the right time. Gary was full of questions about this relationship with
God, the claims of Christ and the simplicity of salvation. Gary took a few days
to think for himself, and within two weeks Emilio led him in a prayer to
receive the gift of Christ.
It was too late to save Garys marriage, but his newfound relationship with
God helped him escape the drugs and alcohol. He found a church home, and was
gradually healing from the pain of his failed marriage as he rested in his
salvation and focused on serving the needs of others. From his own experience,
his own mistakes, Gary is now helping others toward healing in their
The power of a shared lifeGary and Emilio experienced
the power of a shared life. It is this type of relationship that leads to
success with men in evangelism. Respected mens leaders unanimously agree that
building long-term relationships is the best way to lead a man to Christ.
When Jack Lewis, minister of education at Tulip Grove Baptist Church in
Nashville, Tennessee, was asked why he thought his mens ministry was a success,
he said, Weve tried to be a support group. We gather as men to pray for these
guys. His church has a mens group of 60 to 70 active members, and they
specialize in service evangelism, including disaster relief, monthly
breakfasts, handymans ministry, inner-city missions, feeding programs and even
running golf tournaments to benefit ministry for men.
This type of hands-on service builds the trust thats often necessary to
reach men for Christ. As an example, Jack mentions a man who came to the church
after getting a divorce and was fighting drugs and alcohol. The church heaped
acceptance upon him, and eventually he received Christ. Now hes a teacher and
leader in the Sunday school and mens ministry. In fact, he ended up leading his
ex-wife and her new husband to Christ.
This is a service organization, says Lewis, and it works.
Lay leader Bill Rogers agrees. Even with men who are not yet believers, it
seems they receive better if they also can be useful and give of themselves.
What has worked best for us, says Bill, is when guys get out and work, things
like construction missions where they take the skills they have and help
someone else. Theres nothing like working 14-hour days and sleeping on the
floor of a church somewhere.
Keys to reaching menWhen it comes time to share your
faith, keep these tips in mind:
Meet him on his turf. Dont make him come to a church building if hed rather
not. Participate in activities he enjoys.
Connect with the issues on his mind. Is he worried about his teen-age
daughter? Concerned about his job? Listen to his concerns, remember them and
ask about them next time you meet, or send him a surprise email in the middle
of the day, asking how things are going.
Keep your evangelism simple. Even the most simple-minded man can understand
the salvation message. Trouble is, many Christians dont know how to make an
uncomplicated presentation of Christ without getting off track.
Let down your guard first. Talk about your own failures and weaknesses, and
wait for him to feel the freedom to talk about his life. It may not happen
right away, and thats fine.
Forget the preaching. A litany of scripture is not usually what a man needs.
When the chance comes, do it the natural way as Jesus didmaking it simple,
speaking his language and waiting for the open door rather than kicking the
Speak in nonreligious terms. Rather than asking the question, Have you made
Jesus your Savior and Lord? start by saying, Are you a man of faith? Do you
believe in a God? How would you describe the God that you believe in? Then, the
door may easily open up to the validity of the Bible, the claims of Christ and
the very simple plan of salvation.
Stay away from morbid introspection and endless self-analysis. God never
asked for us to nitpick ourselves, just as He doesnt nitpick us. He has a much
more positive way to draw us naturally to a higher way of living. So, when you
share your faith, its better to explore the grand wonders of being a believer:
the sense of Christs power and presence, eternal existence, peace with God.
Lighten up! Laugh together, have fun, show him just how much fun living can
be. Dont try to take the boy out of the man. With Christ as your champion and
salvation your certainty, what other posture could be more fitting?
Bill, who has been serving at Woodmont Baptist Church in Florence, Alabama,
for 16 years, has watched his congregation double in size, now with 1,500
members. Guys think they can never do evangelism, he says, but they almost
always stand corrected when they let it happen naturally in the context of
Some mens leaders have been surprised how some men, even unbelievers, are
much more likely to show up for a work project than a church meeting. Romy
Manansala, Missions Division Director for the Baptist Convention of New York,
said this recently happened in his state when a church sent 75 volunteers to
the Goodwill Games in Lake Placid. One man, an unbeliever, came to simply lend
a hand, but after he worked side-by-side with the others, he ended up praying
to receive Christ into his life.
Ten things men needWhen it comes time to share your
faith with a man, it pays to remember a few facts that are generally true about
men and what they need. If you already have built the trusting relationship,
this is the easier part.
Men need respect. If we tell them they are wrong without explaining
ourselves, they will feel disrespected, says Sean Taylor, strategist for Adult
Mission Education for the North American Mission Board (NAMB). We come in a
position of equality, treating others as greater than ourselves.
Men need space. Dont expect a man to open up his life too fastand try not to
pry. When sharing your faith, do not push men too hard to make a decision. You
dont go to the next step in a relationship until you are let in.
Men need practical steps. Men are physical by nature; they like to bring
things into the physical world. Thus, if a spiritual truth is spoken, the next
questions from a man are: What then shall be done? What does it mean
Men need to process things through their minds first. Men end up relating
emotionally, but its not the first step. They will gravitate toward intellect
and reason. Also, appeal to a mans sense of curiosity. Explore the questions
and wonders and mysteries of life together. Dont pretend to be Mr. Know-it-all,
but walk alongside him in his quest to discover God.
Men need to ask questions. Many men have been traumatized by an evangelistic
encounter, says lay leader Bill Rogers. They want to know answers to questions
like: What about hypocrites? What about pain? Is Jesus the only way? You gotta
take all those questions seriously.
Men need to visualize. They respond more to seeing than hearing. It comes
natural for most men to speak in word pictures or analogies. When a diagram is
helpful to explain a concept, use it.
Men need to see how Christlike-ness is connected with excellence and
success. Theres greatness at the core of every man, and Christ calls it forth.
Show men that becoming a believer isnt just critical for making heaven; its
also critical for earth. Men want to know that they can become better at every
role they have: husband, father, businessman, athlete, neighbor, friend.
Men need to be heard. Its hard enough to get a guy talking, so if he is, try
not to cut him off. Let him ramble if necessary. Listen to what he is saying.
The longer he talks, the more he will drop his guard and speak freely.
Men need to be treated like men. In general, the church hasnt done much to
affirm masculinity. Do you attend a feminized church? If you have a church of
primarily women, ask yourself some hard questions. Is your church somehow
scaring off men? In some churches, a male visitor might assume that getting a
shot of estrogen would make him feel more at home.
Men need a vision. Guys need the energy that comes from pursuing something
big. They need a sense of destiny and significance. Publisher Stephen Strang
emphasized this in the March 2001 issue of New Man magazine: Men need a vision and a
purpose for their lives. Some would even say that lack of vision and the
prevalence of problems like sexual addiction may be connected. It could very
well be that men feed their need for adventure with sexual diversions, filling
the void created by lacking a healthy lifetime goal or vision.
Think about an unbelieving male friend you know. Whether hes deceived,
distracted or just doesnt care about spiritual things, it might take more than
a tract to draw him to Christ. We must win his trust, stick with him for the
long haul and treat him like a man.
Brian Peterson of Altamonte Springs, Florida, is the
Christian Media Director for World Vision, a relief and humanitarian
organization serving 80 million people in 100 countries. He was also the
founding editor of New Man magazine.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC