- Less than 1/3 of men in church say they have a friend.
- 90 million men are not involved in any kind of discipleship. Only 6 million men are involved in discipleship-only 1 out of every 18 men.
- The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.
- This Sunday, almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
- Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
- Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.
- 75% of volunteers are women (one mainline pastor said it was 99% in his church)
- In 1960, 72 percent of the adult population was married. By 2008 that number had dropped to 52 percent.
- An estimated 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent from their biological father.
- As many Christians will divorce as non-Christians.
In what should be community, men have found loneliness. In what should be a healthy marriage, men have found porn. In what should be discipleship, men have found abandonment. In what should be leadership, men have found comfort. I want to call men to a higher standard, a Heavenly standard.
First, I want to say, this is not meant to bring shame or guilt but awareness and action. These are just words on a screen if we let them be; or as men of God, we can decide to change these stats above.
Secondly, these stats have to change. We need a collective of men and women to fulfill the mission of the church; but lately, men have been slacking.
There could be a lot of reasons this is happening but everything I can think of is insignificant. The truth is—all excuses holding men back from their relationship with God is also holding them back from their best self. Is it possible that the reason you struggle with who you are is that when God gave you an opportunity to develop your character, you gave God an excuse to go with the comfortable or easy option? It isn’t easy to be who God made you to be because the world is not like Jesus.
THREE FOCUSES OF A GODLY MAN:
I. SURRENDER TO THE SPIRIT
“No man knows how bad he is ’til he has tried very hard to be good. Currently, there is silly idea that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” C.S. Lewis
What if, as men of God, we had this perspective to follow Christ? We are meant to feel resistance. The pain and heartache are normal. It is natural to feel the pull but what men of God must do is be completely surrendered to the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
Something that American culture has instilled in the church is that when you go to church, you get something. The church has lured people with competition and pizza, then following that, hearing about Jesus. So, every time you walk through the doors of a church, you expect to receive and not give. If there is a mindset of always being poured into, then you will never think to pour into others. As a church, if we sell Jesus, it is going to be really awkward when Jesus then tells them to sell everything. Jesus is not a Sunday service. Jesus enters and impacts every part of our life if you let him. Men of God surrender ALL to the Spirit.
II. COMMUNITY OF DISCIPLES
The first stat at the beginning of this post honestly scares me. Life on my own sounds terrifying and devastating. When I find myself reflecting on the things I am most grateful for, it is always people on that list. People are God’s greatest blessing to you. There is nothing greater than pouring into others, and being poured into by people. I couldn’t imagine where I would be if I didn’t have people to encourage and inspire me through the ups and downs of life.
A barrier I had to get past was the temptation to “handle” it all by myself. The idea that reaching for help is a weakness, but what if reaching for help is the best thing you can do? We talked about how we need to reach out to God to find our purpose. Now, I am saying that you need to reach within your faith community to be the best self you can be.
Men of God must be radically obedient to bring the kingdom of Heaven to earth by being Jesus to the world around them. This task is impossible alone; but praises to God that he gave us the Spirit and other believers to help us reach for Jesus. Today, I am calling men to radical obedience. The change you wish to see in the world tomorrow starts with the change you make today. Create Spiritual disciplines in your everyday routine (Read God’s Word, pray, stop a bad habit, or serve in your community). It is not easy, but your best self is waiting for you on the other side of living in a community of disciples.
III. DISCIPLING DISCIPLE-MAKERS
Something that has become apparent is that men are not willing to pour into other men. Men need other men to show them the way to the best life. I don’t know where I would be today if there were not courageous and loving men to blaze a path that I could follow. There are men in your life that need you to lead them, to live life with them, and to love them.
We have lost the need to go deeper because going deeper takes vulnerability and weakness. The word confession makes my ear tickle because it is a time of revealing that I was wrong. It is important to understand that confessing sin is a verbal expression of an inward change. No one voluntarily confesses their sin and goes back to that sin. Voluntary confession causes a shift in the heart and mind to be different. Men have been missing out on God’s blessing of confession. What if men sought out confession instead of dreading it? What if the church never had to plan confession nights because it was something men voluntarily sought after? How would your life be different?
I know you are wondering what this has to do with discipling disciple-makers. The idea and practice of radical obedience through confession and Spiritual disciples are imperative to disciple-making. Men need to be challenged to radical obedience to Jesus. If you cannot lead yourself (or realize you need help leading yourself) then you cannot lead your family, your church, and lost people. Devote time to the training and development of your Spiritual self as a loving follower of Christ. Then seek to be the mentor you once needed to the men around you.
Life is busy and being a man of God is a lifelong pursuit. It seems like an impossible task. I guarantee there have been lies and excuses building up in your head as to why you shouldn’t follow through on these things. Yet, life never gets easier and you will forever be trapped in between your potential and the calling God has given you.
So, how can I start this journey of becoming a man of God? Pursue God and flee from sin. 1 Timothy 6:11 says “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” We are going to start this journey by spending 3 minutes in God’s presence right where you are.
The beautiful thing about the Gospel is that you don’t have to enter a church building to experience God, but God enters your mess. You see a timer set to 3 minutes. Use those 3 minutes to focus on God. You can be at work, at home, at school, or eating. Close your eyes, open your palms and say over and over “I am fully present with you, God, here, now.” Listen for him to call you his loved and cherished son. God has a better life planned for you. One that goes against the stats and into the will of God. Enter into a new life today.
Stats: Men in the Church
Inspired by: Henri Nouwen