Agency aids church efforts to minister to men within and beyond congregations
NASHVILLE, Tenn.. (UMNS) –– According to Barna, on any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches
No one believes we have too many women, but many congregations want to find ways to reach the 69 million men who don’t attend any church.
“If your church has a United Methodist Men unit that meets, has fellowship and does some great work within the church that is wonderful,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive for the Commission on United Methodist Men. “Don’t throw away what is working for the 25 percent of the guys that are involved.”
At the same time, Hanke advises churches to find ways to reach the 75 percent of men who are not interested in belonging to a United Methodist Men’s organization.
“Do something that provides the other 75 percent places to fit in,” advises Hanke. “Ask the pastor what his or her vision is for the men of the church and of the community, and then develop actions steps that the men of the church can complete to bring all these men into relations with Jesus Christ. We need the support of the pastor, but the men need to carry this forward.”
Scouting reaches youth and families
Sometimes the churches that struggle to reach unchurched families are the same ones that complain about the noise and clutter left by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H groups or Camp Fire units using church facilities.
Nearly one-half of the members of 10,503 Boy Scout units meeting in 6,500 United Methodist churches are from unchurched families, but few churches do much to strengthen ties with these units.
The Rev. Bill Payne, a clergy member of Florida Annual Conference, says that in 1986 he became pastor of a 90-member congregation that had only a passive relationship with a Cub pack and a Boy Scout troop. “When vacancies occurred, I recruited a scoutmaster and cubmaster who were committed church members with a credible Christian witness,” said Payne. He served as the chaplain and encouraged other church members to volunteer as leaders. He also invited unchurched Boy Scouts to attend confirmation classes and earn “God and Church” awards. Within three years adults who entered the church through scouting ministries filled half the positions on the administrative council and Sun day morning attendance grew to 210.
The Commission on United Methodist Men is recruiting volunteers to help churches understand scouting as a ministry and provide churches with information about “God and Country Awards” provided by St. Louis-based Programs of Religious Activities with Youth. These scouting ministry specialist also provide information about various other programs to enrich their youth ministries. At present, 230 people have volunteered for this position.
Provide other entry points
Men who might not accept an invitation to attend church are sometimes willing to spend a night with the homeless or work in a food pantry. They might be willing to help build a Habitat house or participate in a the Amachi program of Big Brothers-Big Sisters in which men become mentors of boys whose parent(s) are in prison. Surprisingly, some men who are reluctant to spend an hour in church will be willing to spend a week repairing tornado-damaged homes or building homes in a Third World nation.
Equally surprising, some men who won’t join a men’s Bible study, may want to participate in the Disciple Bible Outreach Ministry, a prison ministry that provides Bible study and practical help for inmates to reenter society.
Men are the only ones who can end domestic violence against women. The commission has formed a partnership with the Mend (Men end domestic violence) program of the YWCA of Nashville.
Men’s ministry specialists
The Nashville-based commission has recruited men’s ministry specialist to help local churches expand their ministries to men. Following classroom- and on-line-interactive training experiences, these volunteers are able to help churches provide spiritual growth opportunities for church members and ways to reach unchurched men. Certification for the men’s ministry specialist takes 12-18 months.
Wesley Building Brothers provides a means for spiritually immature men to become “spiritual fathers” who are able to mentor other men in their spiritual pilgrimage.
Man in the Mirror ministries conduct “No Man Left Behind” leadership training conferences based on 20 years of research in the best principles and practices in reaching men
The real purpose of United Methodist Men is not to get more men into church; it’s to get Christians out of the church. The measure of an effective men’s ministry is how many:
- Children and hungry you fed
- Homeless you sheltered
- Families that have re-engaged in the church
- People you’ve served
- People who have committed to follow Christ
Ministry to men can bring men into your church family, sometimes through the front door (worship, small groups, and men’s events) or through the back door (mission projects, barbecues, or scouting). Either way, it works.