So, You’re Retired… Your Ministry Has Just Begun

Men GolfingSo, you say you have retired.  You have spent many years in a career that helped you raise a family.  You have watched your children become adults and now raising their own family.  Maybe you have grandchildren and you are looking forward to spending quality time with them.  Maybe you and your wife are thinking about taking some nice trips around the country or throughout the world.

You deserve it.  You have worked hard, long hours, odd shifts, when you were sick, maybe injured.  You may have commuted many miles as I did; 100 miles round trip.  Trying to stay awake while you drive home in the morning after working all night and not knowing how you got home as you don’t remember those last 10 miles.  Now you say it is time to slow down and relax.  I get it – you deserve it.

Unfortunately, many men who are retiring from their career is also retiring from church.  I don’t mean they are not attending church anymore; they may still be faithfully attending.  Maybe teaching Sunday School or getting together with other men and doing some mission activities periodically.  But in my travels, I hear retire men talking about it is time for the younger generations to take up the mantel and begin leading the church.

praying-with-menI get it.  We do need to hand the mantel of leadership over to the next generation at some point.  But have we prepared them for leadership spiritually and are we willing to continue discipling and mentoring them?  As retirees we may not be in positions of visible leadership anymore, but we still need to take young men under our wings, so to speak, to encourage and continue to help them grow spiritually.

Think about it, men of the Boomer Generation, we are retiring from our careers in our 60s and that is 20 years younger than when Moses was just starting his ministry.  Exodus 7:7 tells us;

Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty -three when they spoke to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:7).

In Joshua 14:10, Joshua was talking to his people and made this statement;

As you see, the LORD has kept me alive these forty-five years as he promised, since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel was journeying in the wilderness.  Here I am today, eighty-five years old.

Joshua had just completed leading his people into the Promise land and had fought many battles.  Now he was leading them as they divide the land for each of the tribes.

Retired men, we have so much knowledge stored away in our brains and have learned so much in life as we have grown in the Lord.  I want to encourage you to let younger men know that you are available to share that knowledge through discipling and mentoring.

Start a ministry in your church for retired men to sign up as a discipler and mentor.  One of the joys I have had was the privilege to disciple a college student who reached out to me.  Watch how God will use you in these years.  You will be amazed.

You may be retired from a career or maybe thinking about it.  But remember God is NOT through with you yet.  As long as He allows you to walk on this planet, He still has a mission for you.  Give strong consideration to disciple and mentor the younger generation.  I will be glad to help you start.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

 

Equip Men to Ministry

Mens MinistryThis is our third installment on the 4 E’s of Men’s Ministry which are the cornerstones to make sure we are touching a man in every area of his walk with Christ.  To make sure we are not only involved in “ministries by men” but, we are also involved in “ministering to men.”  Both are important but often the “ministering to men” element is overlooked and if one is more important, “ministering to men” is the one.  For when men get the spiritual part right, then they will have a longing desire to do “ministries by men.”

To remind us what are the 4 E’s we discussed in a previous article, I have listed them again.  They are;

  1. Evangelize Men to Salvation
  2. Establish Men to Spiritual Maturity
  3. Equip Men to Ministry
  4. Extend Men on Mission

In this article we will review the third cornerstone, Equip Men to Ministry.

Pic 003Many men that are active in the church generally desires to reach out and help individuals in need.  Many of the men in our churches are involved in helping with maintenance activities around the church.  Maybe helping with a recovery effort after a devastating storm has come through an area.  They might be involved in building ramps to help the disable to access their homes easier.  The men may even go own various types of mission trips.  But does that mean they are Equipped to do Ministry.  I will submit to you – not necessarily.

In my travels I have seen men working hard to deal with an individual’s specific needs.  They may have been trained to do the task assigned and they do an exceptional job.  But there is another aspect and that is Equipping Men to Minister to the spiritual needs of the individual.

When men are involved in being Established in Spiritual Maturity this will help men be equip to minister.  Generally, these men will be the first to volunteer for ministering opportunities.

Often our men have been trained in certain tasks but have not been trained in how to share the gospel.  How to pray with and for someone.  How to deal when people ask you “Why?”  They like helping the physical needs but often lack the skills to deal with the spiritual needs.

Praying with PoliceWhen I am out on a ministry opportunity, we encourage team members to develop a relationship with the person being ministered.  Not everyone on the team will be able to do this; but, someone on the team may be able to relate with the one being ministered.  Taking the time to get to know them and at some point, talking with them about spiritual matters.  I have noticed men who have been in discipling relationships are more likely to develop those relationships with the individual.  Therefore, it is important to help move our men into discipling relationships so they can develop the spiritual maturity to speak into the lives of others..

As men grow spiritually in their walk with God, they will develop the confidence to speak into the lives of the people being ministered.  There is a direct correlation between Establishing Men in Spiritual Maturity and Equipping Men to Ministry.

So, Equipping Men to Ministry is two-fold: 1) teach them how to perform tasks that meets the needs of the individual and 2) how to speak into the individual’s life about spiritual matters.  This is performed by getting men involved in training opportunities to learn the tasks and discipling relationships to speak into lives.

As you evaluate your church’s ministry to men, check to be sure you are not only training them to perform certain tasks exceptionally well, but the ministry is also discipling the men so they can speak into others’ lives with confidence.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Volunteers Needed

Pic 003Five weeks ago, Hurricane Florence came ashore in North Caroline causing devastation with 1000s of homes being flooded or receiving severe wind damage.  Immediately after the storm passed many organizations began gearing up to provide relief and start recovery of those effected by the storm.  Many of us have been working tirelessly since then providing services such as feeding; removing contents and damage sheetrock, insulation, flooring, cabinets, etc; removing vegetation debris; and administrative support.  Many volunteers have stepped up coming from as far away as Oklahoma, Indiana, and New Jersey to assist in this massive effect.  Now less than two weeks ago Hurricane Michael came ashore in the Panhandle of Florida causing more devastation.  Our volunteer base is being stretched because of these two hurricanes.

Pic 001Therefore, I want to encourage you to find an organization assisting the many that are hurting and volunteer your time.  Maybe you are saying I cannot do physical labor anymore.  Understand, but there could be administrative duties you can help with.  Maybe you can just be a friendly face someone needs to see as they come asking for assistance.  Many are comforted just by having someone to talk with and who will pray with them.  Some organizations need volunteers to make meals for the volunteers and provide other support.

Pic 002I want to encourage you to find an organization and consider volunteering a day or even a few hours.  If you own a business, consider encouraging your employees to volunteer by giving them a paid day to do so like some businesses have done.  Volunteers are going to be needed for many months and even years to help the many affected by these storms to bring some sort of normalcy back into their lives.

Don’t be Afraid to Start Small

Disciple MakingI was recently asked, “What if only two men show up?”  My answer.  “Start with those two.”

When I first began to work in Men’s Ministry, which today I refer to as Ministering to Men – for that is what we are really doing – I was disappointed if 100 men didn’t show up for an event.  Especially for a church who had a membership of over 2000 with about 800-1000 men connected in some way with the church.  Many times, only 20-30 men would show up for monthly activities and often the numbers were even lower.  Even when we planned events that we thought would interest men; the Boomer generation was the primary group attending and not all of them were coming.  In addition, I could not understand why the younger men did not attend.  I felt as if I had failed.

But, as I began to study the culture and what men are looking for I began to realize the way we were doing men’s ministry was not working anymore.  What we had done for the past 30-40 years no longer works.  Today, men – especially younger men – are so much busier then they have ever been before.  Recognize that;

  • Many are working long hours to provide for their families and just don’t feel like attending anything after they leave their jobs for the day – week.
  • Their children are more involved in sports than ever before. Playing 3-4 sports, practices, and games every weekend doesn’t leave much time for family, down-time to rest, and especially time to go to another event or activity.

courageous-movie-men-praying-7Men leaders are finding it is easier for men to meet in small groups in places like coffee shops, at the gym, in their offices, at restaurants over a meal, maybe in someone’s home.  Places that seems to be outside the box and not what we in the past has considered the norm.  There are many resources available for groups like these and do not require much preparation.

In addition, when you keep men discipleship groups size down to about three to four you will find the bond between men will be even stronger and in turn it will strengthen the church.  Dr. Gary Yagel in his book Got Your Back, says “If the church has any hope of strengthening its men, it must get men into relationships with other men.  It cannot continue to largely ignore the need men have for connection.”  Remember, even though Jesus picked 12 men to pour his life into and sent them out to change the world, he pulled three of those men, Peter, James, and John, even closer; allowing them to see his glory, successes, and struggles in a different perspective.  He connected with those men in a totally different way than he did the rest of the disciples.

So, don’t be afraid to start small with just a few people in the group.  In fact, this group could be the catalyst to see more groups to start over time.  As these men begin to see the benefit and begin talking and sharing how God is using the group to help them grow, it will inspire other men to be part of a group.

I am currently meeting with a few men with the hope we will roll out to other men who will be led by the men in this group when the time is right.  The tendency for us is that we want to see tremendous results now.  But the reality is, it takes five to ten years to develop an effective ministry to men in the local church.  I realize most men don’t have the patience.  It took me a few years to realize it wasn’t me or that the men were not interested.  We just had to understand the problem and find a different approach.  So, keep at it.  God will reward your efforts.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Reaching Men: Going Beyond the Normal Saturday Morning Breakfast

Discipleship GroupFor the past couple of months, I have written about planning for the coming church year and asking the question, “Where are the Men?”  This month as you continue planning let’s look at some ways that we can reach men that are connected with our churches but are not attending any of the men only events.

When we begin to think holistically about the men of our churches, we find men everywhere; not only are they involved in men only activities, but they are working as Sunday School Teachers, working with children, working with the youth, ushering, singing in the choir, playing in the band, deacons, elders, working in Disaster Relief/Recovery, recreational leagues and the list could go on.  We have men, who are on the fringes of the church.  Their children are attending our preschools, VBS, AWANAs, Ranger Ministries, Summer Camps, and this list could probably continue.  But the question is; “How do we minister to these men?”

We need to think outside the box of our typical ministry to men and begin to understand these men may not be able to have time to work on projects; but, many of them are looking for meaningful relationships with other men who are willing to pour their life into them.  Many of them don’t even know what they are looking for; but, they know cropped-2013-09-07-08-28-20.jpgthere is something missing.  I am reminded of 1 Thessalonian 2:8 where Paul said, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”  The phrase to understand and make it a part of your ministry to men is “to share not only the gospel of God but also our own lives” (bold for emphasis).  Let me give you a few examples of how we can do that.

  • A lead Usher who makes cards with a verse on one side and points about the verse on the other side and gives it to those helping on Sunday morning. Spend five minutes talking about the verse and then praying with the men.  This could be expanded to men who are members of the choir or praise band, parking cars, teaching, etc.  That is ministering to men.
  • A Sunday School Teacher who plans events for the men of his group to attend ballgames, racing events, fishing, etc. to develop relationships so he can pour his life into the men and they can see he works through life issues just like them.
  • A church who gives a book out to all the men of the church dealing with men life issues. Encourage a time for any man who desires to meet and walk through the book once again helping them see he is not the only one who struggles with life issues.
  • A man who reaches out to 2-3 men and invites them to meet with him regularly to walk through a book or read and talk about a book in the Bible.
  • Begin a mentoring ministry where seasoned men can put their name on a list for younger men to connect with to help them grow.
  • Create events for dads of preschoolers, VBS or other children ministry attendees to attend an event with their child and provide the dads an opportunity to join a group that may help him be the dad and husband God desires for them to be.

But most of all we need to create a welcoming atmosphere for men.  They need to feel no pressure or judgements, remember they are people and not projects.  We need to understand that everything our church does that touches any man is ministering to men.  Everything!  There is an old saying in the business world, “Your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting.”  Therefore, our ministry to men are perfectly designed to produce the type of men we have sitting in the pews of our churches.

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

 

 

 

Spiritual Mentor – Discipleship Group Survey

SurveyIn our Conversation on Ministering to Men I have written a lot about discipling relationships.  So I was wondering how many are in a discipling relationship or do they even know what is a discipling relationship.  I put together a simple survey to get a basic understanding of what people may or may not understand about discipling.  Three questions.  Depending on the your answer to the first question you may not need to answer the Q2 or Q3.

Take a moment and click the link below to ‘Take this Survey’ to answer the questions.  Thank you.

Take this survey

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike

Light Your Fire!

As we approach Christmas we are probably all excited about spending time with family and friends.  If you are like me you may even be taking a break from all the hustle and bustle of ministry to deal with the programs, get togethers, and parties that come with this time of the year.  Though there is nothing wrong with that, we need remind ourselves to stay focus on our relationship with God and not let our fire – our passion – die.

This time of year, while it is cool, many 20161204_150627[1]of us will light fires in our fireplaces or in the fire pit outside.  Maybe spending time around some fire pit roasting marshmallows as we gather with family and friends to celebrate Christmas.  “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” uh.. sorry, got carried away in the moment.  Anyway, we start those fires and we don’t think much about them afterwards, unless the fire starts to die down and we stoke it or put some more logs on the fire to keep it going.

We get so busy in this time of the year some of us either forget or neglect (I will let you choose) our devotions.  With the New Year fast approaching it is my hope and prayer we will find time to reflect on this past year on reaching our men.  What did we do right and what could we approve on?  One thing I feel we all can do more, is to encourage our men to develop an intentional and intimate relationship with God.  How to keep the fire burning?

Recently I finished a study in Leviticus and one of the items I was drawn to, though I have read it many times, was the command God gave to Moses and Aaron about the fire on the altar.  In Leviticus 6:12, the Lord told Moses, “The fire on the altar is to be kept burning: it must not go out” (CSB).

If you know anything about the anatomy of a fire, you know there are three elements required for any fire to burn.  First is the heat.  Heat must be present.  Without heat the fire will not burn.  Throw some water on it, you will take away the heat and the fire will eventually die.  Second, a fire must have oxygen.  Just like humans this helps the fire to breath.  Just like us, you take away the oxygen, basically suffocating the fire, it will die; and finally, you must have fuel.  Rather it is wood, paper, gas, or something else.  It must be some sort of a combustible product.  But if you take the fuel away from the Heat and Oxygen, guess what, the fire will die.  You must have all three to sustain an active fire.  Without any one of these – heat, oxygen, fuel – the fire will die.  It cannot live on.

When I read Leviticus 6:12 it got me thinking.  In fact, in verse 13 God was even more emphatic about keeping the fire going, He said, the “Fire must be kept burning… continually; it must not go out” (bold is mine).  I wrote in the margins of my Bible here, “Example of our passion for God.”  Our fire must not go out.  The fire that is within us.  The fire, that when we surrendered to God, that became alive in us, must not go out.  But let’s face it, there are days when we feel this fire has gone out; or at least it is down to the embers just glowing, it is no longer a raging fire.  It will not take much more for the fire to die.  What do we do?  What will keep this fire within us raging – burning.

Just like the fire in the Fire Pit or the Fireplace, we need three elements to keep the fire in our lives – our passion – burning for God.  We need to have three disciplines in our lives active to keep that fire burning.  Below is the three elements we need to maintain an active fire – passion – in our lives.

  1. Spend time in the Word of God. This is your fuel.  I don’t mean when you go to church or a Bible Study, I mean read it every day.  Discipline yourself to read the Bible.  I recommend reading at least five chapters a day.  Depending on the length of the chapters this will take 15 to 30 minutes.  Dedicate a time in the day.  Get up a half hour earlier.  Turn off that TV a half hour earlier.  Use your lunch break.  Seek a time to do it and DO IT!  Nothing will cause your fire to go out quicker than neglecting the reading of the Word; taking away the fuel of the fire.  And when you read, allow it to find a place in your heart and meditate on it.  “I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11).
  2. Spend time in Prayer. This is your heat.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”  Always being in an attitude of prayer.  But you also need to discover your prayer closet and spend time there.  Often, we read in the gospels about Jesus stealing himself away to spend time in prayer – sometimes praying all night.  You need to spend time talking and listening to God.  If your attitude towards prayer begins to cool down then your fire – passion – will begin to become nothing more than embers, barely hanging on.
  3. Spend time with other believers. This is your oxygen.  We cannot live this life alone.  Jesus sent his disciples out in twos.  The apostles had traveling companions in ministry.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us that “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.”  Verse 10 says, “For if either on them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”  Then at the end of verse 10 a warning is given, “But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”  All of us need Barnabases around us.  Gathering together to worship.  Hanging out with each other.  Working together.  We need others in our lives to keep us encourage and to pray with us when we begin to feel suffocated with the struggles of life.

If your fire is dying and it is just the slight glow of the embers or has gone out completely, examine yourself like we are told to do in Lamentation 3:40.  Probe your ways.  You may find out that one of these three disciplines are missing from your life.  If one is, put it back into the mix to keep the fire burning.  Do something to activate the fire again.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike