Have a BLA Moment with Your Men

Some time back my mentor in men’s ministry introduced me to a concept he called Barnabas Luncheon Appointment or BLA for short.

Jeff Kisiah and Me
Jeff Kisiah (right) and me having a BLA moment

Often, I will see pictures of him on Facebook meeting with someone with a caption saying something about a BLA moment.  These times have always encouraged me as I continue with the ministry God has placed on me.

A BLA is a time for men to meet and talk about what God is doing in their lives and how we could pray for each other.  Though I don’t have the opportunity to have those BLAs with him as often we use to, I still enjoy having them with other men that God has brought into my life for various reasons.  Though the name implies you are meeting over food (and most meetings with men is over food), it doesn’t have to be.  It can be at any time and at any place.

As a men’s leader, I want to encourage you to make it a point to spend time with your men periodically, one-on-one, and begin to develop relationships with them that goes beyond the group times.  These are the times when you can focus on the man and pour your life into him.  It gives him an opportunity to be more open to you about issues in their life they may not wish to share with others and for you to pray and encourage him.

Now it is unrealistic to think you can spend quality time with all the men in your church like this, so you will need to pray for God to direct you to the men to create those BLA moments.  As you demonstrate this, maybe other men in your church will begin to imitate you and begin their own BLA ministry, most likely from the men you meet with.  As my mentor demonstrated this to me and I often saw him doing this it impressed upon me the importance.  It certainly was important for me

Ask God to show you a few men in your church or other areas of your life that you could invite to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or over a drink or coffee.  Begin a relationship where you can pour your life into them.  Paul spoke of this when he wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians;

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.  (1 Thess. 2:8 CSB)

We may not reach every man in our church to personally influence them but we can reach a few.  Prayerfully through this example, God will encourage other men to develop their own BLA ministries – just like my mentor encourage me.

Hope to hear great things about your BLA ministry.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

How often Do You Read Your Bible?

Reading BibleAs a child of God you should be reading your bible regularly.  How often do you?  Our days are so busy with  work, raising a family, volunteer activities, and a host of other activities, we just don’t seem to have the time to read anymore.  But I want to encourage you to find the time.  Maybe you need to get up a little earlier in the morning or stay up a few minutes longer in the evening.  Maybe turn that time-robber off we call the TV.  It is amazing how many hours the TV robs us of quality time.  Maybe while you are eating lunch or taking a break from a day’s activity.  If we think and examine our lives we can find the time.

The bible tells us in Psalm 119:105; that God’s word “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Two interesting images here; life is a path and God’s Word is the light that helps us follow that path.

We are told we live in an enlightened age; but, we live in a dark world and only God’s light can guide us.  Obedience to the Word keeps us walking in the light.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

– 1  John 1:5-10

Let me encourage you to read five chapters a day.  If you read five chapters six days a week you will read the complete Bible in about 9-10 months.  Depending on how fast a reader you are you can read five chapters in the time it takes you to watch your favorite half-hour sitcom.

So start reading.  Let the words come alive to you.  Jumping off the page as you store up God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11).

Together in the adventure and challenge to disciple men – Mike.

Can A Church Really Not Have a Men’s Ministry?

This week I heard from a pastor who stated his church doesn’t have a men’s ministry.  As I thought about the statement I began to wonder, ‘Can a church really not have a ministry to men?’  Or is it they don’t have a formal ministry?  And if they don’t have a formal ministry, what are they telling the men that walks onto the campus of the church?

I have heard another pastor state we don’t need a formal organized men’s ministry, we just need to disciple our men.  Okay… I believe I understand what this pastor was saying is that he doesn’t want a ministry built around events.  I get that.  Ministries to men should not be built around events.  But how does your men know they are a priority and important in your church?  There are many ways you can do this even with the current activities you have going on without creating new ones.  But I will have to save that discussion for later.

The priority of the church is to make disciples.  Jesus made that clear in Matthew 28:19-20.  Therefore, this is the priority of any men’s ministry – to make disciples.  Not to have events, though events does have its place in the ministry.

Events create entry points for men to connect with other men.  Could be with men of similar interests or just men getting together.  The key is connecting and developing relations with other men (though we men typically don’t use this terminology about becoming friends with other men).  As men become friends with each other then we can encourage men to move into discipling relationships.  Rather it is in a Sunday School class, Life Groups, Home Study Groups, or a small men’s groups.

So what happens when a church does not have a ‘formal men’s ministry’ or they say they don’t have a men’s ministry at all?  Does this tell the men of the church they are not a priority?  Is this why many men develop an attitude that church is for the women and children?   Are we sending a message that it is okay to be influenced by the world?  Will the men feel it unnecessary to attend a gathering of the saints?  No one could probably say for sure; but, one thing though is for sure, if the men do not think they are important, then you will have a hard time reaching them.

Every man that walks onto the campus of a church should feel as though a priority is placed on the men.  We have heard the statistics of how important it is to reach the men.

  • If a child is the first in a household to come to Christ, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will.
  • If the mother is the first to come to Christ, there is a 17% probability everyone else will follow.
  • If the Man, Dad, Husband is first, there is a 93% probability everyone else will follow.

Henry Ford is quoted as saying;

“Your system is perfectly design to produce the results you are getting.”

To put this in churchy speak; a church’s ministry to men, regardless of the type, will produce the type of men attending the church or not attending church.

You do have one, rather it is recognized as one or not; organized or not.  You are telling your men something.  How do you want the men who walks on the campus of your church to feel?   Think about this the next time you think about the men’s ministry of your church.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men. – Mike

A Spiritual Happy Man Is in A Small Group

As we continue on the habits of a spiritual happy man let’s review the premise we established last month.  ‘The strength of a church is not proportionally related to the strength of its programs or ministries; not related to the number of members or people attending; not related to the popularity of the pastor or his ability to expand and deliver the Word of God; but, of the spiritual strength of each man who is in the church.’

Today we are going to look at the habit of men being in small groups.  Why do leaders make such a fuss to get men in small groups?  What do they see, that wants men – you – in a small group?

Man StruggleMen tend to be isolationists; we like to live our lives in isolation.  Yes, we get together and have a good time; but, when it comes to day-to-day struggles, we tend to try and work it out for ourselves.  When women have problems or concerns they move toward relationships – when men have problems or concerns they tend to move towards isolation.  We have been wired and trained from the earliest of age to believe that if we cannot deal with our own problems it is a sign of weakness.  And you know what, the Devil knows this.

Scripture tells us that “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”, (1 Peter 5:8).  Noticed that I underlined “someone.”  The scriptures does not say a group of people but someone, a person who is alone.  Lions attack sick, young, or straggling animals; they choose victims who are alone or not alert.  Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or struggling with an issue.  If you are feeling alone, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, or if you are so focused on your troubles that you forget to watch for danger, those are the times when you are especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.  During times of suffering, we need to seek Christian brothers for support.  Satan understands the value of isolation and attacking those by themselves.

Oftentimes you will see men who are always acting as if everything is great, fine, perfect.  We ask each other how are you doing and we answer with, “Everything is great, couldn’t be better.”  But deep down we know that we are struggling as we are seek answers and we are at a lost on what to do.

Jesus built a small group when he chose those twelve men to walk alongside him; men who he poured his life into for three years.  He started the mindset of a small group and the purpose of the small group.  So, we see that God in is His infinite wisdom recognized that He has more options to help you when you are in a small group.  Think about it – when you are isolated, who has more options?  The Devil, a predator like a lion seeking to devour you.

Discipleship GroupSo, you ask what can a small group do for me?  Well, we can start with scripture.  Paul wrote to the Galatians, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Gal. 6:1-2).  No brother in Christ should ever think that he is totally independent and does not need help from others, and no one should feel excused from the task of helping others.

Solomon in his wisdom wrote, Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!,” (Ecc. 4:9-10).  Then in verse 12 Solomon wrote, And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand hima threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Men we need each other.  Notice in verse 12 Solomon said “a man might prevail.”  This does not mean he will.  It just means he might win some battles; but, he will not win them all, or even close.  Men, as all humans, are built and designed for companionship, not isolation, for relationships, not loneliness.  We are not here on earth to serve ourselves; but, to serve God and others.  Don’t isolate yourself and try to go it alone.  Seek companions; seek a small group.

Hebrews 10:24-25, let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Yes, I know that we typically use this scripture to encourage the saints to gather together for worship on Sunday mornings.  But the scripture does not really differentiate the difference of Sunday mornings or just gathering together.  Look what the writer says, “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” and “encouraging one another.”

courageous-movie-men-praying-7Let me share one more scripture that is very familiar in ministries to men, Proverbs 27:17; oftentimes we use this verse, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  There is truth here, but the only way this can be applied in our lives is to spend time with other men.  Other men, who we will give permission to challenge us when they see us missing the mark; holding us accountable in our walk with Christ.

So, what makes a really good small group for men?  Two or more men who want to walk more closely with God (I recommend groups of no more than four to five for accountability purposes), a leader who is passionate for his men and prays for them regularly; and a respect for the process of relationships.  In other words, kind of like the Vegas slogan, “What is said here, stays here!”

Let me encourage you, if you do not have such men in your life; find one or a group of men.  You will be blessed to have such men who will challenge you, be a listening ear when you need to talk, and more importantly, pray for you.  “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  The only way this can happen is to have someone in your life that will sharpen you, to knock off those rough edges and smooth the edge so you can be ready to fight the battle that lays before us every day.  To put on that whole armor of God that Paul speaks of in Ephesians Chapter 6.

We need men who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us every day.  When you see pictures depicting ancient times with men readying for battle, how are those men standing in formation?  Or if you watch movies such as Troy, or Braveheart as the men are getting ready to charge, how are those men standing?  Shoulder to Shoulder.

Will you be a man who will stand shoulder to shoulder with another man in this battle?  Will you pour your life into other men?  Will you let other men pour their lives into you?  Do you want to change families in your church?  Do you want to change your church to be more of an impact to your community?  Then start by sharing life with other men – men within your church and men outside your church.  Developing relationships that will sharpen each of us to be the man God desires for us all and imparting the Gospel of God into each other’s lives.

A Spiritual Happy Man Reads His Bible Regularly

“The real strength of the church is not the amount of its work but the quality of its faith.  One man who truly knows his bible is worth more to the church’s real strength than a crowd of workers who do not.” – P.T. Forsyth, British Theologian of the early 20th Century.

man-reading-bible31As we begin these series about a spiritual happy man lets establish this premise.  The strength of a church is not proportionally related to the strength of its programs or ministries; not related to the number of members or people attending; not related to the popularity of the pastor or his ability to expand and deliver the Word of God; but, of the spiritual strength of each man who is in the church.

Beginning with this month and for the next several months we are going to look at the spiritual happy man.  What do we need to do – habits we need to develop – to ensure that we are moving toward spiritual happiness and growing in our relationship with our Lord.  The first thing we need to do is to encourage each other and the men in our churches to learn to read.  Let’s face it, as a rule, men don’t like to read.  We don’t even read instructions when we purchase a new product.  I must confess that when I was recently setting up a new printer in my office I had to force myself to read the instructions.  We just try to ‘wing-it’ so we can show we don’t need anyone telling us what to do.

Often when I talk with men I tell them there are three things I want them to do; 1st, Read; 2nd, Read; and 3rd, Read.  I believe we will all agree that men are not avid readers and when it comes to the word of God, the Bible, we tend to justify in our minds why we do not have time to read or why we don’t need to read.  But reading the Bible is valuable to every man.  Why?  Because it is true.

In Proverbs 30:5, we are told that “Every word of God proves true” and God “is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”  Jesus said, If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).  Jesus’ words though can only abide in us if we read the Bible regularly.  God told Joshua regarding the Book of the Law that “You shall meditate on it day and night,” (Joshua 1:8).  The Psalmist writes that a blessed man delight “in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).  And of course, we are instructed by the Psalmist in Psalm 119:11 to store up the word in our hearts so that we might not sin against God.  The Bible is full of encouragement for us to read, meditate, and hide the Word of God in our hearts.

imagesThe Bible is also how God speaks to us to instruct and teach us.  Isaiah writes, For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).  Paul wrote to Timothy and told him that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Men need to understand that our lives will never change in any significant way apart from the regular study of God’s Word.  I have found that I have a bond with men who have made the Bible their final authority.  We need to fix our eyes on Jesus by looking in His Word regularly and allowing His Word to penetrate deeply into our very being.  The single significant contribution we can make to another man is to help him understand the path to finding peace and comfort is through Jesus and the reading of His Word.

So, what is our goal?   In Hebrews we read these words, Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus (Heb.12:1-2a).  The phrase here that stands out to me is for us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.”  How many of us are still clinging to a sin that is weighing us down and preventing us to endure the race?  Keeping us from reading and studying the Bible like we should.

When I find active sin in my life that I have not confused I am less likely to be interested in reading God’s Word.  When I finally come to my senses, recognize the sin, confess it, and ask forgiveness; I tend to be more active in my reading and allowing God to speak to me.  In John 1:6 we find this to be true as the Bible tells us, If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  Sin will keep us from the Word of God and will keep us from having a desire to practice the truth.

Another goal is to let the Holy Spirit teach us all things.  John 14:26 tells us, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  As more and more of the word becomes infused into our lives we will find it easier to recognize false teachings which we are told to be aware.  You will also find times when in conversation the Holy Spirit will bring back remembrance of scriptures you have read.  When this occurs to you, you will find it powerful and encouraging.  But it will only happen by reading the Word of God – the Bible – regularly.

downloadI should not need to tell you the importance of a private devotion.  We need to encourage every man in our groups to have a private time to read, meditate, and reflect on the Word of God.  A time that is quiet and away from the busyness of the day.  The Center for Bible Engagement states that in their research they find there is no significant difference in people who read their Bibles 2-3 times a week than those who do not read their Bibles at all.  Studies indicate we need to read at least four days a week.  People who read the Bible at least 4 times a week look at the significance of the word differently than those who don’t.

Here are some suggestions to encourage you to become more active in reading and listening to the Word of God.

  1. Get a Read the Bible in a Year bible. This Bible is laid out in a manner that will allow you to read a portion of scriptures over 365 days.  If you do this don’t beat yourself up if you skip a day.  Just make a commitment to catch up.
  2. Buy an audio of the Bible. If you are one who is on the road a lot like I was you can listen to the Bible.  But beware this does not take the place of deliberate reading of the word; but, at least you will be hearing the Word of God.
  3. Make a commitment to read five minutes a day five days a week for 30 days. See if this does not create a habit to read the bible.
  4. Read a chapter a day in the New Testament. If you read one chapter every day for five days a week you will read all of the New Testament in one year.  If you read five chapters a day, five days a week you will read the whole bible in about 11 months.

We need to be encouraging our men to read every day.  Ask each man in your small groups what are they reading and how did the Word speak to them since your last meeting.  Hold each other accountable.  When our men make reading the Bible a spiritual habit, allowing God to speak to us and teach, we will find ourselves wanting more of the things of God.