Maybe you were asked to start a men’s ministry at your church. Perhaps you feel the Lord wants you to reach out to men who have abandoned the church altogether, to help mold them into the warriors they were created to be. How? You’re not exactly sure, but you’re a man; you’ll figure it out, right?
Let’s say you’re one of the few – a committed man who truly desires to see positive change in the lives of others. To find true friendship. Accountability. Discipleship. You’ve planned a small get-together and have personally invited some guys to hang out and talk about life.
The big day finally arrives. Now what?
What are you expecting? What is your end goal? Chances are, your heart is in the right place. You have been given the burden of leading men, and the Lord has no doubt placed you in this position in hopes that you’ll surrender the “burden” part to Him. At ease, soldier. Relax. Take a deep breath.
We got your back.
Many Third Option Men have gone through that first meeting, and we’re here to help you in any way we can. By experience, here’s the natural progression of an effective men’s group:
What male in his right mind wants to leave his comfort zone and enter a room full of strange men? Give us an hour of football, video games, zoning out… we’ll do just about anything before choosing that scenario. It’s awkward. You don’t know them, and they don’t know you. Sure, maybe you’ve spoken a few times at church, checkout counters, the gym, etc., but beyond exchanging pleasantries, you don’t know these men from Adam. Good. You’re ready for the next phase.
Assuming any of them came back for a second meeting, they’re most likely not ready to share their life stories with you or the other neanderthals. Maybe some returned because they feel the same burden as you, to see men truly changed by the power of the Gospel, and they want to be part of the catalyst. Maybe they were court-ordered to continue attending, or worse… their wives made them come back. Regardless of the reason, it will take quite some time for these men to really share their struggles. Oh, some of them will be open books when it comes to past mistakes; war stories are great facades and time fillers men use in order to stay behind that shell. See through it. Let the Holy Spirit give you discernment. After all, if you guys came to BS each other, you may as well have slept in or spent the evening on the couch (depending on the time of day your group meets).
What was once awkward will become your comfort zone. Rest assured, it WILL happen if the men in your group are committed to being real, relevant, and reliable. Every group is different. It may take six weeks, it may take six months, but you’ll get there – and there is a dangerous spot. If there’s one thing soldiers are taught in battle, it’s never stop moving. Stopping means death. You’ll need to shake things up eventually, which brings us to the next exciting phase.
Hitting up strip clubs and/or getting drunk together may seem like the guy thing to do, but as Christian men we know those things are merely counterfeits to authentic, beneficial relationship building. As with the image chosen for this post, certain substances may expedite the “Turtle Shell” phase, but to what end? We’re called to do hard things, and trust us… the results are far greater! Once your men hit that “Comfort Zone” wall, it’s time to rip them away and get their blood flowing. The actual adventure will vary between groups, but some tried and true examples are: camping, ball games, paint ball, etc. If possible, spend a night or two away from family and friends, and a picture of true discipleship, the way Christ modeled it, will begin to emerge. Wives and/or kids may feel abandoned at first, but as they begin to experience firsthand what Christ is doing in the lives of your men, they may encourage even more “guy time.”
As you and your men delve deeper into the core issues of life, in an environment devoid of judgment or facades, you’ll inevitably develop that “lay down one’s life for one’s friends” bond found in John 15:13. You truly will begin to feel like family, but as with any family, it’s not always smooth sailing; it’s an ongoing battle, but one you won’t want to trade for anything. Authentic relationships are better than any drug, and it won’t be long before other men want in; they will be attracted to whatever it is you’ve clearly found. Good. That’s the end goal of this whole process, drawing men closer to the Christ that lives in us.
Many corporations, missions organizations, and modern day megachurches began with a small group of passionate individuals. For whatever reason, those groups chose to continue expanding. While Third Option Men see the need for various forms of ministry, it is our goal to keep things simple… and small. As our example, Jesus preached to thousands during his three year ministry recorded in the Gospels, but He maintained the original twelve disciples along the way. As your group continues in what we’ve defined as the ‘Family Ties’ phase, one or more of the men may feel called to pioneer and lead another group. Having experienced the natural progression of a successful small group of men himself, he is a perfect candidate to be used of the Lord to start another.
If reading this post has fired you up to start a men’s group, know that it’s probably the Holy Spirit placing that passion within you. Again, we’re here to help in any way we can. Feel free to post questions/comments below, and remember; we’re just guys like you wanting to serve the Lord. We may not have all the answers, but we’re pretty tight with the One who does.
For a more in-depth look at leading a small group of men, visit our War Room.