Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Men's Ministry Sucks

Last Saturday, I went to a local men's ministry breakfast. I was asked to speak while guys were chewing on lukewarm eggs, burnt bacon and other somewhat delicious(?) foods. Not surprisingly, attendance was small. 6 to 7 guys. The leader of the group seemed frustrated and discouraged. He has poured himself into men's ministry. He really wants it to work. When you lead men's ministry week after week, month after month and only a few guys show up, it can be very discouraging. In my opinion, men's ministry is the bastard child or the ugly kid at the dance in most churches.

Usually enthusiastic dudes will come back from Promise Keepers or some other big time men's event chock full of ideas about how they are going to start or pump up men's ministry at their church. Their enthusiasm is removed quickly by pastors or other church leaders who look at them and say,"We've done that before" or "That will never work" or "We don't have the money for that!" That kind of discouragement will never make anyone want to run up Hamburger Hill.

Then comes another challenge. How in the heck do you motivate men to do anything other than scratch themselves? Men are pooped. They have been asked to do things for everyone and they are completely worn out. Weeknights are tough because men just gave everything to their jobs and they have nothing left. Weekends? Are you insane? Soccer games, honey-do lists and the Patriots. Don't you dare ask them to do one other thing on the weekends. They are already being forced at gunpoint to go to church.

Here is yet another challenge of men's ministry. Lack of leaders. I've experienced it and I saw it last Saturday morning. One or two guys have a passion for men's ministry. They lead. They facilitate. They organize. They promote and market. They invite. They get really, really burned out. Guess what? These men who have a passion for men's ministry and actually do the work are the few, the proud and the brave. If these men's ministry leaders get hit by a semi or eat something bad at the church potluck, the men's ministry will die a quick death.

Pastors and church leaders, if you have a man who is passionate about men's ministry, support and encourage him. If there is a men's ministry event, show up. Don't treat men's ministry like it's a pain in your backside. Find some money in your budget to support men's ministry. Take some cash out of the women's ministry in your church. Women's ministry has always had more than enough support and encouragement at most churches. Prioritize men's ministry for a change.

I have noticed that men are gathering in other places. There is a Panera near my home. Ever since the place opened up, I have seen a group of 4 to 5 men who meet for coffee, bear claws and conversation nearly every Saturday and Sunday morning. They call themselves the "Old Farts Club". What is it that drives men to Panera, Lowe's, Home Depot or the local bar and not men's ministry events. On Sunday afternoon, I couldn't believe me eyes. There is a new Philly Cheese Steak place that just opened and it was slammed full of men. Yelling, Screaming, Cheering on their favorite football team. I don't know about you but I don't remember men enthusiastically yelling, cheering, screaming or having an actual, authentic good time at most church or men's ministry events.

What the heck can be done about men's ministry? Can it be saved or will it continue to suck?

Would someone please pass the eggs?


  1. I think the issue here is not how to do 'men's ministry' but how to get the Church out of the idea of doing programs and ministries instead of living and loving the world, being in it but not of it and leading people to Christ through the example of our lives!

  2. I just came across your blog via someone's tweet. Good stuff. I read this blog post and it struck me because this is an area that has been on my mind lately. My church has always had an open night of basketball but may not do so this year because of scheduling etc. I've played over the years but wasn't involved in the church until last spring. One thing that really got me through was being able to go play and have a few minutes to talk to some of the guys. That was beyond important for me...in a way that a study or a class or even cold eggs would not have been.

    Your examples nail it...older guys meeting for breakfast, football fans meeting to watch the game, etc. Basically just a ministry where men (I've been thinking all adults--male and female--but certainly men) can get together and be men. Don't men in the church like football? Or breakfast? Or recreational activities? Or, you name it?

    I'm kind of rambling and venting here, but your post was great. Men (and all adults) need that opportunity to get together in 'real-life' situations. I just know what I went through...nothing offered was what I needed. Having something (like basketball) was a fellowship and time that was greatly needed. We just need to do things that we want to do and will get people to come. I don't know...I'm still processing where to go with it all in my head and see where God leads...

    Thanks for letting me use your space...great blog!

  3. I was a member of a church where the staff never attended the men's meetings because they already worked on Sunday. Really? Lame. Men's ministry needs to be action oriented. Our guys meet at the shooting range, or get together for some wings.

  4. I am one of those men. And share your frustrations/observations.

    Maybe part of the problem is at my church they want to have our meetings at 6 am on Sunday morning... Dude, it is HARD to be lively at 6 am especially with cold eggs and coffee being served alongside an ill-prepared monotone monologue(not always but often enough to make you think twice about participating).

    Please pass the mystery meat and the ketchup.

  5. Men's ministry isn't the problem. The way churches do, think, strategize and have church isn't centered around men at all. If you get a chance read the book, "Why Men Hate Going to Church" ...the problem isn't necessarily men, it's the church (globally) and its perspectives on how to do worship, small groups, meetings, services etc... men aren't attracted to these things and for good reason. If you don't believe me take a look at the volunteer base and you'll see that normally the majority is women. We can't expect men to change their perspective on church if the church doesn't tailor certain things in the manly direction.