1. You don't value personal relationships like Jesus does.
Men that don’t have strong Godly relationships with other men do not have a strong relationship with their heavenly Father. If you do not know another Christian man well enough to be able to call them when you are fighting temptation or enduring a trial, then you yourself are in deep trouble. Now, let me take this a step further. If you have been a Christian for years but you still have no transparent, personal relationships with other Christian men...then you're not really concerned about inner spiritual formation, you are more concerned about your religious reputation. If that is you, then you are deceived. The idea that the Christian life can be lived on our own is plainly unscriptural. Jesus himself had close, personal and transparent relationships with other men. Do you remember the night He asked Peter, James and John to pray for Him in the garden of Gethsemane? He took them aside and vulnerably stated, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death”. If our Lord could admit (to his close friends) a need for prayer in His hour of trial, why can’t so many men in the church today? Listen...to the measure that we allow other men proximity to our hearts, that is the measure of how deep we usually grow in Christ.
2. Your men’s ministry doesn't exist.
That leads me to the importance of authentic men’s ministry and discipleship. Men’s ministry is not for men who take the seemingly easy route of cultivating their public, religious image. Authentic men’s ministry is for men who want to cultivate a growing relationship with Christ and with other men. So, let me say this, if you don't have a men's ministry in your church...it’s a sign of trouble. I am writing this post with the premise that men's ministry is vitally important to the health of our churches. Why? Because Jesus believed that men's ministry was important. Jesus personally discipled men. Jesus led a “small group”. He ate with them, sang with them, traveled with them and ministered with them. He spent a great amount of personal time with men in prayer and in the Scripture. Ultimately, He commissioned those very men and they turned the world upside down with the Gospel. Jesus modeled authentic discipleship (and relationships) with other men and we must take His example seriously.
3. Your men's ministry is centered around pancakes.
Men's ministries that are solely centered around the once a month, Saturday morning, wear a name tag, all you can eat pancake feed (with a guest speaker) are missing the point. Real men's discipleship over pancakes, once a month, is impossible. I know what you're thinking...Today there may not be a more difficult group to get together, schedule wise, than men. Many men in our churches work 40+ hours a week, commute with a long drive, coach ball for their kids and do their best to find quality time with their wives. Godly men desire serious discipleship but time is precious. Is it hard to carve out time to meet together as men? Yes. What this means though is that we have to get creative in our scheduling and we also may have to re-think our entire approach to men’s ministry. Mrs. Butterworth's is a welcome addition to any men's ministry but she cannot be the main attraction.
4. Your men's ministry is like a Sunday morning service.
Effective men's ministry is interactive. I hear from men all the time that the men's ministry in their church is a weekly message taught by an assistant pastor...then they go home. A men’s ministry cannot be conducted like other weekly gatherings of the church, it has to be much more personal. Jesus encouraged interaction with the men He discipled. The Gospels record a myriad of questions from the disciples and Jesus was always ready to engage in spiritual conversation. “How do we pray”, they asked. What are the signs of the end of the age? What about the man who was born blind? Jesus himself loved to ask questions of the disciples, “who do people say that I am?”. Men need to discuss the Scriptures together and sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17). Men also need to be be encouraged to share their burdens in a safe, secure environment. Men need to engage with other like minded men and be accountable with one another. They need to exhort each other and pray for one another. Men’s ministry has to be a dialogue, not a monologue.
5. What do you consider to be a 5th sign of trouble?
I posed this question on my Facebook page a week ago and had over 30 comments in minutes. I didn't know people were so passionate and opinionated about men’s ministry! I am absolutely sure that you have an opinion also. What did I leave out? In my next post, I will discuss 5 ways to develop and strengthen your men’s ministry.