How can I get my men spiritually connected at the level of their walk with Christ so they are not so alone in their spiritual battles?
A. Have a clear picture of your goal: Every man meeting regularly with one or two other brothers for encouragement and accountability in their spiritual battles.
B. Recognize that each of your men can be placed on a continuum of male connection in your church that might look like this:
<< Know No one << Acquaintances >> Friends >> Brothers
- Acquaintances are those whose name you know
- Friends are those with whom you participate in some activity. It might be the softball team, board of deacons, or Bible study. Friends socialize and share common values.
- Closer friends are those you might have over to your home or might have lunch with during the work week.
- We’re using “brothers” here to refer to men who know what is happening at the level of each other’s soul. They are able to encourage and pray for each other because they know each other’s spiritual battles. As this “brother” relationship deepens, they begin to ask to be held accountable for their actions.
C. Realize that getting men to the point where they are connected as brothers is a process that takes time. Trust must be built before men reveal what is going on inside. Usually this process takes years. It rarely happens automatically. Rather, the men’s ministry must be intentional about helping men move from the no relationships, or superficial relationships (left) to connection with a brother or two at the level of their spiritual lives (right side of continuum).
D. Men find it easiest to build friendships when they are shoulder to shoulder working together to accomplish a common task. Keep this principle in mind especially as you plan events for the least connected men-those on the left side of the continuum.
E. Although working together as a team to accomplish an objective is the most natural way men connect, we must recognize that our natural tendency in that connection is to be superficial. Christian men must be challenged to overcome their natural masculine desire for autonomy, i.e. be intentional about building relationships with other Christian men. We are to be so connected to some brothers that we confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (Heb. 10:24), and depend daily upon one another (I Cor. 12:21).
F. As you design activities for your men’s ministry, always:
- Know which group on this continuum of male connection you are targeting
- Include a component to help men connect at some level.
- For example:
a. Follow up the softball season with a funny, well done, awards banquet. Be sure that any newcomers to the team are personally invited by other team members and given a place to sit with them. The banquet could be structured with a contest so that each table has to work together to come up with their answers to the game questions.
b. Seminars such as Success that Matters or Great Dads have excellent 6 week follow up small group studies. These studies are safe because they review material heard at the seminar and because they are only six weeks long. Such groups give men a taste of connection and they may decide to keep meeting after the 6 weeks is over.
G. One of the best ways to get men connected at the level of their soul is a men’s Bible Study or large-group presentation, with table discussion afterward.
- Man In the Mirror has many excellent resources for men’s Bible study, including DVD series of Pat speaking and follow up discussion questions. Click here to visit their website.
- You can check out our bookstore for men’s Bible studies by clicking here.
- However, we must recognize the limitations of men’s Bible studies –Monthly studies can do very little to help men connect at the level of their everyday lives because they meet too infrequently –Weekly men’s studies rarely reach more than 15% of the men in the congregation and often fizzle out. Couples’ home groups compete with such men’s groups. Also, men do not like coming home from work and going back out to a weekly study. –Often men’s small groups that do exist are more about sharing opinions than about fighting spiritual battles. They are 80% study with prayer requests tacked onto the end.
H. Consider using another structure for helping men connect as brothers-Check 6 Partnerships. (Note: “I’ll check your six” is military language for, “I’ve got your back.”)
1. Check 6 Partnerships are:
–Not a couples’ group, but a band of brothers
–Not a 2 hour Bible study, but a 1 hour breakfast,lunch, or phone call
–Not an evening away from your family, but an hour fromyour work day
–Not 6-8 guys, but 2-4 guys
–Not focused on learning, but focused on fighting
–Not based on a meeting agenda that generates opinions, but a meeting agenda that generates connection as brothers
2. There is great Biblical precedent for such relationships:
–Jesus and the inner three
–Elijah and Elisha
–David and Jonathan
–Paul and Timothy
–Peter and Mark
3. For more information on Check 6 Partnerships go to www.forgingbonds.org