The Case for a Men’sDiscipleship Program
by Patrick Morley
The Presenting Problem
There is raging all around us a battle for men’s souls. Men are under siege as husbands, fathers, workers, citizens, and churchmen. Many have already failed.
A man said, “My marriage is perfect.” One year later an addiction to pornography irretrievably shattered his marriage into a thousand shards.
“For 30 years I’ve spent 80 hours a week at work because that’s what I wanted to do. I went to church one hour a week. I’ve missed it. I know that there is another step I need to take.”
“I didn’t give my wife a voice. Now I can’t convince her I want to change.”
“No matter what I did I could never please my father. And I’m doing it all over again to my own son.”
Men are under siege because their wives feel emotionally neglected or controlled, their children are going astray, they’ve become addicted to pornography or other idols, they have overspent and struggle under a load of debt, and/or they are chasing worldly success.
Other men are under siege because they are trying to do too many of the right things. They are trying to be super-dad who makes all the games, the perfect husband who meets all the emotional needs of his wife, a churchman who makes a contribution, and the good provider who can afford the right schools and labels. They are tired. We have created a culture that requires more energy than men have to give.
For every 10 men in your church…
- 9 will have kids who leave the church (1)
- 8 will not find their jobs satisfying (2)
- 6 pay the monthly minimum on their credit card balances (3)
- 5 have a major problem with pornography (4)
- 4 will get divorced affecting 1,000,000 children per year (5)
- only 1 has a biblical worldview (6)
- all 10 will struggle to balance work and family
When a man fails it sets powerful forces of bondage and brokenness in motion. It can take several generations to break the cycle. I know. It has been almost 80 years since my grandfather abandoned my dad, and our family has yet to fully recover from that man’s horrific decision.
As America staggers beneath the load of a 100 major problems like divorce, fatherlessness, poverty, pornography, adultery, abortion, disrespect for authority, ethical failures, and truancy-where have the men gone? Where are the men? What has happened to our men?
These are not bad men. No man fails on purpose. They are, for the most part, men with good intentions. They are men for whom Christ died. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. But they lack spiritual power.
The Root Cause
Why do so many men lack spiritual power? Why do so many men seem tepid in their faith? Why do so many men seem lukewarm? The answer is that these men were never discipled with the spiritual weaponry to become Godly men, husbands, and fathers. Jesus said, “The problem is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know they power of God” (Matthew 22:29, NLT).
No church leader would disagree that making disciples is a central mission, perhaps the central mission, of the church. However, in our generation the church has taken its eye off the ball. The Barna Group reports that only 16% of church-attending adults are involved in discipleship programs such as small groups, Sunday schools, and other classes (Barna, 2000). And men are even less likely than women to be involved in discipleship (Barna, 2004).
Many church leaders indicate a profound dissatisfaction with the number of men in their churches who are disciples. It is well known within the field of men’s ministry that since 1990 many churches have implemented men’s discipleship programs but have been unable to sustain them.
We have not been effective in making disciples, especially among men, and therefore we are failing significantly to achieve one of our central missions. Not making disciples is the root cause of the battle in which we find ourselves.
What is the solution? The last words of Jesus arguably comprise the most important speech ever recorded in the history of the world. We know them as The Great Commission…
All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
More millions of people and billions of dollars have been mobilized as a result of this brief speech than any other words ever uttered.
The solution to this problem is for us to get back to the central mission of the Christian church: making disciples. The final marching orders from Jesus are, “Go and make disciples.” Those orders still stand. They have not been amended, altered, or rescinded.
It is worth reflecting on the fact that Jesus could have said anything. For example…
- He could have said, “Go and make worshippers.” But he didn’t. He said, “Go and make disciples.”
- He could have said, “Go and make workers.” But he didn’t. He said, “Go and make disciples.”
- He could have said, “Go and make tithers.” But he didn’t. He said, “Go and make disciples.”
Does that mean Jesus isn’t interested in worshippers, workers, and tithers? Of course he is. But Jesus knew we don’t get worshippers by trying to make worshippers. We get worshippers by making disciples. Jesus knew we don’t get workers by trying to make workers. We get workers by making disciples. And so on. The key to success at every point is, “Go and make disciples.”
There is one, and only one, way in which a man can win the battle for his soul. He must become a disciple of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Plan: All-Inclusive Men’s Ministry
If you have 100 men in your church, what is the size of your men’s discipleship ministry? The correct answer is 100. A dozen white haired men having breakfast together once a month and six guys in a Bible study on Wednesday morning are good. But that leaves 82 men unaccounted for. You’re setting those men up to lose the battle.
The church is the only institution in the world that cares about men’s souls. To fulfill Christ’s commission, your church should have a concrete plan to disciple every willing man. If not us, then who?
This is a battle we can win. We cannot, we must not and, by God’s grace, together we will not fail.