A. Men’s ministry helps the church accomplish its mission, to make disciples.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, 1) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and 2) teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matt. 28:19-20
- Sometimes in the PCA we are tempted to abandon the discipleship model for the academic model, but men learn best by example.
- Biblical Christianity is not intended to be one smart person imparting knowledge to the masses; it is one follower helping another follower.
- We tend to ask men to follow our teaching, our methods, and our theology. God has hardwired them to prefer following men. Men’s ministry brings men together for life-on-life discipleship.
In the above text, the structure of the sentence implies that there are two parts to the way disciples are made.
1. Baptizing them:
- Baptism is the sign and seal of membership in the covenant community.
- The inward spiritual reality to which the sacrament of baptism points is our connection to Christ and to one another in the covenant of grace. (We differ from our Baptist friends at this very point; they see baptism as a sign of conversion, but we see it as a sign of membership in the covenant community just as circumcision was, and thus include our children in the covenant sign. But even our Baptist friends still see baptism as marking the recipient as belonging to the covenant community.)
- Becoming a Christ-follower requires not just a vertical commitment to Christ, but a horizontal commitment to connection with the rest of his body.
- 95% of Christian men have no best friend-they are not connected at any significant level to the body of Christ.
- The first goal of men’s ministry, therefore, is helping them get connected as brothers at the level of their spiritual lives.
2. Teaching them everyday obedience
- Jesus qualified the kind of teaching that makes disciples–teaching that focuses on obedience: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..”
- Men’s disciple-making ministry therefore focuses on the areas that are specific to men’s unique struggle to be obedient
- The second goal of men’s ministry, therefore, is to get Biblical teaching to them that is specific to their 1) responsibilities and 2) temptations as men. These are the areas where they struggle with obedience.
B. Men’s ministry helps the church follow the Biblical method for discipling men, i.e. mobilizing the members of the body to use their gifts.
“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph. 4:16
“Men’s ministry” refers to the process of mobilizing members of the body to use their gifts to help men move down the discipleship path towards greater maturity in Christ. This process involves planning events and ministries for men. But is more than that. It also involves linking men to the disciple-making events and ministries in the church that are already in place. In summary, “men’s ministry” is the mobilization of some in the body to use their gifts to help the session disciple the men of the church.
C. The word, “disciple” should not be confused with the one-on-one multiplication method of discipleship.
Many people associate the verb, “to disciple” with the multiplication method explained in the booklet, Born to Reproduce, by Dawson Trotman of the Navigators and the book, Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman. This is the idea that the pastor disciples two elders for two years. Then, at the end of the 2 years, those elders each disciple two men for two years, etc.
- I believe this is the absolute best method to disciple men-for those who are called and equipped to do so. If you have such men in your church, free them from other responsibilities and encourage them to build themselves into a few men who will build themselves into a few other men, etc.
- However, it is a mistake to call the multiplication method-the primary method of New Testament discipleship. That is simply not true.
- The method for the body to be built up is given in Eph. 4:7-16 as we have seen above. Paul makes no mention of the gift of “discipleship,” or “mentoring” or whatever we might call the multiplication method. He says the body is built up not by the disciplers, but by every member of the body contributing.
- 2 Timothy 2:2 is often quoted to substantiate the multiplication method as the primary NT method to make disciples. However, this verse is not talking about Paul’s one-on-one time discipling Timothy-but about insuring that sound teaching continue in the church at a time when the New Testament had not yet been completed. Paul says to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” The focus here is Paul’s PUBLIC teaching-not his PRIVATE discipleship meetings with Timothy. Paul wants the content of his teaching, i.e. the gospel, passed on to reliable men who are able to teach (not disciple) others.
- If a pastor disciples two elders for two years who then disciple two men for two years, at the end of 4 years, there are 7 mature believers. Praise God! But someone has to focus on the 95% of the men left out during this 4 year period to help them grow in Christ. That is the task of the men’s ministry. The Biblical method for growth is given in Eph 4.16. The body “grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.”
- Nine out of ten pastors I know say they do not have the gift of mentoring or “discipling.” So, how can this multiplication method be the preferred NT method for making disciples? The marching orders for the whole church are to make disciples-not just for those gifted in mentoring!