Thursday, May 31, 2007

Using Father’s Day to connect your church’s men

by Manda Gibson

Father's Day gets men's attention because the focus is on them already. We're celebrating them as dads, or they're celebrating their dads."

Tom Crick, director of men's ministry at Saddleback Church ________________________________

Glen Sarris has spent his life working hard so his wife could have more time for ministry. As a result of her ministry involvement at Saddleback Church, she enjoyed close friendships with other godly women – and Sarris began to wish that he had similar strong friendships with men.

"I noticed that she had many godly women friends who helped her to grow spiritually," Sarris said. "I knew I wanted that because I had no godly friends, only acquaintances."

So he asked his wife: "How do you get these friends?"

As his wife began looking for opportunities for him to build strong friendships, she learned about Saddleback's men's ministry and encouraged her husband to attend.

So one day Sarris walked quietly into a men's small group, unsure of what he would find. As it turned out, he found the strong relationships he had been looking for.

"I attended on a regular basis to develop relationships with these men," he said. "In the course of a year, to my surprise, I finally found some godly Christian men that I could get close to and talk about anything."

A small group is the only place to find that kind of friendship, he said.

"You can talk deeply about anything. You share things with them; they share things with you," he said. "You can't find that in the regular world."
Sarris is typical of many men, says Tom Crick, director of men's ministry at Saddleback. They become isolated and end up living life virtually on their own, without the support of other men.

It's essential that churches help men to come out of their isolation, and Father's Day is a prime opportunity to do that, Crick said.

Why men need small groups

Saddleback calls its men's ministry, The Herd. When lions hunt zebras, they look for the ones who are isolated from the herd – often the sick or young ones. As soon as the lion sees a zebra that's become isolated, it attacks.

It's the same way with men, Crick said. "Men are particularly prone to isolating themselves and trying to do things on their own," he said. "That allows Satan to work in their lives."

In small groups, men realize that they are not alone and don't need to try to live life on their own; they find a place to share their struggles without judgment and to learn from each other.

"We're all men; we all have the same struggles in our life," Crick said. "Those that have gone before us have wisdom to speak into our lives about directions we could take."

Small groups also offer opportunities for fellowship.

"We try to make the man whole in that area," Crick said. "Once a man is around other Christian men, the influences are different than in the secular work world."

Father's Day sermon collection

Looking for help for your Father's Day sermon? Check out some of Rick Warren's messages on the topic.

More information >>

Looking for help for your Father's Day sermon? Check out some of Rick Warren's messages on the topic.

More information >>


Just being around other Christian men and talking about what they're doing, what they're reading, and who they're learning from can help men to learn how to live with integrity 24 hours a day.

"We're stronger together," Crick said. "When you get isolated and doing your own thing, you're prone to temptation and all the things that could lead you down the wrong path."

Getting connected on Father's Day

Churches can use Father's Day to get men – whether or not they're fathers – connected to small groups and other growth opportunities.

"Father's Day gets men's attention because the focus is on them already," Crick said. "We're celebrating them as dads, or they're celebrating their dads."

On Father's Day, churches can use announcements from the pulpit and in the bulletin, along with a special table set up in a prominent location, to let men know about these opportunities.

"It creates a big stir when we have a table," Crick said. "It's a great way to minister to men in that moment and talk to them about why it's important to connect."

Often a man who hasn't been connected to any sort of a church group will be most comfortable going to a men's group on campus. In on-campus men's groups, men deal with their felt needs, like temptation, financial trouble, and relational trouble. These are usually set up as eight-week Bible studies that function as small groups. At the end of one study, a man can register for another.

Saddleback also offers a large-group Bible study that attracts more than 300 men every Thursday morning. Once a man has taken the step to attend the large group Bible study, he learns about small groups.

Intentional development

No matter where a man starts – in a large group Bible study or a men's small group – he needs to know that he's on an intentional spiritual development pathway.

"It's bigger than just coming to a group. As a men's ministry we owe men a clear vision of why they're here," Crick said.

Saddleback depicts a man's developmental process like a baseball diamond:

First base: Be a brother by getting personally healthy around other believers.
Second base: Be God's man by growing to become more like Christ.
Third base: Be a servant by giving back.
Home plate: Be a messenger by sharing your story with other people.
Pitcher's mound: Be loyal by simultaneously being a brother, being God's man, being a servant, and being a messenger who honors God.

As men make it around the baseball diamond and onto the pitcher's mound, they begin reaching out into the community and world.

"When you get your identity in Christ, then you can get to that point where you can serve in the fullness of Christ," Crick said. "You're here to worship God ultimately – to make God happy by having a relationship with him. There's no better way to do that than by connecting with other guys. It pleases God when you're in full relationship with the people around you."

No comments: