Friday is for Heart Songs
I was sitting with a fellow leader in the church talking about ministry. Specifically, our strategy of up-stream vs down stream ministries. Downstream ministries are reactive, up-stream ministries are proactive. The subject of getting men involved in discipling their families came up. “How do you deal with men who say they can’t or don’t read?”
This is a critical up-stream ministry. If men are passive spiritually all kinds of ministries will be needed downstream to handle the fallout. Here are some thoughts on building a discipling culture with men in the church.
- Challenge: Someone has said, “men are like pickup trucks, they ride better with a load.” Challenge men to step up. Challenge big. Don’t settle for gradual baby steps. Give them a real challenge, and provide real companionship and help. More below.
- Reality Check: “I just don’t read very much. Honestly, I fall asleep reading the Bible.” Put on your big boy pants and suck it up, brother. What did you expect? This is spiritual warfare. Why can you read the newspaper without falling asleep, or your favorite fishing magazine, or articles on your favorite sports team? None of those will make you strong for spiritual battle, but as soon as you open your Bible or try to pray you are suddenly sleepy? The evil one has no desire for you to be a man. He likes you being a boy who shaves. Suck it up and discipline yourself for godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). No excuses. You’re at war for the spiritual health of your family. Act like it.
- Offer Strategies that Work: Men need accountability as well as a challenge. Former seminary prof and new resident of heaven, Dr. Howard Hendricks was fond of saying, “A man alone is a problem waiting to happen.” We need to partner with men rather than pontificate at them. Exhortation is needed but so is slow, patient, modeling and prayer. Here are two strategies in number 4 and 5 below.
- One-to-one Bible Reading: No curriculum just the Bible. Two men meet and read the Bible together, paragraph by paragraph. They stop after each paragraph and ask inductive and interrogative questions (who, what, when, where, why, how, with whom), focusing on the text. Simple as it gets.
- Life Transformation Groups: Neil Cole first wrote about this concept in a 1999 book titled Cultivating a Life for God. Two to three men meet once a week for an hour. Each agrees to read 25-30 chapters a week in an intensely focused way. Example: They agree to read the book of Philippians (4 chapters) six to seven times between meetings. If any one of them doesn’t get it done, all of them have to read the same chapters the next week. At the end of six months the men have poured over dozens of books of the Bible in an intensely focused way, stimulating one another’s understanding of the text. It’s that simple and it works. Men’s lives are transformed by the living word of God.
I will be revising this post from time to time because this topic touches a critical area of health in our churches, the development of men who are saturated with the word of God. It deserves greater expansion and thought.