Come One, Come Anyone?

Why it’s hard to mobilize men—and how you can change that

One of the biggest mysteries in church ministry is why it’s often so difficult to get men to sign up for events. Compared to the typically eager reaction among church women and youth, leading a men’s ministry can sometimes feel like trying to herd a group of elephants. The consensus among many leaders is that men are just apathetic and not hungry to grow in Christ.

I beg to differ. In fact, I think the problem lies more in how we communicate to men.

My wife, Barbara, was helping to host an upcoming women’s tea at our church. We arrived at church early on Sunday morning so she could post some details to promote the event on a white board in the church lobby. She wrote that it was a ladies’ tea, the date of the event, when it started, what women could bring, and to please bring a friend. Then she began to draw a few flowers on the board. I love my wife and I want her to succeed in her ministry endeavors, so after reviewing the board, I offered what I believed to be some thoughtful insight. I asked her: “When does the event end? Is there a theme for the tea? Will you have guest speaker? What else will there be to eat? What about ...” Before I could pose another question, Barb stopped me short and graciously said, “This isn’t a men’s ministry meeting—we like to get together!”

Ouch! She hit the nail on the head. I was running her promotion through my men’s ministry grid. I know that men need all the facts of an event and numerous reasons why they should attend. Barb, on the other hand, was thinking of her audience, knowing that most women have a propensity to gather and just need to know the time and place.

Let’s face it: A high percentage of adult men in or out of the church don’t have a tendency to gather. They operate in isolation and don’t network often. Few men will pick up the phone and call a buddy just to see how he’s doing.

Knowing this, many men’s ministry leaders will blitz guys with a ton of camaraderie-forcing activities: hunting retreats, football games, skiing trips, softball leagues, etc. And typically, the same guys who show up for those 6 a.m. prayer breakfasts are the sole respondents. Clearly, men don’t need more events—they need a better reason to connect.

Most men’s leaders agree that it takes five to seven “touches” to get a man to an event. One reason for this is because the event may not show up on the family schedule since wives typically manage the social calendar. Another major reason is that men don’t easily invite one another to join them at an event. We often keep our options open and wait until the last moment to commit to an event. Others don’t jump at the chance of attending an event because we put the needs of those close to us above our need to gather with other men. Time with our families can be limited, so the felt need for fellowship is low.

My encouragement to fellow church leaders is to understand and embrace the differences in mobilizing men compared to other groups. Men’s ministry should be about doing less and doing it better. Create a compelling reason for guys to leave their families, work and to-do lists at home and join other men at a guys-only event. This typically takes a team of men forming a game plan that’s purposeful and intentional. If you’re depending on guys coming together to an event to primarily experience the joys of Christian brotherhood, you’ll likely end up with some time alone with God!

Leader of national men’s ministry Iron Sharpens Iron, Brian Doyle is also a consultant to churches throughout the Northeast regarding men’s ministry.

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Peace is indeed attainable in this selfish world. Just look for it in the right place.

    Finding Peace in a Fallen and Selfish World

    You can have peace in this world. Just stop looking in the wrong places.

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Church members argue

    12 Reasons Church Staff Conflict May Arise

    This is not unique, but among these there are some that seem more pervasive than others.

  • Prestonwood Church in Dallas

    What Leaders Can Learn From Prestonwood's Jack Graham

    Leaders don't have to know everything, but they need to give their staff what Graham gives his.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders