Men and the Church: Is There A Future?
Are You Ready to Befriend the Unchurched Man?
In chapter 1 of this book, I asked, Leader, are you ready to take up the banner and advance? Readiness is the key, whether one is poised on the brink of a great charge into the breach or answering yes to the question of men and their future in the church.
At the siege of Badajoz, many were ready to sacrifice everything for the vision of glory that consumed them. In fact, some were even willing to try bribing the higher-ups to be able to lead the charge! Consider two men who aspired to the ranks of the Forlorn Hope.
It was reported from the battlefield that a certain Lieutenant Harvest, having previously been promoted to captain that day, still wanted desperately to volunteer for the Hope that would advance to the castle walls that night. He wanted his honor to be upheld—and it was, though posthumously, on the morning after.
Another soldier on that day, a Major James Singer, is remembered for having said to a friend as the battle approached, “Tomorrow, I shall be a lieutenant-colonel or in the kingdom of heaven.” The latter was his fate. (2)
I say these things to remind us of the seriousness of the mission before us. This question of the future of the church is indeed a matter of life and death.
Thankfully, the unchurched man can quickly become the welcomed man. But we need to be ready with that welcome by preparing ourselves and our churches on several fronts. The chapters ahead will explore five of these areas:
Personal: being able to befriend and invite the lost man (this chapter)
Environmental: perusing a man-friendly church atmosphere (chapter 6)
Structural: having a system of discipling in place (chapter 7)
Relational: being ready to mentor others into disciple makers (chapters 8 & 9)
Pastoral: standing ready to help the hurting, wounded man (chapter 10)
What’s Your B.I.O.?
No, I’m not talking about your resume. I refer to your “befriending and inviting orientation.” To be personally ready to welcome men, you’ll need to score high on the scale of friendliness and willingness to build relationships/friendships. After all, it is only through relationships with the lost that we will reach them, and men are desperate for our friendships.
So what are some of the personal qualities that help us befriend and gather men to us—and, consequently, to Jesus? Reflect on these:
Approachability. I can’t think of a more important personal quality in a men’s leader than this. Frankly, if you are an unapproachable guy, think about whether your spiritual gifts might be used best behind the scenes. It is no dishonor to take an honest inventory and decide, “I’m probably better at working with things than people.”
Admirability. It’s been said that men follow other men whom they respect. They scope out a guy who claims leadership and observe him for a while. Does he walk the talk? Is he a person of integrity? Can he be trusted to follow through on his promises? Can he keep a confidence? All of these ways bring respect and make a man admirable in the eyes of another.
Casting Light. This has to doe with the overall “aura” you give off in the world as a Christian. This may seem strange, but I’m speaking of a biblical concept here. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair… (2 Corinthians 4:6-8)
Attentiveness. If you are an attentive leader of men, then when I’m with you, I feel you are constantly conveying, “Your agenda is my agenda.” In other words, you have the ability to focus on me with genuine interest.
Receptivity. Remember the men who came to our father Abraham one day as he sat by his tent? We modern readers know a secret about them: they were angels in disguise (see Genesis 18; in fact one was likely a theophany—God in disguise). But the point is, good ole Abe received his guests with the warmest hospitality. Then, in a New Testament reference to this event, we are cautioned: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
Be a Blessing-Giver. Does your basic approach to men abound with words and deeds that bless them? Or to put it another way: When a man walks away from a conversation with you, does he feel a little lighter? Is his step a little more confident? Has his outlook on life brightened to some degree?
Be a Teammate. If passion is central to welcoming men back to church, it must be the kind that encourages teamwork. A befriending and welcoming men’s leader is one who “plays well with others” and gets involved with them in heading where they want to go. Of course, they many need to be helped with seeing where they really want to go, but then we get on board and go with them.
(for more, read Men and the Church: Is There A Future? By Jay Crouse)