“Do you have Mens Meetings in your church?”
The question came from my host. He was sitting at the other end of the table. He had to shout because the house was filled with families from their church; parents and children all talking, eating, and playing. A glorious cacophony.
There had been other questions from him, and from others, to me about culture, theology, and family, but on this one…I paused.
Men are, indeed, a hot commodity right now. The importance of men-in-the-church is a good and necessary focus. Thankfully, there is a renewed fervor of interest to draw men back to the church and to engage them in cultural issues and family responsibilities.
My denomination, the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches, has always emphasized a robust maleness within the congregation. One of our prominent pastors, Douglas Wilson, has written extensively for years on his blog and in his many books in regard to the wisdom that only comes through the fear of the Lord; a requisite for Christians that has been lost or missing from most evangelical resources. Copies of Michael Foster’s book, It’s Good to Be a Man, is being held with a tight and appreciated grasp by many. And, the Fight-Laugh-Feast Network with its vlog and conferences are providing a welcome and desired esprit-de-corps.
All of these are just a few of the efforts in helping men to man-up, and I am thankful for all their contributions.
Do you have Mens Meetings in your church?
Still the question on the table…
He was waiting. I think I understand the reason that he had asked. It is a question of validation. He was asking, hopefully, that my answer would pass muster.
I was tired, and the hour was late, the noise was starting to affect me so I just replied, “Yes, we have had gatherings of men and plan to do more of them in the future.”
He smiled; satisfied.
What I didn’t say, and the reason for my delay in answering (the room was humming harder), was that I was processing the breadth of his question, knowing that our church’s practice is a glorious juxtaposition: our church has men, meeting all the time!
In one meeting, we study how Jesus taught his disciples to pray and then we spend 30-40 minutes in prayer applying what we have learned.
In another meeting we are going through a book of the Bible teaching how to study the scriptures. They outline the text, write out commentary, discover applications, and fall in love with the ideas of context, genre, typology, and continuity.
We also meet to train men how to teach the Bible. This has been fantastic. To get together so that we are effective in teaching the students rather than just teaching the lesson.
There are also men going through resources that cover theology, creeds, biblical commentary, sacred life, and apologetics.
We started all of this about five years ago and the benefits have been evident in our worship, conversations, friendships, and communal life.
This is what I wish that I had told my new friend.
I would have followed the details of our practice with this confession: “Our church started over 25 years ago, I feel like we are just now catching up to where we should have always been.”
I think that we need to provide and facilitate this type of focus in our churches if we are going to faithfully produce disciples. If we are to expect men to go beyond ‘mere’ men then we must do all that we can to move the team down the field. This takes strategy, dedication, and direction. Just having a monthly Men’s Meeting will no do this. Monthly is at most, supplemental. Often, the subjects are more of an elective nature especially when compared to what they could and should be regularly engaged in.
So yes, we have men, meeting in our church and I would just add, the women meet with us in these gatherings as well, and also the young adults, and the kids do too.
And for what it’s worth…for the last five years I feel like I have finally entered the ministry.