Three principles to developing-and keeping-remarkable men’s ministry leaders
Every church deals with turnover. It’s the nature of people to move on to new challenges. Yet among all the church’s major ministries, men’s ministry continues to experience a high turnover of volunteers and leaders-more often a result the “up like a rocket-down like a brick” nature of ministry to men.
For nearly 35 years I have worked with men’ ministry and have seen many leaders come and go. It is interesting to note that the secret of keeping them is to be found in some of the reasons why they go.
It’s difficult to attract leaders if you have a revolving door of volunteers; but give people incentive to stay and they’ll remain loyal in a thriving environment. To that degree, here are three principles every pastor and church leader should know about developing-and keeping-men’s ministry leaders
Rediscover the Value of Reaching Men
The first principle to developing solid leaders in your church is to create an environment where both the ministry and its volunteers are valued and respected. This starts with the senior pastor. Promise Keeper’s tells us that if we win a man ninety-three percent (93%) of the time that man will win his family to the church. Investor’s call this “ROI”-return on investment. This is the main problem with men’s ministry-it is not high on the priority of the church ministry list. Of the nearly 7,000 stateside Churches of God I do not know of even one that has a full time men’s ministry director.
We must place a high value on ministry to men. In most churches, the pastor sets the tone for what is most valued in that body. If his passion is for evangelism, those who are part of his church will most likely have a similar bent for reaching the lost. If the spiritual development of men is important to the pastor, it will be important to the congregation.
People want to be part of something that has significant impact, and few things top the call of raising tomorrow’s leaders. The trickle-down effect of this is a leadership that doesn’t just talk about supporting men’s ministry, but instead backs up their words with action.
One of the prime ways pastors can do this is by providing sufficient leadership training and set in place a system to disciple the men in the church. This new thrust in training men will involve a small financial commitment but the “ROI” will be great. Bottom line: When pastors make known to the congregation the importance of supporting and volunteering in men’s ministry, leaders and financial support are more inclined to emerge.
Equally as crucial in creating this environment is finding the right leader(s). We recommend that a church begin with a man who is a proven leader and one who has an arrow through his heart for other men. Then, in turn, this man with the backing of the pastor should find a few other men in the church willing to pay the price to win and disciple men. Too often inexperienced individuals are appointed by default to lead.
A men’s leader’s abilities and experience speaks volumes about how the ministry is valued and perceived by the pastor. Although it is true that skills can be enhanced, good people skills should be a prerequisite for the top men’s leader. They set the tone and atmosphere for the day-to-day ministry operation. They also have the greatest influence on ministry volunteers and those who will potentially become leaders. Fill the position carefully and prayerfully.
Support Men’s Ministry
Once a men’s ministry leader is appointed, those in church leadership shouldn’t automatically assume it’s only a matter of time before the ministry becomes a bustling Mecca for men’s spiritual growth. There will be days when a ministry director leaves the parking lot after a service pondering the sanity of his decision to accept the position. So many men’s program in the church are “wimpy.” One of my friends calls it the “Romeo” ministry-“Really Old Men Eating Out!”
What keeps that leader coming back with renewed passion? That’s the second principle of developing powerful leaders: Pastors and church leaders must be supportive and encourage those emerging leaders. This applies to both the ministry’s key leader and its volunteers. Obviously, the director needs to sense the pastor’s support. Knowing your pastor is supporting your every venture makes all the difference. Likewise, volunteering leaders need to know that they have emotional and spiritual support, especially during challenging times.
Men’s ministry is different from any other within in the church. Pat Morley, founder of Man in the Mirror Ministry says that a “man is a hard thing to reach.” It is essential that the leaders are prayed for, supported and encouraged to stay strong and committed.
As most pastors know, a thriving men’s ministry doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a substantial amount of work. It will take about two years to even begin to build a thriving ministry for the men of the local church. hose leading the charge are required to handle an array of tasks and issues. Many of the men’s leaders in the church feel that their work is not noticed or appreciated. There is always a mandate for men to do more in the church so any way of showing support and appreciation to the leaders will go far in keeping them active.
Men’s leaders are some of the most tireless workers. As a pastor or church leader, it would be good for you to realize that though it is important to set realistic goals and strive for excellence, it’s equally as important to be considerate and show appreciation.
If you’re a senior pastor, you can set the precedent for this. Reward those who have taken upon themselves this high call of nurturing and discipling the church’s men. When volunteers serve in an environment where they are validated and appreciated two things happen: Turnover is reduced and individuals are more willing to take on leadership responsibilities.
Churches that have perfected the ministry of appreciation, all have one thing in common: They go out of their way to let their volunteers know they’re special and valued. Showing such appreciation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. On days when they serve, provide complimentary CDs of the message in the main service. Throw an occasional workers-only special event for those who help out in the men’s ministry. Hand out certificates of appreciation. These are all inexpensive but effective ways to say “thank you.”
Learn as you “grow and know”
This third principle to developing outstanding leaders-providing ongoing training opportunities-is both universal and continuous (thus the ongoing part).
When men’s ministry workers are properly trained, the quality and effectiveness of the ministry experiences quantum leaps. Training is essential to developing leaders. Well-trained volunteers are more equipped and typically more confident about carrying out their responsibilities. We recommend that you consider attending the Man in the Mirror “No Man Left Behind” leadership training event. This three day seminar allows the attendees to become men’s ministry specialists in the local church. Church of God LifeBuilders Men’s Ministry also offers a new leadership training event for men called “Discipling Strong Men.” Training is the best investment a church can make in its staff and volunteers.
These three principle are simple and practical and can have profound results when implemented and sustained over time. Developing men’s ministry leaders does not have to be a challenging endeavor. It can be a tremendous opportunity to watch God call forth and empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things for His kingdom through a ministry to men.