The Men’s Ministry Manifesto

This article was inspired by my AA (awesome acquaintance) Natalie Frisk who blogs at Holy Shift. The specific article is found here. What follows here is not a response to anything she said, I agree with pretty much everything she says regarding Women’s Ministry. I have been thinking about the topic of Men’s ministry for a while and this gave me the push to proceed. So, nothing herein should be construed as a rebuttal to anything Natalie has said, but rather, I think of it as the other side to the same coin.

Why Men’s ministry is essential

I go to a really great church, known as The Meeting House. It does a lot of amazing things, but over my five or so years now, I have sensed a failing that is common to many (if not most) churches.

We are failing men (and woman and children and families).

We are failing them by not having sufficient focus on men’s ministry. Men’s ministry is not just a ministry to men, but by default it will be a ministry to women, to children, and to families.

The Meeting House is organized along the lines of Home Churches. These are groups of believers from both genders that come together in the tradition of the early church to worship, study God’s word and “do” life together. Overall, I think it’s a great model. With home churches dotted all around Southern Ontario (and beyond), we are making a great impact for the cause of the Kingdom.

There are areas however where this model starts to break down. We see this when we take a look at areas of specifically male or female concern. Be it, sexual addiction or overcoming the grief of a lost pregnancy. In these instances, the homoegenous model of home church simply does not provide a safe structure to address these issues.

To understand why, we must understand a few of the presuppositions that seem to undergird the Home Church model.

  • Church should happen organically at a grass roots level
  • While occassional “calls to action” are provided from the senior leadership around certain projects, the specifics of how those projects are carried out are left up to the individual Home Churches.
  • If members of a Home Church want to gather together separately, they are free to do so by organizing their own book study, etc outside the normal Home Church meeting time.

In general, I don’t have a problem with this approach or these presuppositions. The problem is that while woman are naturally relational and will seek out support from other women with certain “women-specific” issues, men… well, not so much.

I am referring to one class of problems in particular and that is Sexual Addiction. Whether it be internet pornography, the use of prostitutes, or having extramarital affairs, Sexual Addiction is destroying men from the inside out: and it’s taking families down with them.

There are many reasons one can cite as to why such addiction is on the rise, be it ease of availablity, confusion about gender roles, or general anxiety about life. Underlying them all however is a problem with lust. Suffice to say though this is a serious problem. Divorce lawyers report that sexual issues are now the #1 reason for a couple seeking divorce. It is separating husbands and wives and makes it harder for men to relate to woman.

Most of us are familiar with Matthew 5:28:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with
lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his
heart. (ESV)

At some point, we need to decide whether we can control our lust like Jesus said we should, or whether this is an impossible ideal that is for a future to come, not yet realized.

I believe it is the former, not the latter. We can and must deal with this problem. Sexual Addiction is not just a medical problem (though it is that), but it is also, as Jesus makes plain, a spiritual problem. The medical problem is
the domain of therapists, psychologists, or counsellors. The spiritual problem lands sqaure in the lap of the church and most churches are doing squat about it.

I once heard the results of a confidential survey of youth group members within a particular church: a significant portion of the youth were sexually active. I know committed Christians who know God designed sex for marriage, but are engaging in fornicaion anyway (see also this article from Relavant magazine).

Where is the church? Why don’t we explain to people why it’s wrong? I know, we shouldn’t have to, we should just give in to God’s commands. Well, we are a prideful people, so we need to be told why. It doesn’t take long and it’s not hard to understand, but it is not being preached with fervor and regularity.

We need to explain that the use of pornography or staring at a women’s breasts on the street, is tantamount to abuse of that woman and a SIN (we hate that word don’t we).

We need men’s ministry. We need a ministry that can focus men on learning what God expects of them. Strong men, make strong husbands, strong fathers and strong leaders in the community.

Do you know why many girls enter the sex trade (because surely they aren’t women yet)? A shitty home life. They are often abused by their fathers or other male family members. They are then lured into the sex trade where they are further abused by men. Even a stripper who may not be in physical contact with the men is being abused. She is being objectified and raped of her dignity every time someone watches her on stage or everytime someone rents a pornographic video.

I hear so few voices from the church speak out against this anymore that it makes me angry, sad and frustrated. I know there are men in my church suffering from this, but I have no idea who or where they are. I try and help some of them, but I find them by sheer happenstance.

One of strongest voices against sexual sin is the Roman Catholic Church. Their moral theology on this subject is unequivocal and loud. Recently, speaking in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI said that the abuse of women is “a critical problem which, due to materialistic and hedonistic tendencies, seems to be on the increase, above all in the Western world”. He further stated that “The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet.”

Without a focussed men’s ministry how does this happen?

Sexual addiction, fed by lust, messes with a man’s brain. It literally rewires it, just like any other addiction. This doesn’t make them bad people, but it does make them confused and messes them up. While in this state they will fail to become the man, father, husband, God is calling them to be.

In this way, men’s ministry is not just a ministry to men, but a ministry to women and children.

Society is asking “where are the men?” and the church’s answer is…..? While I wouldn’t want to see the end of a model that brings both genders together we need leadership from the top to make programs available that will help men break the cycle of addiction and become who God created them to be: leaders. A man who is consumed by lust cannot be a leader because he is so consumed by anger and self-hatred.

We need to preach about this more, we need to organize around this more and we need growth from both ends of the pyramid. We need men to stand up and be courageous and organize, but church leadership also needs to respond by preaching and providing organizational tools and structures to allow that to happen.

I pray that churches everywhere will stop failing their men (and women and children and families) and will respond with positive steps towards ridding the body of Christ of this horrible affliction.

I don’t pretend to know what form this should take, but I will continue to think about this and will post any future thoughts here.

The body of Christ is made up everyone who professes a faith in Christ and accepts his Lordship over their lives. We need both Godly men and women and it’s time we recognized that while we are both created in the image of God (Gen 1:26), we are different and as such need to come together as men or women as well men and women, in order to accomplish God’s will.

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