Go Make Disciples Of Your Men



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Cultivate a Relationship Process

Many ministries start with a great idea and then disintegrate for lack of one major factor; they did not cultivate deeper relationships. Relationships are the backbone of men’s ministry. Men are prone to develop elaborate programs around spectacular events yet fail to touch others in a way that makes a lasting impact. If a church wants to see men truly change, it needs to ensure they are growing deeper in a love relationship with God and continually developing brotherhood with other men (Matthew 22:37-40).


Grow in Your Love for God

A vibrant relationship with God is the first priority for a healthy men’s ministry. In order to have a vibrant relationship with God, two elements must be in place. One is spending time in His Word and the other is spending time in His presence. They go hand in hand.


Quiet time and prayer have worked for centuries to facilitate growth in a godly man’s relationship with God. Mature disciples want to know God. They make spending time in the Word and prayer a priority. Men who neglect this will spiritually dry up. Faithful men spend time in God’s Word and cultivate a sense of His presence, thereby growing in the true knowledge of Christ. Men who grow in the true knowledge of Christ produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Establish an Environment for Men to Grow

Men tend to flourish when they exist in a setting that is conducive to masculinity. Ministry to men seeks to stimulate growth by applying four key principles:




  • Maintain a male-friendly environment

  • Create opportunities for men to interact with other men

  • Teach practical Bible lessons for application

  • Provide real-world solutions to male oriented problems

Develop Relationships with Other Men




Strengthening Team Relationships

Many ministries start with a great idea and then disintegrate for lack of one major factor; they did not cultivate deeper relationships. Relationships are the backbone of men’s ministry. Men are prone to develop elaborate programs around spectacular events yet fail to touch others in a way that makes a lasting impact. If a church wants to see men truly change, it needs to ensure they are growing deeper in a love relationship with God and continually developing brotherhood with other men (Matthew 22:37-40).


Every man has relationships within his sphere of influence. All relationships have a start and an end. Some men know each other for years; some know each other for only a minute or two. Most men go through a similar process as they experience life together. There are four levels to this process: acquaintances, friends, brothers, and Jonathans. Between each stage, men tend to experience problems. Problems act as a filter restricting men from the next stage in the relationship development. Each stage is described below. Figure 9 is a simple diagram that illustrates each stage and the primary filters between each level of friendship.


Figure 1 - Relationship Funnel

Acquaintances

Acquaintances are people we meet in our day-to-day lives but with whom we have not developed an intimate friendship. We have occasional interaction with these people. Familiarity is the result of continued acquaintance which develops as people spend increasing amounts of time with one another. For some of us, it is easy to accept people at this stage because we do not know their personal lives. Everything we experience together is on a surface level. A men’s ministry team works at meeting men and accepting them for who they are. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God.”


Men tend to develop acquaintances by spending time together on an activity where there is common interest. Communication is on the surface level and often filled with cliché speech. Individuals tend to focus on their own purposes for attending events and keep things about themselves somewhat confidential.
As men grow in their experience and knowledge of one another, they eventually encounter friction in the relationship. Friction can be good and bad. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Friction tests all relationships. Men either come through this experience as friends, or the relationship stalls.
Friction can take many forms. A few examples are habits, styles, manners, behaviors, pride, and envy. All men experience friction with others. How they work through the friction determines if their relationship progresses to the level of friendship. Intimacy is the result of close connection. Continued intimacy goes beyond the friction and into an established friendship. Keep in mind Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Friends

Friends are people you know well and regard with affection and trust. Friendships are developed by spending time together, taking an interest in the other person, and encouraging one another. First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Communication is at the level of ideas, dreams, and goals. Time together is spent discussing skills, resolving frictions, and addressing conflicts.


True friends will eventually see things that require tough love. Risk is involved at this point. Men either respect their friends for addressing the issue, or they become angry and withdrawn. Proverbs 9:8-9 tells us, “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” Giving reproof, rebuke, and correction in a spirit of love takes discipline and prayer. It is a critical factor in moving the relationship from being a friend to a true brother in Christ.

Brothers


Brothers are men who have the same parents. Men enter into God’s family as brothers in Christ. All true children of God are members of God’s family. Like members of family, brothers are to support, defend, and help one another. Brotherhood is formed as men develop close relationships. These are the kind of brothers the diagram is referring to. To become part of a band of brothers requires successful passage through the first two stages of building relationships.
A band of brothers is three or more men who share a common vision, mission, and purpose. In the pursuit of achieving their mission, they grow in close interpersonal relationships as brothers. Men allow other men to hold them accountable in the battles of life. Communication flows on a level of strengths and weaknesses. Time is spent together doing things like building a ministry team, worshipping together, and holding one another accountable. Paul describes this type of relationship in his letter to the church at Colosse, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). Men who labor together in ministry are more apt to develop into band of brothers. And, a band of brothers who persevere in ministry are more apt to grow into mature disciples. Disciples are men who obey Christ’s teachings and are committed to helping others grow in the true knowledge of Christ. This level is one of the most difficult to develop.
Men who are living a life of true discipleship love one another (John 13:34-35). They are men who want to be used by God and strive to see their relationships develop in a godly manner. Men become disciples by learning more about God and His Word and applying Scripture to their everyday lives. Communication is at a level of speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Men who are disciples sacrifice for one another as they work together to build up the body of Christ. They know how to function on God’s team and demonstrate love to one another like Christ demonstrated love to twelve men on His team.

Jonathans


Proverbs gives us a couple of great verses on deeper male relationships. Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jonathans are men who are of one heart and soul, as Jonathan and David, and as were the first men on Christ’s team. The men on Christ’s team lived and labored in close union although they did not start out that way.
To be able to move to the level of being a true Jonathan, every godly man must learn what it means to be broken and die to self. Then He said to them all, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Just before ascending to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father Jesus drove home the depth of His relationship with Peter (John 21:15-19). Three times He asks Peter if he loves him. At the end of this discourse Christ says, “Follow Me.”
The friends funnel process takes time, perseverance, availability, and desire. With all the demands in life for men, this makes reaching the end process all the more important. It takes a team with heart, vision, and knowledge to produce godly disciples who are willing to lay down their lives for their friends.

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