Men often ask us questions like, “How can I get involved? Is there a right path I can follow to reach men? How can Man in the Mirror help me reach men?”
The following story, based on actual events, answers these questions in a case study. Hopefully, the story will spark some ideas about how we can help each other do something great for God.
The mission of our high quality staff is to increase the competence and results of leaders who, while passionate about the battle for men’s souls, also realize they must be equally committed to implementing a systematic approach to disciple men.
A father called his 33 year old son, Kevin, one day and said, “I’m sending you a book. It has revolutionized my life.” Since his dad didn’t usually talk like that, it caught Kevin’s attention.
Kevin read the book, and realized just how far he had wandered from his faith in Christ. Several times he had to put the book down, so strong was the conviction of sin he felt. He realized he had neglected his wife and children. He realized that he had made idols of work and money. He realized he was blaming everyone else for his unhappiness, instead of taking responsibility. He repented.
Kevin found his way to the www.maninthemirror.org website where he discovered the weekly Man in the Mirror Bible Study webcasts. He started watching the videos in his office. One day he turned around to make a comment, and realized no one was there.
He thought, This is crazy! I should get together a group of guys, and we should discuss these topics. He started inviting co-workers to join him in his office on Tuesday mornings, and soon was filled to capacity with six men. He printed out copies of the discussion questions from the website, and they began talking about what it means to be a man of God.
One of the messages encouraged men to pray with their wives. Kevin asked during the discussion time, “How many of you pray with your wives?” Only one man did. Kevin challenged the men to start praying with their wives, and hold each other accountable for it. All the men wanted to live more Godly lives, so they leaped at the opportunity to increase their spiritual intimacy with their wives.
Soon, other men wanted into the Bible Study, but Kevin’s office was full so he started a second group on Saturday mornings. Eventually, one of the men from the Tuesday group and another man from the Saturday group spun off and started groups of their own. Now they are up to four groups.
Kevin felt a growing passion to reach men for Christ. He discovered that he could order books by the case from Man in the Mirror, 48 books for much less than $2 each. He took an idea to his pastor, “If I pay for them, can we give every man in our church a book on how to become a more Godly man, husband, and father?” His pastor’s heart leaped—he had been praying about how to get his men more involved in discipleship. Kevin ordered enough books so each man could receive one.
Kevin virtually camped out on the Man in the Mirror website for several months, reading “A Look in the Mirror” articles about how to disciple men, have a deeper walk with Christ, and how to grapple with practical issues. He appreciated the “New in the Last 7 Days” section, because there was always a fresh article, success story, Bible study, or radio broadcast available. That was just what he needed! Plus he found case studies of churches who were “getting it done.”
He found the website to be content rich. There were over 500 practical, free resources available to help him be a more effective, systematic leader. He was surprised to learn that Man in the Mirror had worked with over 15,000 leaders last year.
Through the bookstore Kevin found enough curricula for ten years of small group studies. And Man in the Mirror was adding two, three, and sometimes four new resources every week! He was able to find a resource for virtually any topic he could think of—like Biblical Manhood, Personalizing the Great Commission, and the Twelve Tasks of an Effective Father. And the resources came in audio, video, workbooks, short studies, books to study, CDs, DVDs, and even audio tapes! Special Tool Kits were available for Moral Purity, and Marriage and Family. The “Drive Time 18” series were tailored for men in their cars. The topics ranged from Drive-Time Dads to Drive-Time Husbands to Drive-Time Spiritual Disciplines. He even ordered a Man in the Mirror hat!
When the books for $1 arrived, Kevin noticed a Discussion Leader’s Guide in the back of the book. Kevin asked his pastor if the pastor could teach a men’s Sunday School class following the Guide in the back of The Man in the Mirror. His pastor was enthusiastic that Kevin was stepping up and, instead, urged Kevin to lead the group. Kevin felt inadequate, but his passion prevailed and he said, “Yes.” Kevin put an announcement in the bulletin. His pastor encouraged him to augment the bulletin bullet with a two-minute announcement from the pulpit one Sunday morning.
The church had tried several men’s classes in the past. Usually about 30 men would start, and the study would steadily dwindle down to three or four men by the end of the class. So Kevin was pleasantly surprised when 40 men turned out for the first session. They simply discussed one chapter each week. The men were encouraged to read the chapter before coming to class. The discussions were robust and cut to the heart of practical issues men grapple with every day. It was “news they could use.” At the end of the book study most of the men were still attending.
Several wives of men who were in these groups began stopping Kevin’s wife, Stephanie, in the church halls or grocery store aisles to ask her, “What in the world is your husband saying in those classes? It seems like I have a new husband and our children have a different father!” She replied, “I have a new husband too. I think all they are doing is asking the questions in the book.”
Kevin realized his ministry had found a vacuum, and men rushed in to fill it. He quickly began to feel like he was in over his head. He knew he felt called by God, he knew the need was great, he knew men responded to him, but he also felt ill-prepared. About that time Kevin had signed up to receive all of the Man in the Mirror emails at http://www.maninthemirror.org/articles-home/newsletters. One of those emails, The Weekly Briefing, began to encourage and inspire him that (a) he was not alone, (b) the problems he was encountering were normal, and (c) there was help and hope for him.
One of the Weekly Emails from Man in the Mirror was an article, "The Case for a Men's Discipleship Program." The article talked about the concept of "all-inclusive men's ministry." It made the point that if you have 100 men in your church, then the size of your men's ministry is 100 men. That idea rocked his world and changed the way he thought about his mission—and his own level of competence.
The emails only made Kevin feel even more under-prepared to lead the men of his church into discipleship. The deeper into it he went, the more it felt like a spiritual battle. He didn't know what to do next. One day a Weekly Email headline caught his eye: "Feel like your men's ministry is stuck in the minor leagues?"
That about sums it up for me, he thought. The email went on to encourage him to consider taking some training.
Meanwhile Harold, who lives in the same state as Kevin, had stumbled onto Man in the Mirror's Leadership Training Center ("LTC") and attended a two and one-half day training in Orlando called, "No Man Left Behind Conference." Harold caught the vision for engaging every man in his state with a credible offer of Christ and the resources to grow. A few months later he hosted a regional men's ministry training workshop taught by Man in the Mirror faculty. Kevin heard about it, and attended. It was there that Kevin learned the principles of creating, capturing, and sustaining momentum in a church-based ministry to men. He quickly realized that passion without a systematic plan was a formula for failure. He took advantage of all the leadership training he could get. He went home and invited five men to work through No Man Left Behind ("NMLB"), our newest resource to help build and sustain a thriving ministry to men. Four of the men finished NMLB, and agreed to become Kevin's Leadership Team.
Once Kevin had finished teaching the men's Sunday School class, things tapered off. That was about the time he learned through the LTC leadership training that he periodically needed to create new momentum, then capture and sustain that momentum. When he heard that his church could sponsor a men's seminar that would also jump start a small group ministry, he instantly knew that was their next step. He learned the seminar could be taught by a Man in the Mirror faculty, or through a "You Teach It" format. He talked this over with his pastor and Leadership Team who loved the idea, and they decided—at least for the first one—to bring in an outside faculty person.
God really showed up at the seminar, which was held on a Friday night and Saturday morning. At the closing session, three men prayed to receive Christ for the very first time and 42% of the men confessed that they had not been walking with the Lord and rededicated themselves to become biblical Christians.
Even more astounding to Kevin, 66% of the men signed up for the six-week follow up small groups. And 72% of the men who had never been in a small group before signed up!
After a couple of years, Kevin could see that getting men into small groups was the one thing that seemed to have more impact on men's lives than anything else. It was in small groups that men studied the Bible and discussed books. But that was also the place where they built open, honest relationships with other men. In time, those men learned to love and trust each other, and the sharing became authentic.
Meanwhile, as Kevin honored God, God took care of Kevin. In fact, although many leaders find their circumstances get more difficult when they lead men, Kevin's business flourished during this period. By now Kevin had developed a real bond with Man in the Mirror. One day he received a postcard that asked if he would be willing to take a call from a Man in the Mirror staff person to talk about becoming a monthly donor. He enjoyed the called—the caller prayed with him about his ministry—and after talking and praying about it with his wife, they became monthly donors. It brought him satisfaction to think that he was making it possible for Man in the Mirror to surface other men just like him who would become leaders and reach their churches and peers like he was reaching his.
Kevin heard about Man in the Mirror's online community offering email coaching, a place to find and share ministry resources, and connect him with other men like him from around the nation and world—disciplemen.com.
As part of the Man in the Mirror Leadership Community, Kevin will be able to preview, download, and rate the best practices of other men's leaders. For example, if he wanted to do a Wild Beast Feast he could download all the "how to's" about where to buy meat, find a speaker, graphics packages, and event logistics. That would save 50 hours of labor or more!
Kevin was pleased to learn that disciplemen.com includes a national members directory of men's leaders like him. So, for example, if he witnessed to a man on a plane headed home to Phoenix, he would be able to hop onto the website and connect the man with someone in Phoenix committed to reaching men.
In the best practices & resources section of disciplemen.com, Kevin is able to preview, download, and rate the best practices of other men's leaders. For example, if he wants to do a Wild Beast Feast he could download all the "how-to's" about where to buy meat, find a speaker, graphics packages, and event logistics. That would save 50 hours of labor or more!
Kevin felt relief that, as a member of the disciplemen.com, he has access to a database of top men’s discipleship resources. He doesn’t have to struggle anymore to find out if a resource is respected or not. And, along with other leaders in the community, his votes determine the ratings and, if he wants, he can write a review (like amazon.com!).
In addition to the members directory and best practices & resources, there are how-to’s (email courses) Kevin and his group members can register for to augment their discipleship and leadership skills.
Kevin has come a long way in a short while. He realizes that having a ministry partner to train, encourage, and resource him is vital. You too can have a ministry like Kevin's. Of course, you will design it to suit your personality, style, and situation—no two men's ministries look exactly alike.
On the other hand, all effective men's ministries do look alike in certain respects. One key indicator of your success will be to know when you can stamp your ministry with your own ideas versus when you need to stick with the "system."
Man in the Mirror can help you stay on the right path. We encourage you to explore our website. Call us. Get training. Use our free resources. Purchase the resources you need to disciple your men. This is a battle that, together, we can win. We must not, we cannot and, by God's grace, we will not fail.