aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Some thoughts on Men's ministry

I'm talking to some of the men at my church about what sort of Men's ministry they want/need/would participate in. We're in a time of transition. This made me think about some essentials for any Men's group.

He fills the hungry with good things.

The one thing you hear a lot in discussions of Men's groups is, "We don't want to have just a meet-and-eat group. We need something real to do, or it's not worth showing up for." Well, yes. But I'd still start with food. Food matters.

From the earliest beginnings of society, men have gathered around the dinner table. Being messmates is a fundamental sort of relationship for guys. Ancient Spartans took their meals together in groups. So did the comitatus -- the king's companions -- in ancient Germanic tribes. Sitting Bull belonged to several dining groups in Lakota society, including the Silent Eaters. As G.K. Chesterton put it, prehistoric man may not have wielded a club, but he certainly belonged to one.

Sometimes, a meal at the church can be the basis of our meeting. Sometimes, we can get together at a restaurant. Or someone's home. And not every meeting has to have food in it, but we shouldn't try to get all "efficient," and forego the pleasures of elbows on the table. That's when relationships get built.

Man does not live by bread alone.

This doesn't mean that we have to eat every time we get together, but still, eating together is important. The reason isn't the food, though, it's the talk. Man Talk. Men talk about important stuff. Of course, the important stuff is mixed in with lots of other stuff -- stories, brags, bawdy, whatnot. Men talk around the table. They reveal, they share, they pay honor to each other.

Of course, just jackin' yer jaws isn't necessarily edifying, however fun it might be. As a Christian group -- as a group of Christian men -- our talk should be "seasoned with salt." It should be focused on our relationship with Christ, on what it means to be a Man in Christ, on spiritual growth.

Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.

As important as Man Talk is, it's also important that Boys have a chance to take part from time to time. Boys learn how to be Men by being with men, by hearing what they talk about and watching how they act. Boys learn about how to follow Christ by being with men who are serious about following Christ. So, we need to plan activities that boys can take part in, too.

No doubt there are some activities that boys should not be encouraged to take part in. There are adult tasks that boys can't participate in without hobbling the group. And there are adult conversations that boys probably shouldn't take part in: Not because they would fry the boys' ears, but because they might inhibit the adults' participation. But however that might be, I would submit that there are fewer occasions for excluding boys than you might think. Most of our Men's group activities should be open to boys coming with the men in their lives.

You give them something to eat

Food is important, but Men don't just gather to eat. Feeding others is important to men. In so-called primitive societies, we see the traditional practice that women feed their families, but men (when they cook) feed the community. Whether it's a neighborhood barbecue or a church dinner or a ministry that feeds the hungry, Men need to cook for others. (In traditional societies, this is probably the only time that men cook.)

Church Men's groups should develop at least one activity a year in which the men (and boys) cook together. It could be a fundraiser, a Mother-Daughter banquet, a grill-off, a ministry that feeds the homeless, or a recognition banquet. Planning it together and accomplishing it as a team will build the group up, in addition to whatever other good purpose it serves.

I'll return to this train of thought later, but this will serve to get started.

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