What is more important than growing men in their relationships with the Lord? That is what Jesus spent nearly all of His time doing. God designed men to be spiritual leaders of their homes and communities. Equipping men to carry out those responsibilities effectively is the key to the Lord’s math for growing His Kingdom – multiplication, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only disciples multiply – both within their families and throughout their circles of influence.
Jesus poured Himself fully into a few men and changed the world. Jesus modeled how to take men down the path to Christian maturity. He cautioned men countless times to avoid the greatest impediments to maturity – their natural tendencies toward pride and self-centeredness.
Men lacking depth in their relationships with the Lord, with one foot in the world’s system, may add but will never multiply. They may occasionally invite a couple folks to church or do a service project, but those addition-based actions never produce exponential fruit.
The question is “Are churches today making disciples who multiply or churchgoers who add?” Are most men in your church a great deal like Christ or cultural “Christians” (as society currently perceives that word)? Is your church illuminating all the steps on the road to Christian maturity or presenting a more palatable version to men based on church attendance, volunteering and giving?
Does your church have a stronger women’s ministry than men’s ministry, resigned to the fact that women are generally more willing to fellowship and share their feelings? Is your church less focused on building a discipleship-oriented men’s ministry than an engaging youth ministry, strategically trying to grow the church by reaching parents through their children?
Let’s look at 7 ways that Jesus conducted his men’s ministry based on exponential multiplication and compare it to how many churches today rely on simple addition:
1. Educate + …
- Jesus worked as a carpenter, but His primary occupation was Teacher. Each day, He discipled a small class of 12 men and tutored them 1 on 1.
- Jesus often lectured large audiences in auditoriums on mountainsides and beachfronts, but reserved His deepest lessons and truths hidden from the masses for those 12 men within His inner circle, knowing that depth in a few would produce multiplication for the many.
- Few churches facilitate 1 on 1 discipleship among members.
- When pastors are asked how their church disciples, most cite optional and seasonal small groups (which are generally structured with more fellowship and less leadership than would be necessary for effective disciple-making).
- A weekly 30-minute sermon and small group meeting are not adequate education for men expected to be the embodiment of “Church” within their families and communities between Sundays.
2. Equip + …
- Jesus gave His disciples and other close followers not only the words to preach but also the power to heal as a means to open the ears of non-believers to hear the Gospel.
- Jesus understood how each man was moving down the discipleship path and personally addressed their needs for growth.
- Rather than providing intensive, personalized training necessary to answer tough questions, most pastors simply tell men to share their testimony and invite people to church to hear the Gospel from a “professional”.
- Few churches present men with tailored opportunities to bring hope, help and healing to families in need within their city.
- All churches have systems to track individual giving, but none keep records of individual growth or needs for advancement in their walks with Christ.
3. Engage + …
- Once equipped, Jesus sent all of His disciples into the mission field to live out prayer, care and share.
- Scripture lays out church-related responsibilities for all believers, but exempts no one from the Great Commission.
- Jesus, Paul and the disciples modeled equipping other men to disciple other men, leading to the exponential multiplication experienced by the early church.
- Church leaders generally engage men at a far lower level than is biblical, giving each a small church “chore” to do on a committee or as a greeter, usher, etc. Pastors are eager to commend men for those minor inconveniences, knowing those small tasks not only contribute toward building the institution but also allow men to feel good about themselves for having done something.
- Engaging men in discipleship is far more courageous, time-consuming and inconvenient than church “chores”, which require little or no training.
- Personalized discipleship entails proactively reaching out to men about taking the next step in their discipleship journey, but men’s ministries or sermons rarely present concrete next steps or clear paths to Christian maturity.
4. Events + …
- Jesus spoke frequently at gatherings, but they were not organized as events inviting people to come to a designated location. Instead, they were held spontaneously wherever He went, challenging men to follow Him.
- Men’s ministry fellowship and outreach events are only multiplicative if they serve as catalysts for year-round discipleship, evangelism and compassion activities by those in attendance.
- One-time (fellowship or outreach) events generally do more harm than good, typically intended to drive church loyalty or attendance and therefore not seen as genuinely relational, compassionate or impactful.
- The “Involve” components of today’s prevailing church growth strategy (Invite/Involve/Invest) consist of church “chores”, small groups and fellowship events. Each of those is strategically designed to be convenient, fun and “sticky” (keeping men coming back) but they do little to make disciples (the central function of any church).
5. Expect + …
- Jesus and His disciples are not on record as ever saying “come to a church service” – instead, Jesus said “follow Me”. That’s an expectation of surrender, a willingness to sell all one owns and give to the poor if asked by the Lord – which the rich young ruler found far too demanding.
- Many pastors fear men will choose possessions over God if presented with the challenge to truly surrender, so they settle for asking them to attend, volunteer, share their testimonies and extend invitations to a church service. Any further expectations (e.g. for discipleship training or making disciples) could drive men and their families to a less demanding church down the road.
6. Empower + …
- Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, through whom God works in us and through us His plans to exponentially expand His Kingdom. The power of the Holy Spirit is released when we surrender and abide in the Father, stepping outside of our comfort zones to make disciples but trusting Him to bear the fruit.
- All believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit but those not following the Great Commission mandate, abdicating that role to trained pastors and missionaries quench the Holy Spirit and the multiplicative power of the Lord’s math.
- Jesus modeled multiplication that works from the Inside-Out through disciples with tremendous depth. Rather than a church-centric model that seeks to convert “crowd to core” through fun events, “core to crowd” builds a solid base of disciples who each invest in making a couple more disciples, eventually reaching the “crowd” through exponential multiplication.
- Men’s ministries should include a biblical, strategic framework for leading men into a closer relationship with Jesus. Each activity, role, group and event should contribute intentionally to moving men to down that discipleship path. For example, a “26.2” structure can reflect that growing in Christ is more like a marathon than a sprint – with a plan built around each “mile”.
- Outside-In strategies around promotional events may grow a church (little “c”) but do not promote multiplicative disciple-making (the Church, big “C”).
- Believers are the heart and definition of church (“assembly of called out ones”), but “crowd to core” strategies revolve around attracting non-believers into a church building rather than producing and sending disciples out.
It’s Your Turn
Are you leading or attending an addition church or a multiplication church?