The wild game hunting trip, the sports camp, the trip to see the big game, the retreat entitled “God Is Our Coach, and He Wants Us in the Game.”
What do all the above have in common? They are all men’s ministry activities I have seen in church bulletins or on websites. And on the surface, they seem like the perfect male bonding experiences for the Christian man. Add some prayer time and a Bible study, and you have the perfect recipe. If you listen closely, you can almost hear Tim the Tool Man grunting in the background…
Here’s the thing: there isn’t anything inherently wrong with fried wild turkey or first downs or push-up challenges. It’s just that using these hooks exclusively leaves out a significant portion of good Christian men, and it sends a clear message:
You’re not manly/a real man
Let’s take a look at Jesus for a moment. Jesus never played sports. As far as I know, he wasn’t a big game hunter. He didn’t ride a Harley. I’m pretty sure he never went to Hooter’s. The men He called were not all burly macho guys. Heck, one of the people he took a special trip to see was a tiny slip of a man, a tax accountant who had to climb a tree to see Him.
In the last 3 decades, men’s ministries have been growing though. There are retreats, meetings, Bible study books, video series, and all sorts of resources out there. And many of them are awesome.
True, he was a carpenter. But let’s be truthful, most really good carpenters are artists. My brother-in-law runs a cabinet shop, and one of the only words I can think of to describe what he builds is beautiful. We’re talking intricate. Not some ham-fisted chopping with a rusty ax.
Women have been doing “Ladies Ministry” longer than men. In fact, men were kind of neglected for a lot of years. In the last 3 decades, men’s ministries have been growing though. There are retreats, meetings, Bible study books, video series, and all sorts of resources out there. And many of them are awesome. My husband is in a class right now where an amazing book is being discussed.
But I’ve never seen a men’s ministry event or study centered around cooking (that isn’t grilling), music, art, or computer programming.
Why is that? And does it matter?
I think it does. Try to understand, that man in your church who plays piano in his spare time, never played basketball, and loves Star Trek? He probably got a lot of flak growing up for not being “masculine.” He probably got teased by the jocks. Maybe his dad argued with his mom about the piano lessons; he didn’t want his boy growing up a “sissy.” He commits his life to Christ, becomes a part of a local church, and the only men’s options for him are full of football references, Wrestlemania, and 10-point bucks?
The message may not be intentional, but it’s there: even God doesn’t think an artistic, musical, nerdy, creative man is actually a man. So the Star Trek fan still goes to services with his wife, and he might go to Sunday School, but he doesn’t go to the cookouts or the trip to hear former NFL star fill-in-the-blank speak because he feels out of place. And even worse, hardly anyone notices he isn't there. If they do? They probably deduce he just isn’t really committed to the Lord.
We need to do better. To start, here is a list of reminders:
- There is nothing effeminate about cooking that isn’t grilling
- There is nothing effeminate about painting, drawing, sewing, or knitting
- There is nothing effeminate about being more excited for the latest iteration of Fallout than the Final Four
- There is nothing effeminate about choosing to play clarinet in the band instead of trying out for the football team
- There is nothing effeminate about theater
- There is nothing effeminate about holding your wife’s purse. No, there’s not. Stop it.
The Great Commission says to go into all the world and make disciples of all people. That includes the guy who not only doesn’t understand your flag on the play reference to sin, he doesn’t care. If I sound harsh it’s because someone I loved for many years felt rejected by the typical men’s groups and the typical men. I also have a son who hated T — ball but was coding at the age of ten. And I have a precious stepson who isn’t going to play for the Lakers, but he can sing and beatbox and draw amazing pictures.
The men I loved and love deserve ministry they can relate to. And guess what? One of the most macho football players in my youth group also played piano and painted. My manly, fishing, drag race loving godly husband sketches beautifully and isn’t afraid to cry.
Let’s be like Jesus to all the men in our pews, not just the sportsmen. Yes, sportsmen are wonderful, but they are not the only people God uses. They are not the only godly leaders of the home. In fact, as we become more and more diverse, there will be more and more men who would rather enjoy a Star Wars Trilogy Marathon with Luke and Vader themed lessons than someone telling them to keep their eye on the ball.
It’s time to step up, and may the force (the real one, Jesus) be with you.