In his book titled, The Ten Dumbest Things Christians Do, Pastor Mark Atteberry presents the case that as Christians, we sure can find ourselves involved in the dumbest activity which hurts people and lessens the impact of the true Gospel.
After training over 600+ male mentors nationwide with Guys For Life reaching men in unplanned pregnancy [video examples] I've come to discover some of the dumbest things we do - when trying to reach and love men. Using the master list from Mark's book, I'll share with you what I see and with next weeks article present you the hope we have to turn it around.
Here's Mark's list and my observations:
#1 Sling mud on the Bride of Christ - Guys love to create. As guys building a ministry together sometimes the team idea gets ignored. When things don't go according to some men's expectations they begin to sling mud on the bride of Christ with their negative comments, gossip and unwholesome talk. Simply put, if you're talking negative, you're deceived and slinging mud on the bride of Christ.
#2 Win people to the church vs. to Christ - It's a little different with men's ministry. Rather than win people over to the church many times I see men win men over to themselves instead of to Christ. In the desire to serve guys, sometimes in our need for affirmation as men, we try to win men over to ourselves. Not good. Winning a man over to yourself will eventually fail as we are all fallen. We can not escape the fact that we we're going to fail people. Christ never fails.
#3 Living below our level of beliefs - A real men's ministry killer is the fact that as Christian men today we live far below the level of our beliefs. That is, Christ can do it - but I can't. Sure, you can't change water into wine - however - you can get up off your rump and shake a guys hand, look him in the eye and say "Hello".
#4 Speaking above the level of our knowledge - Ouch, Mark hits another nerve with his book. This one's a biggie. Most guys coming forward to be served in ministry or joining a men's ministry are skeptical. They have a lot of competence, but their willingness to address any situation is low. As such, being a Christian man in men's ministry when you speak above the level of your knowledge, trust me, the skeptical man is going to discover your wrongs and hold it against you. Don't give him that negative leverage.
#5 Hopping from church to church - A key struggle amongst churches is 'Church Hopping' however with men's ministry it's 'Ministry Hopping'. Men sometimes have short attention spans and we get impatient when we don't see the writing on the wall, understand what's required of us or see a detailed support plan and structure. As a result of being impatient we 'hop' to another ministry and repeat the cycle.
#6 Fighting among ourselves - Many men like to call this "Intense Fellowship" where we raise our voices without really yelling and dig in our heels to stand our ground. We're men right? As such we're to be mighty warriors for the king, you know swords and shields and all that jazz. Fact is many of us men 'cover' our sin this way and are really in the core of our hearts fighting one another with our weapons of PRIDE.
#7 Missing Golden Opportunities - working with thousands of men over the years who have made bad decisions, only to reflect on them later, I've never heard one guy say, "You know Kurt, I think I'm gonna start my day making bad decisions and go to bed with a load of regret." No matter how 'busy' you think you are, you're not. You're simply overcommitted to enjoy a golden opportunity like loving another person. Chew on that.
#8 Settling for mediocrity - I remember reading somewhere in the pages of my bible to do everything excellently. However, as men involved in men's ministry we really do settle for mediocrity a good many times. As a result of 'feeling' to busy, majorly distracted and wanting to be part of something we spread ourselves thin with commitments and we settle for mediocrity with each commitment we extend ourselves with. Quantity never equals quality.
#9 Allowing wolves to live among the sheep - We know that if left alone with a wolf, it could kill us. In men's ministry the wolf sometimes is the man who is cynical, a never ending critic, gossip and even a down and out liar. Yet, because of our fear, we keep the guy in our ranks for various reasons [money, influence, power, etc.] and we succumb to the power of his eyes and fangs. Leaving this man in our ranks will lead to death - spiritual death.
#10 Accepting the unacceptable - Finally, the big one, accepting the unacceptable. The area in which the enemy of God has a 'hay-day' with men's hearts and minds. Wanting to be a man after God's own heart in men's ministry sometimes get's things get tangled up when we see another brother in absolute sin. We love the guy, we want to be there for him and with an unbalanced view of our own sin [greater or less than his] we think to ourselves, "I can't confront that guy, I've got my own sin problems. Who am I to talk?" So we accept his sin, maybe even our own and we diminish the power of the Gospel.
In closing, before revealing the antidote to these ten problems, marinate on this:
As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:36-39 (NIV)
Till next week.