The Men’s Huddle

Men's HuddleSecond Chance Church in Peoria, Illinois, a church that publicly and unashamedly targets men, is growing. Pastor Mark Doebler concludes his worship services with something he calls The Men’s Huddle. At the end every service, “Coach Mark” calls the men forward for that week’s game plan. Here’s what Coach Mark has to say about the huddle:

“I must be honest…there are times that you have an idea and you know immediately in your heart that you just have to run with it.  The huddle was not one of those ideas!  I had a strong suspicion that it might just come off as cheesy, or hokey….I don’t care for either.  But, in the spirit of an entrepreneur, I decided to give it a try.

Women’s Ministry for Men

Women’s and children’s ministries flourish in practically every U.S. congregation, but few churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry. For example, there are 35,000 United Methodist congregations in the U.S.  but only 6,000 offer a chapter of the United Methodist Men’s Organization.

Furthermore, most attempts to start a men’s ministry end in failure. Why is this?  Here’s an example of a typical men’s small group. See if you can figure out why it’s not growing:

Tony went to men’s small group at his church—once. First, the men sat in a circle and sang praise songs for about ten minutes. Tony was asked to introduce himself and share about his life. Next, he was paired with a stranger and asked to share one of his deepest fears. Then, everyone was asked to share a prayer need or a praise report. The men read from the Bible, taking turns around the circle. Finally, the men stood in a circle and held hands for what seemed like hours, while one by one they bared their souls to God. One man was quietly weeping. The guy next to Tony prayed for ten minutes straight, and his palms were sweaty. Once the meeting was over, Tony didn’t stay for cookies. He hasn’t been back.

Men’s ministry so often falters for this simple reason: it’s actually women’s ministry for men. When Christian men gather, they’re expected to relate like women and to enjoy the things women enjoy.

Meeting the Needs of Fatherless Men

Gang tagPolice in Los Angeles are battling an upsurge in gang activity. Officer Frank Flores of the LAPD estimates that more than 200,000 gang members call Los Angeles home. Jose is typical:

Jose came from a broken family and joined [a gang] when he was 13. He was arrested three times, the last time at age 19 for killing a homeless man with other gang members and stealing 26 dollars he was carrying.

Jose recently left prison and is trying to reform his life by working for Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles group that provides jobs to former convicts. “I want to change, I want to change,” he says. Then he goes silent. Without his gang Jose seems lost.

Why is Jose so drawn to his gang? “A gang gives you something that nothing in the world or no amount of money can give you: a family, an acceptance,” he said.

The church can learn a lot from gangs. Men join gangs for one reason: they want a father figure. Many troubled men grew up without strong male role models. But these men do not turn to church because the congregations they’ve attended are predominantly female, and the spirit of the place feels so warm, nurturing and gentle. Men need a masculine path to Christ. Young men crave a wilder, more demanding faith, and don’t mind the spur of discipline when it’s administered in love.