Man AlonePop Quiz: What are the “Big Four” spiritual disciplines you hear about in church today?

Answer: Read your Bible. Pray. Give. Go to church.

They’re the keys to spiritual growth, according to our pastors. So why aren’t men doing them?

Barna Research found that women outperform men in each of the Big Four. Most committed Christian men, if they are honest, will admit they are irregular in their practice of the Big Four – if they do them at all.

While the Big Four disciplines are helpful and necessary – they have a dark side. They tend to isolate men, like this: Read your Bible (alone). Pray (alone). Give (in secret). And go to church (alone in a crowd).

Week after week, pastors give men advice that contributes to their isolation. After a while, men see Christianity as a God-and-me thing. Faith is something I do by myself, in private.

Once a man thinks this way, he’s easy prey. Sin, self-righteousness and self-deception often follow. A man who practices his faith alone is like a baseball pitcher without any fielders behind him. He is under enormous pressure to be perfect. If he makes the slightest mistake his opponent will score easily.

I’m going to step out on a limb. I believe the most important spiritual discipline for today’s men is fellowship. Modern men are extremely isolated. Lonely. Even churchgoing men.

Ask any men’s ministry expert: the guys who stay close to God are those who stay truly close to a few other men. Meanwhile, the men who blow up their lives are those who serve Jesus alone.

I’m not speaking against the Big Four – but it’s imperative that fellowship be the foundation of a man’s devotional life. Spending lots of time in prayer and Bible study does not necessarily lead to spiritual health (otherwise Jesus would have chosen Pharisees for his inner circle.)

Before Jesus taught his men, he organized them into teams. That’s the idea behind Men’s League, a men’s ministry model I’m going to be developing over the next couple years. Men’s League emphasizes team growth rather than individual devotion. To learn more about this ongoing project, visit www.mensleague.org.