Second 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.
To my everlasting delight, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The huddle has become one of the most anticipated elements of our service, not only for our men, but for me as their leader. It gives me a chance to get very personal and very close to my men each week. I have the opportunity to look them in the eye and give them a sense of purpose and mission for the coming week.
We offered our first huddle at our Grand Opening Sunday September 25, 2005. I thought some of the guys would hang back and not participate. But I was wrong about that, too. With only one exception, EVERY man attending our services, regulars and guests alike, has come forward for the huddle. Here’s what happens:
We conclude our service with the offering. This gives people a chance to place response cards in the offering basket at the end of the service. We sing a closing song as the offering is being taken. When the song is done, we thank everyone for coming and dismiss the congregation. However, I ask for all the men to meet me off to the side for 2 minutes for our Men’s Huddle.
We gather in a circle, similar to a football team gathering around their quarterback. During this time, I will often share one special story or illustration that relates to the message of the day — something I have saved just for the men. In addition, I will often pass out a “touchstone” during the huddle. The touchstone is an object that the men can take with them to remind them of the message or the mission for the week.
At the end of this brief gathering, I ask all the men to place their hands in the middle while I say quick prayer of blessing and encouragement over them. Then on the count of three, we choose a word that is appropriate for the theme of the day/week, and say it together as we “break the huddle” to go run our play for the coming week.
Now, here’s the really exciting part – the drive home. Every week wives and children ask dad what happened in the huddle. So for a few minutes, a man who may have never had a spiritual conversation with his family in his life will be able to share with them insights and thoughts from the Huddle. We are helping men become spiritual leaders in their homes.
I simply cannot imagine our service without a huddle at the end. I believe it has the power to be a transformational moment in the lives of men in smaller congregations around the country.
Here are some of the touchstones we have passed out:
- Seed packets
- Box cutter knives
- Small pieces of sponge
- Fishing flys
- Golf tees
- Business cards (with scriptures/message points/sayings on them)
- A small spool of thread
Not every service will lend itself to a touchstone for the week. But when I look back at our services/messages, we have taken advantage of every opportunity to put something physical in the hands of our men. Is it worth five or ten bucks to drive the message home with our men? Absolutely!