I’d like to begin with a quote from Tim Keller as he talks about church plants:
“New churches best reach the unchurched–period. Dozens of denominational studies have confirmed that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. This means that the average new congregation will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.”
Why do you think that is?
I have watched several church plants around Spokane as they work toward their “launch”. Do you know what they do in preparation for launch? They do outreach. All kinds of outreach. They go out – they work in neighborhoods, they go serve the hungry/poor/homeless. These people are all part of something new and exciting. And they are excited about sharing Christ! After their launch, they continue to aggressively do outreach.
In ministering through outreach with their small band of believers, they begin touching and reaching the unbelieving or non-churchgoing folks in our community. And in doing so, they begin to grow their church. It seems the conventional wisdom is: to grow a new church plant, do outreach.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
We are in the wilderness in Spokane, we are in the desert. If we start down this path of creating men’s ministry, I believe God will make a way forward. He will go before us.
I grew up in a Roman Catholic home, and I didn’t do any more in church as a kid other than attend mass. As I got older, I was able to convince my parents to allow me to attend Northwest Christian School for high school instead of Gonzaga Prep. But in my negotiations with Dad, I had agreed to continue to attend Mass on Sundays. So I never got a traditional/protestant Sunday School education as a kid.
We became adults, we married, we had kids of our own. We attended church regularly, yet I was still not serving in church. As a matter of fact, even though I was being taught sound doctrine, I still was not able to easily articulate why I believed what I believed.
Then came Promise Keepers. My wife pressed me to go with a couple of other friends to the PK in Seattle in the mid-90s. (Like many of you, the Holy Spirit speaks to me with a voice that sounds an awful lot like my wife.)
Around that same time my wife and I also attended a Family Life Marriage Conference.
Between those two events, I felt the call of God on my life as a husband and a father to begin to intentionally pastor my family. We began to have family devotion time, I started being more intentional about praying with my kids and reading my Bible.
After a while, like a lot of guys around that time, I felt God saying: You need to get together with other men to worship, pray for each other, and study God’s word. Our church at that time had a men’s event about every quarter where we would gather to hear a special speaker that they brought in. And that was good. But it wasn’t consistent or sustainable because it was completely reliant upon the senior pastor to get it organized and scheduled.
Was it good and was it worthwhile? Absolutely! The Word of God does not return void right? It absolutely had an impact on my life. And the men’s ministry events each of you have done have impacted somebody. You have been building a foundation – whether you were using small bricks or large bricks.
One September following these events, my wife had begun to volunteer in our church’s AWANA program. And she sort of did the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear – “you should think about volunteering.” I began to serve in my church as a direct result of those ministries – Promise Keepers and the Family Life Marriage Conference.
When I became the director of GSAE in May, one of the first things I did was to survey senior pastors about what we need in Spokane. One of the things that rose to the top was a need for help with men’s ministry. Specifically, a city-wide men’s ministry event was named as something pastors wanted to see accomplished.
Men’s Ministry Catalyst is one of the largest men’s ministry organizations in the country. Their ministry comes alongside churches to partner with them on creating or enhancing men’s ministry in that congregation. We have asked them to come alongside the greater Spokane metro area to help us with men’s ministry.
In Acts chapter 15 it says:
And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”
( Acts 15:36)
Paul felt the call from God to circle back around and minister again to those “brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Paul and Barnabas had built a previous foundation of belief, and now they felt called to go back and strengthen it.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews said in Ch 10:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
There has been a stirring among men in our local cities. These men have a desire to do something more. Imagine if God uses us to create a movement of men to serve this city in new and profound ways? I heard someone pray this week that the Lord cause the stirring up to become a swirling.
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
I am asking you to consider mens ministry. Consider mens ministry to be used to stir one another up to good works. Consider mens ministry to stir up the hearts of men to go out and serve. To show others “love and good works”. Consider men’s ministry to stir up the hearts of believers sitting in your pews on Sunday to hear the call, to hear the challenge. To take up arms and fight the spiritual battle by serving one another in love and good works.
In John 17 Jesus said: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word (John 17:20)
Jesus is praying for the Spokane area, He is praying for His church here. God will use us as much as we allow Him to, to change hearts in our community.
Not only that, but Jesus is praying “for those who will believe in me through their word” – meaning He is praying for those that we talk to about Christ! Let me say it again: Jesus is praying “for those who will believe in me through their word”, meaning He is praying for those that we talk to about Christ!
If we bring men and engage men through mens ministry, Jesus Christ is already praying for those men to believe before we even speak to them!
The foundation for the rebuilt temple had been laid 20 years before Zechariah was written. And in Zechariah 4:9, the prophet Zechariah says:
“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.”
Do you see that this work has already been started by you and others who have gone before us. And today I am here to tell you that God will give us the strength to complete it. The prophet goes on to say in verse 10:
For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Who hath despised the day of small things?
David Guzik said: In many of God’s choice workers He uses a powerful season of small things. Those days are not a mistake nor are they punishment; they are days of priceless shaping and preparation. They are not days to despise. Satan fears the day of small things in our life because he sees what great things God does in them and brings out of them.
Charles Spurgeon: “God accepts your little works if they are done in faith in his dear Son. God will give success to your little works: God will educate you by your little works to do greater works; and your little works may call out others who shall do greater works by far than ever you shall be able to accomplish.”
This is a time of great need in Spokane!
I believe God has given us some great foundations of the past that we can build upon. The work of past Promise Keepers events, the wide variety of mens ministry events that have been done. I have said many times that the amount of ministry work being done in Spokane is vast, but so many of them don’t cooperate, work together and communicate.
We have a chance now to build on the past foundations of all that ministry work that has been done – by the simple effort of calling on men to engage.
We all know that God’s word does not return void, He will build on those past foundations. He has stirred up a hunger in men all over our area for something greater than 1/2 day a week at church. They are ready, and they are hungry!
I spoke in one of my articles about the percentage of believers that are actively engaged in ministry beyond showing up for church service once a week. The national average is 8% – of the believers sitting in pews every Sunday – are actively involved in ministry. I am here to ask:
Let us help you engage that 92%!
Please join us for a day of training (with lunch sponsored by Moody Radio Northwest) on February 17, 2015. Register at http://www.gsae.net/events/
(This is the content of my talk at our men’s ministry breakfast event this last week. Because it was written to be spoken, it’s a little more conversational than my normal writing.)