Close
  • CONNECT WITH US
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Big Picture Slider

Welcome to the Big Picture Podcast, I’m Joel Fieri and I’m back to hopefully bring come clarity and keep the conversation going about what’s happening today in the Church and greater society. And, I’m not alone this week. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and host of the Church for Men podcast, along with e2 media network’s own Jefferson Drexler, to discuss the “Feminization of Today’s Church”. With so many people today hesitant to stand up and say there is something tragically wrong with the course most churches are heading toward, the three of us tackle some tough issues head on… like men are prone to do. So, without further ado, here’s part four of our roundtable discussion…

DAVE: Men won’t put up with a church that has “squishy” rules.   They just won’t. Because, like I’ve said, men will sacrifice relationships on the altar of rules.

JOEL: And, ultimately a church or society with “squishy” rules – where we are heading – is not a safe place. And most women want to be safe, above all. So, it’s in the best interest of women to have their men be strong and in leadership. It’s good for the men as well. Men need to see men up on stage and in leadership. Even the guys who don’t want to step out and lead, if they see a strong man stepping up and leading, they will follow.Dave Joel Jefferson

JEFFERSON: Ok, but so we don’t sit here and sound like three curmudgeons who are just pointing fingers and saying, “This is wrong with the Church… and this is wrong… and this is wrong…” What are some steps that today’s church leaders can make after they take a hard, honest look in the mirror? What are some things that churches should institute now in order to change the unhealthy direction they are headed in?

JOEL: I think it starts with the church leaders’ personal walks with God. As men, Christian leaders need to come to grips with this trend. They need to read God’s Word and be obedient in their own lives to God’s commands. And, honestly, people need to start praying for their churches. By lifting up our churches, families, and communities, we will inevitably become more engaged. We also need to put away fear. Especially the fear of “making waves” by possibly offending someone and the fear of criticism that may come our way. To change the direction of our Church is scary, but to see it go in an apostate direction is even scarier. Without a healthy Church to turn to, where else is there to go?

Finally, we need to realize that we know the final score and we are on the winning team. That means something. So, don’t be afraid to step out in leadership.

JEFFERSON: Is that what you’ve seen, Dave? Is fear of the unknown or fear of potential risks stopping churches from making the changes they need to make in order to secure their long-standing?

DAVE: Well sure. Because, once a church reaches a certain size, it has a certain donor base. Then 20% of the donor base covers 80% of the Pastor’s salary. He will know who those people are. So, as long as he can keep those people happy, giving, and volunteering, he can “make his nut” for the next week.

So, the economic incentive is to sweep things under the rug and keep the key givers happy. Strictly speaking from a monetary perspective, there is not a lot of value in bringing in new people unless they bring in more giving.

So, once a church transitions from a “growth phase” to a “plateau phase”, it becomes more essential that the pastor keep everyone happy, especially the key giver and volunteers. This becomes a disincentive to growth, change, innovation and dealing with the church’s problems.

But, your original question was in regards to practical, baby-steps that a church can take. Joel focused on the Spiritual: Prayer, the Bible, Obedience, etc. Those are all very, very important. But I would say that if a church wants to be more welcoming to men, the first thing they should do is to go out and find some 22-to-30-year-old guys from outside the congregation – and a wide variety of types (construction workers, bikers, I.T. guys, programmers, etc.) – and invite them to walk through the church’s space and get their honest opinions of the church’s facilities.

Tell them, “We’re not going to try to convert you or anything, we just want you to come to our church service and tell us, through the eyes of a young man, what is it we can do better? How can we help you relate?”

Those guys will give you a fount of wisdom!

And then, have the courage to make the changes that are necessary to get that guy in the door – and get him to stay long enough to hear the Gospel.

The problem is that so many times, guys come into church with their defenses immediately raised so that they don’t even hear the Gospel when it’s given. They just sit there and think, “When can I get out of here? When is that guy in the skinny jeans gonna stop singing? When is this interminable sermon about the Ten Commandments gonna be over?” He’s just counting the minutes until he’s out the door.

But, if you created an environment that engages him, as a man, then he’s not going to be counting the ceiling tiles. He will be engaged in the service and the Gospel message. It’s about creating an environment where a man can be a man and engage with the Gospel as a man.

If you can do that, your church will grow.

The secret of the megachurches is not the “hot band”, it’s not the praise guy with the goatee, it’s not the pastor with the hot sermons… it’s the fact that they’ve created an environment where men will stay long enough to hear the Gospel.

JOEL: I would also add that the key is discipleship. And most churches have gotten so far away from that. Dave, you and I were a part of the era of the American church when one-on-one discipleship was THE THING. The Master Plan of Evangelism was Jesus’ plan: to invest personally in men. I know you talk a lot about the Ten Minute Sermon – Hey Pastor, instead of taking all those hours throughout your week to write your hour-long sermon, why not take a shorter amount time and write a ten minute sermon, and then spend the rest of your time in your week discipling and investing in men? Then, they will turn around and disciple other men, themselves. That’s Jesus’ model.

But, we’ve abandoned that.

DAVE: Because today’s church model is more efficient at reaching more people.

JOEL: Right. It’s become a numbers game. And, actually, Jesus took care of that, too. He did a lot of miracles that pulled in a lot of numbers, but then He pulled aside 72 to follow Him closely. And out of that 72, He chose twelve to be His disciples. And even out of His disciples, He pulled aside Peter, John and James as His closest confidants. And even from those three, He chose Peter to build His Church upon.

But, it all starts with a church getting its men engaged, especially the twenty-somethings in your congregation by having the older men disciple them.

I always tell my wife, the thing that made me the man I am today were the older men in my church who, when I was a knuckle-headed twenty-something dummy, taught me how to obediently follow God, study the Bible, treat a woman, and work as unto the Lord. Without those older men, I don’t know where I’d be today.

JEFFERSON: I find the dichotomy so interesting: Our goal is to bring the Church back to men, to raise men up as leaders, and to have them bring their families. Yet, two of the key elements I’m hearing from the two of you are AESTHETICS (the environment) and RELATIONSHIPS (discipleship). And, when most people think about aesthetics, they think, “Let’s make the building look pretty.” That’s how we ended up with all the felt banners and iris flowers adorning our church stages.

DAVE: Okay, but I gotta push back on that. The aesthetics are secondary to the Spiritual. The Spiritual ALWAYS trumps that practical. If the Holy Spirit is alive in a church, the pastor can come out wearing lipstick and drag, and the men will stay.

IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD.

But, all things being equal, practical things do matter. Because, by addressing the practical things, you remove the distractions that cause men to count the seconds before the service is over.

JOEL: You need to subjugate the aesthetics to the overall mission. And, the mission is: To win people to Christ, teaching them to obey all that He has commanded.

DAVE: The example I always give is this: Let’s go to Phoenix, AZ. Here’s a wonderful, little community church that is preaching the Gospel. It’s January, and they have a huge missions budget. They give thousands of dollars each month to missions. It’s wonderful.

Then their air conditioning goes out.

They’ve got a decision – we can fix the air conditioner, or we can continue to give thousands of dollars to mission.

Now, what would Jesus do? He would give money to missions. And, so they decide to forgo fixing the air conditioner. And then January turns into February. It’s getting a little warmer, but it’s okay. Eventually, April comes and it’s about 90 degrees outside. They notice that their crowd is becoming a little bit smaller, but that’s okay because they are still doing what Jesus would have them do.

Is there air conditioning in the Bible? No.

Is there missions and evangelism in the Bible? Yes.

So, the church continues to “do what Jesus would do” with their money.

And then July hits. It’s 110 outside and 114 inside the church building. And the crowd that was 200 in January is now down to 20.

They lost sight of the practical in search of the Spiritual.

So, what I say is this: the Spiritual is ALWAYS more important. But, if you don’t get the practical right, your people will leave you. So, we have to pay attention to these practical things.

 

Thanks for listening to the Big Picture Podcast regarding the problems and possible solutions facing today’s Church. If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please check out our other podcasts and videos on the e2 media network, leave a few comments, and tell your friends about us. Be blessed!

 

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Big Picture Slider

Welcome to the Big Picture Podcast, I’m Joel Fieri and I’m back to hopefully bring come clarity and keep the conversation going about what’s happening today in the Church and greater society.
And, I’m not alone this week. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and host of the Church for Men podcast, along with e2 media network’s own Jefferson Drexler, to discuss the “Feminization of Today’s Church”. With so many people today hesitant to stand up and say there is something tragically wrong with the course most churches are heading toward, the three of us tackle some tough issues head on… like men are prone to do. So, without further ado, here’s part four of our roundtable discussion…

JEFFERSON:   Is the Church an entity that has problems regarding men stepping up less in leadership roles, or are we on a trajectory?  In other words, are these issues merely bumps on the road that can be fixed while the Church stays the course in a Godly direction, or has the damage that was done 20-30 years ago put us on an entirely different map?

DAVE:  The good news is that churches are beginning to figure this out.  For instance, Sunday School has become much more “guy friendly”.  When I was a kid, the Sunday School rules were: sit still, color within the lines, and memorize your verses. Today, most Sunday School classes are a more kinetic experience.  Many young boys (including my grandsons) absolutely love going to Sunday School!

The problem remains at Youth Group.  Throughout the country, Youth Group used to be boy-friendly.  Now, it’s becoming girl and artistic boy friendly.  So, we’re eliminating and entire class of boys and it’s well documented that society follows “the jock”.  What “the jock” does, the school does.  The same applies at Youth Group.  So, if the jock stops attending Youth Group because there is nothing there for him, the others stop attending as wel.

Thank God for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other organizations that are doing great work with jocks.  However, even they are having problems integrating teenage athletic leaders into the local church.  This is because of the new brand of spirituality that is preached, the methods churches demand their congregants to worship, etc.  It’s been feminized.

However, especially at American mega churches, corporate worship services have become more man-friendly.  Churches like Saddleback Church and North Coast Church in Southern California intentionally target their methods and ministries in a “guy-oriented” fashion.  The same goes for Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix.  20 years ago, they made a decision to start being intentional on focusing on men.  Over that time, their congregation has grown from 1,000 to 24,000 people.

When churches focus on men, the churches grow.

But, this often begs the question, “If you focus on men, what happens to the women and children?”  The truth is that the women and children love it.  The truth is that the most attractive thing to a Godly woman is a Godly man.  And when the men depart from the church, glory departs with them.  And the women don’t want to go to those churches.  Eventually, it becomes a bunch of women providing hospice care for a dying congregation.

JEFFERSON:  So, there seems to be a mislabel that says if we allow all this testosterone into our congregation, then a community of people getting along and feeling nice toward one another will go away.

DAVE:  There’s going to be conflict either way.  If you have a church with a strong “guy presence”, the conflict will be right out front.  This will blow up, but then things will be settled.  In a female dominated church, all the conflict will occur under the surface, and will never be truly resolved.

There’s a false belief in the church and in society at large that women are virtuous and men are flawed.  Along the same lines, maternal ways are better and paternal ways of doing things are bad.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the Church.  We lead this movement.

JEFFERSON: There seems to be a purveying mindset of: “Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we just keep the waters smooth?  And, with the waters smooth, we can make it through the next week.”

This seems to be a huge priority within our culture, especially within today’s Church.

Or, as Jeff Allen often says, “Happy Wife / Happy Life”.

So, as guys, don’t we have a natural inclination to acquiesce a bit in order to smooth the waters, make our wives happy and then we’re happy?

DAVE:  Well, there’s no purpose in stirring up conflict for conflict’s sake.  But, the fact is that conflict always comes.  And, in the Church, we almost always deal with it in a feminine way.  We try to smooth ruffled feathers, instead of dealing with conflict the way Jesus did.

Jesus actually accelerated conflict.

Think about this: Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee for dinner.  Now, if I were Jesus, I would have walked in and said, “Wow! That lamb smells delicious!”  But, Jesus didn’t do that.   The Pharisees asked Him about ceremonial washing, noticing that His disciples didn’t participate in it before eating.  It was an honest question.  Now, instead of complimenting His host on the meal being served and then offering up a nice response to the question, Jesus tears into the Pharisee.  He blames His host and the Pharisee’s ancestors for killing the prophets.

Imagine going to a dinner party where the host is accused of murder!

Yet, this is how Jesus dealt with conflict.

He accelerated it and got to the root of the problem.  And He did it quickly.  We don’t do that in the Church.  We deal with conflict in a feminine way and sweep things under the rug.  But, men eventually get tired of this.  Men want to take matters out into the parking lot, fight it out, declare a winner, and move on.  And, if none of this is an option, men quit altogether.

JOEL: Right.  And, as long as a winner is declared and a man knows he did his best, even if he loses, he’ll stick with it because he knows the conflict was dealt with fairly.

DAVE:  Exactly.  About 75% of the time, the guy will stick.

JEFFERSON: How does all this pertain to the compromising of truth?

DAVE: Let me put it this way, typically older women will sacrifice rules upon the altar of relationships. Men will typically sacrifice relationships on the altar of rules.

Now, the reason why it is so easy to slip into the feminized direction is because when Jesus came to earth, He encountered a culture that was choking on rules. He then introduced grace, love and forgiveness – all more feminine attributes. And so, it’s easy for us to say, “Oh, Jesus was fighting against this overly-masculinized, legalistic, rules-oriented culture. And we can follow that doctrine right off the edge of a figurative cliff. Then, we’ll fall right off into an equally bad heresy: sacrificing rules on the altar of relationship.  This is what is happening in too many mainline churches, and it’s about to happen in far too many churches at large.

The way to keep your church healthy is to keep a balance between rules and relationships. Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, I came to do away with the Law, so live however you want.”

No. What He actually said was, “I haven’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.

So, how to we keep this balance? A church that is steadfast in Christianity’ rules, but loving to people will attract men.

JOEL: It also largely comes down to the question of how “love” is defined. Dave has written about the differences between “Father love” and “Mother love”. Too many times, “following the rules” is viewed as “unloving”. Somehow, it’s not loving to expect Christians to obey God’s commands.

But, this goes against Jesus’ own words. In John 15 alone, He said nine different times, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Don’t say you love me if you refuse to obey my commands.”

Then, when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He pleaded, “Father, make them one so that the world will know that You sent Me”. And, after His resurrection when Jesus gave us the Great Commission, He said, “Go into all the world preaching the Gospel, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded.” That’s how we show our love for one another and for Jesus. It’s not an emotion – a gooey feeling in my heart – it’s trusting God enough to do what He says to do.

So, we need to break free of the more feminine concept of “love being a positive emotion, everybody being nice to each other and affirming one another”. Men naturally know when they are fighting for what is right. They are okay with hashing through a tough situation in order to root out a problem. But, culture – even Christian culture – keeps telling men to stop trying to solve their wives’ problems. Sometimes, I wish the experts would say, “you know… women, God put that man in your life. Maybe you need his help to solve your problem as I designed him to do.” It goes both ways.

We need to get back to the mindset of, “If we are a loving Church, then that means we are obeying Jesus’ commands in how we treat each other and how we relate to the world in preaching the Gospel.

 

Thanks for listening to the Big Picture Podcast. Dave, Jefferson and I will continue our discussion over the next several weeks regarding the problems and possible solutions facing today’s Church.
If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please check out our other podcasts and videos on the e2 media network, leave a few comments, and tell your friends about us.
Be blessed!

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Christian bible teaching about how to bring the church back to today's men and boys. How men and boys need to follow Jesus Christ, read scripture, and become a mature Christian, participate in discipleship, and learn then teach the truth about God.

Dave Murrow, Joel Fieri and Jefferson Drexler discuss strategies American churches can use to effectively engage the men and boys of their congregations.

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Jesus in HD Slider

With this PODCAST, we break the seal on the last year of Jesus’ life here on earth.

And admittedly, His last year begins on a rather ominous note.

Immediately following this story, Jesus will leave the country. That is no exaggeration. For the first time in His storied 3½ year ministry, Jesus now has to get out of Dodge, fast!

As we have seen in past podcasts, Jesus was run out of His adopted hometown of Capernaum. He was then run out of Nazareth, His boyhood hometown. On top of that, Herod Antipas was hunting Jesus in order to kill Him (this in the wake of Herod’s senseless execution of John the Baptizer). And so we read this in Mark 7:24:

“Then Jesus left Galilee and went North to the region of Tyre” (in modern-day Lebanon).

Yes, indeed. Jesus was literally run out of Galilee and run out of the country.

Something significant happened in this story, here in Mark 7, that forced Jesus to go North and out of the country, rather than South to the familiar environs of His beloved Jerusalem.

What in the world happened?

What did Jesus do? Or more accurately, what did Jesus fail to do? A failure that caused a cataclysmic religious scandal. A scandal so serious that Jesus fled to the North. Which, by the way, is the exact same word that Matthew used in his telling of this story: scandal.

Let’s begin by reading Mark 7:6-7hypocrite

Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’

WOW! Talk about a rebuke of all rebukes!!

To put Jesus’ words into context, let’s back up a few verses to Mark 7:1

Some Pharisees and several teachers of the Law of Moses from Jerusalem came and gathered around Jesus. 

They came all the way from Jerusalem?! Jesus had traveled north to Tyre to get away from Jerusalem, but they came after Him with an agenda to confront, condemn and harass Him! All because Jesus was a rabbi who failed to recite the “party line”.

But, what in the world could He have done (or not done) that upset the religious leaders so much that caused Jesus to flee north and caused the Pharisees to pursue Him? And not only was it evident that Jesus had offended the religious leaders, but His disciples picked up on it to, as we read in Matthew 15:12

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

So, what was this scandal that Jesus put Himself into? What rocked the Jewish boat so much that it put Jesus smack dab in the middle of Jerusalem’s deadly scope? We read this in Mark 7:2-5condemning preacher

They noticed that some of his disciples ate without first washing their hands.

The Pharisees and many other Jewish people obey the teachings of their ancestors. They always wash their hands in the proper way before eating. None of them will eat anything they buy in the market until it is washed. They also follow a lot of other teachings, such as washing cups, pitchers, and bowls.

The Pharisees and teachers asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples obey what our ancestors taught us to do? Why do they eat without washing their hands?”

Yup. Jesus – that good for nothing, leader of people with dirty hands!

Now, let’s go back even further for even more context. In Exodus, we learn that Moses received the Law from God, Himself, high atop Mount Sinai. The heart and soul of the Law is the Ten Commandments. To be very elementary, the entire Torah (or first five books of the Old Testament) are expanded commentary and application about how to make God’s Ten Commandments work in the lives of the Israelites and throughout the Nation of Israel. Then, over the next 1,500 years or so, from Mount Sinai to the Day of Jesus, the religious leaders (or ancestors) added even more “clarity” and “application” to God’s instructions. In essence, they sought to “build a fence around the Torah”; meaning that they wanted to make sure that they were so pure before God that if the Ten Commandments draw a line in the sand, we don’t even want to get close to the line. These 613 man-made laws were upheld for so many years, that by the time Jesus began teaching, they were regarded as just as authoritative and binding as the original Torah – God’s laws!

So, Jesus’ not mandating that His disciples ceremoniously wash their hands before eating was just as sacrilegious to the Pharisees as breaking one of God’s actual Commandments.

In other words, by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the relationship between God and His people had been redefined to be all about a person’s performance. It was all about who could out-perform whom by “doing religious stuff”, like cleaning your hands before a meal.

You can imagine what this did to fuel and seduce the religious leaders’ – and their followers’ – pride and arrogance. On the contrary, Jesus actually said:

“Blessed are the poor in sprit, for theirs alone is the kingdom of heaven.”

Judging by how the sages were teaching and living, they had their own mantra: “Blessed are the proud in spirit, because they observe the traditions of the elders”.

And Jesus hates this stuff! It’s right out of the parable in Luke 18:10-14God Looks At the Heart

10 Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12 I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”

13 The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”

14 Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”

Jesus wasn’t impressed by the holier-than-thou Pharisees, but was very interested in the poor in spirit, the humble, those who realized that they need God. As Jesus put it in Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So, ask yourself this: Has trying to be a good enough, Godly enough Christian ever become a burden for you? Have you felt like you live in a perpetual state of Spiritual defeat because you can’t even begin to follow all the “rules”? Ever feel like Jesus’ yoke is anything BUT easy and light?

Then, perhaps you need a new perspective. The God-given rules of the Torah are actually very reasonable and logical. You need to have laws in order to live together in community. But, when these laws are encumbered by unreasonable, man-made rules that God never intended for His people to keep, then it absolutely logical that only bad can come of it.

Therefore, when the Pharisees asked Jesus why He allowed His disciples to not wash their hands before eating and disregard the teachings of their ancestors, He went straight to the heart of the matter with His response:

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites;

Now, keep in mind that Isaiah was writing about the religious leaders of his own day, as well as those in Jesus’. In Isaiah’s day, things had gotten so bad within Israel that God allowed the Babylonians to wipe out Israel and burned their temple. In the years to follow Jesus’ ministry, God would allow the Romans to wipe out the Jews and burn down their rebuilt temple.

You think Jesus’ words caught their attention?

…as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother, and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

To the contrary, when we look at Isaiah 1:17, we see what God really, truly wants from us:

Learn to do good

Too often, even Christians today get hung up on our “man made rules” of Christianity. If only we would simply learn to do good. Isaiah further defined what God wants:

See that justice is done.

In other words, treat others justly. Deal with them honestly and fairly. React to people kindly. Be a man or woman of integrity. Be trustworthy. When you err, make it right. Clear enough?

If not, James 1:27 says

This is true religion: showing compassion for the least among us.

It’s not about singing in the choir, attending Sunday School, sending your kids to Private school, standing on church committees or anything other than how you honorably treat other people. It’s about your character.

What good is it if you and I participate in every church activity that ever exists and yet we mistreat the people within the community we allegedly pray for?

That’s my point.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were so off the mark that Jesus said this:

10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”

It really all boils down to one question. The question that Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:36-40

 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Love God and love the people around you.

If you “yoke” yourself to Jesus, this all becomes easy, light and not burdensome. All you need to do is love Him, allow Him to love you; and while you’re at it, love the people around you. That’s what the Christian life is all about.

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Parent Like You Mean It Slider FINAL

Hello and welcome to Parent Like You Mean It – the podcast were we talk about parenting each and every day in a manner that seizes every opportunity to instill amazing character in our kids. I’m Jefferson Drexler, and just like you, I answer the bell every morning, rise from my corner and fight the good fight as well as I can.

Speaking of which, my wife and I were recently treated to a six-week “Self Defense Training” trial at our son’s martial arts studio. “It’s a great workout!” said their instructor, “Plus, you’ll get a better feel for what your boys are learning.”

So we signed up.

And their instructor was right – we gained new perspectives and experienced incredible physical workouts (my arms and quads hurt just thinking about it… but hurt in the “good way”, at least that’s what the instructor called it)

But, one thing I didn’t expect was what we would walk away with. For instance, whenever I would be doing a punching drill “by the numbers”, just trying to get the technique down, my technique actually suffered. “You need to mentally put this drill into context”, said our instructor. “Remember, you’re training for the situation where someone is trying to get to your wife and kids. They are bad guys. They are not going to stop unless you MAKE them give up.” With that mental image, suddenly my punches were on target, much more forceful, and purposeful.

My gym experience went from a workout to a true training session.

Then, I looked across the mat at my bride. Now, my wife is the poster child for petite-demureness. She stands at a whopping 5’2”, weighing in at a mere 100 lbs. In my mental context, she’s going to NEED my fists because she’s just so dang tiny. Yet, what I saw across the mat was a woman who would give Ronda Rousey a round she wouldn’t forget. She was a lean, mean fighting machine – training to protect her kids.

Needless to say, we both hope that we’ll never arrive at a point where we need to use these new skills, but I pity the fool who would ever endanger us, our kids, or anyone we care for. We have a new, well-developed, and effective set of tools in our back pocket should anyone come against us.

And this got me thinking.

In a recent post, I wrote about the rapid trend in our culture toward relativism: What is good for you may be bad for me, and that’s all okay. There is no universal standard of right, wrong, good, nor bad. And the truth is, our kids are being taught this starting as young as the second grade. Sure, it’s not as deliberate as the way I just put it, but it is widely taught that judgment claims are mere opinions, while facts are things that are true and can be tested or proven.

Well, just like my wife and I learning to throw (and take) a punch, should the situation arise, we are constantly training our kids to defend themselves against this moral decay that I see spreading across our culture.

I know, you just called me a “Homeschooling Alarmist”… I heard you! But, let’s look at the big picture and the trajectory that we are heading in.

In his recent column, “America’s Decay Is Speeding Up”, Dennis Prager wrote regarding what he calls “The End of Right and Wrong”:

“At least two generations of American young people have been taught that moral categories are nothing more than personal (or societal) preferences… This extends to assessing the most glaring of evils. Since the Nazis thought killing Jews was right, there is no way to know for sure whether it was wrong; it’s the Nazis’ opinion against that of the Jews and anyone else who objects. I have heard this sentiment from American high school students – including many Jewish ones – for 30 years.”

Then, Prager continues his assessment of our societal decay in regards to “The End of Religion”:

“There are no moral truths because there is no longer a religious basis for morality. More than the Enlightenment, it was the Bible – especially the Hebrew Bible (which was one reason America’s Christians were different from most European Christians) that guided the founders’ and other Americans’ values. Not anymore. Instead of being guided by a code higher than themselves, Americans are taught to rely on their feelings to determine how to behave. Instead of being given moral guidance, children are asked, ‘How do you feel about it?’”

Apparently, John Lennon’s words have developed from “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try…” to “It’s a fact, there’s no religion, too”. Sadly, as we can see in any news source, the lack of religion, hope of heaven, fear of hell, or reasons to kill or die for has not led to all the people living life in peace… quite the opposite actually.

But enough Lennon’s dreams… back to Prager’s pearls of wisdom. The decay of our educational system doesn’t stop in the second grade. Dennis took a look at our nation’s higher education and noted a marked decline there as well:

“Compared to nearly all of American history, the average American school teaches much less about important subjects such as American history, English grammar, literature, music and art. Instead, schools are teaching much more about ‘social justice,’ environmentalism and sex.

Most universities have become secular seminaries for the dissemination of leftism. Moreover, aside from indoctrination, students usually learn little. One can earn a BA in English at UCLA, for example, without having read a single Shakespeare play.

To the extent that American history is taught, beginning in high school and often earlier, American history is presented as the history of an immoral nation characterized by slavery, racism, colonialism, imperialism, economic exploitation, and militarism – not of a country that, more than any other, has been the beacon of freedom to mankind, and the country that has spent more treasure and spilled more blood to liberate other peoples than any other nation.”

So, in the face of all this, what are we to do?

Well, for starters, we train up our kids in self-defense. No, I’m not talking about jabs and crosses, I’m talking about defending the Cross.

In too many Christian households across our country, our kids’ moral education is being left to their teachers, Sunday school teachers and Youth Group Leaders. We’ve already established the wide-sweeping trend of moral relevancy that resides in our public schools, so I won’t beat that dead horse. But, the truth is that even the most devoted of middle schoolers spends 90 minutes each week in Sunday School and another two hours at youth group on Wednesdays. Most of this time is spent playing games, singing songs, or silly ice breakers (even when the ice is sufficiently crushed). This means that by the time these “intellectual sponges” reach college, they have received a whopping twelve days of moral and spiritual training throughout their junior high and high school years. TWELVE DAYS!

A dozen days may be enough for training at In-N-Out Burger, but not nearly enough for lifelong moral and spiritual foundations to be established.

So, that leaves the heavy lifting, the day-in-day-out training, the instilling, establishing and developing of their moral fortitude up to you. You, the parents.

Our kids – the teens, pre-teens, grade-schoolers, kinders, and pre-schoolers walking around today – are about to face greater hurdles and obstacles than we parents ever imagined. It was once commonplace to encounter a philosophy or sociology professor who questioned Judeo-Christian values, but our kids are about to face off with an entire culture that says Biblical standards are archaic, irrelevant, and straight-up wrong.

Will your kids have an answer to that?

Keep in mind, these will be their peers, their lab partners, their fraternity brothers, their professors, their competition… the ones they will want to impress.

How will they answer?

Unless you – yes YOU – instill in them not only WHAT is right, but WHY it is right, they won’t answer well. Definitely not with uncompromising conviction.

You see, in the same way that I look at my wife after our self defense classes and know that she’s got the skills to take down just about any creep that would dare confront her or our kids, I can rest assured that my son will be able to stand his ground in the face of questionable morality, ungodly perspectives, and self-centered peer pressure.

But, unlike our self-defense class, the lessons we teach our kids are not once a week for six weeks. They are non-stop, seven-days-a-week, at all hours of the day. Our kids’ morality lessons come from our day-in-day-out decisions, habits and behaviors that model what it means to be consistently confident and uncompromising in our faith and in doing what is right and good.

And unlike our self-defense skills that I hope we never have to use, I actually look forward to hearing stories from our kids when they face off with a professor with an opposing view, new friends pressuring them to go somewhere or do something that Scripture teaches is wrong (therefore it is wrong), or the giant cultural wave of stuff that they’ll be hit with once life stops revolving around our dinner table.

Of course, there are times when they won’t want to listen, as well as times when I don’t want to teach. There are even times when they are observing and learning and I desperately wish that they weren’t watching my terrible example. But, as a parent who is intentionally seizing every day to raise my kids to be amazing adults, that’s the type of “morality class” we must teach and they must attend. Because when they graduate my class, the real test only begins.

If nothing else, I hope that they keep in mind the words of one of my personal Biblical heroes when Peter wrote:

“Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” (1 Peter 3:13-17)

Know what is right. Do what is right. Stand your ground.

Class dismissed.

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

What happens when you put an archery range inside an abandoned grocery store and call it a church?

Brandon Smith started a church in Oak Grove, MO – 30 minutes east of downtown Kansas City. In the past five years, his church – Paradise Outfitter Ministries – has grown from 15 to more than 500 weekly attendees. They’ve had to expand to four weekly services in order to accommodate the crush of new members. Amazingly, close to 70% of the congregation consists of folks who had no connection to church at all prior to visiting Paradise Outfitter. Brandon is not stealing sheep. He’s making disciples.

I visited Brandon at his church, I learned what makes his church unique and some of the exciting things God is doing in Oak Grove. The first thing that jumped out at me coincides with something that I have joked about for years, but Brandon has actually put in place – walls full of dead animals. It’s definitely a hunters and sportsman’s church!

Here’s what Brandon had to say about Paradise Outfitter Ministries:

It started about six years ago at my house with just a half dozen or so of us. Attendance just went up and down like an airplane that couldn’t take off. We were nomadic. We ended up in a resort at one point, but it just didn’t take off. By the time we came here at what was an abandoned grocery store, we were at about ten people. So, we remodeled the building, planning on a wild game supper for 350 people. So, we held the wild game supper in February, we began worshipping here in March, and opened the archery range in April.

The archery range was really part of the dream from the beginning. Because we knew that if we could create a space where people could hang out, it would make a huge difference. Men would begin to make friendships without forcing them into what felt like a “church culture”. So, we started opening the archery range before and after worship without requiring anything from anybody – they didn’t have to come to church or attend any of our events – they could just show up before or after services and shoot in the range. Soon thereafter, we started some leagues, and now we run about 90 people in our archery leagues.

The leagues are technically separate from the church, organizationally, but they offer opportunities for the men and women of our congregation to connect with and make relationships with the people of our community. Eventually, just through these friendships, deeper connections are made and people move from only coming by our building as part of the archery leagues to coming to church and getting to know who God is. It simply is a very natural connection point and allows people to just hang out. Often times, people are hanging around more than an hour after our worship services talking and fellowshipping with one another.

So, our building is basically divided in half: one half is the archery range with about 20 targets; and the other half is an open area with 12’ high ceilings and close to two dozen mounted animal heads. We wanted to dress up the walls so that when people came through the doors, they didn’t look in and say, “Ah, typical church”. If they don’t instantly figure out that we are what we say we are – typically judging and making their first impressions off of what they see – then we’re sunk. Some of our mounts are done locally, but others were donated and flown from as far away as Alaska, including our moose and caribou. We even have African game animals (a kudu and a wildebeest) that were donated by the guys at Hodgdon Powders when they heard what we were doing here.

During our worship services, the congregation sits on fold-up camp chairs and enjoy a very casual, relaxed worship atmosphere. Even our cross is unique to what we have going here. One of the ladies from our church who is very creative with rustic décor grabbed all of our sheds that we had laying around and made an “antler cross”.

The bottom line is that when people from our community come by, they feel relaxed and at home. Most of the people who attend are church were previously not connected to a church in any way, shape or form. They may have attended church as a child, but they currently didn’t have anywhere where they called their “church home”. Or, some of those who did, had a rough exit from wherever it was they previously attended.

So, often times, when people walk into our building, they come in with a predetermined idea of what to expect. Therefore, just upon seeing the unique and relaxed environment that we have here, offers an opportunity for them to lower their guard some and for us to connect with them, whether its through a common love of hunting, fishing, or just an appreciation for the outdoors.

We offer five weekly worship services on Wednesday nights, Thursday nights (which was our original meeting time, since most unchurched outdoorsmen are going to be out hunting or fishing on Sunday mornings), Sunday evening, and two Sunday mornings, each with about 70-120 people attending regularly. The crazy thing is that we never even dreamed of having a Sunday morning service, much less all this.

Our church is not only unique based on the décor and buildings. We almost always offer free meals to open the service with, then we’ll break into a song to get peoples’ attention. It may be something by Third Day, or even something secular like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” or Travis Tritt’s “Great Day to Be Alive”. We just want some thing that will get their attention and says, “Hey, for the next 50 minutes, if you give us your attention, we’ll try to be as quality as possible.” After the song, we do announcements and let people know, in a light-hearted lay-back fashion, what we’re doing around here. Announcements are followed by a worship set of about three songs. We know that most unchurched men are uncomfortable singing, but they do typically enjoy quality music, so there’s a fine line between overdoing the music and engaging them through worship songs. That being said, our song choices range from stuff that’s on the radio this week to age-old hymns that some of them were brought up on as kids. And, we often do songs that focus on the majesty and power of Jesus Christ. In other words, we try to stay away from a set full of love songs.

After the music, we typically have our message time, which often begins with an outdoor story which transitions into a Bible story and always leads to a real-world, contemporary application of God’s Word. We then wrap things up with a closing song and an opportunity for people to respond and seek out someone in the congregation, whether it be me, one of our other pastors or someone they met over dinner or at the range, to talk about how they can begin their personal connection with Jesus Christ.

One of our governing philosophies is that we prefer to keep our children alongside their parents. So, we offer an archery program for kids that also teaches Bible lessons, and parents are very involved. Also, instead of Vacation Bible School, we have “Hooked for Life”, which is a fishing event where about 100 kids came out to the pond to learn to fish and learn about Jesus. The most amazing part of it is that we had about a 1:1 ratio of adults to kids. I credit a lot of this parental involvement to the fact that kids are part of our weekly worship services. And, while it may be a bit noisy – even chaotic at times – we find that the men, in particular, really appreciate being there with their kids beside them.

You see, outdoorsmen typically really enjoy their family time. They want to be the ones to take their kids on a turkey hunt or deer hunting. So, if they were to walk into a church and the adults go in one direction and the kids go off in another, this goes against the grain of who they are.

I owe a lot of this identity that we’ve developed to the first book that I read when we started the church, John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart”. John’s book then put me on a search for more inspiration on how to bring the church back to men, which led me to “Why Men Hate Going to Church”, and that is what finally put words to what I was thinking about how a church could look like if it were angled toward men.

For more information about Brandon’s ministry, check out www.paradiseoutfitterministries.com.  And, to purchase my book or be part of the ongoing conversation about today’s church, go to www.churchformen.com.

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

When I hear the word “Thanksgiving,” of course I think of turkey and mashed potatoes.  Maybe a little Black Friday shopping.  Maybe some pilgrims and some corn.  It’s easy to associate the holiday with football games and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I even think of the National Dog Show sponsored by Purina that my family inevitably watches as we leave the TV on after the parade and begin to cook.

When I think of thanksgiving in the Bible, my Sunday school memory drums up the Psalm based song:

“I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart.  I will enter his courts with praise.  I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice for He has made me glad.”

Thanksgiving is easily connected with praise.  When we enter God’s presence, when we rest there, and when we gaze at what He did for us through His Son, how could we not praise Him with the utmost gratitude?  How could we not thank Him with everlasting praise?

It’s a strong reminder to take time and rest in the peace of God’s presence and marvel at the beauty of who He is.  In that praise, there’s pause for reflection, remembrance, gratitude and prayer.

Thanksgiving is also associated with prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church put it well when he said we need to thank God for the outcome of our prayers – whatever it may be – whether we like it or not – we are to thank Him for what He is about to do, because in thanking Him for the outcome, we surrender our prayers to God to do with what He will.

And that’s when the peace we can’t wrap our heads around enters in to guard our hearts.

It’s through thanksgiving that we’re able to pray, receive peace, and offer praise.  It’s through thankful reflection that we’re able to commune intimately and connect with God.

And when we don’t feel grateful, when we don’t know what to be thankful for, we can look at Christ and remember what He did.

Jean Baptiste Massieu said “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”  When we’re at a loss, we can remember Christ’s actions with thankfulness.  We can experience the peace that comes from of His redemptive sacrifice and the hope that comes in His joyful victory.  We can shout with praise at the memory and promise of His unfailing love because by His grace we will enter His gates with thanksgiving.  We can rejoice for He has made us glad!

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Common story: First Church gets a new minister – Pastor Joe. He’s not a very good communicator. People start leaving. Within two years attendance has dropped by half. Giving is down by a third. First Church descends into a malaise. Eventually Pastor Joe is fired and the search for his replacement begins.

A year later First Church hires a new minister – Pastor Daniel. He’s a great communicator. The church immediately starts growing. Happy days are here again. People love Pastor Daniel.

Why did this happen to First Church? Nothing else changed. The building remained the same. The worship times remained the same. The ministry programs remained the same. The key staff remained the same. The only thing that changed was the pastor. Yet First Church’s attendance and giving rose and fell in direct response to the quality of the preacher.

Can I be brutally honest? When it comes to church attendance, nothing matters as much as the ability of the pastor to deliver good sermons. If a pastor is a good speaker, the church grows. If he’s bad at his job the church shrinks.

Sounds unspiritual – but it’s true. It shouldn’t be this way – but it is. Each week is a referendum on the pastor’s ability to deliver an inspiring sermon.

Admit it – you’ve gotten into the car with your spouse and begun critiquing the sermon before you’re out of the church parking lot. Or you’ve been asked, “How was church?” What do you talk about? The sermon.

Let’s be real: Protestants judge the quality of a worship service largely by the power of the sermon to move them. Nothing else comes close.

This is why the right minister can cause a church to sink or soar.

I liken it to a football team: an NFL squad has 53 men, but the team’s fortunes rise and fall on the talents of one man – the quarterback. If he can deliver lots of touchdowns, the team wins. If he can’t, the team loses. Granted, the signal-caller must have good players around him, but as the 2012 Washington Redskins learned, a great QB means everything.

The same is true with church attendance. When it comes to numbers, nothing matters as much as the ability of the pastor to deliver engaging sermons. Preaching is everything.

It pains me to write these words. In an ideal world, what SHOULD matter is prayer, the presence of the Spirit, the love of the people for one another and the church’s ministry in the community. In that ideal world a church should be able to take out one preacher and install another without a hiccup.

And while we’re at it, why does the size of a church even matter? Jesus would choose a church of 12 sold-out disciples over a church of 12,000 passive pew-sitters any day.

We can argue these points until Christ returns, but this podcast is about attendance. Numbers. And when it comes to putting men in pews, nothing matters more than pastoral quality. Every other consideration pales in comparison.

This wasn’t always the case.

In medieval times there was only one church in a given area, or parish. If your parish priest offered boring homilies, you were stuck.

After the Reformation, sermons became the centerpiece of Protestant worship, as they are today. Some preachers were interesting, and others were boring. But until the 1950s, that didn’t matter much. Christians were mostly loyal to their denominations. If you were born a Methodist you attended the Methodist church in your area. If pastor was a lousy preacher you endured it. You never even thought of going to another church because you were Methodist and that was that.

Fast forward to today. Parishioners are no longer loyal to their denominations.

Here’s my story: I was born and baptized Lutheran. As a young man I attended an Assemblies of God Sunday school. I came to know Christ in a Free Methodist Church. In college I joined a Baptist church, where I was married. I moved to Alaska and became a Presbyterian, and ten years ago I joined a non-denominational megachurch, which I still attend today (although I visited a small Lutheran church this summer and loved it).

This kind of religious switching would have been unusual a century ago, but today it’s common. People move to new cities. They have automobiles that will take them to a church (and a pastor) they connect with. People are less loyal to institutions.

Because parishioners now have access to better preaching (live or through the media) they are less willing to put up with boring, rambling, irrelevant preaching. This has led modern congregants to evaluate their churches based on the sermon. They stay or go based on whether they “are being fed.” If the messages consistently lag, they seek out another church that offers them more.

Many of you are seeing red by this point. “Today’s churchgoers are so shallow. They treat God’s holy church like a product to be consumed!” you may be thinking. And you’re right.

But this is the reality in today’s world. People come to church expecting to receive something from God. If they don’t, they move on. Can we blame them? People came to Jesus – and they always received.

Although we may condemn them as consumers, today’s parishioners choose a church with great care. The decision to leave a church is often a difficult one, fraught with emotion, doubt and uncertainty.

Church hopping is less common than you might think.  And thank God for that.  But it does happen.

I have a friend in Texas (let’s call him Roger) whose church planted “daughter church” in a nearby town. Roger and his family agreed to move to the daughter church to help it get started.

This “church plant” started with much enthusiasm but quickly began to sputter. Attendance dropped by 75% over the first year as the fledgling congregation struggled with its music and preaching.

Roger attended faithfully. He volunteered. He prayed. But the poor sermons exacted a toll on his walk with God. “Honestly, I wanted to be a good soldier and stick it out, but I finally had to be honest with myself – I was dying spiritually,” Roger said. “The worship was lifeless. The sermons just weren’t reaching me. In nine months I didn’t hear anything from the pulpit I hadn’t heard a thousand times.”

Roger eventually made the painful decision to abandon the church plant and return to the mother church. “I felt like a traitor,” he said. “But I’m regularly hearing from God again back in my home church. I know I’m being selfish, but I go to church to meet with God. If that’s not happening what’s the sense in going?”

Here are some questions for you to grapple with:

  • What do you think Roger should have done? Was his decision to abandon the church plant selfish, or is it more important to do the things that help us grow spiritually?
  • Why do we go to church? For our own benefit? For God’s benefit? For the benefit of others?
  • Should a believer persevere in a congregation that does not meet his needs “because it’s not about him?” If so, for how long? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades?
  • Should Christians be “self feeders” or should they expect to be fed Sunday morning?
  • Should churchgoers expect to hear something new at church, or should they be content to hear familiar truths they’ve long known?
  • Should believers “tough it out” in a church with lifeless preaching?
  • Is it right for churchgoers to change congregations based on the quality of the preaching?
  • Should a church live or die on the preaching ability of its senior pastor?
  • If a Christian decides to leave a church, what’s the best way to go about it? Should he simply disappear? Or should he write a letter to the pastor explaining his reasons for resigning?

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

I’m noticing a growing trend – Christian men quietly admitting they do not like going to church.

More than half of the committed Christian men I talk to, when asked, will tell me they do not like churchgoing.

They come to me after I speak. They admit their dissatisfaction in hushed tones.

They love God – but hate going to church.

These are not malcontents who’d rather be golfing on Sunday. These are the good guys. Guys who’ve left much behind to follow Jesus. Guys who love their wives and kids. Many are deacons and elders. Some teach Sunday school.

Some are even pastors. Some are nationally known Christian leaders. If I shared their names you’d be shocked.

Most of these men are faithful churchgoers – yet they freely admit they don’t get much from it.

Most are longtime churchgoers who are simply tired of the routine. The act of churchgoing – going to a building, singing songs, hearing a sermon, eating the cracker and drinking the juice, dropping the check into the plate, socializing and heading back to the car – is leaving them particularly dry. They see church as ineffective, focused on the wrong things, or hypocritical.

Sometimes quality is the issue – but not always. Many of these restless men attend dynamic churches with fantastic preaching and music. They have good friends in the church. In fact one man said, “I absolutely love my church. I just don’t like going to it.”

Furthermore, these men sense that God has more for them – but they can’t seem to find what they’re looking for within the existing structures of church.

So what’s going on here? Is this a trend, or am I just hearing these complaints because I wrote a book titled, “Why Men Hate Going to Church?”

And how about you? Are you a person who loves God but hates going to church? Would you like an alternative to the Sunday morning “God show?”

HOW TO DO GREATER THINGS THAN EVEN JESUS DID

In John chapter 14, Jesus said something outrageous:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”

Say what? We will do greater things than Jesus?

Yes we can. In fact, we already do.

You say, “David, what are you talking about? Jesus raised the dead and healed the sick!”

Yes he did. And every day, Christian-chartered hospitals around the globe heal thousands, and even bring a few back from the dead.

You say, “Jesus fed five thousand.”

Yes he did. And every day, Christian relief organizations feed millions.

You say, “Jesus preached truth to multitudes.”

Yes he did. And every year, Christian churches proclaim eternal truth to billions.

You say, “Jesus commanded the forces of nature.”

Yes he did. And every year, scientists unlock the secrets of nature at universities that were chartered as Christian institutions.

You say, “Jesus befriended the lowly.”

Yes he did. And every day Christian organizations such as Salvation Army help people in desperate straits get their lives together. Prison ministers care for the incarcerated. Chaplains comfort the sick and dying.

Taking in strangers? Habitat for Humanity. Clothing the naked? Samaritan’s Purse. Casting out demons? Counseling and prayer ministries.

Jesus told us we would do greater things than he did. This scripture has been fulfilled in our time.

Best of all, Jesus wants you in on the action. He wants to work through you to accomplish greater things than He did.

Miracles still happen. This year, volunteer in your local church or parachurch organization. See what God can do through you.

For more information about David’s ministry, visit www.ChurchForMen.com

And, for more engaging and encouraging podcasts and videos, check out the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc
Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Imagine a church that meets outdoors. Rain or shine. Next to a fishing hole. Around a campfire. There’s no shortage of men in this church. In fact, guys come early to go fishing – and stay late to talk around the fire.

Sound like a little bit of heaven? It’s called The Sportsman’s Church, and it meets every Sunday night in Victoria, Texas, 125 miles southwest of Houston.

Bring your bible – and your fishing pole.

The founder of Sportsman’s church is Glen Dry. He was working part time on a church staff when an idea hit him: start a church that targets the camo crowd.

Glen already had numerous irons in the fire. He’s a busy father to 3 active kids. Starting a church was the last thing he wanted to do.

“I didn’t want to be a church planter, but I’ve learned that obedience is a lot better than misery,” Dry said.

The Sportsman’s Church launched February 3, 2013. The church meets on Sunday nights so outdoorsmen have the weekend free to do what they love.

“It’s gospel centered, relationship centered and also very man-centered,” Dry said.

In just 14 months the church has grown from a handful of worshippers to more than 100 in regular attendance.

Attendance varies depending on the weather — because the church has no walls. The worshippers gather under a pavilion – whether it’s 40 degrees or 100 degrees.  “The good thing about this is I’ve got a church of people who want to be there,” Dry says.

Worshippers start to assemble at 5 p.m. Sunday on a party deck. The church provides snacks and soft drinks. The band starts playing a little after 5. Then Glen shares a hunting story or a testimony. Hunters and fishermen are allowed to share their stories (thou shalt not lie!).

Glen shares a short message (15-20 minutes). The service (or Bonfire, as it’s called) wraps up a little after 6 pm, but hardly anyone goes home. Instead, they gather around campfires and visit until dark. “If we kept the lights on they’d probably stay all night,” Dry said.

“It’s exciting to see people coming to church not just for a show, but they are coming for the relationships, and I believe, to experience God in those relationships,” Dry said.

The church is hoping to keep meeting outdoors, but they are looking at an indoor option for the coldest winter days. Even if they do eventually move indoors, they’re looking for a light, airy facility where they can bring the outdoors in.

One of the great strengths of the Sportsman’s church model is how inexpensive it is. There’s no building to rent. Glen owns the lot where the church meets – and he doesn’t take a salary from the church. “There is hardly any overhead in this church,” Dry said. The congregation has grown without much advertising because it offers such a unique approach. Sportsmen are a tight community who are used to doing things together, so they’re not shy about inviting their friends.

The church offers Camo Kids on Wednesday nights, and Critter Care for babies. The Student ministry is known as “Wild Life.” They blow stuff up, shoot arrows into targets and draw Biblical lessons from the outdoors. In addition, the church offers midweek small groups called Campfires.

Every week Dry has men coming up to him, saying, “This is what’s been missing in my life. I can relax in this environment and be a man and bring my family.”

“I’m baptizing guys I’d have never dreamed I’d see in church,” Dry said. “They don’t fit into the traditional church culture America has created. So this is just a great option for them.”

To learn more about The Sportsman’s Church, click here.

OUR SUPPORTERS

  • NCMC Logo12
  • cwd_link
    Over 18,000 wholesome, family friendly, Christian websites.
  • WM-ad-web-v2-489x486
  • RdR Large ad
  • Danny Avila
  • Talking Bibles Sidebar Ad
  •  Good News, Etc