A few years’ back our church stopped doing the Saturday morning men’s breakfast thing. Sacrilege? To be blunt, it was mostly older chaps who went along, and, the reality was, no-one really invited any unchurched men along. It was a social club that was never going to reach the lost.
‘Who wants a sixth alarm call in a row, after a full week at work?’ exclaimed one of our younger men. Hmmm! Good point. With limited resources, and nowhere near enough younger men in the church, we opted for a ‘midweek evening-based ministry’ to men, which is Christianese for ‘meet you down the pub lads!’ It worked. We began building up a big, healthy fringe of younger men. Just like Beechy prophesied: ‘meeting and befriending the unchurched men is not the issue’ – hey, I was plugging in men’s mobile numbers before I even knew their name. Four years on, and the first few began to lead their families into church – in fulfilment of the oft-quoted CVM stats that winning the man wins the whole tribe. We press on and pray that 20 years from now, the ripened fruit from this long-haul investment will be literally dropping off the branches.
But, hold on a sec, what about the non-paintball, non-‘go kart’ older fraternity? Did we just leave them behind? Did we just forget them? Here’s the truth of it – whilst we under-50s busied ourselves with kebabs and other forms of popular culture, God got right in amongst the older guys and started His work where they were already gathered. Like many churches, our buildings maintenance volunteers (all men, all retired or not working) meet up midweek daytime to paint, plumb, render and fix (and have an epic, extended coffee break with home-made goodies and plenty of chatter about the state of the nation, TV past and present, you name it, really).
This classic activity-based gathering has grown and morphed into a weekly small group for men with Louie Giglio videos, prayer, discussion and more. And now they are welcoming not-yet-believing guys into their midst.
Truth is, we’re still scratching the surface of the unmet male need for gathering in our town, amongst both older and younger fellas. It was a tough decision, that men’s breakfast thing, but a little pruning always brings new growth, even if the branch that takes off isn’t always the one that we had in mind.