By Mike Young / May 11, 2017
One of the hot topics in men’s discipleship is “How can we reach the younger men?” The question is typically asked by older men in the church. They often look back at what they missed as young men and really don’t want to see other young men make the same mistakes. They know Jesus is the answer but they’re struggling to figure out how to connect with those younger guys. I don’t know of many churches who are nailing this. Most every men’s leadership team (even at strong churches) struggles to connect with young men. These strategies aren’t fool proof, but at least it’s a start and a reminder that you do need to do something different. Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Name the Guys
Don’t just throw them in a collective pot. Name the men you’d like to reach. Make a list of who they are and why you’d like to reach them.
Pray for Them
Now that you have a list, start praying that God will provide opportunity for you and/or the men on your team to connect with them. Pray also that He will prepare them by giving them a desire to connect with some godly men.
We hear repeatedly that millennials are not so enamored with the church building. Part of the reason these guys don’t participate is because meeting at the church doesn’t fit them. Find out where they live and offer a small group opportunity in a location convenient to the men on your list. Create multiple opportunities if necessary.
Choose the Right Time
Your Saturday morning men’s breakfast is great for ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out) but for young dads who’ve been away from home all week, Saturday morning is the least attractive time for them. How about a gathering in a neighborhood that starts at 9:00 (after the kids are down) or how about a 6:00 AM gathering in a small business conference room… his wife and kids are asleep anyway. Better yet, ask the men what times would work for them and pick something that works for most.
Start with Videos
Video driven Bible studies (like Authentic Manhood – 33 The Series) as a starting point for these small groups. Men can talk about what was presented. But, you don’t want to feed them a steady diet of videos. Transition from video to book studies and ultimately move to straight up Bible studies. But, keep them practical and manly.
Sacrifice, Sweat and Laughter
Small groups are great. But, you don’t know a man until you’ve suffered, sweated or laughed beside him. So, plan for a guys night out at the ball park, a hiking trip with sons or some sort of local service project. The camaraderie will produce huge dividends.
Invitations Over Announcements
Every man, regardless of age, responds better to a handshake and a personal invitation than a pulpit announcement or a blurb in the bulletin. Getting the word out broadly has value but it takes a personal touch to seal the deal.
Strategy vs. Program
Don’t think about a ‘program’ to reach millennials’. Think about a ‘strategy to disciple men’. Make sure you know what the first step is, what comes next and what comes after than. You’re not filling slots on a calendar. You’re inviting men to join you on a journey to know Jesus, follow Him and become like him.
Belonging Before Believing
Hopefully you’ll want to see men come to faith in Christ through this effort. So, create an environment where men who don’t know Jesus can meet men who do and see them impact He has on their lives. Don’t make assumptions. Many millennials have never been to church and won’t know lots of church language. They’re just the type of folks Jesus would want to hang out with!
Match the Hatch
Fly fishermen use this ditty to remind themselves that their bait must resemble the food (insect larvae) that the fish are eating naturally. The bait you use matters. Make sure your leadership team has some younger men. Consider each aspect of what you’re offering these men. If your strategy makes your older, wiser men feel comfortable, chances are you won’t attract the younger men you’re fishing for.
Resources Mentioned in Podcast:
5 Questions Your Church Must Answer to Reach Young Men by Kris Dolberry – LifewayMen