Help Your Church's Men Grow in God's Purposes

If your church is typical, there are more women attending and involved in ministry than men. Some studies tell us that the average membership in U.S. churches is 61 percent female and only 39 percent male.

When it comes to the five purposes – fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, worship – women are far more involved and balanced than men. In his study “Women are the Backbone of the Church,” George Barna reported the following average in U.S. churches:
• Fellowship: 54 percent more women are involved in small groups than men
• Discipleship: Twice as many women are involved in discipleship relationships or programs, 57 percent more women attend Bible study/discipleship classes
• Ministry: 56 percent more women are involved in leadership (not including the role of pastor), 33 percent more women are involved in service, and 23 percent are more involved in financial giving
• Evangelism: 29 percent more women share their faith
• Worship: 39 percent more women have a devotional time, 16 percent more pray, 29 percent more attend church and read their Bible
God created each of us to balance our lives around the five biblical purposes, however, our S.H.A.P.E. and our gender influence how we live out each purpose.

In other words, as a man, fellowship looks and feels different for me than it does for my wife, Kay. So do the purposes of discipleship, ministry, mission, and worship. God wants each of us to live our lives according to his five purposes, but he also created every one of us individually, starting with our gender.

The point is: To engage men in your church, you need to offer opportunities for worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission that speak to men in a way they understand. A method or program or idea that draws women deeper into the purposes won’t necessarily draw men, and so you have to be intentional about the ways you reach out to men.

How can we help men drive deeper into the purposes? Let me give you a few ideas, and then I want to tell you about the Purpose Driven® Men’s Summit this January on the Saddleback campus.

For a man, fellowship involves fun, raw honesty, and commitment to a band of brothers. At Saddleback we call this group the Herd. Men usually get interested in joining the Herd through a felt need in their lives, and that need pushes them into taking a risk to connect.

Once a man is in the Herd, we want him to have many opportunities to connect with other men. For instance, we plan houseboat trips (unique retreats); we offer centralized, interactive Bible studies, and we encourage men to find a specific mission opportunity to participate in together. We’ve found that men connecting and committing to each other makes a huge difference in our congregation, but more importantly, it makes a huge difference in their families and their workplace.

Does your church have an intentional plan for gathering men and driving them deeper into connections and commitments?

For many men, discipleship sometimes looks like a boot camp. When a man develops a solid connection with other men and experiences the life-change produced by those relationships, he’s usually more willing to move to the next level of commitment. Our method is to then put him in classes (a small group) with other men. In general, the content of these classes teach the foundations of our faith, but we’ve found the real growth comes from interacting with other men in the group and as a brotherly bond grows between them.

This follows the model of Jesus and his disciples, or Paul and the men he mentored during the days recorded in Acts. Those men went deep into relationship with one another, and God used those relationships to make a radical change in their identities and their spiritual DNA. I’ve found that most men aren’t interested in growing spiritually just for the sake of growth; they need to know the growth will lead them to become a complete, ready, and able man of God.

In your congregation, do you have a reliable force of godly men trained and ready for mission?

At Saddleback, we’ve found that ministry is where the fun begins for many men. In a sense, these men can do a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ in your congregation. They’re longing to give their time and talent to serve others, and we’ve found that when they give their time and their talent, they also give their ‘treasure.’ Research by Gallup confirms this: Their study found that people actively engaged in a local church give three times as much as those who are disengaged.

That means you could triple the financial contributions in your congregation simply by getting more men connected, growing, and serving.

And connected, serving men don’t just bring their money; they also bring their energy, their innovation, and their families. In the book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, Dave Murrow writes that when the mom comes to church, the family follows 17 percent of the time but when the dad comes, the family follows 93 percent of the time.

Getting men connected and committed is so important that one church in Brownsville, Texas postponed their giving campaign for a year to host an Every Man Ministries Conference. The leadership at this church understands that a connected, growing man will help move a building project from a dream to reality

Are the men in your congregation actively serving in ways that appeal to them and fit their S.H.A.P.E.?

Probably the largest, untapped purpose among men is evangelism. As Christian leaders, we need to offer outreach opportunities and deliberately design evangelism strategies with men in mind.

At Saddleback, we’re encouraging and training men in the ways of personal P.E.A.C.E. (sharing their faith with their friends, neighbors, and co-workers), local P.E.A.C.E. (doing mission projects in Southern California), and global P.E.A.C.E. (taking responsibility for an unreached people group and “adventuring for God” in the world to fulfill the Great Commission). Men need a cause to fight for and many of them are drawn to the challenge of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.

How does your congregation give men a cause, a quest to live for?

Men are drawn to the power and passion of worship. They abandon unhealthy passions, like hedonism, narcissism, and materialism, and reach for the highest and noblest passions that honor their bloody Savior. You need to help the men in your congregation see the Passion of Christ, and then you must challenge them to develop an unwavering passion for God’s Kingdom and God’s purposes.

At Saddleback, we unapologetically call our men to match the love and loyalty of the one who died for them. Spurgeon said, “A dying Savior is the death of sin.” Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this.” God’s man does not have to look any further than the cross to get his motivation. The question is: Are we taking men there effectively and often? Jesus was a full-throttle man – he lived for God and loved him passionately.

Is that same passion found in the men of your congregation?

When you think about your men’s ministry, consider the work of Jesus described in Romans 5:18-19 (NIV), Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man many will be made righteous.

Two men. Two choices. Two different outcomes. Are you helping your men to make the hard choices that lead themselves and others away from sin and toward God’s righteousness?

We’d like to help you develop a deliberate plan for connecting and mobilizing the men in your congregation. We’re offering a Purpose Driven Men’s Summit at Saddleback, Jan. 24-26. This conference is designed for you to bring future, current, and even past leaders of your men’s ministry so they can catch the vision for a Purpose Driven Men’s Ministry Model and learn very practical methods for implementing it.

We believe this conference will revolutionize your men’s ministry, free your men spiritually, and develop their leadership potential. Bring your key men, staff, and lay leadership for fun, friendship, and a more passionate fellowship with God.

May God bless your congregation’s ministry to men.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at