I believe there is a biblical mandate for churches to be intentional about men’s ministry. Elders are called to equip the flock for the work of the ministry, and one element of that equipping is appealing “to the younger men as brothers” (1 Tim 5:1). Peter explains that the goal of this kind of appeal is to teach “younger men…to clothe yourselves in humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:1).
On a broad level, elders train younger men for the ministry by passing along sound doctrine and good practice (2 Tim 2:2). But on a more general level—in other words, even to those that do not desire the work of an elder—men in the congregation require specific training in what it means to be godly. This training is alluded to in 1 Tim 2:2, and is specifically called for in 1 Tim 1:8 and in Titus 2:2, 6.
But if the only reason for men’s ministry was the fulfilling of those commands, I could understand how a church might forgo specific training for the men, and instead use the general gatherings of the congregation for those kind of admonitions. After all, it is not only the men who should be taught to pray, or to be sensible, temperate, dignified, and mature in faith. Certainly the church as a whole would benefit from that kind of instruction.
Yet there are three different cultural forces in the modern world which compel churches to have specific ministry aimed at training Christian men.
- A world without fathers: We live in a world where broken families are the norm, and where men by-and-large grow up with out a father in their lives. As the gospel goes forward and these men are saved, they often join the church and know they should be a godly father and spiritual leader of their household, but they have never seen it modeled for them. Churches can go a long way toward remedying that by having specific training that targets men, and teaches them what exactly that means.
- A world without gender: Facebook recently launched 51 different gender options—I can’t even guess what more than a few of them might even be, but they are listed here (and click at your own risk). The humor behind that really exposes the fact that gender distinctions are all too frequently obliterated. From women in combat to stay-at-home dads, our culture has essentially said, “There are no differences between men and women.” But the Bible does give different roles to each gender, and so it falls on churches to teach the men exactly what their roles are. Previous generations may have understood this, but too often today’s men do not.
- A world without (real) masculinity: to the extent that our world does have notions of masculinity, they are generally barbaric. Masculinity is associated with cage-fights or stupidity. Men are portrayed either as ignorant and absent oafs, or as blood-stained warriors. When many men think of what it means to be “be a real man,” they conjure up images of physical strength and/or intellectual absentness. It falls to churches to teach them what Paul meant when he said, “act like men!” (1 Cor 16:13; hint: the answer is in 16:14).
For those three reasons it is essential for churches to intentionally teach their men how to live, and how to fulfill commands that God has given them.