I am often asked- “Hal, why do we do Iron Men at Church at the Bay”, what is the real value? I was reading the book- “Why Men Hate Going to Church” and it made me really re-think ministry. I believe woman are more “spiritual” (if that’s the right word) than men. Just look at who showed up first at Jesus tomb, the higher percentage of women involved in churches, the higher number of women serving in churches. I am not going to try to play junior psychologist and try to explain why- it just seems to me that ladies are more responsive to God. That does not make men evil or “less than” or second class (maybe slow?). It does not mean there are not a lot of godly men out there. I do believe we men need an extra push and or challenge. As a man, I respond more to the challenge side of the Gospel than to the care side. You may be thinking- that’s just you. Maybe, but over the last 15 years of leading men’s ministry I have found it to be true for the men I lead.
- An interesting thing that I discovered during that time is early morning meetings seem to be more effective for men. Here are some of the things I discovered:
- When the time is early and requires discipline- men often respond positively to a challenge. In fact, when I get up early I think I am winning.
- When I tried meeting at night- it competed with family time and required the wives to bear a heavier load around the house.
- My wife, Sandy, and many of the wives I know of guys that attend, appreciate the early time that it doesn’t reduce the family time or work load.
- Most wives seem to want their husbands to attend once they begin to see positive changes or the hope of them.
- Men do not do well with talking heads- especially early in the morning. Therefore, I talk in spurts of 5 minutes and then kick it to their groups for the next 10 minutes.
- Men respond well to authenticity. So I talk often from my point of failure and challenge the groups to be authentic as well.
- Early morning meeting need to start and end on time. I have also found that our Iron Men meetings do better when we run them in 4 -6 weeks cycles. So we run hard for several weeks and then take a break.
The real goal of Iron Men is to help men get past the shallow discussion of weather, the ball game, the new car and talk about the truth of Jesus and how it can be applied in their lives. My hope is that Iron Men will be catalytic for other meeting like lunches, coffees and such where guys can get real in a small group. I have heard from more than one guy- “I have never talked about issues like this with other men” and that is a win.
Before I close, let me say this about the ladies. We (Church at the Bay) also provide opportunities for ladies to connect in groups as well. I am not for neglecting women (I am married and have a daughter- no way that will happen!) and most of the ladies I know are excited and grateful when they see their husbands becoming men of God.
So wives- we start a 4 week Iron Men run, help me get him out of bed: