Gary Yagel has authored an insightful article that is posted on the PCA’s website and here at his own. The subject of men in church, or lack of men in church to be more precise, always interests me and should interest you as well. Men are called to lead the church and family, not because they are better, stronger or more intelligent, but simply because God has deemed it so. When the numbers of men attending church are both visually and statistically declining, we need to take notice and take action. Yagel asserts that men need to be understood when he tells us…The loss of the biblical understanding of “disciple” has everything to do with the failure of today’s church to reach men. Men are hardwired for mission. They want to invest their lives in a great cause. Men are drawn to the chance to prove their loyalty and to a challenge that requires making personal sacrifices for a great cause. It is astounding how precisely God has hardwired the male heart to respond to the great cause of Christ’s kingdom. There is no greater mission than to be a part of God’s great redemption of the cosmos, being the first fruits of the new creation, putting the values of the kingdom on display in our own lives, and invading every square inch of planet earth with the values and gospel of the kingdom of Christ . But we are failing to make that connection for men. Yagel continues, When we think missionally, we realize that 21st-century America is sweeping men into a fast moving river of isolation. Studies show that 19 out of 20 men have no best friend inside the church, and male isolation is even worse among non-believers. Unless we help Christian men overcome their American male independence, and challenge them to become intentional about finding a few brothers for encouragement and accountability, their connection in the body will fall far short of what our Lord commands and what He teaches is necessary to grow as disciples. I think Yagel nails it here.
So what is the answer? Yagel asserts discipleship through relationships. Our Lord’s instruction about how to make disciples is a strategy that is exceptionally effective with men. It has two parts. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, 1) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and 2) teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Sacraments are outward, physical signs that point to inward spiritual realities. Baptism, in part, points to our connection to one another in the covenant community. Disciples are made, Jesus tells us, through connection with other members of the body of Christ. The greenhouse for spiritual growth is the body of Christ. Jesus called the original 12 disciples not only into a vertical relationship with Him, but into a horizontal relationship with each other.
Yagel powerfully concludes with the following, Above almost everything, men want to win. They yearn for respect. They fear failure, and are driven to succeed. They fear others finding out what is going on in their private world where they often feel inadequate and ashamed of their secret sins.
Into this masculine story, we must bring the transforming gospel of the kingdom. It is a real story where the perfect man, Jesus Christ, accomplishes a great feat (the redemption of the world) against overwhelming odds (all the power of Satan’s forces arrayed against Him), defeating a powerful foe (the tyrants, Satan, sin, and death), winning a beautiful woman in the process (Christ’s bride, the Church), and then riding in the front chariot in the victory parade (when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord).
We are called to follow Him in the redemption of this world, taking it back through His resurrection power, knowing that the kingdom only grows through sacrifice—a principle established by the sacrifice of Himself at the cross. Transformed by Christ, we are called to the noble task of laying down our lives for our wives, day in and day out. And we are called into a community, fighting shoulder to shoulder, encouraging each other, living out the same level of loyalty to one another and to the High King that Jonathan and David experienced together. That is what fulfilled masculinity looks like and it is a message the missional church must proclaim.
So, what's happening with the men in your church?