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Begin with a challenge, not feelings, speaker tells men’s ministry leaders

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Think you can start a men’s ministry group by persuading a bunch of guys to get together and talk about their feelings?

Forget it, said Geoff Gorsuch, executive director of men’s ministry for The Navigators, a ministry organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“The word ‘feelings’ is a bad word for men,” Gorsuch told men’s ministry leaders attending Discipleship and Family Week at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center, July 21-27. “You avoid that word. You just don’t go there if you are trying to start a men’s ministry group.”

Men are motivated by challenges, Gorsuch said.

“Give him a challenge. Tell them we are going to meet together because we want to take the Christian life more seriously; we want to build better families or we want to change this community. You can’t get them there by saying you want to develop a deep, intimate group.”

Gorsuch said to reach men, leaders are going to have to find out where they are mentally, emotionally and spiritually and then connect with them.

Unlike women’s groups, he said, you can’t just stick men in a room together, give them coffee and doughnuts and expect them to relate to each other.

Men are linear and women are integrated, he said. “This is biologically provable. Scientists wired up a bunch of fellows and a bunch of gals with EEGs and gave them a problem to solve.”

Only half of a man’s brain lit up when he was in a problem-solving mode, and the entire brain lit up when women were trying to solve a problem, he said.

“Women can integrate feelings and facts at the same time. Another way of saying that is that men have to process facts before facing feelings. Women have to process feelings before they can face the facts.”

What that means for men’s ministry, Gorsuch said, is, “Don’t start off fuzzying and feeling with men. That comes much later. Women bond face to face very well. Put them in a room with a cup of coffee, and they will figure out how to have a party.

“Put men in a room with a cup of coffee, and they will look around and say, ‘Who’s in charge? Why are we here?'”

Gorsuch said he believes, like Adam, men are struggling with their identities, their responsibilities and isolation issues.

When the serpent began a conversation with Eve in the Garden of Eden, Adam should have taken some authority, Gorsuch said.

“Instead of telling Satan to ‘get out of here,’ Adam was silent and passive, and he eventually ate the fruit.”

Gorsuch said Adam did three things wrong:

— He had an identity crisis. “God made it clear who was responsible and what he was supposed to do. Adam forgot who he was. He was dazzled by the seduction of Eve’s argument. Like Adam, modern man has forgotten who he is. We should remind him who he is as child of God.”

— He was passive and irresponsible. “Adam did not assert his authority, and once a man knows he’s been irresponsible, his backbone is gone.”

— He isolated himself. “Adam hid himself from God after he had sinned; then he blamed and denied. I think we’ve vilified Eve a little too much on this. Hey, it was Adam’s call. Satan didn’t take on Adam because Eve seemed a little more vulnerable. The original covenant was between God and Adam.”

Men’s ministry groups speak to those who have figured out isolation “doesn’t cut it,” Gorsuch said.

He likened starting a men’s ministry group to running the bases of a baseball diamond.

“The process starts as we step up to the plate with the desire and the determination to become more like Christ,” Gorsuch wrote in his book about men’s ministry, “Brothers! Calling Men into Vital Relationships” (NavPress).

At first base, men become acquainted with each other and accept one another. At second base, the relationships progress to the level of friendship where they encourage one another. At third base, they begin to feel like brothers and consider it OK to exhort or admonish one another.

“At this point, we’re brothers, vitally interested in helping each other reach home plate — growth in Christlikeness,” he wrote.

Gorsuch said it’s important for men’s ministry leaders to know that men “just need an area of safety. Don’t get into too much emotion, intimacy or exposure too soon. I didn’t say men wouldn’t or couldn’t cry, but they have to have a safe place to do it.”

Discipleship and Family Week is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information on men’s ministry, visit LifeWay’s website at: www.lifeway.com/leader_m.asp or go to www.lifeway.com and click on the ministry leader tab.

    About the Author

  • Terri Lackey