How to Start (or Restart) Men’s Ministry in Your Church

At Radical Mentoring, we’re passionate about helping churches create environments for men to grow . . . in their relationships, in their spiritual journeys, in their leadership capacities.

Before I jump into how, let’s talk about why. Churches need leaders . . . strong leaders. Male and female. But especially male because when a man goes all-in for Jesus, his influence reverberates to his wife, his kids, his workplace, his community, and his church. He becomes a disciple-maker and draws other men to Jesus. He becomes a more generous giver, both of his time and treasure. Over time, his friends are attracted to how he lives.

But here’s the problem, hardly any pastors I talk to are totally satisfied when it comes to their men. They have a sense there could be more. More participation, more depth, more passion, more commitment.

Here’s what I know. Men’s ministries tend to be event-driven. There’s usually one guy spearheading everything. He organizes an ad-hoc team to make events happen. Outsiders are welcome but rarely come. There’s fellowship, food, and a speaker or program. When it’s over, the room is cleaned up and everyone goes on their way until the next event. Some churches also have curriculum-based studies that tend to draw only the most faithful or ongoing group environments that are more relational, but light on intentionality. So, most men’s ministries are bifurcated . . . events for the masses, intensive Bible study and groups for the few, and no system for consistently producing the leaders your church needs.

I believe the best way to start (or restart) a men’s ministry is through small group mentoring. Why? Because that’s how Jesus did it . . .

  1. Jesus was on purpose – Jesus was kingdom-focused and He invites us into his mission by giving us the job of making disciples. Only through caring for others can we have the “life to the full” Jesus came to offer. God must raise up someone in your church to lead here. Maybe it’s you . . . maybe it’s someone you know.
  2. Jesus handpicked a few guys – Jesus had more than twelve followers, but He picked a few to be his inner circle, praying intensely about His choices. Our event mentality is numbers-focused. Bigger numbers equal more success, right? No. Jesus started small. He poured into twelve guys and they multiplied. 
  3. They walked through life together – Rarely did He sit them in rows and teach them stuff. They learned “along the way,” from real-time situations and people. A core men’s ministry leadership has to “do life together” for real bonding to happen. It can’t be a canned curriculum. It has to be authentic and relevant to their lives.
  4. Jesus explained and lived Scripture – Jesus knew the Law. He brought it alive and made it relevant through His words and His deeds. His guys watched Him live it out through all kinds of circumstances. In a mentoring group, guys memorize key Scripture verses, apply them to their lives, and talk about them regularly.
  5. Jesus prayed and taught them to pray – Jesus prayed with and for His guys, He modeled prayer, and gave them a glimpse of His intimate relationship with the Father by going off to pray alone. Guys who are in community with each other learn how to pray for each other . . . and they will.
  6. A high level of commitment was required – Jesus’ disciples made huge time commitments. They left everything to follow Jesus. A strong men’s ministry begins with guys who are committed to growing in their walk. If they spend a year of intense effort under the guidance of a mentor, they’ll emerge understanding how important Jesus is to them and how important the church is to Jesus.
  7. It was a community – Jesus was there as their leader, but the disciples intimately knew each other because they spent time together, worked together, and challenged each other. Just as the disciples created “ecclesias,” small gatherings of Jesus followers who became the church, when you establish a committed community of men, they’ll replicate that community with others. This is the secret sauce of building a men’s ministry because men feel like they belong.
  8. There was a defined period of time – Jesus poured into His guys for three and a half years. Then He graduated them . . . sending them out to do the work of the Gospel. We’ve found that nine to twelve months is about the right amount of time for a group to be intensely connected. After that, it’s time to send them out . . . to lead, love, serve, and give.
  9. It was about multiplication, not addition – Jesus told them upfront, “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” From the very beginning, it was His stated intention to pass the baton. We’ve seen how men who experience Jesus through a mentoring group are chomping at the bit to pay it forward to others.

Since every one of Jesus’ guys had been taught the Law from birth, this was not about information transfer or content. It was about practical application. Jesus modeled a small group process that led to total commitment, and from that group, the church began.

Launching a vibrant men’s ministry through small group mentoring begins with you . . . the pastor. It begins with your commitment to seeing the men of your church go all-in for Jesus. You don’t have to personally mentor (although some pastors say that making disciples this way brought them new energy), but you must be committed to the process, leveraging your leadership and influence to help it launch.

Here’s a fly-by of our system, distilled from Jesus’ model, and adapted to our culture today, using tools that didn’t exist 2,000 years ago.

It begins with one leader. One spiritually, emotionally, and relationally mature man, handpicked by you. It can be a staff person or even yourself, but it has to be someone the men of your church look up to and respect. He has to be an on-purpose guy who loves Jesus and takes seriously “this way of life.” He is signing up to spend three hours with a group of guys in his home once a month. He must be willing to share his faith story . . . not just the Sunday school version, but “the good, the bad, and the ugly version.” 

Once you’ve got his commitment, then it’s working together to create a list of younger guys from your church who are believers but have the potential to do more . . . to be sold-out for Jesus and assume leadership roles later on when they’re ready. They’re invited by you, on behalf of the church, to apply for the group. This is huge because it communicates the importance and rarity of the opportunity. These guys make a covenant commitment to attend every monthly session, to do the homework, and to pay it forward. 

At the beginning of the year (following the mentor’s lead), each man shares his full-on story with the group. And then, month-by-month they cover a topic that is important from a spiritual formation perspective but also relevant to these men. Things like who God is, who they are in Christ, how to be good husbands, or how to create priorities. Each month, they read a book on the topic, memorize relevant Scripture, do a related homework assignment, pray, and connect one-on-one with another member of the group. At the end of the season, there’s a Commencement Retreat where the guys are sent out to love and lead. Some will move immediately into leading their first group. Some will pay it forward by using their gifting in other ways in the church. But all will grow through the process, including the mentor.

Do this a few times, through a few generations, and you’ll have that core group of men God will use, not only to build a vibrant men’s ministry but to grow and deepen your church and your community.

The beauty of this approach is its harmony with whatever you’re already doing. If your men’s ministry is at ground zero, this is a great way to start small and build a strong foundation. Even if you can only find four guys to invite, that’s enough to start. Watch God grow and energize four men and you’ll likely see more coming behind them. If you already have a men’s ministry, this system offers a “both/and” option that’ll build leaders who help elevate what you’re doing to the next level.

If your current men’s ministry is stuck . . . or dying . . . or ineffective, this is a way to breathe new life into it. The results might not show up immediately. But over time, no ministry can stand still when God grows all-in men and sends them on His mission for His church.

And here’s the best part, all of the resources you need to launch small group mentoring at your church are available to you for free through Radical Mentoring. That even includes a personal guide to coach you every step of the way. If you’re ready to get started, you can access our free resources here today.

Posted on September 18, 2020


Kevin is the President of Radical Mentoring, a non-profit focused on encouraging and equipping churches and mentors to use Jesus-style relational mentoring to create environments for people to be real and develop authentic relationships.
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  • Request for partnership
    Eden Ministries Uganda is an African founded faith based community based organization, established to support churches and vulnerable communities in Uganda through friends on mission network for Christ. Eden Ministries Uganda has brought together a Network of churches in Uganda with a key strategy of fulfilling the mission of Christ and delivery of poverty reduction interventions in Uganda and build partnerships with government, civil society and donors.
    Eden Ministries Uganda is working through a network of churches that have adopted a common mission and are willing to collaborate on various activities to achieve a common goal. The churches in the network are autonomous yet interdependent when it comes to achieving more together. Because they align around a common mission, churches in this network will work together as “friends on mission.” Mission and diversity are highly valued and success stories feature both themes prominently.
    Mission
    We empower local churches to serve the poor and vulnerable, creating sustainable transformation in their communities.

    Vision
    Working through a network of churches to see new communities of faith that will display the goodness of God to the poor and most vulnerable people in Uganda.

    Objectives.
    1. To identify specific situations where networking could solve problems or expand opportunities to serve the poor and most vulnerable people in Uganda
    2. To Improve community sanitation and hygiene for access to safe drinking water.
    3. To ensure deeper and ongoing engagement with church leaders and churches at local and national level in programme design, development and implementation.
    4. To develop a strategic approach to working with churches and focus on issues where there is already strong engagement, such as in humanitarian response and development.
    5. To improve and promote national and international mission and volunteerism through friends on Mission.
    6. To create opportunities for more effective partnerships with donors, government, international organizations and the Church at all levels.
    Key Programme areas of focus
    Our Network builds on the spiritual truth that the gospel brings about changes in the spiritual, social, and material dimensions of a community to wholistically improve the human condition. We utilize an integrated approach to cultivate community ownership of the transformations that take place. Local ownership and responsibility is necessary for the sustainable transformation of a community.
    Providing high quality and inclusive healthcare and education
    For decades, the Church institutions have been providers of high quality and inclusive healthcare and education, including in communities where the state has limited resources and limited reach. The healthcare provision is often recognized for its quality and personal approach. Healthcare services draw on a range of religious orders and volunteers who have the time and the vocation to care for the whole person and who have a commitment to treating everyone with dignity and respect.
    The schools tend to be popular due to the quality of education and the values-based teaching. They can have wider impacts in society due to the links to the wider community and issues they face. This network will work with the children and their families to build self-esteem and provide alternative prospects outside the dominant gang culture. The network will provide schools with access to education for the vulnerable children, who would otherwise be excluded from wider educational opportunities.
    The network will support the government in delivering healthcare in remote areas, which government services have struggled to reach through Eden Ministries Uganda.
    Supporting sustainable livelihoods
    Eden Ministries Uganda will be present at local level and support many communities, both rural and urban, towards sustainable livelihoods. Their ongoing presence and wide range of interventions will enable them to engage in the full spectrum of community activities, including sustainable agriculture, conflict resolution, women’s participation, organizational development, and health and sanitation provision. The length of time the Churches have served these communities, and their focus on serving each person and promoting the common good, means that it is widely trusted.
    Through its presence on the ground, the network will enable the flourishing of different models of development that protect the environment and put people first.
    Transform society (Our Voice, Our victory)
    Eden Ministries Uganda through her network will have a clear and hopeful vision of how the world could be in the future, based on its vision of integral human development and belief in a God who is active in human society. This includes looking after the world for both current and future generations.
    Through the network, Eden Ministries Uganda will implement an evidence-based learning programme with churches, analyzing what has worked and what has not worked in previous collaborations especially with donors and government. This could start with areas of mutual interest, such as humanitarian intervention, peacebuilding and responding to pandemics including Ebola and Covid-19.
    We want to make Jesus Known across Uganda through a friend on mission network
    Eden Ministries Uganda will reach out to everyone with the great news of Jesus and the amazing life-changing stories found in Him. We shall give people the choice to join His movement and let Him use them to transform the world through our network of churches and through the network; “we shall make this a reality”.

    Eden Ministries Uganda Core Value

    1. We value family. We believe children are heritage from God and a blessing from His hand.
    2. We value integrity .We will do what we say and say what we do.
    3. We value relationship. We believe every person is made in God’s image and we believe people are of greater value than Tasks.
    4. We value biblical truth .We are servant leaders who strive to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
    5. We value passion .Whatever we do we will do it with all our hearts, will be men and women of passion
    6. We value stewardship. We are all responsible for every coin, dollar, resources and passion with what God has entrusted us with.
    Our Programs
    Our model builds on the spiritual truth that the gospel brings about changes in the spiritual, social, and material dimensions of a community to wholistically improve the human condition. We utilize an integrated approach to cultivate community ownership of the transformations that take place. Local ownership and responsibility is necessary for the sustainable transformation of a community.
    Economic Empowerment
    Through our economic empowerment, Eden Ministries Uganda empowers local community to build the capacity in savings and this creates the basis of alleviating poverty. When someone can provide for their family, dignity and self-worth are renewed.
    • Micro-enterprise training
    • Micro-loans
    • Community savings group
    • Agricultural development
    Education
    Education is the foundation for development. All development initiatives include community-wide seminars and targeted educational interventions.
    • Financial support for educational resources
    • Community-wide trainings
    • Early childhood development programs
    • OVC support for the vulnerable
    • Friends on mission goat donation
    Community Health and sanitation
    Health is the basis for life. Eden Ministries Uganda will work to build a community health Centre to deal with Disease prevention and health education as necessary to holistically restore community health through.
    • Primary health care services
    • Health and hygiene education
    • HIV/AIDs testing and counseling
    • Community-wide famine relief resources
    Evangelism

    Eden Ministries Uganda will reach out to everyone with the great news of Jesus and the amazing life-changing stories found in Him. We shall give people the choice to join His movement and let Him use them to transform the world through our network of churches and through the network; “we shall make this a reality”.

  • Where is the evidence that what you say is true. (E.g. where are the thousands of men graduates and how do you prove that they did what you say they will do?) Without that confirmation, your pitch seems like hot air, including obviously reasonable principles, but which are not necessarily applicable practical, or productive, giving hope for a program to get others to make a man’s church bigger, better, with deeper and deeper men, all of which turn a profit for your church or business and your personal success.
    It is easy to describe a program (pick a leader, funnel prospects to him, have him do monthly 3-hr events, the men grow and, like magic, the men replicate on their own) that is “fast, fun, and easy” for a pastor, a person who is paid to be a Christian who will be replaced by one guy when his term is up.
    It all sounds like snake oil without the thousands of names of passionate graduates you say your program created.
    I say it is not true. Otherwise, share the list and contact information of the thousands. 4/29/21.

  • I really want to know more about men’s group ministry, duties and how to go about it. Thanks for the information and inspiration of words I have read praise be to God.

  • Praise the Lord, thank you my name is Deacon Gregory white at the Breath of Life Ministry
    I m trying to start up a men Ministry, and need your help, can you suggest some literature topics we could discuss as well as things and events that we can do as a men Ministry I’ll appreciate it

  • Great article! Thank you for sharing.

    Men’s small group settings are so very important. I work with a Men’s Ministry called The Redeemed (https://TheRedeemed.com) who’s goal is to provide men a supportive, communal environment where they can discuss their problems, worries, and feelings of “brokenness” without fear of being judged or censored. Getting into a small group setting to really hold each other accountable and be open and honest with one another is exactly what we strive to do.

  • I AGREE THAT THERE ARE ALOT IF churches that need their men’s ministry reset or are in need of a mens ministry and that many ministries have lost their fire because of the lack of men’s groups. I myself have witnessed churches fall apart because of apathy towards men’s ministry. These tips are excellent and definitely will be put to good use. Another article at https://www.faithfortress.com/blogs/faith-fortress-blog/christian-mens-clothing-blog-measure-of-a-man takes another look at men in general focusing on individual traits that help build a solid foundation in Christ as well.

  • After all the damaged ALL CHURCHS have done over the past four years I hope you disgusting and deployable men and women of the so called “people of God “are out of business forever. You are a bunch of hypocrites you have shown hate, racism and sexism. IF YOU ARE GOING TO GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS, THEN START PAYING TAXES. I am not ashamed of my opinion. You are nothing like Jesus of Nazareth. Just a bunch of hates