Yesterday we looked at the tenets of Scripture concerning the teaching and training of our children. We discovered the problem we have in America of broken families, primarily because of absentee or unengaged fathers. So what can we do? Just leave all of this up to the mothers and the church youth pastors to fill the void?
Let me begin by saying, I understand we are ministering in a society today that is increasingly unfaithful in spiritual and physical relationships. There is a huge number of single-parent families and a complexity of step-relationships in our nation. Many men are itinerant figures at best in the home. There are potentially many women reading this post who are doing their very best to be father and mother in the home. I tell you dear lady, don’t lose hope. God will provide and he will take care of you and your children. You can see as a wonderful encouragement the example of Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy and how they trained him without the father being engaged in his spiritual upbringing (See 2 Timothy 1:5-6, Acts 16:1).
Therefore, as churches, we don’t neglect you and your plight. We must come alongside and help. I try to provide a male influence in the lives of many young men and ladies in our church who do not have a father in the home. There are other men in the church, I help pastor, who do the same. Certainly, this is very difficult and there is much that could be said here. However, my purpose is not to address the exceptions, but rather the rule of Scripture in this matter of reaching and equipping the fathers. Again, this endeavor is also difficult and it takes much time and attention to draw the men to Christ. But, are we attempting to do so or have we just given up?
It seems many churches across America have accepted fatherlessness as the norm, and even the ideal in some cases. Today we have emasculated or gender-free Bibles and there is a growing movement toward egalitarian doctrine that is feminizing the Church. Yet, we cannot feminize the Church and keep the men and we cannot keep the children, if we do not keep the men. No
father equals no family, and no family eventually equals no faith. Winning and keeping men is essential to the community of faith and vital to the work of all mothers and the future salvation of our children. So, how can we shift our focus?
Understanding the need to grow our men and reach out to others in our community, as many of you know, we started a group called Iron Men. The Bible teaches in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Under this premise, we began the ministry with only a handful of guys, but in less than a year we were averaging around 50 men each week. We continue to meet every Wednesday at 12-noon for lunch at a local Cowboy Church (a large building in the middle of our town with plenty of tables and chairs). I bring in lunch, and I put out a donation basket for those who wish to give and with what is given each week, the cost to the church per man, per week is only $1.
I have seen this ministry literally transform and change the lives of many men and their families. I could tell you story after
story about men who have been coming to these meetings getting sharpened each week. What kind of impact has it had on their families? I wish I could show you a video of these guys giving testimony to the changes they are seeing in their families because they have decided to allow Jesus Christ to be their Lord and their boss. It’s phenomenal!
This is a practical and tangible example of what I mean when I say we must begin to redirect our focus as churches. We must begin reaching men again, not to the exclusion of women, but the family rises and falls with the leadership, or the lack thereof, of men. The Scriptures and even secular studies show this to be true. As believers, we know it is God’s created order and his design for the men to lead. We must return to this design and recognize within the Church that our role is to partner with men and families to train and educate the young. As we understand our responsibility and our role as a Church in doing so, we will reach families in ways that we’re not currently doing.
Regarding our men’s group, I think of the relatively small investment. About $1 per man. In a year’s period of time the church will have about $3,000 invested in this ministry, which is just a “drop in the bucket” compared to many of our other ministries. Think of what your church is spending on youth ministry and children’s ministry. When will we begin to return to the ancient paths and refocus our efforts on the family?
I told the 45-year old youth pastor to do what I did several years ago. I said, “Change your title. Call yourself a Family Pastor.” He smiled and said, “I might just do that.” I hope he does.