TWO QUESTIONS FOR MEN FAR FROM GOD
How can a Christian leader reach men who are far from God?
I’ve been asked that many times, maybe because reaching such men has become a part of my mission. In fact two or three times each month I gather with guys in a neutral location just to hang out together. But my purpose is deeper than fellowship.
Of course it always starts there: loud laughter, rude kidding, good natured insults. Soon it transitions to life and talk about work and wives and kids.
After awhile I pose two questions for each guy to answer. I’ve been asking these questions in meetings like this for seven years, and I continue to see the remarkable results they bring. The questions:
1. WHAT IS GOD SAYING TO YOU?
2. WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?
If a guy answers, “I’m not hearing anything from God,” then the second question is, “What will you do about THAT?”
More often I hear, “Well, I’m not sure it’s from God, but here’s what’s been on my mind.” And then we have something specific to discuss as we think about Question 2.
My experience hearing answers to those questions from guys who aren’t yet Christians has led me to several conclusions.
• GUYS ARE MORE WILLING TO SHARE THEIR FEELINGS THAN MANY SUPPOSE.
These men have told me about addictions, affairs, problems with pornography, and all the self-doubt and fear that comes with living in our complicated world.
• THOSE FAR FROM GOD HAVE BEEN THE MOST WILLING TO BE COMPLETELY OPEN.
In fact I hear more honesty and see more vulnerability from the non-Christians than from those in our group who have grown up in the church. But when the churchgoers see others being so open, many of them begin to take off their Christian mask and tell what’s really going on inside them.
We usually end these sessions with prayer. I give them permission not to pray while encouraging them to try. I’ll never forget the prayer one night from a guy new to the group. The room was silent when it was his turn in the circle to pray, and I thought he’d just pass. And then he said, “God, if you’re there, I sure could use some help.”
No churchy words, no well-formed and familiar phrases. Just a simple plea from a guy who knew his life’s a mess. I hear raw, authentic prayers like that every time I get together in a group like this.
When Christian guys hear such prayers, they realize their usual prayers often sound like a bunch of fluff. The openness of those with little faith challenges experienced believers to get real.
• MANY GUYS NEED A SPACE LIKE THIS.
One time I took my dad with me to one of these gatherings, and he said, “How I wish I would have had a group like this when I came back from Vietnam. I think my trajectory would have been a thousand times better.” It is true that many men are lonely; many men don’t have a friend or a setting where they can find light for the dark places in their lives. A group like this can provide it.
• EXPERIENCES LIKE THESE WOULD NOT HAPPEN IN A COUPLES GROUP.
Put these same guys in a room with their wives, and the answers I’d hear would be altogether different.
• SOMETIMES WE OVER COMPLICATE SMALL GROUPS.
Without a curriculum, without a lesson, with only a commitment to listen intently and challenge these guys to grow, I see growth happen. I’m talking to men who think they’d never go to church. And I’m helping them discover that God is waiting for them outside the church building’s walls.
What experiences can you share about reaching men for God? What do you think of my two questions? Do you think they’d work with a group you attend? Share your thoughts or experiences in the Comments section below this post.