Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday 411

Took the day off.  Went fishing. 

Renae and I got up early and put the boat in the water just after daylight. After four hours of fishing we did not have even one strike on any of our lures. The weather was gorgeous, and the water was slick as glass.  But the tide was too low.  Dead low.

So we improvised the plan.  Gave my mother a call and invited her for a boat ride.  She met us at the boat launch, we picked her up, and the three of us headed upstream.  Stopped at a couple of sandbars.  Took a few pictures.  Then we worked our way all the way up to the place where Coldwater Creek merges into Blackwater River.  It’s a very neat place.

Really enjoyed spending time with them.

Even though we didn’t catch any fish, we WILL be eating fried mullet tonight. Courtesy of Southern Seafood.  :-)

On our way home, we stopped by the garden so I could water.  Renae picked some more squash and I pulled my first new potatoes.  Yay!  They get added to dinner too.

See pictures below.

Tomorrow it’s back to the grind.  Got some tough stuff coming up.  Prayers appreciated.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump - April 29, 2012


There was more spiritual warfare taking place in our service than I have seen in a long time.  The distractions were everywhere… all in an attempt to interrupt the morning message, which happened to be one of the most important that I have ever preached.

Some of our sound equipment was unplugged, a piece of equipment got knocked over in the middle of the singing, and the batteries in my mic failed.  If that wasn’t enough, at some point during the sermon about seven men from our ushers dept and security team rushed out of the sanctuary into the atrium, and then out the front doors!  I was mid-sentence on the stage and all I could think in the back of my mind was, “Has there been a medical emergency or has some combative person showed up?"

The text I preached from is one I have NEVER preached from in all my years in the ministry.  It’s so challenging that I didn’t think I could handle it skillfully (i.e., exegesis), so I’ve always left it alone.  Today, all that changed.

And the devil showed.

And PCC turned a corner.

I have turned a corner too.

The current discipleship emphasis I am teaching right now is the message of the gospel.  I will not deviate from it.  Ever.  I have learned so much, personally, in the last year or so that I will never be the same. 

I think our church is headed for a turnaround and a new era of leadership too.

I’ll write about this in a day or two.

After church today Renae and I spent the afternoon touring the parade of homes in Pace.  It was a lot of fun.  We got to see new custom homes that had really nice features.  All out of our price range, of course.  But since we are still planning to build our empty nest home, we’re looking for ideas.

Our garden is doing real good.  We picked squash over the weekend; enough to fill two five-gallon buckets.  Gave most of it away.  We’ll pick again in two days.

I finally got water to the back the property.  Up till now I’ve had to use 550 feet of hose to water the garden.  But over the weekend I got 600 feet of PVC pipe installed with three spigots (hose bibs).  Thanks to Curt Schepper who made it happen.

Having access to water will change everything out there.

I’m going to begin landscaping soon.  My vineyard is about to materialize. :-)

Renae and I are going fishing.  Hope to haul in a few keepers.  I am so ready for a day on the water.

I have been preaching/teaching at PCC for fourteen years.  I want to last for fourteen more, and the only way I can do that is to assemble a teaching team to assist me.  New voices from the stage are in our future.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Disciples Who Make Disciples (Part 2)

Discipleship training today has become merely a class or program that imparts information, but doesn’t always result in transformation.  Making disciples (who make disciples) is more robust in its effort than just teaching a class or absorbing someone’s lecture.  It means pouring your life into the life of another, who then goes out to repeat the process.  Just as Jesus invested three years of Himself into the original twelve, He commanded them to do the same.

Three important compentents of making disciples (who make disciples) are:

1.  Teaching to Obey.  Making disciples (who make disciples) isn’t about teaching just anything that comes to mind.  It’s teaching people to “obey” the commands of Christ.  Jesus said, “go, make disciples.... baptizing them… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded"  (Matthew 28:19-20).  That’s what disciples are – obedient to the Lord.  They live totally surrendered lives to Him.  Yet, there’s a lot of teaching in the church that does not accomplish this single objective.

2.  Investing & Modeling. Another aspect of making disciples (who make disciples) is personally investing yourself into the life of another and modeling a Christlike life.  Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1), or “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  This goes far beyond teaching a class, seminar, or sermon.  It involves the extra-curricular, yet more risky, time-involvement of modeling a transformed life in front of another.

3.  Motivation.  Once you have the motivation to make disciples (who make disciples) the “how-to” becomes clearer.  For example, for discipleship to be reproducible it can’t be specialized (or a one-shoe-size fits all approach).  The scholarship of a seminary student may have a role in the Body of Christ, but it can’t be considered as disciple making.  Making disciples is more subjective and less specialized than that.  Instead, all Christians who are motivated to follow Jesus are compelled internally to share Christ with others; mostly for their love for Him, but also because He commanded it.

Anyone unwilling to make disciples as Jesus commanded cannot truthfully be a disciple himself.  For some reason, most of us are not involved in this most fundamental task of being a Christian.  Those first disciples did what Jesus commanded and that has been the method God has used to advance His kingdom for two thousand years.

Making disciples (who make disciples) goes beyond calling people to the lowest common denominator of commitment.  Jesus’ call was a radical call of surrender and commitment, so why do we call people to only a fraction of that commitment?  Even worse, why do we (as Christians and church leaders) often model only a fraction of the devotion that should be on display in our lives for others to follow?  It’s like we are doing nothing more than selling fire insurance an the altar of cheap grace, rather than showing someone how to lives a transformed, vibrant, abundant life that Jesus offers.

Jesus doesn’t offer fire insurance.  He offers a new life.  Making disciples (who make disciples) is about calling people to a radical new lifestyle, to walk as Jesus did, while inviting others to walk alongside.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did (I John 2:3-6).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Starting a Church is like Starting a Business

.........The only difference is that in this business the “business partners” won’t be getting a financial return; the “shareholders” give money (tithe) for the privilege of working for free; the "employees" do not own any part of its assets; the “customers” are expected to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus; and the “product” is a message that is offensive to 90% of the people who hear it.

That’s why I’ve come to a few conclusions:

1.  It takes an act of God to start a new church.
2.  It takes an act of God to grow a healthy church and sustain it for years and years.
3.  That act of God always involves the people of God.
4.  It’s up to God to get the right people in the right places at the right time.
5.  These churches make disciples, not consumers.

Disciples who Make Disciples (Part 1)

Jesus’ last command was simple and direct, “go, make disciples.”  He then ascended into heaven, leaving the future of the church in the hands of eleven men and a few dozen other followers.  That was His strategy.  That was the entire game plan.  “Make disciples.”  There was no Plan B.

And it worked!  They pulled it off!  They made disciples everywhere they went.  And for the last two thousand years disciples have been making disciples.

If there is one thing we must do and do well, it is to make disciples who reproduce themselves.  That is the core of our calling. 

Yet very few of us are actually doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthrew 28:18-20.  Instead, the commission to "make disciples" is often interpreted in one of two ways:  (1)  Some pastors try to make disciples by emphasizing evanglism, getting people converted, and then telling them to simply “attend church.”  Or they outsourch discipleship-making to some church program.  (2)  Other pastors will simply gather established believers and attempt to “go deeper," endlessly teaching the same people over and over again, instead of teaching them to be a witness to their neighbor.

This is the problem with seperating evangelism and discipleship. The former is engaged in making converts, the latter is engaged in something he believes to be discipleship.  Evangelsim without discipleship isn't evangelism, and discipleship without evanglism is not disciple-making!

The other problem is in the pew.  Even when we succeed at developing people in spiritual formation, many of these very same people do not reproduce themselves.  Instead, they continue to depend on church leaders to provide another program or activity to keep them occupied.

I think it’s also worth nothing that Jesus commanded us to make disciples and not simply go out and find them.  Church leaders often take the easy route.  We expect disciples to materialize because we have a line-item for it the budget or preach a sermon series on the topic.  Or we launch a new program.  Or we insert the word “discipleship” in a mission statement that hangs on the wall and assume that we will crank out disciples as a result.  We speak eloquently on the subject of discipleship, congratulating ourselves for being a “discipleship church” but we actually “MAKE" precious few of them.  Most often we “FIND” them when they show up at our door from another church.

Somehow, we miss that part of Jesus’ command to “make” disciples and forget that making them is really hard work.

Disciples make disciples.  That’s how this thing works.

We must return to the story of Jesus with fresh eyes and rediscover some ancient truths – that discipleship is a process, not a program, it’s about completing spiritual workouts rather than completing a spiritual workbook.  It's about making disciples who, in turn, will go out and make disciples themselves.  That's how the kingdom is actually expanded. 

This plan is simple, but it requires time and hard work.  And now, just as then, there is no Plan B.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Discipleship - It's What I'm Thinking About

For the last year or so I have been thinking a lot about discipleship.  In the last few months I have totally immersed myself in the subject.  I’ve read a few good books that offer help to churches wanting to improve their discipleship efforts.  Plus, the current sermon series at PCC (Becoming a Disciple) is an overflow of my personal devotions.

In this journey I have become convinced that PCC could do a better job of making disciples.  We have always been a disciple-making church and have done a pretty good job at it too.  In fact, some of the best disciples I have ever encountered are in our church family.  But we can do better.  In fact, we must.   After all, making disciples is the work that Jesus assigned to the church.  There is no Plan B.

For years I used to think that Jesus’ command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them receive Jesus as Lord, and then educating them in certain doctrines later on.  Perhaps you have seen it that way too.  As Americans, or as Westerners, we approach the gospel primarily as information transfer.

However, Jesus clearly regarded His disciples as protégés who would not only listen to His teachings, but would seek to be like Him.  Jesus reinforced this principle repeatedly and expressed displeasure towards His followers when they honored Him with their words but failed to do so with their actions.

He defined a disciple as:
·        One who denies himself (Matthew 16:24)
·        One who takes up his cross (Matthew 16:24)
·        One who follows Jesus (Matthew 16:24)
·        One whose love for other people and things pales when compared to his love for Christ (Luke 14:26)
·        One who gives up everything (Luke 14:33)
·        One who loves the brethren (John 13:35)
·        One who continues in the Word (John 8:31)
·        One who bears fruit (John 15:8)
·        And many other attributes.

In light of this, I have arrived at a few conclusions:

1.  Churches are not very effective in the making disciples (like the ones described above).

2.  The many programs and activities provided by churches do not necessarily translate into spiritual growth.

3.  Disciple-trained Christians are better evangelists, more generous in their giving, and more willing to sacrificially serve.

4.  Discipling relationships are vital to making disciples.

5.  The goal of discipleship is to slowly make believers stand on their own two feet.  That is, the church is responsible for helping believers grow to a certain point.  After that, they should feed themselves and focus on helping the church with its mission …. to make more disciples.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday Mind Dump (for April 22) - Tuesday Edition

Last Sunday I preached my 884th sermon at PCC.  Most of those have been consecutive, over the years, without a break.  Nor does it count the classes, seminars, training sessions, weddings, and funerals.  That’s a lot of talking.  That's a lot of study.  It's depleting too.

"....much study is weariness to the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

The last week has been crazy!  And busy.  That's why I haven't written on my blog since last Wednesday. 

Got to spend some time in my garden over the weekend.  Very therapeutic for me.  It gives me a place to go, and the physical labor relieves stress.  Plus, it gives me a sense of accomplishment to complete a physical task.   i.e., I can step back and see where I started and where I finished (even if it involves using a shovel).

The ministry is not like that.  The work is never done.  No matter how much I do or get done, it’s never finished.  That’s why I have to just push back and let some things be.

The plants in the garden are taking off.  It’s exciting to see everything growing so fast and looking healthy.  Hopefully it will provide me with a harvest in the end. 

I’ll post another picture in a couple of days.

Even my wife is impressed with how good it looks.

I really dislike the new timeline on Facebook.

I’m two weeks into the current series (Becoming a Disciple) and it’s challenging.

Part 1 was “Rabbi.” 
Part 2 (last Sunday) “When the Rabbi Calls.” 
Part 3 (next week) “Following the Rabbi.”

Jesus was not as interested in large crowds or big numbers as much as He was a surrendered life.  That’s why He thundered His nonnegotiable terms of discipleship – He wanted people to know what commitment to Him looked like. 

His message of discipleship never failed to thin the ranks because it peeled back the thin veneer of skin-deep commitment and got down to the nerve endings.

It still has the same effect today.

My hope is that the idea of discipleship gets a firm grip on a lot of people in the PCC family. Jesus did not say, “Go, make converts.”  He said, “Go, make disciples.”

I am consumed with the idea right now.

It was a good day at PCC last Sunday.  Attendance was strong too.  I really liked the offertory, “It Is Well With My Soul.” 

I especially like how people hang around after church so long.  That’s a good thing.

My leadership style needs to change.  It's going to change.  I’m a work in progress. 

The last month has been insane.

Two weeks ago we were experiencing Easter hangover.  Last week things were back to normal.  Thank God.

God isn’t too worried about attendance on Easter and Christmas Eve.  He knows they only come around once a year.  That’s how they got their name.

People come and go, attendance will rise and fall, enthusiasm will wax and wane; but my wife and family will be with me for the long haul.  So I’m going to invest most of my effort there, have fun along the way, and chill out about the rest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Got This Comment Today....

This comment was left on my blog post, "Bloom Where You Are Planted."

Thanks Pastor Ron, This is a Powerful post that is right on time for my situation. Recently, I've been struggling with thoughts of relocating back home to Atlanta,ga. With the thought God can still use me back home. But, all the ministry opportunities as it relates to my calling to preach, have been right at the church where I am now in Florida...I've learned sometimes we have to forsake places where we think we should be, and allow God to guide us where he has planted us. I've been planted in my church and there is nothing that could cause me to believe otherwise. Thanks!

We Have Failed.... if

If we minister to people in our congregation for any significant amount of time and don’t succeed in raising them up as disciples who desire to do the Lord’s work and God’s will, we have failed.

That is the goal of the gospel – to “make disciples” – not create crowds of nominal believers.  The work of the church is to “make disciples.”  There is no Plan B.  For the last fourteen years at PCC we have been doing that very thing – making disciples from the ground up.

The painful part of making disciples, of course, is that a few of them will move on to other fields of labor.  That means PCC loses them to another church where an opportunity for ministry presents itself.  It’s a bitter-sweet experience for us.  On one hand we hate to lose them.  On the other, they go to a new place where they have kingdom impact, which is a joy for us.  Our loss is another church’s gain, and in the end God’s will is advanced.

These kinds of departures are good.  Real good.  They happen in manner they are supposed to happen – on good terms with blessings, tears, and excitement at what the future holds.

This is normal and natural.  It’s like the child who grows up into young adulthood and leaves home for college to begin a new life.  The parents experience joy at seeing all their years of training into their child paying off, but are saddened by their child’s departure.

So the cycle of life continues.  And so does the ministry at PCC.  In fact, you can read about mine and Renae’s similar journey on her blog (here).  It’s an excellent article. 


The other side of the coin is longevity.  These are the people who are in the for long haul.   Many stay for a lifetime.  We thank God for such people at PCC who feel led to remain planted here, to deploy their gifts here, to flourish here, and to invest themselves and resources in a ministry that has proven itself fruitful over that last fourteen years.  And they are willing to continue doing so for decades to come.

I have been in deep thought about our church over the last few weeks and have come to realize how much steady, consistent, kingdom impact we have had on people’s lives over the years.  We are not a flash in the pan.  We are here to stay.  God is in this thing.  We are making disciples and we will continue to make disciples.  And I know, with absolute certainty, that most of you will continue this journey with us, getting under the heavy end of the log when necessary, and helping advance this church to its next level so that we can become the prevailing church God has called us to be. 

Why would you do such a thing?  Because you know this is where God wants you to be, just as I know this is the place He wants me to be.

I have written about the benefits and blessings of longevity before.  It’s worth re-reading.

Pastoral Longevity and Church Health (here)

The Benefits of Not Changing Churches (here)

Bloom Where You Are Planted (here)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Too Many Messages (Organic Part 8)

I remember the day it happened.  It was many years ago in my last church.  It was a moment of absolute clarity mixed with complete frustration.  Just before the Sunday morning service began I realized in utter resignation that I was not going to say anything in my message that was going to make a bit of difference to anyone. 

Why?  Because for the average person in my church, my message was preceded by a Sunday School class, and then followed by a Sunday night sermon, a Wednesday night sermon, as well as varying men’s and women’s Bible studies throughout the week.  We were bombarding our people with at least five distinct messages a week and expecting them to make spiritual commitments based on every one of them!  I realized that day that we were asking the impossible.  I also realized that my Sunday morning sermon was just another homily in the heap.

When we planted PCC fourteen years ago I knew I would never repeat that pattern again.  It was too much work for me to preach three or four times a week, especially to the same people.   Plus, people get dizzy from the varying messages and multiple calls to commitment.  All of it adds up to being very busy with very little impact.

That’s why I prefer to put most of my effort into a single Sunday morning message.  It’s beautiful in its simplicity and effectiveness.  People only need to focus on one message, one-life change, and one appeal to commitment, this week. 

That’s also why I like sermon-based small groups or sermon-based Bible classes as a mid-week option for those who want more –  because a discipleship focus is built right in.  It takes the pastors sermon and digs deeper.  Through conversation and interaction, each thought can be fully developed and fleshed out.  People will take the time to explore every nook and cranny – related themes, related texts, points of application, and issues for prayer – out of one sermon they heard in worship.  One text, one idea, and one theme contend for people’s minds at a given time.  Plus, it’s organic – no big assimilation strategy or campaign effort is involved or needed.  People simply listen to the sermon, take notes, get together, pull out their message guide and start talking.  Even a newcomer to our church can slip right in to the discussion if they have been to the Sunday service.

Of course, there are other options that we offer at PCC in addition to the Sunday serivce that are very effective.  However, we keep them to a minimum to ensure clarity and to avoid fatigue.  Too many messages only confuse people and too many options results in lower participation.

The reality is most that people don’t have the time a lot of extra time.  It’s a two time-slot world we live in (see here). 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why PCC Needs a Strategic Calendar (Organic, Part 7)

Churches need an annual calendar.  Not a bloated calendar that schedules too much.  Rather, a strategic calendar. 

A strategic calendar is one that schedules only the events and programs that are of such value that they must put on the docket, while others are not allowed on the calendar at all. This creates a unified effort and laser focus on what's most important.  Also scheuled on a strategic calendar is plenty of down-time, or margin, in-between these high-value events.

1.  A strategic calendar keeps us from competing with ourselves.  Churches are among the worst culprits when it comes to internal competition. It’s routine for churches to offer too many events, activities, and programming all at once.  That’s not very smart.  We can end up becoming a federation of sub-ministries with people running in different direcitons all at once, not to mention the depletion of manpower and other limited resources.  You can read more about it (here)  (here)  (here) and (here).

Instead, we should emphasize a few strategic things each quarter – which gives us laser focus and effectiveness – instead of clogging the calendar with too much – which spreads church leaders and particpants too thin. 

The same is true for the church bulletin or Sunday announcements – we should not promote everything going on at church.  When everything has the same perceived importance, then nothing is more important than anything else.  Fewer is better.  Less is more. 

On the other hand, when we get the entire team in the room and work on the big-picture calendar, we stop stepping on each other’s toes and stop confusing our people with multiple action steps.

A Little More Progress

Took this picture today.

Here is the garden two weeks ago. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30)

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
I John 2:6

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Weekend at PCC

1.  This Sunday’s message is entitled Rabbi.  It's part 1 of a new message series I'm beginning called Becoming a Disciple. 

In order to gain a full appreciation of what a disciple really is, we’re going to look at discipleship in Jewish culture in a first-century context, which is where the concept of discipleship originated.  Specifically, we’re going to be looking at the rabbinical system of Jesus’ day.

As Christians we can never forget that the Bible – from Genesis thru Revelation – is essentially a Jewish document (not American or European).  Once we view the Bible from a Jewish cultural context, familiar stories will take on new life as we see them from the perspective of the original audience.

Something has happened to Christianity in America.  We have drifted away from the (first century) emphasis of discipleship, and instead, have emphasized cheap grace in its place.  Many people who call themselves Christians don’t even know what a disciple is.  While everyone agrees that it is essential to believe in Jesus as our Savior, we tend to view His lordship as optional; like extra credit.

Jesus and His disciples had a very different view of discipleship.  They made no distinction being “being saved” and “submitting to divine authority.”  To them, to be saved meant being fully surrendered to a life of obedience – to walk as their rabbi walked.

2.  What can I say about last Sunday?  The place was packed.  It can be the same this Sunday.  Invite a friend, bring a guest, and bring your Bible.  It's going to be a great day.

3.  Tomorrow, Saturday,  is the memorial service for Tom Pence.  It will be at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Men Need Space

When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. (Psalms 118:5)

Men’s Ministry expert Dan Schaffer says, “Women equate closeness with safety.  Men equate personal space with safety.”  It’s true.  You see this whenever men gather in an auditorium.  They spread out like marbles dropped on a kitchen floor.  But women sit in tight little knots, with hardly a seat between them.

In church we often force men to become physically close and touch each other in a way that’s uncomfortable for them.  Many of these rituals are unbiblical and unnecessary.  But we do them anyway, even if it drives men away.

Handholding.  I’ve been in too many church services where everyone held hands across the isles while singing a unity hymn.  I hate it.  Most men do.  Especially when we have to hold hands with another guy!  We don’t like doing it in small groups either.  I’ll shake your hand, but don’t ask me to hold your hand.  Holding hands with another guy is a serious manhood violation.

Hugging. If people want to enfold one another, that’s their business.  Hugs are absolutely appropriate among close friends or in counseling situations.  But it’s tough on men to hug other men.  I mean, where else in our society do male strangers lock up in an embrace except church?  Men are quite capable of being friendly without being so personal.  In fact, they prefer it that way.

Prayer mushrooms.  When we gather around a man and lay hands on him for prayer, we may unknowingly violate his need for space.  You know what I’m talking about: Brother Joe mentions his back is sore, and before he knows what hit him a prayer mushroom has sprouted.  A crowd gathers around him in the form of a circle, heads bowed and eyes closed.  He’s in the center.  Not only does he have unfamiliar hands all over him, but he must remain frozen for 10 minutes or more while everyone has their say, or does some kind of chant.

Other men see what happened to Brother Joe, so they keep their prayer needs to themselves, scared to death that they might end up underneath a prayer mushroom too!  But most women love prayer mushrooms because closeness is comforting for them.  Men need space.

Men’s meetings.  Incredibly, men’s meetings are the worst offenders.  We hug men when they arrive.  Then we place them in tight circles, asking them to read aloud, to share, and then to top it off by holding hands and praying for 10 minutes.  Finally, everybody gets a hug and it’s time for cookies.  No wonder fewer than 10% of US churches can’t maintain a men’s ministry – it’s actually a women’s ministry for men.

Men need space.  Plain and simple.

.........he brought me into a spacious place. (Psalms 118:5)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Missing Fathers and Young Men of the Church

Why are there so few men in churches?  Why do wives sit in the pew disappointed because their husbands do not attend with them?  And why do single women bemoan the lack of godly, single, churchgoing men to choose from?

Most people assume that men are just less religious or less spiritual than women, but this is untrue.  For instance, other religions don’t have trouble attracting males.  And Jesus was a magnet to men.  But today, few men are living for Christ at a time when other men are dying for their religion.  Why do other religions inspire make allegiance while Christianity breeds male indifference?

Christianity has become too feminized for men.  That’s why. 

Consider.  There’s a lot of emphasis on emotional satisfaction in Christian churches.  Think of sitting in a circle, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, and comforting members.  Men are not going to do it.  Think of the worship songs that portray Jesus as a lover whose beauty and tenderness is to be praised.  It’s very difficult for a man to sing love songs about being intimate and passionate with another man – even if it is Jesus.  Men would rather sing about His justice or strength, or refer to Him as Sovereign Lord of righteousness who vanquishes His enemies. 

Listen to the terminology commonly used today to define the Christian life.  You hear words like comfort, nurture, share, embrace, sensitivity, and feelings.  Men gag on this kind of religion.  It’s like angel food cake – soft, spongy, and unsatisfying.

Even though these words are Biblical terms, the list is incomplete.  Missing are words like risk, challenge, sacrifice, action, count the cost, lay down your life, pick up your cross, die daily, change, conflict, dangerous, reward, conquer, shield, sword, battle, fight the good fight, and be a good soldier.  These are Biblical words too, and they are the language of men!

Disciplines such as apologetics, theology, ethics, and study are de-emphasized in favor of relationships, understanding, and sensitivity.  There is little room for rationality, moral judgments, boundaries, disagreements, confrontation, and debate, or many other masculine activities, in an environment where feelings rule supreme.

Another turn-off for men is the touchy-feely sermon.  These sermons, delivered by touchy-feely pastors, stress feelings and inner spiritual experiences while neglecting the intellectual side of the Christian faith.  Men want to see the relevance of Christianity to the real world they live in.  As long as churches continue to appeal only to the emotional, therapeutic, and relational aspects of the faith, it is going to appeal more to women than men.

Men love apologetics.  They love theology, philosophy, ethics, science, and history.  Men love competition.  Men love anything that can be debated – anything where there is a winner and a loser!

Churches tend to emphasize Jesus’ softer side like His love, desire to save, and holding children, while ignoring the doctrines of sin and hell.  Men detest liberal Christianity – a mild religion that leads to “personal enlightenment.”  Men want to expend their lives on a great cause and follow a great leader.  This guy with soft skin, a white robe, and a blue ribbon tied around his waist doesn’t appeal to them.  The Man who cleansed the temple with a braided whip does.

To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ – including the Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

Although males have not completely abandoned the church, manly men are in short supply.  Tough, earthy, working guys rarely come to church.  High achievers, alpha males, risk takers, and aggressive visionaries are noticeably absent too.  These rough-and-tumble men don’t fit in with the quiet, introspective, genteel types who populate churches.  Today’s churchgoing man is humble, tidy, dutiful, and above all, refined.

What a contrast to the men of the Bible!  Think of Moses and Elijah, David and Daniel, Peter and Paul.  They were lions, not lambs – men who took charge and risked everything to serve God.  They fought and spilled blood.  They were true leaders, tough guys who were feared and respected by the community.  All of these men had two things in common:  they had an intense commitment to God, and they were not what you’d call saintly.

Such men seldom go to church today.

How did Christianity that was founded by a Man and His twelve male disciples become so disliked by men today?  The church of the first century was a magnet to males, manly men.  Jesus’ strong leadership, blunt honesty, sharp words, and bold action (like cleansing the temple) mesmerized men.

Maybe we are not speaking mens language.