Though Christianity remains the dominant religious faith in America, only 35 percent of men indicated they would be found in a church on any Sunday morning, according to data reported by The Barna Group, a Ventura, Calif.-based research firm.
In response to this growing trend, Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) launched Jan. 1 the Men’s NetWork (www.lhmmen.com), an online resource to help congregations and their men’s groups boost their mission outreach to men who are on the fringe of the church or just uninvolved.
“Churches today, like churches throughout the history of Christianity, thrive best when men, women, and children are all present,” said Bruce Wurdeman, LHM director of U.S. Ministries, in a news release shared with the Synod’s Board of Directors.
Citing research from the Evangelical Free Church in America, Wurdeman said that when men are involved in the ongoing church life of their families, it increases the likelihood that their children will maintain a long-term church involvement by 55 percent. “When men are active members in their church, their whole family benefits,” he said.
“This Men’s NetWork Web site has the potential to jump-start men’s groups from scratch. We’ve all seen churches that had great possibilities when it comes to guys in their midst, but there wasn’t a go-to resource for them to find new ideas to grow their ministry. The LHM Men’s NetWork is that resource.”
The Web site contains resources such as video Bible studies, “How-To” instructions for a variety of events — from starting a men’s ministry in a congregation to hosting a fish fry — and a list of domestic and international “Impact Events” in which men can participate. There’s also a “Braggin’ Rights” corner where men’s groups can publish their successes.
The LHM-produced video Bible studies focus on men’s issues, such as understanding man’s purpose in the world, living in a materialistic society, the nature of Islam, the creation-evolution debate, and helping men become the best man at home for their wife and children. The studies are available online or on DVD for a small charge.
Visitors to the site may also visit “The Baloney Shop,” where The Lutheran Hour Speaker, Dr. Ken Klaus, humorously “chops” into the post-modern fallacies and beliefs that Christians daily encounter. The site also has “The Forum,” where registered members are currently discussing how to keep children active in their faith, Christianity as it relates to politics, and creationism versus evolution.
The site also features a “Local/Regional Calendar” with dates and locations of men’s group activities. A recent event included a golf retreat in Boerne, Texas, where 56 men from across the county combined Bible study with three rounds of golf. This summer, the Men’s NetWork is hosting the “First Annual North American Fishing Tournament,” where anglers all over the country are invited to send in pictures of their biggest catches to the site to win weekly prizes.
Keeping content creative and relevant is a challenge, said Wurdeman, “but that’s where the site’s users come in.”
“We want feedback, especially at this very early stage in the use of this Web site. That way — as much as is possible — we can be responsive to comments from the field and hone the Men’s NetWork. Our aim is to provide a resource inspiring men to greater levels of discipleship, even as it brings honor to Jesus Christ.”
Posted May 13, 2009