Ministry to Men in CGs
Here are four simple ways men of GBC can disciple and help other men grow.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Recently, we examined how our Care Groups (CG) can serve as a platform to care for the women in our church. We considered how gender-specific ministry is helpful in the discipleship of each person made in the image of God, endowed with a design for gender. In this article, we’ll consider how men can disciple and help other men grow.
The material for the session comes from a presentation delivered by Pastor Ian Buntain at our CG leaders’ session earlier in the year and expanded in this editorial. While the suggestions here are by no means exhaustive, they mark four simple ways that the men of GBC can start thinking about how to come alongside and sharpen one another.
(1) Raise the bar (for what Christian manhood looks like)
The Bible speaks clearly of the character and fruit that should arise in the Christian life and Titus 2:2 is one such example: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” Written specifically to address the older men in the church, Paul lists out a series of clear character qualities for men to embody. These older, more mature men in the church are to be clear-headed and speak with integrity and gravitas. They should point not to the latest trends, worldly trends and wisdom, or even their own strong opinions, but to the Word of God. They are also to be self-controlled in discipling themselves and be men who invest in things that matter in life and live a life that is “sound in faith, in love and in steadfastness”.
These are clear marks of godly maturity. As a church, we should encourage our men to maturity and to attain to these character qualities. After all, in the secular world, we often set high standards and performance goals for our men, and men work towards the qualities deemed desirable. In the same way, and perhaps more importantly in the church, we need to set these standards of holiness and Christlikeness thus “raising the bar” as we pray for the church to grow.
(2) Do something (with purpose)
Our CGs often gather around God’s Word, but our involvement in each other’s life doesn’t just stop at weekly or fortnightly meetings. In John 14:12, Jesus says that those who believe in Him will also do the works that He does. Discipleship, or following Jesus, is thus more than just knowing things about the Bible, or about God. Disciples are those men who know Jesus Christ personally, and give their energies and attention to doing His work.
Bible curriculum is thus a poor replacement for a personal mentor who trains us to do the work of Christ! Discipleship takes place when we live together in active, obedient Christian community. The tricky part to this is that men often require activity in order to come together, and that those relationships take time to grow. Practically, this could mean the men of the church deliberately coming together over activities to cultivate relationships and find a common joy in activity, but never losing sight of the relationship building that helps us follow Jesus. Over time, this creates a safe space to share, confront and encourage each other. It may begin with a golf game, a cycling trip or even a meal together, but we should always pray and aim to move from mere activity that we do with each other, to opening up opportunities to worship God and speak of His goodness and our struggles together.
(3) Model confessional prayer
James 5:16 states clearly the need for followers of Jesus to “confess (our) sins to one another and pray for one another that (we) may be healed”. The interesting thing about the verse is the connection also between the habit of confessional prayer and the character and habits of a righteous man.
Praying confessionally does not come naturally to us, and it is easier to hide behind our pride, comfort and fears than to be honest and open about our sins and struggles. But it is good to obey God’s word, and in the context of James 5, confessional prayer is freeing for our souls. In confessing our sins to trusted brothers and hearing the gospel assurance that our sins are forgiven, we find strength to trust God, grace to believe the gospel afresh, and experience the renewing gratitude and joy that motivates us to obey Him.
This could take place in the quietness of a breakout group with 2-3 brothers in a CG or even outside of the CG where we can admit our weekly struggles and need for God’s forgiveness and grace. Being honest and open about the areas of our lives where we have fallen short and about our own guilt, shame and sense of failure can be challenging, but it can be deeply powerful and transformative. Psalms 32 and 51 are great examples to follow if we need a template for confessional prayer.
(4) Consistently apply God’s Word
Paul writes to the Philippian church and exhorts them to let their manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27). This is also a wonderful exhortation to the men of the church now. We are called to think about why God’s word matters right now, and how we integrate the things we study and learn to the way we live. Men can do this for one another by helping each other think about next steps and possibilities that we can creatively and consistently apply God’s word. While we are planners and doers, it may sometimes be challenging to apply God’s word to our own lives. Sometimes, it may be easier to help another brother with application instead.
Here are some good questions we could ask one of another: “Is the way we live consistent with what I’ve heard from Scripture this week? Do my interactions reflect the grace of God shown to me in the gospel? Does the gospel change and shape the way I use my time and money, and also how I relate to others?” Brothers can help one another apply God’s word by seeking each other out and having regular conversation to check in with one another, and asking challenging questions like these, to help us see and apply Scripture to what we’re facing.
In our CGs, and in our church, we need each other to speak into our lives and even show us how God’s Word can be applied.