I remember the moment when I came to realize that having a strong group of men as friends just wasn’t realistic anymore. I had been married for slightly more than a year. My wife and I were in an Adult Bible Fellowship (I’m one of the old guys who was around before we had Discipleship Communities). We were consistently surrounded by other newly married couples. We did group activities and played games, but I felt an ever-growing sense of loneliness and separation enveloping me.
Liberty University brought me to Lynchburg (shocking, I know). I picked Liberty because I knew that I would flounder at a secular, public college. I needed an environment in which I could grow in Christ and surround myself with other believers who would stand with me in my fight. On my dorm, that is what I found in guys like Mark and Alex.
Mark and I were like brothers. I spent an entire summer with him and his family between my sophomore and junior years. We laughed together, cried together, and were brutally honest about anything and everything that was happening in our lives. Alex was younger than me, but I invested in him with everything I had so that he would be the man that Jesus called him to be. We spent many hours together as we wrestled through what he hoped to see in his future.
Many others can make this list, but the main point is that we wrestled in the faith, we stood together in ministry, and we prayed and poured our hearts out to God. We also fought with one another. We let our competitive spirits come alive in the games that we played. We would get overheated and then ask for forgiveness. At its core, we just did life together.
But then I got married and life changed. Marriage is great. My wife is amazing. I have never loved her more than I do right now, and we are coming up to our 14-year anniversary. But even with all the great things that God has in store for marriage, I was no longer with my brothers and I felt alone.
As a man, what do you do when you feel alone? I did what I expect most of us would do. I thanked God for the years that I had before and convinced myself that those experiences are just for a season of time. That isn’t how life is supposed to look now. Things change. It is time to move on. It is ok to keep everyone at a distance because this is the new normal. There is no need to try to get that close to a new set of guys because it will never be like what it was.
What is the point of men’s ministry within a church? I’ve wrestled strongly with this thought after being asked to write the words you are reading now. Fundamentally, Jesus requires us to be followers of him instead of simply being the right kind of man, and what Jesus asks us to do as men is often the same as what he asks women to do.
Does that mean that the Bible is silent concerning manhood? First Corinthians 16:13 (ESV) states, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” This should be familiar to the men who participated in our last men’s conference. So the Bible does address manhood, but we cannot escape the fact that Jesus is not simply trying to take men who don’t know what it means to be a man and teach them how to be men. Instead, he is teaching them how to be like him, and he tells them to go and teach others to be like him too (Matthew 28:19-20).
So what is the point of a men’s ministry within a church? This feels a bit long-winded to come to this overall point: You are responsible as a man to follow Jesus with everything you have, and you should also live your life to help as many other people as possible do the same. As a result, Heritage Baptist Church (and by extension, the men’s ministry) comes alongside and equips you as a man to grow personally, to invest intentionally in your family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, and challenges you to take the gospel to all who are unreached, both here and around the world.
If I stopped right here, you may be tempted to think about friendships with other men the same way that I outlined above. After all, I didn’t finish my story. It wasn’t too long after I had settled on my new normal that Heritage started a series that not only challenged me to do the things I outlined above, but it also brought me alongside other men who were doing the same. This is the aim of a men’s ministry.
A decade has passed, and some of the names on my list have come and gone, but I now have a group of brothers who stand with me in my faith. Mike is our veteran. He not only keeps us steady, but he ensures that we continue to invest in each other’s lives. Josh challenges us to think, prepare, and go to those who need to hear the gospel. Dave is my best friend. When the Holy Spirit convicts me and I know that I need to be bare and honest, Dave listens and stands with me in my repentance and change.
But do you know why this works? We wrestle in the faith, we stand together in ministry, and we pray and pour our hearts out to God. We let our competitive spirits come alive in the games that we play. We get overheated and then ask for forgiveness. At its core, we just do life together.
This is what our men’s ministry helped provide. This is what I hope all of you men find as well.
Jarrod has been a member of HBC since 2008. He and his wife, Amy, are the current leaders of our Discipleship Community, Fusion.