By William Butterfield
“Men’s Night Out Tuesday at 6:30.” So goes the announcement every month to call the men of our church family together for an evening of fellowship at the Williamsburg (Virginia) Church of Christ (WCC). I am privileged to be among those men who meet each month for mutual encouragement. Sadly, this has not always been a regular part of the ministry of this good church.
Not long ago, many men in our church felt as if they were left to fend for themselves in a world that lacked mercy. They had nowhere to go, no other men to turn to, in their struggles against sin and their desire to be godly husbands and fathers. They loved God and their families, but felt like they were failing both.
Some of the blame must be absorbed by local churches in every community. It is not easy to admit failure, but without such an admission there can be no correction. Once we realized what was happening among the men in our church, we resolved to counteract the trend.
It all began with a few men who opened up to each other about the need for interaction with other husbands and fathers. They began sharing with each other their concerns for themselves and their families. It was more than a sharing of facts; it was a sharing of their hearts.
From these discussions came a resolve to become the best husbands and fathers they could possibly be. They began learning as much as they could about faithful men of the Bible. They selected study materials to help them reach their spiritual goals. They recognized that spending time with each other outside of regular church programs was critical to their success. Possibly the greatest contribution to the group’s success was a personal and collective commitment not to fail.
We met together to watch the movies Fireproof and Courageous. These films were life-changing for many of us. We began to see ourselves in a new light. And we began to change. Rather than talking about the latest football scores and highlights, we were praying together about eternal matters—our lives, families, and church.
Some of the men in the group agreed to keep in touch throughout the week through social networking. And over time, whenever we met in person, handshakes turned into embraces and sheepish grins became ear-to-ear smiles. It was incredible to witness and experience these changes!
As the men in the group began to grow, they became more involved in the ministries of the church. Our benevolence ministry became much more efficient and productive. Our missions ministry received a more prominent place in our church budget and work. Worship leaders were being encouraged to work toward more inspiring and challenging worship times. More Sunday school classes were being led by men. Reaching the lost—especially the lost men in our community—became a greater priority.
The change in this group of men impacted others in our church as well. It was not unusual to hear, “If he can make such a change in his life, there is no reason I cannot do the same!” This new spirit was contagious! During one lesson quarter our men taught every one of our Sunday school classes, from the nursery to the oldest adult class. Men were on the floor teaching meaningful lessons to small children and singing songs of joy with them. And this was the first time for many of the older children to benefit from the influence of a man teacher. Some of the men who have returned to their more traditional roles in the church are now substitute teachers for our children’s classes.
Our Sunday worship services are now being streamed live due to the adventurous spirit of one of these men. He spends hours making sure the very best production of our assemblies can be viewed online. In a matter of weeks, hundreds had participated in this ministry. It opened the door for some of our men to minister in ways they never dreamed possible.
One of our men, an Air Force retiree, became actively involved in leading WCC’s worldwide missions ministry. He was instrumental in sending a team of four young adults to Scotland to work with established missionaries. He has traveled to the New York/New Jersey area to participate in hurricane relief projects. He and his wife have spent countless hours working with others from across the nation, and he speaks on the topic of disaster recovery.
Even as I write these words, one of our young brothers is working with the local school system to help prevent bullying among students. He has spent days with the schools, teaching about the dangers of bullying by talking to those who bully and to those who are bullied. This is a young man who gave his life to Christ only a couple of years ago and has now found his ministry. He too has been encouraged by his brothers in the family to continue this great work.
The examples of the men in our group have renewed commitment among our entire church family. Their lives challenge others to focus on the things that are most important to God.
The difference they have made in our congregation in a community of less than 15,000 people is beautiful and inspiring. I have the privilege of being the preacher of the Williamsburg Church of Christ, but it is the men of the church, led by the Holy Spirit of God, who have made the difference.
Thanks, brothers, and I’ll see you at the next Men’s Night Out.
William Butterfield is a minister and freelance writer in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Resources for Men’s Ministry—and Beyond
The Father’s Plan: A Bible Study for Dads
by Robert Wolgemuth
(Thomas Nelson, 2010)
Courageous Fathers of the Bible
by Joel Biermann
(Concordia Publishing House, 2011)
Being God’s Man in Leading a Family
by Stephen Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Todd Wendorff
(WaterBrook Press, 2003)
Courageous Living Bible Study Curriculum Kit
by Gowan Dawson
(B & H Publishing Group, 2011)
Unnamed: Unsuspecting Heroes Singled Out by God
by Chris Travis
(Standard Publishing, 2010)
The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance DVD-Based Conversation Kit
by John Trent
(Thomas Nelson, 2012)
Spiritual Outdoor Adventures Resource Kit
by Jimmy Sites
(B & H Publishing Group, 2008)