Men’s ministry in many churches is event-driven, offering a wild game dinner, a golf outing or a trip to Promise Keepers, and men’s schedules can be so demanding they give up on a daily Bible study in the first month, said a church consultant offering a different way.
“Most churches throw events at men. That’s not what they need,” J. Shannon Eads, author of “Winning the Fatherhood Game: A Playbook for the Five Scores that Matter,” told The Baptist Paper. “They need substance. They need accountability. They need direction. They need strategy and mentoring.”
Eads was a Florida church partner with Lifeway Christian Resources for eight years before COVID-19 cutbacks cost his job. Nearly simultaneously, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. In the uncertainty of that time, God gave Eads a new assignment: ministry for men.
“I believe in my heart most men want to be good men,” Eads said. “Most men want to be good fathers. They never had the right example. … Most men and fathers are only doing what they saw modeled, whether it was good or bad.”
Lacking vibrant men’s ministry
If the church loses men, they lose the family, Eads noted, and “we’ve almost lost the family.”
Society, meanwhile, appears to have a goal of destroying manhood or making manhood irrelevant, he said.
“When I was with Lifeway, I visited almost every Southern Baptist church in Florida,” said Eads, a doctor of educational ministry graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “I can tell you on two hands those that had a vibrant men’s ministry.”
Most churches have a strong women’s ministry, but few have ongoing discipleship or accountability groups for men, he noted.
During his cancer fight, Eads wrote, “Winning the Fatherhood Game,” as a men’s Bible study with a sports theme.
“I’d say 90% of my guys in ministry and friends love some type of sport, whether it’s hunting, fishing, golf or bowling. They love to talk sports.”
Overcoming past demons
The book helps men assess their lives in terms of the past score, the present score, the potential score, the permanent score and the perfect score.
“You can never be in the present or looking toward your potential without dealing with your past. I believe upwards of 90% of men carry something from their past — a bad father-figure, a broken home; they’ve made some poor decisions; there was mental abuse, sexual abuse, whatever,” Eads said.
“I walk through in that first section how to overcome your past through Jesus Christ.”
The “present score” helps men learn to be active at home, present in their jobs, involved in helping neighbors, among other things, by teaching them how to get into small groups. The potential score helps men identify two to three goals to work toward.
“I believe most men have something they’d like to do,” Eads said. “They’re too afraid to do it, whether it’s start a private foundation, adopt, do something big, learn a language, help a church, go into ministry. They’re scared to death.”
The permanent score deals with whether a man is saved; and the perfect score is what is achievable in heaven.
“Most of the corporate world that does not know Jesus starts with chapter five,” Eads said. “They try to start with a perfect life, and they spend their whole life realizing they’ll never have a perfect life without Jesus.
“But those who give their life to Jesus will have a perfect life the moment they step into heaven.”
The website ministryformen.com offers a free 13-page leader guide to accompany the book, and Eads, a married father of two, encourages churches, associations, state conventions, coaches and even business owners to consider taking a group through the study.
“The website is a monthly focus. It’s not a daily focus. It’s not a weekly,” Eads said. “I’ve been in ministry 25-plus years, and I’ve talked to enough men to know most men’s work schedules change so much. … If I give them a daily or weekly goal, they’re going to quit by the end of January.”
By giving men something they can listen to on their work commute or during a lunch break, Eads hopes to see progress. Each chapter of the book recommends resources.
Eads has a vision of consulting with churches and other groups through video calls and possibly occasional visits to strengthen ministry to men.
“I’ll do this until I die — which is one man trying to tell every other man where to find peace,” Eads said.