by David Murrow, Founder – Church for Men

How can a church that averages 350 men, women and children on a typical Sunday, attract more than 400 guys to a first-time men’s event? Put another way: how can a church that counts no more than 150 men as regular attendees, bring out more than 400 men for its inaugural men’s rally?

Impossible? I saw it with my own eyes, as the guest speaker at the “Men’s Super Supper” at South Gate Baptist Church in Springfield, MO, January 30. In an era when well-established men’s ministries are struggling to bring in men, these rookies packed a gym full of guys on a Sunday night. How did they pull it off?

1. The event had a champion. Todd Anderson is a guy who’s crazy about the message of Church for Men. He contacted me and promised 400 guys. I was skeptical, but the Spirit urged me to accept his invitation to speak.

2. The champion got the support of the pastor. Todd immediately got Pastor Nolan Carrier’s support for the event.

3. The champion gathered a team of men to help. Todd didn’t put the event together alone. He built a team of half a dozen guys to help with logistics, publicity, etc. Todd and his team got the word out in the local media and called many area churches to personally invite men. Some churches sent 20 or 30 guys.

4. We looked at the calendar and chose a guy-friendly date. January 30 is the Sunday before the Super Bowl. There’s no football that weekend. In fact, we marketed the event under the slogan, “No football? What’s a man to do?”

5. We built on a sports theme – and promised laughs. We played up the comedy angle of my presentation. The name “Men’s Super Supper” was an obvious tie-in with the big game. Promoting it as a “supper” instead of a rally, gathering or worship service made it more appealing to men.

6. We charged admission and fed ‘em barbecue. The $10 admission fee forced men to commit to the event, and got ‘em looking forward to brisket, beans and ‘tater salad. The guys powered through 500 lbs. of chow, not counting a phalanx of desserts provided by the women of the church.

7. We kept it unreligious. No praise and worship music. No singing, hugging or hand-holding. We played manly movie music while the men ate (Star Wars, James Bond, Bonanza, etc.) Then we played a comedy clip from Brad Stine, and followed with a log-sawing contest. We did guy stuff – not church stuff.

8. Topic. I started off with a few laughs, and then I drew the map to manhood for the guys. I showed them how Jesus and three other Bible heroes walked (or didn’t walk) these paths. Every guy was locked in. The visuals really helped.

9. Timing. We promised “in and out in 99 minutes.” We started at 6:06. I got off the stage by 7:30 and gave the men 2 simple questions to discuss at their tables. We dismissed right on time at 7:45.

10. What we’re hearing back from the guys: At least one guy decided to follow Christ. Several others began deep conversations about their spiritual lives. A number of teens have begun reading, “The Map” and are discussing their spiritual lives in terms of the three journeys. And South Gate Baptist has the core in place for a dynamic ministry to men.

If you’re thinking about having a men’s rally at your church, this is a good template to follow. Go back and review the ten points: 1, 2 and 3 involve your organization; the next four involve marketing; and the last three involve the event itself.

Of course, one thing that goes without mentioning: you have to pray. Todd had many people (men and women) praying for this event. The women of the church were extremely supportive as they watched their men get fired up.

David Murrow is the director of Church for Men, an organization that helps congregations reach more men and boys. In his day job, David works as a television producer and writer. He's the author of three books, including Why Men Hate Going to Church. He lives in Alaska with his wife, three children, two grandchildren and a dachshund named Pepper.