Men Need Safe Place for Mutual Support: Expert
The Christian Post
Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011
Why don't men share their struggles more in the church?
The answer, according to an expert, is that they don't feel that it is a safe place, a place where they are comfortable opening up their lives.
Men in church are often surrounded by their wife and children and are preoccupied with their needs.
But, with a few very intentional steps, a church can create a safe place where men will gladly participate in male soul talk, sharing their dreams and struggles and helping each other walk in faith.
Unlike women, men need to win each other's confidence and respect before they can offer mutual encouragement and support.
Compared to women, "men take more time to get to the place where they are ready to do soul talk," noted Dr. Geoffrey Gorsuch. He is Director of Men's Ministry for the Navigators.
A series of events discussing male-specific issues facilitates men coming together in small groups for mutual support.
One model consists of a monthly seminar, a weekend retreat and an annual conference.
"Once that bond is there, then information can flow freely through each other's lives, to each other, and help and encouragement can come relatively strongly at that point," said the expert.
Men will not engage in masculine soul talk in the presence of women. A man will only do it with another man that he trusts. Men who have done that will probably find it easier to open up and talk to their wives.
Men's ministry is not just theory for Dr. Gorsuch. He has personally benefited from mentoring by men committed to helping younger men. Since then, he has been involved in assisting men's ministries for some 25 years now.
He helped Promise Keepers develop its men's ministry curriculum. And he has been foundational in the development of the National Coalition of Men's Ministries (NCMM).
Having moved to Singapore in 2005, he has become advisor of the men's ministry committee at his church. He also advises the Men's Ministry Network in Singapore as a founding member.
Prayer, God's Word and a good strategy are essential to men's ministry. So is research on the male make-up, support from the top-level leadership of a local church, committed and respected men leading the ministry.
There is a need for churches to place greater emphasis on ministering to the unique, basic needs of men.
Much of what the Church does is oriented toward meeting the needs of women and children, the expert observed.
"We must be intentional to create what we call a safe place where men can feel free to process their lives and to do what we call masculine soul talk," he said.
The best way to encourage churches to minister to male needs is to lovingly invite their leaders to see and experience the work of existing men's ministries.
Dr. Gorsuch is presently involved in organising an upcoming conference on October 22 to engage pastors and lay leaders in a discussion about the philosophy of men's ministry. It is aptly titled: Demystifying men's ministry - a vital part of male discipleship.
In the final analysis, men's ministry is simply about helping men be better men. It is about helping men feel competent in family, work, community and community service.
The men's ministry he is part of seeks to reinforce the development of men's consciousness and awareness of their four roles in life. It also seeks to equip men with practical skills to fulfil those roles.
A man is called to build the Kingdom of God. He is to stand for righteousness and social justice. And he is to love the souls of his wife and children. Finally, he is to come alongside other men who share the same heart, vision and passion for the things of God.
The men's ministry movement started in the 1980s with the deep desire of American Christians for ministry to men. Now it is coming to Asia. And Singapore is a significant part of it.
Having assisted men's ministries in the region, Dr. Gorsuch said: "I have found that where I have really seen the greatest hunger and desire to develop men's ministry, that's here in Singapore."
Dr. Gorsuch's website: www.lifecoach.org
Men's Ministry Network website: www.mensministrynetwork.org.sg