By: WMM Staff
Far too often, many congregations assume that the service ‘muscle’ of the congregation will be …the women. The results from various surveys among synagogues* and churches** show that women consistently outnumber men in all congregational and spiritual categories (attendance, frequency of prayer, service, etc.).
You might say, “What difference would it make to have men more involved in congregational life?” Those surveys state clearly that among those men attending places of worship:
- They are more likely to be married and express a higher level of satisfaction with life.
- Their involvement moves them out of poverty. It also correlates to less depression, more self-esteem and greater family and marital happiness.
- Men become more engaged husbands and fathers.
- Teens, with fathers who regularly worship, are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with dad and that they admire him.
- The presence of involved men statistically correlates with congregational growth, health, and harmony. Meanwhile, a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline.
Why is it like this? There are numerous explanations and speculations offered, but most realize that “the religious gender gap includes ‘nurture’ (i.e., social and cultural forces) and not just ‘nature’ (i.e., biological or evolutionary forces).” “Nurture” refers to the lack of discipleship in the home and in the local congregation for all, in general, but for men in particular: “Less than 10% of congregations have any ongoing ministry to men. Compare this to the 110% of congregations that offer women’s and children’s ministries.”**
Word of Messiah Ministries (WMM), biblically founded as a planting system for all new congregations always requires the discipleship of men. This also includes WMM’s assistance and coaching for the many previously established congregations, to help them further develop, evangelize, disciple and grow. Why a Messianic Men’s Conference? To win the spiritual battles for Messiah, we must continually encourage, edify and empower the discipled men for their biblical leadership roles in the home and the congregation, which is their divine calling from God upon each of them!
This conference, “STIR UP” held in a retreat center in Wirtz, Virginia, was like all the ministries that Sam Nadler is involved in: sound bible teaching, much prayer, small groups of men interacting with other men to personally apply the teachings to their lives, home and congregation. Along with Sam, the other teachers represent some wonderful Messianic congregations: Howard Silverman of Beth Messiah in Columbus, Ohio; Seth Klayman of Sha’arei Shalom in Cary, NC; Tony Mardian of Hope of Israel, Roanoke, Va. In addition, there were newer planters leading devotionals: Devin Baucom of Hope Israel, Monroe, NC and Lew Wayburn of Hope of Israel, Columbia, SC.
Each of the major messages were followed by small group meetings of 8-10 men. The goal of the small groups was to apply the teaching in a practical manner to how we can encourage our brothers, and others. This is essential, since Messiah taught us “If you know these things, blessed are you that do them” (John 13:17). In other words, God’s blessings for our lives are enjoyed in only the practical application of the word, for we are called to be not mere hearers but doers of the divine word.
After prayer and worship, Sam taught the introductory message from 2 Timothy 1:3-7, “Spiritual Gifts Must Be Stirred, Not Shaken: Encourage Your Brother to Stir Up His Gifted Calling.” Since we are our brother’s keepers, we need to encourage one another to “stir up” what God has already placed with us through faith in Messiah. It’s this reactivated gift containing the “power of love and a sound mind” that fulfills the purpose of our creation, redemption and calling as Messianic men. Sam gave several practical ways that the text itself teaches us how to encourage one another: by our appreciation of our brother’s God-given individuality, identification with our brother’s God-given similarities, and our motivation by the brother’s God-given responsibility. According to this vital section of scripture, we are motivated by the God-given responsibility to the brother as it is rooted in his discipleship (1:5), as it is recognized by his leadership (1:6), as it is resourced for his stewardship (1:7): by the Spirit-given power, love and sound mind. Along with the outline, Sam provided discussion questions for small group application.
Then Tony Mardian taught on “stirring up the Spirit-given resource of power.” He demonstrated from the scriptures how this enablement helps us to have the wisdom as well as the ability to fulfill our calling.
Seth Klayman inspirationally taught on “stirring up the Spirit-given resource of love.” The provision of God’s own love in our hearts moves us to make a difference for Messiah’s sake in our home and community. The men were both edified and encouraged by Seth’s excellent teaching.
Howard Silverman, an excellent expositor of the word, taught on “stirring up the Spirit-given resource of sound mind.” Demonstrating from the original language that having a sound mind is having a saved or redeemed mind; that is, being sane in an insane world. He went on to show how to develop this “sound mind” by learning how to inductively study the scriptures. All the men were especially challenged by his message, since it addressed the thought life from where our transformation stems (Romans 12:2). After each message there was both small group discussions on application, as well as much prayer that we would grow into the truth that we might make a greater impact in both sharing the Good News of Messiah as well as encouraging a greater discipleship that will lead to even greater witness and outreach.
As an afternoon ‘elective’ Sam taught the men on godly leadership in the home from 1 Timothy 3:4-5. Sam closed the conference speaking from 2 Timothy 2:1-2. “You are encouraged when you thereby encourage others.” Sam taught we’re entrusted to pass it on to others, since we are called to share Messiah “m’dor l’dor” (from generation to generation); but, to do so requires the same saving grace thru faith in Messiah to become our serving grace faith, all of which is eternally in Messiah Yeshua.
Of the comments received, one typifies what was generally said by the men: SK wrote, “To say that this weekend was time well spent is an understatement. It was life changing for me…”
Continue to pray that Word of Messiah continues working thru the congregations it is planting, as well as with our great Messianic ministries of God and will continue to not only get out the Good News to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles, but also to “make disciples” of men who will continue to share the message of Messiah from generation to generation until the Lord returns. To God be the glory!
* This refers to non-orthodox synagogues per Boston.com
** “U.S. Congregational Life Survey”, uscongregations.org/key.htm; Barna Reseach Online, barna.org; Pew Research Center; www.heritage.org; http://hirr.hartsem.edu; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 12 July 2002, findings based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997).