We have absolutely no problems with starting women’s groups at Cross Point. Our connect events are full of tables with pink balloons signifying new women’s groups. Men’s groups, however, are a different story. A lot of guys’ first impression of groups is they will be forced to be vulnerable and quite possibly hold hands with another person at some point during the meeting. Neither of those options appeal to most dudes.
If we are going to reach men with groups, we have to flip the stereotype. After all, the first biblical small group was a group of twelve guys who dropped everything to follow Jesus and change the world together. We need guys to believe it’s possible to do that again.
When my family moved to Charleston to join the staff at Seacoast Church, our friends Sam and Joan invited us to attend their small group. I had never been part of a home group before and honestly had no interest in starting. I had all the typical fears about my manhood being stripped in a quick two-hour span on a Tuesday night. My nightmare would definitely end with a group hug after the closing prayer.
To my surprise, the first meeting wasn’t that bad. No one invaded my introverted space, and not a single person asked me to share how I had sinned that week. In the conversation after the meeting, with a beverage cup tightly in my hand, Sam did something brilliant: he discovered that I was a musician and invited me to bring my guitar next week. Up to that moment I was trying to think through every excuse to not come back, but the thought of breaking out my axe trumped anything I could come up with. I returned the next Tuesday night with my acoustic in hand and have been immersed in group life for the eighteen years since then.
Sam tapped into something I was passionate about and used it to hook me into community. We had a common interest.
Finding those common interests is the key to reaching men. We need to stop expecting guys to give up who they are so they will conform to our vision of who they should be. Take a look at what a few dudes did in the Bible:
- David fought battles with his mighty men.
- Jesus took a group of fishermen and went fishing with them.
- Paul made tents with Aquila in Corinth.
Ask yourself, what are some common interests that guys already have to build biblical community around?
We have a men’s group at Cross Point that gathers every Monday night during football season to watch the game and do their study during halftime. This group is so popular, it has multiplied several times. Their leader tapped into something that would happen organically and added God to it.
Another men’s group has a common interest in cigars, so a group gets together weekly to smoke cigars and discuss the latest message from Sunday. I am not sure this is the healthiest approach to community, but it works. That group has also multiplied and is now fogging up several back porches around the Nashville area.
Give a group of men the freedom to add God to what they are already doing and there’s no stopping them. How powerful could men’s groups be if they discovered their purpose? They might just change the world—again.
Thomas Nelson Inc, Ln: Small Groups for the Rest of Us (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015).