No Man Left Behind (Paperback)
Men’s Ministry is Rocket Science
Pat Morley, one of the authors of the original No Man Left Behind book, has a favorite business saying he picked up somewhere along the way: “Anyone can bring me a problem; I’m looking for people who can also bring me a solution.” This chapter provides an overview of a proven system to help you disciple every man in your parish. The rest of the book will unpack this system in detail.
During a high-tech boom, a few young professionals in Orlando, Florida, decided to start a dream company. With backgrounds in helping the homeless, the jobless, the disadvantaged, and the sick, they created a unique computerized system to track cases as they passed through the social services community.
As word got out about this new technology, inquiries poured in from all over the country. Soon they had a for-profit company, investors, and consultants. They were going to do well in the world. In the process, they hoped to do well for themselves too.
The American Dream
One of those young professionals was responsible for selling the company’s software. In its first year, the business made its first million dollars in sales. It was hard work. This salesman would go anywhere, anytime, to talk to anybody. He attended countless conferences and made dozens of sales presentations. He was living the American Dream: being in on the ground floor of a technology company.
Soon, venture capitalists started calling. They told him and his team how they should grow. They said if certain benchmarks were hit, they would be ready to invest. He and his team began to believe they would hit it big.
Following the venture capitalists’ advice, he hired a national sales force. Soon six people scattered across the country were looking for potential customers. But those salespeople were new to both social services and the technology, so after they found the prospects, he flew out to make the presentations. Instead of one person scheduling trips for him, he now had six people doing it!
The Bubble Bursts
Then the stock market started to go south. Suddenly the venture capitalists that had been breathlessly waiting for the company to grow stopped returning phone calls—even as the team met the potential investors’ benchmarks.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” this salesman had heard all his life. So he worked even harder. Even without the capital from those investors, he was determined to make the company a success through sheer will.
One afternoon, he got an excited call from his representative in Texas. He asked him to come the next day to meet with a large government prospect. A little weary, the salesman called his wife to break the news that he had to go on yet another trip, and on short notice. Her response caught him off guard. “That’s OK,” she said. “It’s easier when you’re not here.”
He tried to laugh it off. “Easier when I’m not there. Ha!” The man and his wife had two small children, were active in their church, and owned a home. What was she talking about? When he got home, he asked her.
“I mean it’s easier when you’re not here,” she repeated. “You’re trying to build a company, I understand. But it’s not easy for me either. You call at five thirty to say you’re finishing up and you’ll be home in thirty minutes, then you walk in at eight o’ clock. I try to keep dinner warm, but it’s ruined. I’m the one who has to answer the kids when they ask, ‘Where’s Daddy?’ or ‘Why is Daddy so grumpy?’ When you are here, you’re so tired that you pretty much ignore us. So go on your trip. We’ll be fine. Really. It’s just easier when you’re not here.”
He was in trouble. Worst of all, he didn’t really know how it happened. He had told himself he was doing it all for his family. He would buy a nice house in a good neighborhood for his wife, send his kids to good schools, and give money to charity. But somewhere along the line, he had lost his way. He realized it hadn’t really been about his family; it had been about him.
Ironically, while he was losing himself in his company, he and his wife were busy at their church, where they led several hundred grade school children in the youth program. He grew up in church, and now he was a leader in his present church. And yet his wife and family preferred for him to be gone. It was easier. He had become a distraction in their lives.
Why was he being left behind? Why hadn’t he connected with his church in a way that helped him become a passionate disciple of Jesus Christ?
Does any of this story resonate with your life? How about some men that you know?
The Paradox of Men’s Ministry: It Really Is Rocket Science
Men’s Ministry. How hard can it be? Think about it: You’ve got men; you’ve got a parish. Add a testimony, some pancakes, a prayer, and—poof!—a Catholic men’s ministry. Or perhaps not, especially in light of these words of John Paul II to American bishops:
Sometimes even Catholics have lost or never had the chance to experience Christ personally; not Christ as a mere “paradigm,” but the Living Lord: “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
We’ve worked with thousands of Catholic and Protestant churches across America to help them disciple men. Leaders from parishes all over the world have journeyed to Orlando to attend classes at our Leadership Training Center. This book is based on what we’ve learned from these and other parishes. You get to stand on their shoulders.
To encourage and motivate these leaders, we used to tell them: “Look, what we’re trying to do here is not rocket science.”
And then during one class . . . a new insight. As we stared at this group of leaders struggling to reach men in their parishes, we realized that these were not clueless men. Many were successful businessmen. They were accomplished, intelligent, hardworking men. And yet, year after year they were struggling to reach and disciple the men in their parishes.
Why? Because men’s ministry is grueling. As one leader said, “A man is a hard thing to reach.”
Men’s ministry actually is rocket science. While the process is simple enough, men themselves are quite complex.
When you are working on rockets, things are pretty objective. It’s all about physical laws and mathematical concepts like gravity, velocity, angles of ascent, and coefficients of drag. But men are not nearly as predictable. Rockets don’t get laid off, have trouble with their kids, or endure a health crisis.
Still, there are some parallels between rocket science and men’s ministry. For example:
- Gravity. Most men shoulder the burden of supporting a family financially, trying to be a good husband and father, and resisting the temptations of a world that wants to drag them down.
- Velocity. Some Catholics, especially recently converted Catholics, go like gangbusters. But many men have been in their parish for a long time, their enthusiasm is waning, and they often end up simply attending Mass.
- Angles of ascent. Some men get it and steadily move forward; others careen back and forth in their spiritual journey, veering off and hurting people as they go. The key is to ensure they are moving toward Christlikeness.
- Coefficients of drag. Jobs, soccer games, family problems, parish commitments, hobbies. . . . All these seem to hold men back as they seek to develop or deepen their faith and their ministry.
- Men’s ministry actually is rocket science, only harder.
- It takes a long time to make a disciple.
- It can take up to ten years to build a successful men’s ministry.
- There’s no such thing as “The Five Easy Steps to an Effective Men’s Ministry.”
- Formation of men for discipleship needs to go from the prototype stage to the manufacturing stage (i.e., from conversion to transformation to mobilization for mission).
- Your system for building disciples is perfectly designed to produce the men who are sitting in your pews—or not.
- The No Man Left Behind Model will help you move men in your parish step by step toward becoming mature Catholic disciples.
If you’ve been struggling to get traction in your men’s ministry, this should bring you relief and hope. It brings relief when you understand it’s not just you (it really is hard to reach and disciple men), and hope because this book contains a strategy that can help you do it. You can reach men in your parish. You can get them to grow closer to Christ.
The Physics of Men’s Ministry
You must accept several constants, however, if you are going to launch and sustain a powerful men’s ministry. (These will come up again later, but it’s good to manage your expectations from the start.) Here are three realistic parameters to remember:
First, it takes a long time to make a disciple. Jesus spent three years with his disciples, traveling with them, eating with them, teaching them. Even then, one of them sold him out, another one denied he even knew him, and all of them panicked and hid after Jesus was killed. How can we expect to make disciples in a twenty-four-week class?
Second, it can take up to ten years to build and sustain a successful men’s ministry. That’s right. Ten years. As Richard Foster said, “Our tendency is to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.” There’s just no such thing as an “overnight men’s ministry success story.” If you stick with it, eventually you’ll look around your parish and see men who are disciples and leaders. You’ll realize that your ministry is responsible in some way for most of those men. And it will take ten years. You are not called to produce immediate results, just to be faithful.
Third, there are no “Five Easy Steps to an Effective Men’s Ministry.” There aren’t even five hard steps. At the Leadership Training Center, they sometimes refer to this as “Insert Tab A into Slot B Men’s Ministry.” It just doesn’t work that way. This book is preceptive, not prescriptive. It explains “why” and “how” to disciple men, but won’t specify exactly “what” to do. Instead, it will help you plan your own concrete next steps according to the culture and needs of your parish.
From Prototype to Manufacturing
The cold, hard reality is that we will not see a revival in America and the world if effective disciple-building of men does not move from the prototype stage to the manufacturing stage. What do we mean by that? Imagine you were alive in 1900. You might have seen an automobile drive through town. People would have gathered to point and stare at this unusual new apparatus. But only twenty-five years later, to see an automobile would have been no big deal. Why? In 1913 Henry Ford invented the assembly line with a conveyor belt. By 1927 the Ford Motor Company had manufactured fifteen million Model Ts! Ford helped move the auto industry from the prototype stage to the manufacturing stage.
Right now, many Catholic parishes are doing a wonderful job of empowering men to become disciples using a variety of different programs. You may have heard about some of them. There are approximately 17,000 parishes in America, according to CARA’s 2016 statistics. Our passion is to see a dynamic disciplemaking ministry to men in all these parishes. Forming men as disciples needs to move from an unusual activity in a few parishes to a common characteristic of parish life.
A Perfectly Designed System
What about your parish? In business we have an axiom: “Your system is perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting.” Imagine a factory where the front right fender falls off every third car that rolls off the assembly line. The manufacturing “system” of the factory is perfectly designed to produce cars that have a one in three chance of a fender falling off!
This applies to more than manufacturing processes. The same can be said of ministry systems (or models). In other words, the discipleship “system” of your parish is perfectly designed to produce the kind of men you have sitting in the pews (or not sitting in the pews, as the case may be).
How This Book is Structured
That’s why in this book we focus on helping parishes and equipping and training leaders. We will present you with a system designed to sustain an effective disciple-making ministry to men in your parish. This model has already been proven in many churches—it’s a system that works, a system that’s designed to create passionate disciples.
The goal is to form Catholic men who embody the Great Commandment—to love God with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.
The NO MAN LEFT BEHIND Model
This model demonstrates how to build a “people mover” or “conveyor belt” to disciple men within your parish. Just like a moving sidewalk at an airport or an assembly line at Henry Ford’s factory, this process helps men get from where they are to where God calls them to be.
The remainder of this chapter presents an overview of the components of the model as well as a preview of what’s to come in the rest of the book. We’ll take a helicopter view and fly over the major concepts and insights. Don’t feel like you have to grasp it all now—the following chapters unpack each aspect step by step.
It’s important to be familiar with all of these ideas before discussing each one in detail because together they form an integrated whole. This system is most definitely more than the sum of its parts.
The model has three sections. The purpose of “Part One: The Promise of Men’s Ministry” is to better understand how men are doing, what they need, and how to help them. The purpose of “Part Two: The Foundations of Your Ministry to Men” is to understand the building blocks of a sustainable discipleship system in your parish. The purpose of “Part Three: Executing Your Men’s Ministry” is to give you a strategy to disciple every man in your parish.
By the end of chapter twelve, especially if you work through it with a team, you will create a concrete plan for exactly what to do in your parish.
Part one will be explored in chapters two through four, part two in chapters five through seven, and part three in chapters eight through twelve. Here’s a quick introduction to each.
Part 1: The Promise of Men’s Ministry: What Your Parish Can Do For Men
Before you start building a system, it’s a good idea to understand both your starting and ending points. We begin with the men. Exactly what is it we hope to accomplish with them?
The men you are trying to reach are the raw materials of your system. The men in your parish community are the inputs on the left side of the conveyor belt. You will read more about the state of men in America in chapter two.
Your goal is to create an environment that God can use to produce active, committed disciples. As we know, disciples are men who are called to walk with Christ (converted), equipped to live like Christ (formed), and sent to work for Christ (mobilized)—see 2 Timothy 2:15. They are the outputs, or products, of your men’s ministry system; they are men who are mature in their Catholic faith.
The introduction to Our Hearts Were Burning within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States puts it this way:
We are eager to witness and share the word of life about the reign of God faithfully, so that each new generation can hear this word in its own accents and discover Christ as its Savior. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus shares in this mission. To do their part, adult Catholics must be mature in faith and well equipped to share the gospel, promoting it in every family circle, in every parish gathering, in every place of work, and in every public forum. They must be women and men of prayer whose faith is alive and vital, grounded in a deep commitment to the person and message of Jesus.
Some disciples will become leaders, and some of these leaders will become allies. What do men look like at each of these stages? Chapter three will cover leaders in depth, but below is an overview of the basic stages.
1. Mature Catholic Disciples. These are men who embrace a close relationship with the Lord and seek to live a godly life, characterized by faithful participation in Mass, regular reception of the sacraments (the Eucharist and Reconciliation are crucial—see CCC, 1324, 1422), and an active prayer life. They grasp the gospel and are hungry to grow. They have stopped seeking the God they want and have begun to seek the God who is. They understand that change takes place from the inside out. They know from their own experience that Christianity is not only about behavior modification; it’s about the continual conversion that leads to spiritual transformation. The Catechism describes them as men who live into the fullness of their baptism (see CCC, 1227) and are sealed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit in confirmation (see CCC, 1289). We go into greater detail about mature, faith-filled Catholics in chapter nine.
2. Leaders. These are men who are beginning to live out of the overflow of their own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. No longer are they concerned only with their walk with God; now they want to do what it takes to help other people grow too. These are the “trustworthy” men who will, in turn, pass what they have learned on to others. Read more about leaders in chapter six.
3. Allies. These are men who have become passionately convinced that God can use them, and other men in your parish, to transform the world for His glory. These are the men who become future members of your men’s leadership team and fuel growth in your discipleship ministry with men. Pray and focus your energies on creating allies. Read more about allies in chapter four.
Part 2: The Foundations of Your Ministry to Men
Three components provide a solid base on which to build your men’s ministry—the Portal Priority (your philosophy of ministry), a Man Code (the environment you create for men), and the Three Strands of Leadership.
The Portal Priority. Parishes that reach men effectively make discipleship their portal priority (“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”). By this we mean that all the other initiatives of the parish serve the purpose of discipleship. You cannot produce worshipers by begging men to worship; you can’t produce faithful stewards by shaming men to give; you can’t create Catholic evangelists simply by training men to share. Men will not worship a God they do not know and revere; they won’t give to a God they don’t love; and they won’t share about a God they aren’t passionate about. Jesus’ model is to produce disciples who worship; disciples who give generously of their time, talent, and treasure; and disciples who are passionate to share the good news about what He has done for them. We discuss the portal priority in chapter five.
A Man Code. Parishes that effectively disciple men have a strong masculine atmosphere. They create an unwritten “man code” that defines what it means to be a man in their parish. New men soak it in from the atmosphere: “To be a man here is to be important and valuable, and also to play a part in what God is doing to transform the world.” Sometimes the incredible adventure of following Christ is buried beneath boring bulletin announcements. Many men are just waiting for an invitation. Make your parish a place where men can be men. You’ll read more about a man code in chapter five.
The Three Strands of Leadership. To disciple all the men of your parish community, your conveyor belt will need a strong foundation, which comes from leadership. Successful discipleship ministries for men have the endorsement and involvement of the pastor (an ordained priest), a committed leader (which could be a priest or deacon but will most often be a layman), and an effective and renewed lay leadership team—three strands of leadership (like the cord of three strands in Ecclesiastes 4:12). Leadership is explored in chapter six.
Above the Foundation: The Process
On top of this foundation, we will help you build a “conveyor belt” process of your men’s ministry.
Wide to Deep. Parishes that reach men build a system that moves men along the “wide-to-deep” continuum. A goal of your parish men’s ministry is to meet men who may be lukewarm in their faith (interested in opportunities on the wide side) and move them along toward becoming passionate disciples (invested in ministry on the deep side). Each activity or program in your parish will appeal to men who are at different points on the continuum. One role of leadership is to make sure all your leaders are on the same page and that you have the entire continuum covered to help disciple every man.
All-Inclusive. Develop an all-inclusive mind-set by recognizing that everything your parish does that touches men is men’s ministry. In other words, the size of your men’s ministry is equal to the number of men in your parish. The traditional understanding of men’s ministry includes only those activities that happen when men are by themselves, such as Knights of Columbus meetings, Saturday morning men’s communion breakfasts, or men’s Bible studies. All-inclusive men’s ministries disciple men right where they are, maximizing every interaction with every man. You have a “men’s ministry” with every man in your parish— the only question is, “Is it effective?”
The wide-to-deep continuum and the all-inclusive ministry are both detailed in chapter seven.
Part 3: Planning and Executing Your Men’s Ministry
Once the conveyor belt is built, you need an engine to start it in motion. You’ll build and execute your plan with the Vision-Create-Capture-Sustain strategy. Implementing this strategy helps move men step by step along the continuum to become mature disciples. Here’s a brief introduction to the elements, which are described in detail in chapters eight through eleven, respectively.
Vision. Parishes that produce strong disciples clearly define and communicate their vision in ways that resonate with men. Use a name and a slogan or phrase that connect with men at a gut level. In every interaction you have with men, explain clearly and passionately how this event or activity helps fulfill your purpose and brings glory to God.
Create. Create momentum with men by creating value. Get a man started in discipleship by helping him take a new step spiritually. Invite him to breakfast, a men’s group meeting, a men’s Bible study, a Catholic men’s conference, a retreat, or a special men’s activity. If he says yes, it’s because you have given him something he believes will be valuable.
Capture. Capture momentum by giving every man a “right next step” at the time that you create momentum. Use short-term, low-threshold activities that make it easy for a man to keep moving forward. For example, offer a six-week topical study on a commonly felt need, such as deepening our faith, or perhaps money (financial planning), or work. Make sure you capture momentum by asking men for a commitment at the time they most feel the value.
Sustain. Sustain momentum by engaging men in the most effective long-term discipleship processes of your parish. As quickly as possible, help men enter into meaningful relationships with other men through small Catholic men’s fellowship groups. Most lasting change takes place in the context of relationships. Sustain change by focusing on the heart rather than allowing men to simply be nice and perform.
Repeat this cycle over and over through your interactions with men and see how God uses it to help men become passionate disciples.
Building Your Plan. This system will work differently in every parish. In chapter twelve, we walk through the entire model again step by step. We give you two sets of exercises—one to work through in the next three months, the other in the next year. This will give you a chance to build a concrete plan that fits your parish.
What is the result of implementing this system in a parish? You’ll be a part of a dynamic parish filled with passionate men who live and love like Christ. We have seen this in hundreds of churches across America.
Why Is This So Important?
Parishes dedicate a great deal of money and time each year to various programs. However, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), associated with Georgetown University, only 24 percent of self-identified Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis. One is tempted to ask, “What strides have been realized in areas like retention of Catholic men at Mass, divorce prevention, or fathering?” The consequences are staggering. Many from the baby boomer generation were raised by divorced or separated parents. Now the sins of the fathers are being visited on the next generation: Tonight, 33 percent of America’s seventy-two million children will go to bed in a home without a biological father. Sixty-six percent of them are not expected to live with both biological parents through age eighteen. We are now bearing the full brunt of the consequences of our failure to disciple men.
The Opportunity: The Man Comes Around
The story at the beginning of this chapter is not an illustration. It’s the true account of one of the authors of the original No Man Left Behind book, Brett Clemmer.
About the time his wife told him it was easier when he was gone, he got a call from a friend. “You know how our wives are meeting in that women’s Bible study? Well, I was talking to some of the other husbands. Maybe we should have a guys’ group too—if for no other reason than to protect ourselves, because I’m pretty sure they’re talking about us.” Brett was pretty sure too. He wondered what his friend had heard about him. “Sure,” he said. “What are we going to study?”
“Remember the book they handed out a few weeks ago? Just bring that and we’ll see if we want to use it.”
He brought the book, and that group, he says, was the beginning of a rebirth of his faith:
The book was The Man in the Mirror. We decided to study it, and it saved my marriage, my family, and in many ways, my life. The book spoke directly to what I was going through—the whole concept of cultural Christianity seemed like it was taken right from my experience.
He adds that the most important part of their study was the half-dozen guys he met—“all of us struggling to be good fathers and husbands, all working too hard and trying to find balance. It gave me brothers. And together, we journeyed toward Christ.”
His software company eventually went out of business. “But a funny thing happened as my dream of building a company died,” he said. “As my career plummeted, my relationship with my wife and my kids soared. And I found new life in my relationships with my brothers and with God.” Why? Someone chose to call him to become a disciple.
You have men in your parish like this man. This book has been written to help you reach them and disciple them for their good and the glory of Christ. Thanks for joining the adventure. Together we can ask God to help us make sure that no Catholic man is left behind.
Remember This . . .
No Man Left Behind (Paperback)
No Man Left Behind (Paperback)
About No Man Left Behind (Paperback)
You've got men, you've got a church. Add a testimony, some pancakes, a prayer, and poof! A men's ministry. Right?
Not so fast. If you’ve ever been part of a men’s ministry, you know that making disciples of men—getting them to walk with Christ, live like Christ, and work for Christ—is hard. If you are struggling to get traction with the men in your church, this book can revolutionize your efforts. Drawing upon thirty years of research and work with more than 2,500 churches, the authors offer a proven system designed to create and sustain an effective disciple-making ministry for men in your parish.
Alternative Headline Catholic Edition
Product Type Media Books
Author The Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men
Book Format Paperback