by Steve Sonderman
Before one of our Sunday services some years ago, I was talking with Stuart Briscoe, who at the time was the senior pastor of Elmbrook Church. He said, “Steve, look out there, what do you see?”
“I see a few thousand people, just like every other Sunday morning,” I replied. He said, “No, really. Don’t you see it?” No, I didn’t. I had to ask what he meant.
He explained. “I see a congregation full of men, and for that I want to thank you. Your work over the past 14 years has changed the complexion of this church.”
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I was walking down the hall at church and our new children’s pastor stopped me. “Steve, thanks a ton,” she said. “Well, you’re welcome. But, what for?” I had to ask. She replied, “In all the churches where I have worked or talked, I have never seen so many men involved in teaching the young kids. You must really be having an effective ministry to men here at Elmbrook.”
Over the past few months I thought a lot about those two conversations and been extremely encouraged by them. Sometimes when you are fully involved in a ministry, you can’t evaluate the results of what you are doing. As I looked back over some 15 years of ministry to men at Elmbrook, I can now see the following results of an intentional disciple-making ministry to men:
Men coming to Christ. We have seen hundreds of men surrender their lives to Christ through the personal evangelistic work of many men, as well as doing a couple of big events each year that are geared specifically to supplement their efforts.
Men growing in Christ. More than 800 men have gone through our two-year discipleship course called Basic and Discipleship Training. Each has been well grounded in what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Lives have been transformed, relationships healed, marriages reconciled, addictions broken and men set free to follow hard after Jesus.
Men mobilized to serve. Countless men have moved from the pews and into the game. We’re working alongside the urban poor, tutoring students in Milwaukee, preaching in nursing homes, ministering to the unemployed, discipling college age students, starting a ministry to executives and helping Christians in Romania start up their own small businesses. We have a church full of men with ears to hear God’s call on their lives.
Men connected to other men. We have gone from five small groups for men to more than 140. These groups are scattered all over the Milwaukee area studying the Word, sharing life and being missional in nature.
Men empowered to be leaders. Through training that is aimed at nurturing followers of Jesus, men have learned leadership. They are practicing leadership in their homes, communities, workplaces and world. As I look back, God has truly done an incredible work in our midst. And, because I am confident that He is not done yet, I look to the future with hope and excitement.
Steve Sonderman has been an Associate Pastor of Men’s Ministry at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin since 1984. He is the author of Mobilizing Men for One-on-One Ministry.
The article above was featured in the May 2009 issue of SEVEN magazine.