According to Lifeway Research, 75% of pastors find people’s apathy or lack of commitment to be a challenge in ministry. Joel Wayne, pastor of Chapel Pointe, joins Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, to discuss the Greatest Needs of Pastors study and the significance of activating men for leadership in the church.
Ben Mandrell: I’m here with Joel Wayne, who pastors a church right outside of Grand Rapids. Joel, thanks for being with us.
Joel Wayne: Thanks for having me.
Ben Mandrell: We’re talking about Lifeway Research and what we’re finding out about pastor well-being and struggles of pastors. I think this one’s interesting: 75% of pastors, who participated in the research, say that they’ve had challenges with apathy among their church members. Can you talk about that?
Joel Wayne: I would say just in working with a lot of churches in Michigan, where we are way up north, there are so many pastors, at this moment, consumed with trying to keep people that they have forgotten to help people grow. Keeping and growing is a very, very big difference. And, I know for us, and it is unique according to where you’re from regionally and everything else, but for us, a lot of it is activating the men.
You know, I can have a couple of hundred men sign up for a class— high expectations. Every week for three months straight, you’re expected to be there. This is what you’re expected to do with your family. You’re going to do this. You’re going to do that. And as we have moved forward as a ministry, one of the things I’ve encountered is making sure that we’re challenging people to grow— not just making sure we keep them. So that’s what we’re trying to push on, and I would encourage pastors to do the same thing.
Ben Mandrell: Talk a little bit more about what it means to activate men. I’ve not heard anyone say it just like that before.
Joel Wayne: Yeah. Every single man in our church is expected to pray over their spouse. Every single one— not on a daily basis, but on a weekly basis. And so that’s part of the activation. So it’s normal—when you have that as a standard—it’s normal to come in and say, “Hey, did you pray for your wife this week?” That’s a normal thing.
Ben Mandrell: Those accountability questions are just there.
Joel Wayne: Yeah, because they may not step into it. You can have accountability without being in an accountability group, right? There’s a cultural accountability that we all live to, whether we know it or not, in different regards, whether it be biblical or not. It doesn’t matter. So if we can just create that within our churches…
So for men to be activated, we expect them to pray with their wives every single week. We expect them to be the very first people to tell their kids about Jesus Christ—not to wait for the church to do it. There’s a problem if that’s what they’re doing. So we’re activating them. Now, we expect people to share their faith on a weekly basis. “Hey, when’s the last time you shared your faith,” is a normal thing to hear.
So we’re creating a different norm, creating a different standard, just by being in community that we think is biblical and is activating the men. And when you activate the men… we’ve all seen the studies, right…if the men are activated, the families and the kids typically come. So it’s been incredible to see.
Ben Mandrell: So I’m assuming there’s a guy out there watching this video whose church seems to be just kind of “meh” about the church. Your first piece of advice would be to try to get the men in your church engaged. Do something for them, and then they’ll lead their families more effectively.
Joel Wayne: Yeah. Can I go a little broader scale even?
Ben Mandrell: Please.
Joel Wayne: So I look at it as a church—not just for even the individual—so if I meet with all my elders, all my staff, we’re all moving in the exact same direction. We all speak the same language. It’s a requirement in terms of our vision, what a call is. We have a very clear strategy on how to implement that.
When men see a collective of other men and other people moving forward and the significance of it, there’s a magnetism to it. I think that’s what happened with the disciples. They’re speaking a different language than the people around them, right? And they’re living a different life than the people around them are living. But they see in us an attractive thing. They’re like, “Wait a second. They’re doing something that makes me feel uncomfortable.” But at the same time, it’s drawing them in and they’re wanting to know more about it. I don’t think it’s any different in the church today. And so when a man sees this group of men on the stage and in front of them, and they’re living it out, and they’re always on the same page— exactly what God is calling you to do— even if they’re not fully willing to enter, they want to put their head around the corner and see what’s going on.
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