To do nothing is not an option!
Men’s ministry isn’t a club or a gimmick, but essential to church life.
“Today’s generation is looking for authenticity,” asserts Mark Lyndon-Jones, and when it comes to the leader of Elim’s newly instituted Men’s Movement, MPOWER, what you see is very definitely what you get.
MLJ, as he’s known, has been involved in successfully ministering to men for nearly a decade, and he’s got a passion to see Elim guys with powerful potential unleashed to be all they can be for God. The journey started with his very own ‘Band of Brothers’, the name of the men’s ministry he led at Cardiff City Temple, nine years ago.
“It’s sort of become part of my DNA to do men’s stuff,” Mark says. “It’s grown from four guys meeting in a restaurant nine years ago talking about life and looking at the Bible, and realising how formative it was in a guy’s Christian walk to be able to do that.
“There are guys whose marriages are still intact, whose kids are still in the faith; there are guys who are still in church today because they were able to engage with other guys in a Band of Brothers. It still saddens me that over nine years later, there’s still not a men’s group within each and every church.”
For MLJ, the solution to the problem starts with the grassroots engagement of men.
“Over the last decade, a lot more has started happening to reach men, but there’s a way to go in discipling and mentoring men on a regular basis within the context of the local church programme.”
“My concern is, ‘Are we engaging men within church?’ That is a crucial concern as I wonder if we’re engaging men to engage other pre-Christian guys. The way I see it is that one generation believes, the second generation assumes and the third generation denies, unless we’re doing our job and fulfilling our role as fathers in the gospel. That is the particular emphasis that I want to bring to the Movement through MPOWER.”
Elim General Superintendent John Glass is clear that these are exciting times for Elim too. “MPOWER is one of the most exciting initiatives to be launched in our Movement in recent years,” he says. “I am delighted that Mark Lyndon-Jones has been willing to rise to the challenge of leading, what I believe will become a significant men’s ministry for Elim.”
Mark Petrauskas, an evangelist based at Elim’s Centrepoint Church in Bournemouth and part of the MPOWER team, is equally convinced that men’s ministry is vital. “Ministry to men is more than simply an ‘interesting sidenote’ in church.”
“It is not a gimmick or a club for boys: it is an essential part of the core life in church today. We must engage with our men in a realistic and relevant way and not be afraid to tackle those issues which affect more of us than we may care to admit. In short, we must allow our men to roll up their shirtsleeves and be men, and I firmly believe that MPOWER is a major step in the right direction.”
For MLJ, the challenge he’s taking on is one of vital importance for Elim’s future.
“As we reach our centenary celebrations and look back on the legacy that we hold, what are we leaving as a legacy?” he asks. “Not in terms of assets. Not what we are ‘leaving to’ the rising generation, but what are we ‘leaving in’ them?”
Ryan Morton, an evangelist based in Elim Keynsham and another MPOWER team member, is also looking forward to the venture. “MPOWER aims to build and eMPOWER our generation of men to reach across the generations of men, both younger and older,” he adds. “I am excited to be part of this once-in-a-century opportunity within Elim”.
“One of the big things for me is seeing younger guys benefit from the experience and wisdom of some of the older guys,” MLJ explains.
“Generally, wisdom comes at a price. Guys who have made some mistakes and learned some stuff can then pass that on through their story, and hopefully help the rising generation within our Movement to avoid some of the pitfalls.”
This inter-generational connection is key to the mission of MPOWER. As Elim’s ministry for men is faced with the challenges of contemporary society, one of the key issues that MLJ and his team will have to address is that of the fatherlessness that pervades our society.
“I still meet with guys every Monday night, and more younger guys now,” MLJ says. They’re looking for how to do life well and haven’t had the input of a biological father, let alone a spiritual father. By engaging the rising generation, the older guys could find they have a more valued purpose in church and the younger guys can benefit from that.”
“Our world is crying out for effective male role models both socially and spiritually,” adds Gordon Allan, an MPOWER team member and pastor of Edinburgh Elim.
“I am looking forward to the development of a men’s ministry within Elim. I believe that MPOWER has the opportunity to raise up generations of men in authentic, nation-shaping Christianity.”
MLJ’s passion is captivating as he outlines the foundations which MPOWER will be built on, and it’s clear that he is enthusiastic about the potential of the ministry to have a significant and positive impact. With his track record in men’s ministry, that is hardly surprising.
MLJ’s initial Band of Brothers began as four men meeting up but turned into a 140-strong group. That growth was driven solely by men inviting their friends. In fact, Band of Brothers’ remarkable tale caught the attention of national TV, with ITV Wales featuring them.
As a pastor in the Rhondda Valley, MLJ is under no illusions that men’s ministry can only ever form part of church, but he’s excited about the opportunity to help Elim in recognising the importance of this aspect of local church ministry.
“As much as I like events, I think we’ve got to move into process too.
“Out of the process of relationship, we can seek to see guys grow spiritually. Say we had a large event, whereby 600-700 guys get together once a year, how does that compare to 500 churches in Elim with ten guys meeting every week? There’s quality and quantity in the process of engaging guys in this process.”
It’s not rocket science: meet up, eat up and beef up (spiritually, of course). Nor is MLJ out to re-invent the wheel. “What we’re trying to do is identify those who are doing stuff with guys and seek to encourage them and strengthen their arm in what they’re doing.
“When we engage guys properly to do life together in Christ, that has other benefits. We need to try to get the balance of outreach and discipleship going on within their local fellowship. We aren’t going to be able to do it for people.
“We want to strengthen people who are doing it and encourage those who aren’t to get involved and become part of this new initiative called MPOWER, the process whereby one generation eMPOWERs the rising generations of sons, brothers and fathers in our Movement to become authentic men in Christ, in life, and in church. To do nothing is not an option.”