Do you want to start a men’s group? Maybe you are a church, a ministry or a man with a backyard fire circle or a habit of morning biscuits and coffee - if so, I think this blog will help.
I’ve always been fascinated by the lie of the enemy that I am alone and his encouragement to isolate. Friendships are hard and costly, they require some measure of transparency - it’s messy! Let’s see what ole Screwtape says about this to Wormwood …
My Dear Wormwood,
Plagues are a most effective weapon given to us by our father below. Normally, Christians are quite comfortable in receiving the dreaded sacraments and gathering in their prayers and other heinous arts. But if you can stir up a hysteria by means of a plague, so that they cut themselves off from our enemies gifts to them, the torment of isolation will drive them to despair and season them quite deliciously, much to our delight.
Get them to forget about their usual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving and encourage them to become gluttons, slanderers, and lose all regard for their neighbor, thinking only about themselves and their immediate needs. Storing up treasures which we can send moth and rust to destroy, further sweetening their torment.
If you can, help them to redefine their usual words like “church” and “fellowship” and “ministry” so that they feel comfortable, cutting themselves off from our enemies’ care and they can be tempted all the more.
Yes, Wormwood, a plague is a tried and true method of taking their eyes off our enemy and getting them to worship their own bodies. A most desirable position for we tempters. Never let a good crisis go to waste!
Your Affectionate Uncle,
By CS Lewis
Every few years I re-read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape is a senior demon, instructing his nephew demon, Wormwood, on how best to get people to turn away from God. In the fictional letters, everything is backward. The “enemy” is God and all that is evil is good. This passage from the book is apropos in many ways in the world’s current climate, but I want to focus in on the idea of isolation. If you want to start a men’s group off right, you need to know that one of the enemies’ main plays is to get men to isolate. To isolate and frustrate you.
Question 1: What’s the Number 1 thing for starting a group?
We have all of hell’s fury fighting against us - convincing us to isolate and to NOT move toward God or anyone else. The Number 1 thing I always start with is intimacy. An easy question, right? Especially for a man? Haha - not quite. We like to say, “How’s your heart?” In my small group, we do something once a month called “heart check in.” The rules are simple, you have to talk about you. Not other people. Not politics or the weather. You! Truly, how are you. To answer honestly, to be known, you have to operate in a place of intimacy and transparency. Come out of your isolation; or, as Bagger Vance said to Junuh, “Time for you to come on out of the shadows Junuh ... Time for you to choose …”
Making the heart central is imperative for a healthy men’s group. Making your heart and theirs central. To start a men’s group to work on your heart is a bad place to start - but moving out of the shadows, getting the help you need for your heart and journey is a great place to start. If that’s where you are, I applaud your desire, but you may be a year away, and that’s okay. Email me – let’s talk about it.
I’m sure this is not the answer you were thinking. Most blogs and people around the church world start you off with action plans, do more, do this, read that, etc … Making the heart central - intimacy with God, with friends and family. It all starts with intimacy.
Question 2: Once you’re on the path for your own heart - what’s next?
Finding your tribe is so important. We love the slow work of God. If you are thinking of starting a group, the best way to start one might be to be in one for a while. We can help you find a group, go to The Frontlines and sit under a good leader for a bit. If you are ready to launch, then start slow by loving the people in your area of influence. Who are the people you are doing life with? Who are the people you have friendships with? Most folks want to jump right to the “doing" rather than the “being.” Be with - do life together. That’s what’s next, and as you do, slowly organize.
How about churches? Church leaders are always so surprised when we don’t try to sell them a book. Start slow as well, with intimacy. As Josh Overton said in our Recalibrate on this subject, most churches want to, "charge hell with a water pistol.” If you are a man who has read one of our resources or been to one of our weekends and you are ready to bring this to your church. STOP. Let’s talk first! (Email me). But if you have to - and it may be a great thing you do - please listen to me, invite church leaders to experience friendship, adventure, beauty and share your heart with them, let them know you … start them slow - invite them to true friendships - invite your pastors to true friendships - don’t rush it - it’s not about the next big thing!!
Relationship drive relationship!
Question 3. How do you make relationship a priority?
I love how Daniel made following God a priority.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Daniel 1:8-10 KJV
So we all should be vegetarians!! Haha - ok, joking, but please do see what happened here. Before Daniel knew the outcome, he “purposed in his heart.” I wonder what we are purposing or resolving to do? If we make relationships a priority, like Daniel, we will find favor and enemy resistance, but together, we will overcome.
So much is set against this priority. Productivity, busyness, the world in general. It seems like everything is about going from Point A to Point B - it becomes about the doing and not about the being. When I make my needs, me, me, me a priority, then I miss relationship. I miss others accepting me (Romans 15:7), instructing me (Romans 15:14), carrying my burdens (Galatians 6:2), and their compassion (Ephesians 4:32).
Being known - is a decision we have to resolve to - sometimes some work needs to be done to trust that much. We get it - but we are here to help! One of the 4 Pillars at Zoweh is Intimacy, Oneness, and Connectedness with God and Each other.
For us to chew On:
So, like the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda - I’ll ask you like Jesus asked, “What do you want?” Are you feeling God’s leadership in starting a group? Have you resolved in your heart to _____________? What is your motivation? The Bible says "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6 NIV.
Don’t be tossed by isolation, doubt, fear or worry. You are not alone. Be firm my friends - steadfast. Don’t give up, press forward. We are with you!To reach out to Greg go to: firstname.lastname@example.org