Want to recruit more men? The truth is, we unintentionally do a lot of things that are a natural repellent for men. Here’s how to get men more involved.
The Bible says fathers should teach children the truths of God, so why are so few men working in Sunday school? Could it be that we’re turning them off before they get a chance to serve? Are we unintentionally frightening them away once they volunteer? After years of service, observing the church at large, and talking with children’s ministers across the country, we’ve come to think so…but we also believe change is possible.
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WE NEED GOOD MEN
Throughout the history of the American church, women have done most of the work of teaching children in Sunday school. Women teach kids using techniques that are better suited for girls; and the boys, feeling like failures and finding no male role models, drop out of church as soon as possible. When they become dads, many stay home and send the kids to church with mom. This is a cycle that must be broken by getting more Christian men involved in relationships with boys and girls at home and at church.
The truth is that children’s ministries unintentionally do a lot of things that act as a natural repellent for men. Here’s the unvarnished truth about what you need to do to get men more involved.
TRUTH #1: MEN STILL PREFER TRADITIONAL ROLES
Before you ask one more man to get involved with kids at your church, stop and evaluate the messages you’re presenting from a man’s viewpoint. What elements are uncomfortable or distasteful for the men in your congregation?
- Stop making children’s ministry “look” feminine. Weed out subtle statements and actions that create an anti-masculine atmosphere. Throw away the stationery printed on pink paper and evaluate your thank you notes-they’re probably designed to appeal to women. Most men won’t join the nursery staff if you require them to wear aprons. And staff meetings that involve tea and small sandwiches or that are held during workdays tell men (and working women) that they’re not invited to serve.
- Give children’s ministry a male makeover. Use strong colors and exciting activities that appeal to men (and boys). Consistently communicate male involvement in children’s ministry. Use male teachers to give testimonies in church, and use masculine pronouns (he and him) when referring to children’s volunteers from the pulpit and in your church bulletins or newsletters.
- Be efficient with time; keep meetings succinct and save social conversations for after the meeting. Ask three or four men who aren’t involved to evaluate your ministry. You’ll be surprised at what you hear. Ask questions such as, “Do you feel welcome here? Are our classrooms inviting to you? What changes would we have to make for you to want to be involved?” Listen closely to their answers.
TRUTH #2: MEN WANT TO BE AROUND OTHER MEN
Once you’ve removed the barriers, it’s time to recruit men in ways that connect with the male psyche.
- Men recruit men. A man is much more likely to be recruited when he’s approached by another man, especially when the position is one that might’ve previously been seen as “for women only.” If you’re a female leader, pray for and then pursue one significant male leader who’ll walk alongside you for this specific purpose. Explain to this man his unique ability to help you influence the ministry, and then have him talk with other men to explain the importance of the “guys” getting involved. Those men recruit more men. Some men simply don’t like going where no man’s gone before. Men prefer to serve where other men are already serving.
- As you recruit, try teaming two or more men to work in the same room or program. Pair a new male volunteer with a male mentor. As you find one willing volunteer, ask him to recommend a buddy with whom he’d like to work, and then mention his recommendation when you call his friend.