I will never forget the first time I traveled outside the United States to go on my first
partnership mission. The excitement was more than I could stand as I anxiously waited
for the day of departure. All I could think about was getting to my destination and
ministering to the people God had placed on my heart. As my team began preparation for
the mission, one of the first things I was told was that the mission I was to be a part of
was not going to be about me or my comfort, but about God and the people I was going
to minister to. I was also told that if I were to have a successful mission experience and
to be effective in bringing our lost people group the message of Jesus, it had to begin with
me as I diligently studied about the people, their language and their customs.
Since that first mission trip, God has provided many opportunities for other mission
experiences and has placed within my heart a passion for lost people groups around the
world. But like many of you, after the “mission trip,” I found myself frustrated and
discouraged by the difficulty I faced in reaching the lost tribes in my own village here in
the United States.
In my frustration I began to ask, “Why are different techniques and methods used to
reach unreached people groups in other parts of the world different from those used to
reach people groups in the United States? To be more specific, as a men’s ministry
leader, is it even possible to reach the millions of men in America the same way
missionaries reach tribal people in other parts of the world?”
I believe it is possible to reach men in America, but real change has to occur. Real
change must begin with you and me and how we approach the tribes of men God desires
us to reach for Him.
According to the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries, in the United States there are:
- 108,000,000 men 15 or older (est. 2003).
- 66,000,000 men don’t know Christ.
- Only 6,000,000 men are in some form of discipleship.
For every 10 men in the church…
9 will have kids who leave the church
8 will not find their jobs satisfying
6 will pay only the monthly minimum on credit cards
5 have a major problem with pornography
4 will get divorced, affecting 1,000,000 children each year
Only 1 will have a Biblical worldview
All 10 will struggle to balance family & work
In missions, knowing your people group is everything! Within the man culture there are
subcultures (tribes) of men with differing customs, dialects, and passions.
In America there are millions of tribal men who are isolated from the gospel and the
church by a variety of barriers:
· Location – Many men live removed and isolated from others.
· Language – Many tribal men speak only their own language; most are only fluent
in their own language.
· Lore – World view, way of life and way of thinking is very different among
various tribes of men.
Rule #1 in Missions: Know Your Location
Identify the Tribes of Men
• A Tribe can be described as a clan or ethnic group.
– In every community there are tribes of hunters, fishermen, golfers, bikers,
sportsmen, cowboys, and a variety of outdoor adventurers.
Locate the Villages of Men
• A Village is a community of tribal people.
– On any given night or weekend you can find villages of men at bike
nights, golf courses, hunting/fishing events, rodeos, NASCAR races, etc.
Rule # 2 in Missions: Know the Language
Various tribes of men have a unique language that is communicated both verbally and
nonverbally with its own set of special words, vocabulary and signals. For example, in
the fishing tribal language a bird’s nest, flats, golden rule and gig all have special
meanings within that tribe. The word gig has a totally different meaning for a fisherman
and a musician. The next time you see two men on motorcycles pass each other, look for
the “wave” which acknowledges they are in the same tribe.
Rule #3 in Missions: Know the Lore
Lore can be defined as acquired knowledge or wisdom on a subject such as customs,
traditions, values, expectations, norms and initiations which are handed down by example
or word of mouth and are usually in the form of stories or historical anecdotes.
The Psalmist reminds us of the importance of men communicating lore in Psalms 78:2-4.
“I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past – things we have heard
and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We must not hide them from
their children, but must tell a future generation the praises of the Lord, His might, and the
wonderful works He has performed.” (HCSB)
If you are a pastor, men’s ministry leader, or a man who has an arrow through your heart
to reach the various tribes of men in America for Christ, you must seek to honestly
answer the following questions:
1. Who is my primary target (Tribe)?
· What tribe(s) do I want to target?
· What tribe(s) has God put before me?
2. Does our church have a multi-tribal ministry to men?
· Can men from other tribes connect with each other?
· Do we have a church culture that is inviting to different tribes of men?
3. How will I reach out to my target group(s)?
· Determine to know where the villages of men are located.
· Determine to better communicate a man’s tribal language.
· Determine to better understand a man’s lore.
Live and Leave the Message
If we fail to give the Gospel message we have labored in vain in our attempt to reach the
tribes of men.
“But for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing those from
whom you learned, and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which
are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is
inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in
righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
2 Tim. 3:14-17
The goal is to bring tribes of men into right relationship to:
· The Son of God
· The Church of God
· The Word of God.
Don’t be discouraged by the fact that most nominally committed men will be focused, at
least initially, on only their felt needs—hobbies, career, money, family, time
management, etc., and not the Lord. That is why it is important to minister to and
connect with men in the context of their needs as you show them Jesus our Lord.