For many men, a lack of male relationships and mentorship can leave a void and a painful absence in their lives. Male bonding is extraordinarily important to men-especially in their spiritual walk.
Lionel Tiger, who wrote the book “Men In Groups” on the subject of male bonding, had this to say:
“Male bonding is a process with biological roots to the establishment of alliances necessary for group defenses and hunting.”
While going out with their tribe buddies, killing something and dragging it home for food isn’t what many men do on a daily basis in 2016, the need for other men is undeniable. Men still need men to survive!
Part of the intention when we created The Pursuit was that the program would help spur a brotherhood of men to form and take root in Orthodox parishes. For those that already have men’s groups, our hope was that it would strengthen them further.
Bonding, and an environment that celebrates and protects male bonding, yields much fruit for our churches. First, brotherhoods help our men learn easier and better. Think about it. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, how did men learn? Through bonding and mentorship with other men. Men challenge each other to new heights. Men often become better men in the company of their “brothers” because other men understand and empower them.
Accountability, support, idea-generation, and most importantly, the pursuit of truly knowing Christ happen in a unique way among men. There’s just something different about the way men relate.
So how can you help create an ongoing brotherhood of men in your parish?
- Start by defining what you hope to gain from it. Do you want men to just ‘hang out’ in the church setting? Do you want them to become better leaders or providers in their homes? Are you hoping to instill a passion for Holy Scripture, or maybe a passion for the study of the Holy Fathers? Whatever your goal, defining it will help you achieve it.
- Make sure the men in your church have an investment in the group.This means they help decide when, where, how often and in what activities they will be meeting and engaging in.
- Recruit and enlist the right help. Having a motivated coordinator who will follow through is perhaps the most critical piece to the group’s successful launch. If the group is led by someone who doesn’t actually follow through with what he says he will, no one will take the group seriously.
- Make sure communication is clear between the men in your group. Have a coordinated effort to ensure that the men know where to go, what to bring, what the time will be spent doing etc. This will help not only with logistics, but also, with credibility that there’s a plan in place.
- Make it fun! Often church small groups can be intense, and so heavy. There may be a time for that with your group. But there should also be a time where men gather for social outings, physically oriented events (think nature), and especially, outreach. All of these offering will help meet a diverse group of interests for your diverse group of men.
Lastly, and certainly most imperative;
- Pray for your men. Pray for them specifically, and regularly. Pray that God grant you the wisdom and clarity to coordinate a group that is pleasing to Him. Pray that He order your steps and those of the men involved in the group. Pray that in all the efforts towards creating mentorship and brotherhood for your men, you do so in a way…” that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”