Can we talk about men's ministry?
For the first time since February 2020, the Men's Fellowship group at the Parish of Llangynwyd with Maesteg finally reconvened. Lockdown had prevented them from meeting in person but thanks to the wonders of Zoom they were able to come together to offer each other support and encouragement.
Group member Rhodri Jones tells us more about the meeting and asks, how can we offer more support to men in our church community?.
It was lovely to see some new and returning faces on the screen after almost a year of not being able to meet in person and afterwards we felt encouraged to build on the success of the evening.
Our guest speaker for the evening was Matt Batten, Diocesan Director of Communications and Engagement, whose theme was "How can we do more to minister to men? Did you know that there are now only two men's fellowship groups left in the Diocese?
Part of Matt’s role in the Diocese of Llandaff is to use digital communications to reach new and existing audiences – using platforms such as Facebook and the Diocese’s e-magazine Llandaff Matters. He also monitors and reports on the statistics of who the Diocese is reaching and has noted that their biggest online audience is women while men only make up 20%. The Diocese is seemingly very good at reaching women and is rightly focused on the young, but why are we struggling to reach men who could benefit from the support and comfort of a church community?
By way of an example, Matt related a personal experience. Some years ago, Matt was diagnosed with testicular cancer(he’s OK now!). He had a friendly vicar who was a great support but it left him wondering;
What more could the church do to support men within the church community.
We discussed these two questions:
- What is men’s ministry
- What can we do as a church to support men within our community?
- It was noted by members of the group that it a shame that so many men’s fellowships have disappeared over the years, and members recalled the times when our numbers were far greater and pilgrimages and trips were an annual event.
- It was discussed how Zoom and other digital platforms help bring in people who may not want to venture back out after a day in work.
- It was noted how men’s fellowships have been concerned more with raising their own profile in their parishes rather than attracting new members from outside. Our own group has had success with bringing in new members from other churches and denominations in the area, but has also experienced hostility due to our basis in the Christian faith.
- The role of the Men’s Sheds was discussed - social groups or enterprises set up in local communities for the benefit of men, of which there are several locally – in bringing men together in fellowship to talk, play music or engage in crafts.
One conclusion that was reached was that our parishes are set up to cater for active Christians and for those unused to Church and Christian based activities, our services and groups such as the men’s fellowship can seem intimidating or like a ‘closed shop’.
We clearly have to find new ways of reaching out and engaging with our communities.
Tony proposed a heartfelt vote of thanks to Matt for his talk and for stimulating such a thought-provoking discussion. We hope that Matt gleaned some helpful pointers to take back with him. We hope also that he will ‘pop in’ for one or two more of our meetings in the future!
If anyone has any thoughts on any of the above please get in touch – any input you have would be very welcome! You can also let Matt know your thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in joining Men's Fellowship?
Contact Revd Martyn Evans or Revd Geraint John. Parish of Llangynwyd with Maesteg - Contacts