For several decades Craig Glass has been a leading influencer of Christian men. He has served in a variety of ministry leadership, including 20 years with International Teams, a missions agency based in Chicago. He has also served on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, providing leadership to their men’s ministry. Today, Craig is the director of Peregrine Ministries whose vision is to lead men into inspiring adventure and authentic relationships that transform lives. He blogs regularly at his blog, Men Matter.
Craig was kind enough to stop by and chat for today’s Friday Five.
You’ve worked in a denominational organization, led a missions organization, and have served on staff at a megachurch. What did you see in those positions that led you to launch your current ministry in developing men?
What I’ve discovered in every ministry setting I’ve been in is that the engagement of men is crucial to the effectiveness of the ministry. I think this is nowhere more true than in the church and in the family. Women seem to have an intuitive sense of knowing where there is need and what can be done about it. They also consistently demonstrate a willingness to step forward to contribute their talents and time to help with those needs, even when they have responsibilities in the workplace. Men are often consumed with workplace priorities, remain disengaged and question their ability to make a positive impact unless they have done something before. When they DO engage, things happen and people are attracted- men, women and children.
Do you think the church gives men a good blueprint for authentic manhood?
As a pattern, not particularly; although there are many wonderful exceptions. All too often church men’s groups or men’s ministry has the characteristics of an older approach: donuts and coffee in the church basement on Saturday morning, mowing the lawns or fixing the plumbing at church or for someone in the congregation, going to sports events together, or even surface-level Bible study. The historical pattern is a reluctance to pursue genuine relational connection and a preference to focus on activity or entertainment rather than real inter-dependance, mentoring, discipleship. Those traditional activities reinforce a certain blueprint for manhood (surface-level relationships, activity rather than transformation) that, while not communicated or endorsed verbally, is understood by just about any guy who grew up in a church setting prior to the past 15 years or so. Thankfully, the blueprint has been changing and there are increasing examples of powerful, deep teaching to men in the church.
You work hard to get men to develop authentic relationships in community. Why is this so important to their development?
Someone has wisely said, “A man in isolation is one decision away from a disaster.” Others have said, “In isolation a man is known by his weaknesses; in community he’s known by his strengths.” The point of both that is isolation leads easily to vulnerability, attack and compromise. A wise man knows when and where he is vulnerable and invites other men to come alongside him in his journey. In the process he provides strength and encouragement for them in return.
What is the biggest obstacle men face in moving forward with healthy, biblical masculinity?
I think the greatest obstacle men face is renouncing the lies that men are marinated in our culture: the conviction that our identity and value is based on Performance, Possession’s, Power or Prestige. Those lies are reinforced so many times (daily) and in so many settings (virtually all of them) that even we Christian men end up believing them as much as a man who is solely pursuing the world. Standing on the foundation of our value as sons of the living God, even when unemployed, divorced, ignored or “lost” is probably the greatest challenge men face.
What is one piece of advice you would give church leaders as they seek to develop the men in their midst?
One piece: The vision and engagement of the senior pastor with his men is the single most important factor predicting an effective men’s ministry. Next piece: What pastors need to know is the comment at the intro to my blog– men matter, they just don’t think so. As a result they (we) pursue false paths that result in despair, lack of significance and shame. Shame lies just beneath the surface of all self-protective and sinful behavior. We need to overcome this self-fulfilling cycle by helping men know their identity in Christ, their role as men, and their personal calling in life.