You know, the more time I spend with soldiers, the more I realize how completely upside-down our concept of “men’s ministry” is. To add insult to injury, it’s becoming increasingly evident that our enemy— the same one who comes to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) and eat us alive (1 Peter 5:8)— operates as a military combatant. And we, as God’s army, truly don’t give the enemy the credit he deserves for being effective at isolating God’s soldiers and picking off leaders. Let me paint a picture for you, using real world scenarios and tactics. And then see if, perhaps, turning our men’s ministry upside-down may be an answer to the close-contact spiritual warfare most men are facing.
When we first faced contact with the armies of North Vietnam, we had no idea who we were facing. Nor did they. We’d never engaged them, so the learning curve was huge. We’d march columns of troops though nearly impassable jungle terrain, where both the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and PAVN (People’s Army of Vietnam) would wreak havoc on our guys by adhering to a simple initial plan of attack. While they knew little about our Army tactics, the “bad guys” figured out two things. First, the guy with the little white symbol on his helmet was a person you should shoot at. That would be the “leader”. A lot of confusion and panic fire result when the leader goes down. The second target was the dude with the huge M-60 machine gun on his shoulder, and his ammo man. Those would be the guys who could do the most damage laying down thousands of rounds of suppressive fire.
Our enemy, a.k.a. satan, works in the same way. He knows that if he takes out a spiritual leader (that’d be “us”, gentlemen), he can kill off marriages, families and even generations after us. His second target, just like the NVA, is the man who is doing the most to combat the kingdom of darkness. We’re seeing pastors fall, and men walk out on families, every day. So the tactic is working, at least on the surface.
So how do we battle this simple and effective strategy? I can assure you that piling 80,000 into a stadium for a men’s conference likely won’t work, any more than parading an entire brigade in Class A dress uniforms through the jungle would. In fact, if the Army decided to assemble a Division on the parade ground and then somehow hoped teams would form after the assembly, it would be an epic military fail.
To understand the inherent infrastructure of any successful army, check this out:
In the Army, there are Divisions of 10-15 thousand men, which are comprised of Brigades of roughly 3-5 thousand men. Each Brigade is made up of Battalions of 300-1300 soldiers, who are further broken in smaller Companies, then Platoons, then Squads and finally, the Fireteam.
A standard Fireteam usually consists of a Team Leader, a rifleman, a grenadier and an automatic weapons guy. In other words, you have the leader on point, a guy who can target specific enemy assets with a rifle, another man who can level the trees with grenades and the machinegunner, who can lay down cover fire. All components are critical, and missing one can be crippling.
When a fireteam is downrange, they are on their own. Sure, they have a fire support guy, who can radio in artillery, but they are otherwise on mission as a 4-man team. And while each man typically has a different weapon, they all have each other’s “six”, or backside. Any Brigade gatherings are long forgotten when in close contact with the enemy. Each man looks out for the other until they come home. Why? Because they spend time together, and fighting only for each other. They don’t care about anything but the team.
The battle is won at the Fireteam level. Period. Each man comes into the team with different skills and weaponry and they all do their respective jobs. In the heat of battle, no one cares what’s happening at HQ, at Brigade command or even back at the FOB. It’s just you, your team and the enemy.
Try looking at ministry to men this way. When we get men together for a men’s event (or in this case, a Brigade or Division parade), it should be to regale eachother with stories from the battlefield. We’ll never build a solid ministry by hoping they’ll forge battle-ready relationships while on that “parade ground” that we call a “men’s conference” for a weekend.
Men, we need to build “Fireteams”. We can still link up at big gatherings when we are no longer “outside the wire” in the world. But right now, we are in harm’s way.
If you’re a part of a church, go find 2 or 3 other guys and just spend time together. They don’t even have to be from your church. Don’t wait for “Headquarters” to do it at some Saturday breakfast or men’s conference. Link up this week! Have lunch, play golf, get coffee…whatever. We only trust other men when we spend time together, and they don’t burn us. Trust only happens when I know you have my back, and you know I have yours.
Ask any combat vet how he feels about his team. They’d die for each other.
It’s time to get off the parade ground and get downrange. The war is always raging at our doorstep, and every man needs a battle buddy for this fight.
We don’t need any more casualties.
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David Dusek is founder and director of Rough Cut Men Ministries and author of Rough Cut Men: A Man’s Battle Guide to Building Real Relationships With Each Other and With Jesus. Rough Cut Men has been presented to NASCAR teams, at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, at military bases around the world and at hundreds of churches and men’s conferences of every denomination. To find out more about the Rough Cut Men, or to book David for an upcoming men’s event, please check out roughcutmen.com.