Your Men’s Ministry is Missing Something

On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory. -Gen Douglas MacArthur

I’ve been a part of some really good men’s ministries. We’ve come together frequently (and sometimes not so frequently) to pray, eat, keep each other accountable, watch sports, have bible study, hike, and even completed a multi-day bike trip.

But I’ve noticed something that’s usually missing from men’s ministry: competitive sports.

Now, we may throw a football around or play recreational volleyball at a picnic, but very infrequently do men in church play a sport together that requires sweat, competition, and a clear winner.

Your men’s ministry needs an intentional time to play and compete together.

Playing Rugby - Getting DirtyPhoto credit:Eugenijus Barzdzius

Sweat Is Good.

Hopefully, one of the keys of your Men’s Ministry/Small Group is growing closer together and forming bonds that can be relied on when times get hard. That is accomplished in part, as General MacArthur noted, by working and sweating together on a sports field. There is something about sweating together, leaning on each other (mentally and physically!) that begins to build bonds for men.

Some men’s ministries are good at activity and sweating together, but they are still missing a key ingredient: Competition.

Competition Is Good.

Keeping score. A winner. A loser. Fighting back. True competition brings out the “inner man”: Can you be a good loser? A good winner? Can you join together to overcome a deficit? Or do you crumble in the face of adversity? Are you a cheater? Are you a trash talker? Are you a natural leader?

Talk about teaching moments.

Losing is Good.

Winning Is Good.

Men need to succeed. To be able to come together, accomplish (or score) a goal, and to triumph is a natural need for men. It encourages us and strengthens us, and it leads us to take more chances, and then apply that winning drive to other aspects in our life.

Losing Is Good.

Men need to fail. We learn the most from failure, and we begin to realize that Life Just Ain’t Fair. We need to be willing to dust ourselves off and try again, and we need to know how to pick up our teammates when they fall.

Participation in competitive sports is training for the real world. At military academies, (Gen MacArthur was speaking to West Point cadets in the quote above) participation in competitive sports is mandatory. The value of training, of sweating and bleeding with your fellow warriors, is invaluable, whether on a “field of friendly strife” or a battlefield.

So, am I right here? Does your men’s ministry, small group, or “dudes” have an element of competitive sports? Is it beneficial?


This is the first post I’ve written specifically for the blog community of Third Option Men. I was honored to be invited to be an author there, and I am truly excited in creating and developing some new networks and ministries with them. Please visit their site and check out their blog and future mission trips.