“I was saying to myself, ‘If I had a tool like that twenty years ago, I probably would have saved myself a lot of headaches,” says Jean-Louis Larabie, a long-time men’s ministry leader in western Quebec’s Outaouais region. “I thought it was a very, very good tool to help local churches at least start up and build on something solid for their men’s ministry.”
Larabie is part of a six-member committee that is working to introduce Blueprint — or Plan de Match, as it’s called in French — to the fifty or so francophone churches in The Outaouais, which includes Hull, Gatineau and Maniwaki, on the north side of the Ottawa River opposite Ottawa.
“The last eighteen months,” he says, “we have started to connect with pastors and leaders from local churches. Right now, we have a network of twenty-five churches that we’ve introduced Plan de Match to, we’ve already presented a full training to the leaders of five churches, and we’re actually planning our first French language event this September.”
“It’s on the way up and we’re hoping to have more presentations,” fellow committee member and Gatineau resident Luc Angers adds. “We’re now trying to establish another chapter in the Laurentians which is a little bit north of Montreal.”
Promise Keepers Canada unveiled Blueprint in June 2014. It offers churches a basic framework for growing and maturing men in three foundational areas: capture their hearts, renew their minds, engage their hands.
“It’s not a formula,” says PK Community Relations Manager Ian Nairn. “The real challenge for a church is taking the framework, identifying your men — where they’re at and what their needs are across the generations — and coming up with a unique and creative strategic plan to connect with your men and begin to see them discipled and then facilitating them making disciples.”
Larabie describes Plan de Match as a “very, very simple way” to move men to a deeper level, where they actually connect with one another and build friendships. “We can organize all sorts of events to get men together,” he says, “but when they’re purpose-driven, it’s easier to create a culture in which men can grow inside a church and have an impact on their own families and all around them.”
“And it’s community-based,” says Angers. “The outreach is not just to encourage men in their local churches, but it is to create eventually a missions focus, something that the men could get involved in outside the church.”
Blueprint recommends one event per year on each of the three basic focuses. This September’s first-ever French-language event [presented] two workshops on renewing the mind.
But it’s not just in The Outaouais that Blueprint is finding resonance among local churches. On a Monday night in April, Christian Life Church in Winnipeg hosted a training event led by Nairn that attracted about fifty men from around fifteen to twenty churches. “I was really blown away by the response and I think Ian was too,” says lead pastor Jim Poirier. “It sure showed me that there’s a hunger out there for this kind of ministry.”
Poirier had never before met most of the men who showed up. “There was even a guy that didn’t know the Lord,” he says. “He had just seen the event on the website or something like that. He says, ‘I don’t go to church. This looked really good and I thought I should come.’ It was incredible.”
Based on what he saw and heard afterwards, Poirier feels certain the men left excited and enthused. For its part, CLC plans to use the Blueprint framework going forward to ramp up their entire men’s ministry.
“We’re looking at how do we seriously go about building small groups, specific nights of ministry on some of the things that are really locking guys up — addictions, pornography — and integrate relationship building, a sense of fellowship and a sense of fun,” he says. “I mean, guys don’t want to just sit there and spill their guts. They need the relationship as well.”
One of the most “critical issues” in ensuring effective outcomes for the men, Nairn says, is raising up leaders. “Ideally you want to have one guy who is the leader who is well-respected by the leaders and by men generally. When he speaks, men listen,” he says. “And you want one guy facilitating either the events or the follow-up.”
Poirier, however, cautions pastors not to designate leaders too quickly. “You’ve got to know that your potential leader is exemplary, he’s got a good attitude, a good heart, he’s consistent, he’s respected. If you’ve got that going for you, great. Go for it,” he says. “If you don’t, develop it, find it, look for it, pray for it. And if there’s nobody to fill that need, then do it yourself.”
But while it’s possible or perhaps even likely that no two churches will put Blueprint to good use in exactly the same way, the passion behind it remains the same.
“We’re praying for renewal for our province of Quebec,” says Larabie. “But right now, our aim is to get men going and become faithful disciples that can make disciples. Blueprint is a good steppingstone to throw them a challenge: ‘Let’s serve the Lord, guys.’”
Promise Keepers Canada is also helping transform Christian businesses around the country through the [email protected] resources.
Doug Robertson explains staff at Robertson Implements in Swift Current, SK, meets every Monday morning for prayer time and study. While he says they’ve wanted to start a prayer time for a while, [email protected] helped them get started and helped them become more intentional about building up Christian men in the workplace.
“And why reinvent the wheel?” Robertson asks. “[email protected] has the resources and the understanding of the challenges facing men.”
In their company vision statement, leadership has included the line “All to the glory of God”.
“We don’t hide who we are as a company,” he says. However, the struggle has been moving their faith from the boardroom to the factory floor.
“Some people think we ‘can’t go there’ but the more you open up about faith the easier it gets,” he says.
As people come to know you as a man of faith, they start coming to you, Robertson explains. While in the past the perception has been that being a good person would point people to Christ, Robertson says there’s more to it, simply being a good person “is not good enough.”
“There’s always been a need for strong Christian leaders in the workplace, now more than ever,” he says.
Time remains their biggest challenge, “you’re driving the business 24/7, but that’s an excuse,” he says. “We talk a lot about fear, you’re not supposed to talk about God in the workplace.”
Others may wonder how a Christian business leader can fire someone. When it does come to letting someone go, Robertson says their faith and resources like [email protected] keep them focused on “are we doing it in a loving, honouring way? It makes us more aware.”
In the day-to-day, he notes they often see God moving through their business. They weigh decisions with the help of the Holy Spirit, they even pray through the buildings they erect, that they would house God-honouring practices and, as their vision statement declares, all the glory goes to God.
“This is God’s business, why wouldn’t He be involved?”
Even as they face the future, no matter what happens, Robertson says, “Like Job, we praise Him everyday.”