Go for the men and the women will follow...

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men (aner) of Athens...” - Acts 17:22a

Dad gave me a couple pithy exhortations my first year in the pastorate. They weren't original but they carried the weight of his authority and I've passed them on to other pastors. Here are four of them: "Don't use Pardeeville as a stepping stone." "A home-visiting pastor makes a church-going people." "Preach it down; then preach it back up, again." And, "Go for the men and the women will follow."

That last one was deleted from an article on men's ministry I did for Christianity Today's journal, Leadership, back in 1989. Shortly after buying the piece, Leadership's editor left for Focus on the Family. The new editor didn't like the article, so he cut more than half the text and ran it without sending it back to me for approval. Readers won't be surprised Dad's advice "go for the men" didn't make the cut.

Jesus calls twelve men as His Disciples and we're not supposed to notice? Poor Christianity Today. Poor readership. Poor leadership.

I think of Dad's advice all the time. Parachurch organizations and church planters each have their own marketing strategies. Here are a few...

I'm hopeful readers will add to these (TB):


Young Life: Go for the leaders and the nobodies will follow.

Child Evangelism Fellowship: Go for the children and their parents will follow.

F-V: Go for the children and the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren will follow.

Inter-Varsity: Go for the nerds and no one will follow (but nerds graduate, get rich, and support I-V staff).

Campus Crusade (Cru): Go for the beautiful and the homely will follow.

Mission to North America: Go for the rich so you can be rich, too.

OPC: Go for nobody and nobody will follow.

Acts 29: Go for the alpha males and you damn well better follow!

Redeemer Presbyterian Church: Go for the women and the men will follow. 


Best pastor I ever had was one who would schedule home visits. I helped make his belt, as the old southern adage goes, into a fence for a graveyard for fried chicken.

Worst pastor I ever had would visit nonbelievers at home, but not church members unless he wanted to demand something of them.

What Often Passes For Modern Evangelicalism: Go for... er... wait... "Go for" sounds kind of exclusive, sounds like we are making distinctions when we say that... so we had better not necessarily "go for" anybody in particular. Let's just be as 'inclusive' and 'seeker sensitive' and look as much like the world as possible. Yeah, that will help us grow a lot!

Young Earth Creationists: Give'em dinosaurs and they will believe the gospel.

TR Blogs - Go for the jugular and others will follow the blood trail.

al sends

Prosperity: Go for their perceived lack, and what money they do have will follow.

Intelligent Designers: Give 'em a 1000 year old philosophical framework plus a 25 year old view of "modern" scientific thought, and all the mathematicians will follow with their sophisticated algebra on "chance".

Now I know why it is such a struggle to be an MNA church planter. Under budget and on half-pay, it is because I never got the memo about "going for the rich".

Do you know who I can complain to about this? I don't need to be rich, but getting to 75% of budget would be nice.

Dear Kevin,

If you didn't know MNA's strategy, just write and ask for a summary of the demographics of the neighborhoods where they do church plants. Everywhere I've travelled, it's been as obvious as could be. And when a plant is done outside that demographic, it's celebrated on the floor of presbytery as noblesse oblige.

Anyhow, your missing the memo is good. Count it a blessing.


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