Presenting relevant truth about Christianity in today’s society is one of the most challenging aspects of evangelism. And ministering to men is especially daunting. In August 2011, the Barna Group reported their findings over the last ten years. They found that 39% of men do not attend church on a regular basis, up from 30% in 1991.
Over the last ten years, American’s attitudes about church have changed dramatically. With the rise of non-denomination churches, traditional denominations are experiencing sharp decline. The church is under-fire from all sides and it faces the very real challenge that they must reach people in a way that makes faith applicable to life. The Church must go beyond tradition to connect people on an intimate level and address the difficulties that this world presents. For many people, freedom comes in relationship and it is that level of connection that gets people inside church doors, to stay.
As an evangelist living and working in Houston, Chad Barrett is facing these issues head on. His passion is to train believers to share the clear, simple gospel effectively. He does this through speaking, and writing books that shed light on the greatest issue the Church has faced since its origin – how to make following Christ meaningful and authentic. One of Chad’s writing projects, a book called Journey to Freedom, targets men – what they struggle with and the remedy to overcome the issues that hold them back from the abundant life Jesus promised. In it, he tackles sexual immorality and healthy spiritual connection.
In this interview, he answers questions about the book, what fellowship really is and the path to get there.
HCLE: Chad, what was the spark that prompted you to write this book?
CB: 2 things brought this book about. The first was having 3 very close friends, who revealed they were addicted to porn for many years. All three were ministers, had an affair and lost their ministries. I’ve been in the pastoral ministry for 15 years and have had talks with a lot of guys who have struggled with porn. I’ve struggled with it. 70% of church going men view pornography repeatedly.
I grew up in a home with a Dad who has been so open and close. I grew up seeing the impact it had on my life, but I realized in church circles, there isn’t open and honest communication in men. Guys don’t talk about feelings but there are men left and right dealing with sexual sin who don’t know what to do – and men you never expect. But we don’t talk about it.
Along with this, the question that was sparked was “What does real fellowship look like?” If we were on a boat somewhere and there was a leak – we’d have to deal with it. There is a leak in the boat of fellowship.
HCLE:What is the major theme, then, that you want to communicate?
CB: I did a study on fellowship that dealt with being authentic – with Christ in the center of the communication. I wanted to know how to bring up the obvious and deal with it, including authentic fellowship in all ways and how it applies to men – not just sexual sin, but how to have a better marriage, business, etc. Sexual sin is a topic but not the theme – authentic fellowship is the real point, how the Bible explains it and how Jesus modeled it; from a group down to the individual relationship.
HCLE: You talk about fellowship that is more than just accountability. It is about sharing your heart. But where do we get stopped in that connection?
CB: Church is more concerned about the numbers; the reputation; the money. We spend billions on buildings and hundreds on missions. Leadership in the church has catered to the consumer mentality. Real relationship and fellowship doesn’t meet the focus of the church today. For any one church member to come forward, warts and all, is not encouraged.
Until we realize church is a spiritual hospital, where people come for healing – we won’t get any better. We need to deal with sin, we need to help, but churches are often more interested in sweeping it under the rug than dealing with it. When members see their leaders who fall being ostracized, it creates an environment where people can’t come forward.
HCLE: What is the path to authentic fellowship, in practical terms?
CB: It starts with a commitment to obedience to God. God commands us to be joyful – on His terms, not ours. He knows the way to real joy. Hiding sin leads to misery, but God wants us to walk in the light so we can fellowship with Him. It starts with a determination to obey on all levels – individually, in leadership, and in each family.
HCLE: How does it start?
CB: The reason I wrote this book is to get guys talking. There are discussion questions in the back of the book, perfect for small group conversation. When 3 or 4 guys get together and realize they are not the only one who sins, questions forgiveness or victory – there is a huge sigh of relief.
Something like this is going to start small. Maybe it is one guy praying to follow the call and share with 2 other guys. It’s a grass-roots effort and needs a champion. It could be used in a Men’s Ministry program all ready under way or at a retreat. The freedom that men find from dumping their sins and getting rid of the weight on their chest gives them the ability to start fresh – even if they’ve been dealing with this sin for years. It inspires other men to walk through this with them. It’s open, it’s real but it’s deep. This isn’t a program, it’s a philosophy. Somebody has to be the brave one and usually that someone is the most broken person.
HCLE: How does a wife encourage her husband to get involved with other men’s groups – without pushing?
CB: One of the questions I ask of wives is, “Does your husband have a small group of friends he connects with?” Majority of the time the answer is no. Then I ask how they would feel if their men had close male friends, and the response is always, “secure.” The point is to encourage them not to feel alone and communicate how secure it makes you feel. Let your husband know that you feel this way because of where you are spiritually. You want them in fellowship, not just accountability.
In talking with Chad, you can feel his heart to connect people to The Lord and to each other. It is the calling of every Christian to do that and Chad is doing it in a unique and beneficial way and about something he has experience with.
Chad is married to Melissa and they have four children together. They live in Northwest Houston. You can learn more about Chad’s passion for ministry and purchase your copy of Chad’s book, Journey to Freedom, on his website, http://jchadbarrett.com/Purchase_My_Books_GCXW.html. He has two blogs, http://jchadbarrett.blogspot.com/ and http://journeytofreedomdotnet.wordpress.com/, where he tackles other tough issues that face the church and explores different writing avenues.