FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Calling Men to a Higher Mission

with Kenny Luck | January 7, 2013
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The church’s least utilized asset are the men who attend. Kenny Luck encourages men, to get engaged in their local church and to catch a vision of what the Body of Christ can accomplish when each man’s passion for the Great Commission is ignited. He also reflects on a wife’s ability to motivate and encourage her husband, especially pertaining to involvement in ministry.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • The church’s least utilized asset are the men who attend. Kenny Luck encourages men, to get engaged in their local church and to catch a vision of what the Body of Christ can accomplish when each man’s passion for the Great Commission is ignited. He also reflects on a wife’s ability to motivate and encourage her husband, especially pertaining to involvement in ministry.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Kenny Luck, Men’s Pastor at Saddleback Church, encourages men to get engaged in their local church.

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Calling Men to a Higher Mission

With Kenny Luck
January 07, 2013
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Bob:  Author and speaker, Kenny Luck, says, “There are a lot of men in America today who are affiliated with their local church, but they’re not activated.” 

Kenny:  If you have a guy and you say, “Hey, you can greet people, usher, and do the parking lot ministry,” —for him—the way God made him to be someone great and do great things—that’s not resonating.  We orphan them in the absence of a strong vision and pathway of involvement to the world to be great.  That’s why you have millions affiliated, but not activated, because they don’t sense or feel like they’re valued.  They know they are valued by how a church is investing in programs for them. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, January 7th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Kenny Luck believes that if the church is going to be the church and the Kingdom of God is going to be advanced, then, men have to be called to step up and be men.  We’re going to talk about that today.  Stay tuned.  

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  You know, we have a lot of women who listen to FamilyLife Today.  I’m just wondering if you think that today they should just go ahead and turn over to the soft rock station—

Dennis:  Oh, no, no, no, no. 

Bob:  —or the country—

Dennis:  They’re going to find out a lot as they relate to their husbands, maybe their boyfriends, maybe as they raise their sons and daughters. 

Bob:  You think they are going to be curious about all this men-stuff we’re going to be talking about here? 

Dennis:  Oh, you’ve seen it with the Stepping Up® video series.  When we’ve shown that to groups of men and women—

Bob:  Yes. 

Dennis:  —the women go, “That is really good stuff!”  [Laughter]  The guys grunt, but the women—the women are all over it! 

Bob:  They get pretty excited about it.  You’re right.  Good point. 

Dennis:  And they’re going to like our guest on today’s broadcast.  Kenny Luck joins us from Saddleback—all the way from Southern California.  Welcome to Arkansas, Kenny. 

Kenny:  Thank you, Dennis and Bob.  It’s great to be here. 

Dennis:  Kenny is the Men’s Pastor of Saddleback.  He is the President and Founder of Every Man Ministries.  He’s written more than 20 books, including a new one called Sleeping Giant.  He and his wife Chrissy met at UCLA.  They have three children. 

You talk about, in your book, the men’s movement.  You say, in the church, there is an 800-pound gorilla.  What is the gorilla? 

Kenny:  It’s a “him”; not a “her”.  [Laughter] 

Dennis:  Did I say it was her? 

Kenny:  No, no, it’s him.  We want to endear ourselves to the female listeners.  It’s definitely “a him”.  We have the women and the children.  That’s what all the statistical research shows us; but the highest flight demographic, in least-utilized asset, Dennis, is the men. 

When I talk with pastors about men who are affiliated versus men who are activated—when you study all of the categories of involvement in the local church—Bible study, evangelism, service, ministry, volunteerism, et cetera—it’s dominated by the women, three-to-one.  I look at the New Testament and I see Jesus not having a big problem recruiting men.  I look at the book of Acts—

Bob:  But He was Jesus, Kenny! 

Kenny:  He was Jesus; but even those guys, who were intoxicated by the Spirit in Acts, Chapter 2, they did not have a problem recruiting men.  So, we have half the body—on the female side—highly- and heavily-involved.  We have the church—that’s languishing to get Kingdom initiatives done in communities—and we are, as I would put it, dealing our aces to the devil by not having a strong vision-investment and pathway for a man to be great and do great things in the local church. 

Bob:  So, the 800-pound gorilla is the guy; and he’s asleep in the church?  Is that what you are saying? 

Kenny:  Yes, he’s—it’s the issue.  The 800-pound gorilla is the issue of men and their involvement in the church. 

Dennis:  Men engaged in a mission—

Kenny:  Correct. 

Dennis:  —that’s really what you are all about. 

Kenny:  That’s right. 

Dennis:  I want to rewind the tapes and go all the way back to when you were a boy.  Where did you get this passion for calling men—pardon the phrase—to step up?  [Laughter] 

Kenny:  Well—

Bob:  Our listeners have heard that phrase a few times here. 

Kenny:  Yes.  Well, it’s interesting when you say, “Step up”.  There is a book by Kay Hymowitz right now.  It’s called Manning Up.  It’s talking about the extended adolescence of men.  When you asked the question, “Where did you get the passion?” —it comes out of pain. 

A lot of passion comes out of pain—pain of fatherlessness; the pain of not having a relationship with my own dad; the systemic emotional and relational difficulties I had growing up, as a young man; and then, being parented by peer culture and culture-at-large, in terms of, “What identity was I going to place my masculinity into?”  I didn’t have a model.  I didn’t have a mentor.  I didn’t have someone messaging me on what healthy masculinity was. 

When you chase the cultural vision and version of masculinity, you end up, inevitably, hurting yourself —hurting people around you—because it’s very self-oriented.  You self-protect, you self-indulge, you self-gratify, you self-preserve.  You want to become self-important—all those values and culture that are attached to being great as a man. 

Having experienced the loss, frustration, and emptiness of what I would call a broken quest for sonship in the world, you hit a cul-de-sac, as a man. 

Bob:  You’re going to have to explain what you mean by a “broken quest for sonship”. 

Kenny:  Yes.  When I talk about not having a relationship with my dad and the validation that goes with it, you go and chase validation.  You want that affirmation, and acceptance, and approval.  If you don’t get it from a father, you go get it from some other man, or group of men, or from culture-at-large.  That’s the way God made us.  That’s what God modeled in Matthew, Chapter 3, when Jesus was baptized. 

Bob:  So, every man is looking for someone to say, “This is my beloved son”—

Kenny:  That’s right. 

Bob:  —“in whom I’m well pleased.”  If it’s not your dad doing it, you’ll go find somebody else who will. 

Kenny:  I think that’s what—well, you know— what God models for us—is meant for us.  I think every man— young and old—wants a special moment, a special blessing, a special name—“Son,” and a special love—love that comes from a father.  ”Guys,” I say to men all the time, “you can never appropriately love a woman until you’ve been loved appropriately by another man.”  

Dennis:  I think younger guys today are looking for an older man—

Kenny:  That’s right. 

Dennis:  —who’s continuing to approve of them, saying, “I’m proud of you”—not as a son—but just as an older man to a younger man to say, “You know what?  I’m tracking with you.  I’m following you, and I want you to know I’m proud of you.” 

I wrote a note this morning to a young man in—you know who’s hammering out life.  He’s facing some tough stuff.  And I wrote a note.  I just thought, as I was doing that, “You know, those kinds of messages breathe life into the soul of a man,” because there are not that many men in our lives who truly do believe in us. 

Kenny:  Well, that’s—perfect illustration is the last conference I did in Birmingham.  There were 1,200 guys there.  After I walked out, I was up until one o’clock in the morning with thirty 20- to 30-year-olds who, essentially, wanted me to be there dad.  I wish I could just pack them all on the plane, and we could do life, and I could walk alongside of them; but they were looking for a daddy-mentor-type person who could speak into the struggles that they were facing and not solving, at a peer level. 

They wanted to be with someone who was around the corner—someone who would walk with them.  So, I see what you’re describing every time I go and speak.  I get tons of emails from younger men who just have had, again, no modeling or mentoring. 

Bob:  Let me go back because you said that, in the church, “three-to-one” women are active, and engaged, and passionate.  People have said, “Well, the problem is the church is not masculine enough.”  Is that right?  

Kenny:  I would say that the perception is much more powerful that it’s feminine in the sense that, when a man looks at the church—if there is no vision for him—because men come into church, and they’re asking themselves questions they don’t verbalize.  They ask, in their minds, “How do I fit here?  Can I do something great?  Is there value to me?”   If they see all the value, and money, and investment going toward women’s ministry—children’s ministry, schools, weekend services—and they don’t really feel like they can be a stakeholder in the big-thing—

Dennis:  Yes. 

Kenny:  —“You can go do the parking lot ministry—no knock on guys who do the parking lot ministry because there are probably a few listening.  However, if you have a guy and you say, “Hey, you can greet people, usher, and do the parking lot ministry,” —for him—the way God made him—that’s not resonating.  We orphan them in the absence of a strong vision and pathway of involvement, to the world, to be great.  That’s why you have millions affiliated, but not activated, because they don’t sense or feel like they are valued.  They know that they are valued by how a church is investing in programs for them. 

Dennis:  You’ve spent some time, here at FamilyLife, talking to our team because we are all over this with you.  I mean, I believe today men need to be challenged with a vision and a mission to make a difference in their world.  The reason we’re losing them is we’re not giving them a big enough challenge.  

We challenged men and women, as couples, to step up and to host the Art of Marriage® in their communities, in their church, in their business, in their lake house.  Now, some 24 months later, we’ve had over 300,000 people—more than 10,000 events—all hosted by laymen and women—but men who stepped up and said, “Yes, Sweetie, I’ll do this with you.”  That’s what led us, ultimately, to put together a new video series called Stepping Up

Bob was the Executive Producer of that—Grand Poobah.  I’m not sure all of the titles he had, but he—

Kenny:  I saw it.  It’s excellent. 

Dennis:  He put it together, but the design of this is not to be put in the hands of a pastor—not that I’m against that—but to put in the hands of a layman, whose pastor says, “Sic ‘em!  Go get them!  Go reach your community.  Go reach the people in your neighborhood, your business world, and reach out and make a difference for Jesus Christ,” because men are struggling to be men in every segment of society today. 

Bob:  You’re advocating the same kind of thing—that it needs to be that impassioned volunteer who is giving leadership to a lot of—

Kenny:  Hey, listen.  Marvel Comics® knows men better than most pastors.  They know that men want to deliver justice, they want to stick it to the bad guy, they want special power, and they want to defend the weak and vulnerable.  Why do you have a multi-billion dollar series about a good man rising when others are suffering?  You have it because that’s the way God made us. 

He made us to step into that roll.  When you look at Jesus, this is Jesus, the Man of Justice.  The culture that Jesus walked into, from a male perspective, the culture was broken.  You had men believing sincerely, “Thank God I’m not a woman, a kid, or a Gentile.”  It was this toxic mix of nationalism and chauvinism—

Dennis:  Right. 

Kenny:  —and ethnocentrism.  Here comes Jesus, the Man of Justice, defending women, saying, “Let the children come,” and telling parables about the Good Samaritan.  So, it is the ethos of the man. 

Dennis, I totally agree with you.  Any pastor who truly wants to help himself should have the Stepping Up event on Super Saturday because, when you activate men into a solid vision of purpose and cause—they are dying and desperate for that.  So, whether it’s the layman, whether it’s the men in a couples’ group that are kind of languishing, or whether it’s just a group of guys who get together and recreate—I think Stepping Up is going to be a part of the catalyst of waking the sleeping giant in our country. 

Bob:  And what you’re doing is trying to provide an ongoing system—a way, that once men are touched, there is an ongoing discipleship, mentoring—

Kenny:  That’s right. 

Bob:  —process for them that doesn’t just happen over ten weeks and, then, it’s over. 

Dennis:  But it’s church-centric. 

Kenny:  Yes! 

Dennis:  That, to me, is very important because it just can’t be just men’s groups.  Ultimately, there has to be a place called the local church where men are real, authentic, and are tied to accountability, to worship, to growth, and to ongoing discipleship. 

Kenny:  They are connecting somewhere!  They are connecting to go ride motorbikes.  They are connecting to go chase the white ball.  They are connecting around sports franchises.  They are connecting.  They are finding a form of fellowship, but not the depth and meaning that is absent from the other forms of fellowship—doesn’t go to purpose and meaning, as a man.  So, yes, the backend is so important. 

I think one of the big lessons of the men’s movement, over the last 30 years, is that we’ve had a lot of inspiration but not a lot of progression.  Inspiration and activation creates frustration, when there is no progression.  I know that’s a lot of rhyme; but it’s so true, on the grassroots levels. 

So, that’s where what we’re doing—what Sleeping Giant is doing—what Every Man Ministries is doing—in terms of providing clarity of process—“Hey, it doesn’t stop here.  This meeting will reconvene.  It’ll meet at a Sleeping Giant mid-sized meeting.  Then, you’ll hear vision to be great and do great things—getting in, getting healthy, getting strong, and getting going into God’s purposes for which you were created.” 

That is what every man wants to hear—needs to hear.  However, they are not hearing that.  And that’s where we have a new wave of ministries—that are aligning, I think—it’s going to be one of the best, within the Church, moving out things—we have seen in a long time.  

Bob:  Would you unpack what—you kind of ran through “getting in, getting healthy”—you’ve got kind of a path that you think guys need to be on. 

Kenny:  Yes.  It was out of a need to help my guys at Saddleback communicate to their friends—Christian and non-Christian— “What is this about?  What is this men’s culture about?” —and give them a vernacular that wasn’t worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission—if you have absolutely no connection to those concepts. 

Bob:  Right.  

Kenny:  Because all men know and sense the need to have a team.  They need to “get in”; you know? 

Dennis:  Right. 

Kenny:  They know they have to have core health.  There are billion-dollar magazines that talk about physical health; but then, you have relational, marital, familial health—which are the true touch points where they need the most help.  That’s, “get healthy”. 

Dennis:  But their spiritual health in that, too; right? 

Kenny:  Well, that’s exactly—that’s the point—is that it’s not just healthy relationships for the sake of healthy relationships.  It’s:  “You need to be healthy spiritually.  And guess what?  When you get healthy, spiritually, you get healthy, maritally.  When you get healthy, spiritually, you get healthy, familial-ly.  When you get healthy, spiritually, you get healthy emotionally.” 

So, “get in” and “get healthy”.  There’s enough pain that men want to defeat in their own lives that provide plenty of ammunition and success from men’s ministries if—like the parable of the Good Samaritan—instead of being a church that walks on the other side of the street and says, “Hey!” you know, or casts the idea that, “You have to clean yourself up before you can get over here,” —you go meet people or men who are like icebergs.  Underneath the tip of their image, there is huge suffering.  I assume nine out of ten—when I’m in front of men.  There is an issue that they want to win at.  You start talking and providing opportunities for them to deal with that—they will come in droves!  That’s what we discovered at Saddleback. 

So, we changed our paradigm to “Get in, Get Healthy.”  Then, that transformation that happens is they’re getting healthy in God, in their relationships, and their families.  It’s like creating a bank account that, then, you can spend on vision—like, “Hey, I’m so glad you’re doing well.  I’m glad that you’re happy that we’re providing this for you.  This is where this is going.  Okay, we’d love for you to get strong and become a solid disciple of Jesus Christ and join us in leadership, community, and service.” 

That’s why we built that model—the backend—because we’ve had, for 30 years, a lot of good catalytic experience and emotion; but what we need is clarity and intentionality in the process.  Men love that.  They love clarity.  They’re asking—even though they are not verbalizing—“Now, that you’ve got me.  Where are you taking me?  Where is this going?  How am I going to end up fitting?”  If you don’t have an answer for that, then, you lose them; but if you have a clear pathway for them—when they get initially involved and you keep seeding that—“Hey, here’s where you are.  Here’s where we’d love you to be, and here’s what it involves.”  They really matriculate through the process.  That’s what changed our church.  

Dennis:  Well, it’s what the church is supposed to be about.  I mean, it’s why I’m excited about Super Saturday because we have gone to churches and said to churches, “Would you put together a group of men who gather before the Super Bowl on Saturday—before the Super Bowl?” 

Yes, they can kind of thump their chests and have some rally cries; but at the core—hear biblical messages on courageous manhood of a true follower of Jesus Christ and how you can begin to deal with some of the demons—some of the stuff, as you’ve said, Kenny, below the surface—from the tip of the iceberg—those core issues that are just knocking the daylights out of guys.  They can’t get beyond and how to begin to fellowship with other guys—get authentic; get real.  

Then, not just have an event, but begin to launch something, from that point, that begins to be a self-sustaining movement of men, led by men in the church, going forward. 

Kenny:  Wow!  That sounds awesome!  Let’s do it. 

Dennis:  Let’s do it. 

Kenny:  Let’s do it!  No, you—you know what I was thinking about Stepping Up and watching the content?  It’s so beautifully done.  It resonated with me so deeply, and I see a lot of stuff.  This is such high-quality—resonating content—but you know what I was thinking, in the context of Super Saturday—it’s sort of like being in the red zone.  You can move the ball in the middle of the field without issue.  Most teams can move the ball; but when they get into that red zone, the field shrinks.  It’s like a fist fight in a phone booth.  It is so hard to push it across.  I think it’s so appropriate to have Super Saturday because there are millions of men who are bogged down in the red zones of life—

Dennis:  Yes. 

Kenny:  —and family—

Dennis:  Yes, they are.

Kenny:  —and marriage.  They move the ball, and they score consistently in other realms; but in their relationship with God— their relationship with their wife, how they’re leading their family, their personal character— they are bogged down in the red zone.  No man likes to see the guy with the soccer cleats come on every time and kick field goals.  You’re not going to Super Bowl.  I was sitting there listening to Stepping Up—the curriculum—and I went, “You know what?  Red zone versus end zone—he wants to be in the end zone.” 

Dennis:  Yes. 

Kenny:  “He wants to go from frustration to celebration.”  That’s what FamilyLife is offering all churches and men’s groups, the Saturday before the Super Bowl. 

Bob:  And the cool thing is we’ve got hundreds of churches already signed up, who are going to be hosting the Super Saturday event in their city.  In some cities—multiple churches are doing this—lots of locations where this is going to be happening.  In fact, if folks want to go to, there’s a link to Stepping Up—to the Super Saturday event. 

You can get more information about where these events are going to be hosted.  And if there’s not one near you or even if there is, there’s still an opportunity for you to host one of these events in your local church or in your community.  Go to and click on the “STEPPING UP” link that you’ll see there and find out how you can host a Stepping Up one-day kick-off event for guys at your church or in your community. 

The reason we’re calling it a kick-off event is because we’re hoping that a lot of guys, after the one-day event, will then go through the entire Stepping Up video series—ten weeks where guys get together—watch some video content, huddle up, talk about life, talk about how they’re doing at work, how they’re doing at home, how they’re doing as men.  The feedback we’re getting from guys who have been through the ten-week series is that God is using it in some great ways.  

In fact, our team here is so excited about the idea of, not only Super Saturday, but then guys going through the ten-week series—that they’ve put together a special offer for those who go ahead and sign up, this week, to host the event and, then, follow it up with the ten-week series.  You can get all the information about the special offer about the material that’s available when you go to and click on the link to “STEPPING UP”.   Again, the website is; or if you have any questions, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.  Ask about the Stepping Up event that’s coming up in about three-and-a-half weeks.  

While you’re on our website or when you get in touch with us, look for information about Kenny Luck’s book, Sleeping Giant.  It’s a great book for those who really care about men in the local church and how those men can be activated to be a part of what God is doing through the local church.  Not only is there a book, but there is more material available.  Again, go to; or give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY. 

Now, we are still, here at FamilyLife, trying to sort through all of the response that we got a week ago to our matching-gift offer that was for the month of December.  I think the final numbers may be in by the end of the day today.  If you want to find out how we did toward meeting our matching-gift goal of $4.1 million, go to  We’re going to be posting there as we keep tabs of the tally here. 

I just want to say, “Thanks,” again, to those of you who made a yearend contribution to FamilyLife Today.  We appreciate your generosity.  And can I just remind you that, throughout the year, any time you have an opportunity to support the work of FamilyLife Today, your donations help keep this program on this station and on our network of stations, all across the country.  And we appreciate so much your financial support of this ministry.  So, again, thanks for your support, at the end of the year.  We look forward to staying connected with you throughout 2013.  We want to do all we can do to help strengthen your marriage and your family, and we appreciate your investment in this ministry. 

We hope you can join us back again tomorrow.  Kenny Luck is going to be here again.  We’re going to continue talking about how we can engage men to be men at home, at work, in the church, in every aspect of their lives.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow.  Hope you can be back for that. 

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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