Roger Marsh: Welcome to Family Talk, I'm Roger Marsh. You know the role a father plays in the lives of his children is extremely important. Dr. Dobson has said it is paramount. Well, what has happened to the influence of men in society then? Remember, Dr. Dobson was sounding this alarm 20 years ago, and his sage wisdom is even more relevant now here in 2023, regarding the role of men in the family and society. On today's classic program here on Family Talk, you're going to hear the conclusion of a conversation Dr. Dobson had with a panel of godly men, experts in men's ministries. Together, these four men that Doctor assembled will be discussing why husbands and fathers are not as involved in the local church as they had been generations ago.
Now, keep in mind, this conversation was recorded over 20 years ago. And sadly, the decline in men's attendance at church has just kept increasing in a downward trend. The panel featured Dr. Dobson's cousin, Reverend H.B. London, who was pastor of Friendship Church in Sun City, California. H.B., of course, passed away in 2018 at the age of 81, after a courageous battle with cancer. Also on the panel were Patrick Morley, Chris Van Brocklin, and Vince D'Acchioli. Now, let's join Dr. Dobson and the panel in this conversation right here on Family Talk.
Patrick Morley: Perspective. First and foremost, he is a disciple of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. And he has decided to make the Bible his first rule for all matters of both faith and life. And so he's heart after the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But I do think that the idea that the great need we have is for a discipleship reformation. I've told you this before, Dr. Dobson, is there any way to ever get the world without getting the church right? Well, probably not. Well, can you get the church right without getting the family right? No. And if you're still tracking, can you get the family right without getting marriages right? No. Can you get marriages right without getting men, right? No. And finally, can you get men right unless you help them become disciples of our Lord and savior Jesus?
And so really, you get men right, you get marriages right. You get marriages right, you get the family right. You get the family right, you get the church right. You get the church right, you get the world right. Or at least as right as you're ever going to get a fallen world. And so this has been tried before, 2000 years ago, for God so loved the world that he sent Jesus. Who gathered around him some men, he built into their lives. He said, now, look, I'm going to have to leave, but I'd like you to take these principles and share them with your friends. And so we sit here today because Jesus had the strategy of helping make disciples of men.
Dr. James Dobson: He started with 12 men, or 11.
Patrick Morley: And you started this ministry as a men's ministry.
Dr. James Dobson: I really did.
Patrick Morley: You did.
Dr. James Dobson: People have forgotten that but it's true.
Patrick Morley: Tell the people the story. It's unbelievable story.
Dr. James Dobson: Well, it goes all the way back to 1976, and I was getting hundreds, if not thousands, of speaking requests. And I was running all over the country and I was praying. I was on the way to Children's Hospital that day in a little Volkswagen, and I was saying, "Lord, it doesn't really make any sense for me to figure out what I want to say to all these people that are coming to hear me. Why should I depend on my shortsighted view? Why don't you tell me what you want me to say?" And so I'm just praying along that line, I said, "Just give me your message with regard to the family and the gospel of Jesus Christ." And as clearly as the Lord is ever going to speak to me, not in audible words, but He said to me, "If this country is going to make it, and if the family is going to survive, it will be because husbands and fathers begin to accept their responsibilities for leadership, and especially spiritual leadership in their own families."
I know that women are extremely important to the family. No one can take anything away from the women, but they tend to be more motivated for the family. And if you get the husband involved, you get the whole family. H, you already said that. And if you lose the father and the husband, you lose a certain percentage of the kids as well. In fact, I have the stats here. Listen to this. For every 10 men in the average church, nine will have kids who leave the church. Five have a major problem with pornography. Four will get divorced, affecting one million children each year. Only one will have a biblical worldview. And all 10 will struggle to balance work and family.
Patrick Morley: And I'll tell you how it works out in real life. We have a young woman who came to work at our ministry, 24 years of age. She got out of college and wanted to go to work at a men's ministry as a receptionist. Well, one day I walked through there, I said, "You've got a college degree. What are you doing here?" She said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, why aren't you out pursuing some big career?" She said, "Well, when I was nine years old my mother and father separated. And then I saw my dad a few times after that. And then when I was 13 they got divorced, and I've never seen him again. And so I want to give my life to helping other men not be like my dad." Happy ending to the story, we were actually able to locate her father up in the northeast and get them reconnected, and they're starting to rebuild a relationship.
Dr. James Dobson: One of the great blessings in my life is I had a father who was a masculine role model for me. He hunted, he fished, he made things. He had a certain dignity to him as a man. And I wanted to identify with him. I wanted to be like him. And I've said many times that it was out hunting with him in the woods that something in our relationship changed. And he was different with me out there than he was anywhere else. And he was building into me, and he made me want to be like him. It made me want his values for my values, and his God for my God. And it came out of having what some of you guys didn't have. Vince, you didn't have it. Pat, you didn't have it. Did you have it, Chris?
Chris Van Brocklin: Actually, I had a dad who was great. He was there, and he was a World War II veteran. One of the things I would say about him is he had a difficulty just connecting with me emotionally. And that's not unusual. And so a certain amount of that has been passed on to me, and I have trouble emotionally connecting with my own son. And so there is a skip on the hard drive in my own experience that way. And I think that's true for many.
Rev. H.B. London: Jim, we've talked about my dad, your uncle, my dad, who was this great pastor who could preach about as well as anybody I've ever heard, and what most people think. And wherever I go today, people talk about him. But he never could identify with me. He could never tell me that he loved me. And when I think about the church and the masculinity of the church, you go back to Joshua 24. It's that one simple phrase where Joshua said, "As for me, in my house, we're going to serve the Lord." There was a determination and there was a conviction that whatever came, whatever took, whatever the peer pressure was, we were going to serve the Lord. And whatever that meant, we were going to pay that price. And I think that's where the body of Christ must come to with men who make that decision. More than money, more than wealth, more than jobs, more than prestige, more than popularity. As for me in my house, we're going to serve the Lord.
Dr. James Dobson: There are two groups that I want to address right now, and I would like you all to help me do it. The first group is made up of a very large number of women who are sitting here saying, "My husband needs to make that commitment. I am so frustrated with his inability to give himself totally to the cause of Christ." The second group, smaller in number, represent the men who are out there. Some of them are truck drivers, some of them are physicians, some of them are attorneys, some of them are school teachers. Some of them have any number of positions, but they're listening.
And I want to say to you guys, if you lose it at this point, you lose everything. I don't care what you accomplish in life, you lose it at this point, and it's gone. If you lose your kids, if they don't know Christ and they don't know you do, and they are not around, you're not around enough for them to identify with you, you're a failure. You're a failure. But we're not here to beat you over the head, it's not too late.
Patrick Morley: Let's start a revolution.
Dr. James Dobson: Let's do it. Why don't you lead it?
Patrick Morley: Honestly, there is a revolution underway. Women, if you're out there listening, men, there is a revolution underway. There are men all over the United States who are becoming passionate about having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Roger Marsh: I'm Roger Marsh. Just jumping back into this addition to Family Talk for a brief moment. Reminding you that today's program is a classic episode that was recorded about 20 years ago. Our own Dr. James Dobson is discussing with a panel of experts, the spiritual background of men. As Paul writes in one Corinthians 16:13, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith. Act like men, and be strong." Now, let's jump back in to hear the conclusion of this conversation right here on Family Talk.
Vince D'Acchioli: I want to talk to the ladies. I don't get a chance to talk to the ladies very much, and I'd like to talk to the ladies. I had a very, very ugly background. And my wife, Cindy, who's a wonderful lady, spent years and years praying for me that I would become eventually the spiritual head of my home. She came to know Jesus long before me, and she for years didn't know what to do. Even our closest Christian friends would tell Cindy, "Cindy, you might as well give up." They said, "We could see the Ayatollah Khomeini coming to Jesus, but not that guy." They gave me no hope.
But I want to suggest this. It wasn't until Cindy discovered that she could not change a hair on my head. There's a principle, a spiritual principle, perhaps one of the most profound ones we find in God's Word, and it's the principle of letting go. To the ladies that are listening, the worst thing that Cindy did for a time was to try to encourage me. Manipulate sometimes, is a word that I would use, to get me to do things that I just did not want to do. It wasn't until she said, "Lord," in a prayerful posture before God, "Lord, I cannot change a hair on this man's head. I want to give him to you." And she actually gave me to the Lord and began to pray for me. I don't know how that works, but I'll tell you what-
Dr. James Dobson: I agree with you, Vince. There's no doubt about the fact that there's something about nagging a man that turns him off big time. On the other hand, where you've got children involved, you can't sit around and wait for him to catch fire.
Vince D'Acchioli: That's right.
Dr. James Dobson: My grandmother, godly little woman, weighed 95 pounds. And my grandfather was 6'5, and he would have none of it. He saw hypocrisy in the church and he didn't want anything to do with it. And he said, "You go. You take our six kids. It's all right, you do what you need to do, but just keep me out of it." And so she just quietly started praying and fasting for him. She didn't nag him, as far as I know. She just prayed for him. She prayed. She fasted weekends for him. She is out there praying for him. And 40 years she prayed for him. You know this, 40 years she prayed for him. And it came down to the end of his life and he did not know Christ. And he had a stroke, and his life just really unraveled. Never been sick a day in his life.
And his daughter was in his room fixing the medications and taking care of his bed, and she looked at him, he was crying. Nobody'd ever seen him cry. And she said, "Daddy, what's wrong?" And he said, "Honey, go get your mother." And she ran down the stairs to get my grandmother, and she came up and knelt beside him. And she said, "What's wrong? Tell me." And he said, "I'm not afraid to die. I know I'm going to die, I'm not afraid to die. But it is so dark. Will you pray for me?" She had been waiting 40 years for that man to ask her to pray for him. And she said, "Well, I pray." She got on her knees and he went sweeping into the kingdom, and two weeks later he died with a testimony on his lips. Sometimes it takes that. And you just-
Patrick Morley: There's a man right now listening to this broadcast and he's saying, "I need that in my life. This resonates with me." And if you're out there, it's really quite simple. All you have to do is acknowledge that you're a sinner who needs a savior.
Dr. James Dobson: That's it.
Patrick Morley: And just invite Jesus to come into your heart and life, and to change you from the inside-out. And then get yourself connected to a church where they're preaching out of God's Word.
Dr. James Dobson: Pat, do you have to go do a lot of good things before Christ will save you?
Vince D'Acchioli: You got to read a lot of books. Bringing Up Boys.
Patrick Morley: Well, the interesting thing is-
Dr. James Dobson: I'm baiting you and I know what I want you to say.
Patrick Morley: The interesting thing is that, sir, if you're listening, you don't have to do anything to improve your record to be acceptable to Jesus. In fact, there's nothing you can do. The Bible says he wants you just like you are, but he wants you as one who acknowledges that he needs a savior. So just right now, wherever you are, just pray. And if you're driving, don't shut your eyes.
Dr. James Dobson: To live for Him.
Chris Van Brocklin: May I say that, don't get the feeling. There are pastors out there also listening, and probably at this point feels like there's no hope. And there's tremendous hope. There's tremendous hope for the church. There are tremendous hopes for those people who are leading in the church and have a passion for men. And I get phone calls just on a regular basis, all of us do. And it is a pastor or a leader saying, just exactly what can we do to reach our men? And that's where we have really put a lot of our emphasis into. In fact, the National Coalition of Men's Ministry has a book called Effective Men's Ministry.
Dr. James Dobson: I'm holding it in my hand, there's a forward by you, Patrick. It is edited by Phil Downer. And this is a compilation of little essays and suggestions and ideas for pastors and for those that would like to start a men's ministry.
Chris Van Brocklin: That's right. It starts with the basic foundation and it expresses some of the things that people have learned in the field. A lot of the people who are involved in the National Coalition of Men's Ministry have been involved in this for years and years, and they're just sharing some of the things that they've learned along the way. There's also training that is available also through the National Coalition of Men's Ministries. In fact, I spend a good deal of my time out just simply doing the training in the local church, helping churches to discover some of the best ways to develop an effective disciple making ministry to men.
Dr. James Dobson: That's how these programs came to be, that compilation of leaders. They were all directors of men's ministries, those 80 ministries, and each one had a passion for the same thing. It was really inspiring, all working on the same issue together. Which doesn't often happen within Christian ministry.
Chris Van Brocklin: Dr. Dobson, two very quick things, and they're related. For the ladies that are listening in, there's another thing you can do. And that is that you can encourage your church to have an effective ministry to men. Maybe talk to your pastor, talk to some of the leaders there, and talk about how important it is to get men going. But the National Coalition of Men's Ministries, our annual conference is a place where pastors and leaders can come together. There are relevant workshops that deal with all different aspects of ministry to men. Put on, by the way, by some of the best ministry leaders in our nation today. But it is a place where pastors and leaders can come together and every resource you can imagine dealing with effective ministry to men is at one place at one time. And so it's a very, very special gathering.
Dr. James Dobson: Men's ministries are frequently event oriented, aren't they?
Patrick Morley: Please don't say that.
Dr. James Dobson: I'm sorry, but that's a common criticism.
Patrick Morley: We have a tendency, it is so true. And that's the perception, but-
Dr. James Dobson: It need not be.
Patrick Morley: It's not supposed to be. The event is supposed to create some momentum, but then you have to capture it and sustain it. Sustainability is the problem in every business, in every ministry.
Dr. James Dobson: How do you disciple men, Pat?
Patrick Morley: Well, what is a disciple? And then, how do you make one? A disciple is a man who gets called to walk with Jesus, equipped to live like Jesus, and then sent to work for Jesus. He is called, equipped, and sent. He's a learner. And the church, through preaching, through teaching, like in Sunday schools, through Bible studies. By teaching men's spiritual disciplines, like having a daily devotion. Informal discussions like the ones H.B. is talking about that he has with his men. Some of those valuable lessons I've learned have really been over lunch with a guy he didn't even know he is touching. Seminars, retreats, men's activities, leadership trainings. These are the means by which we make this. Pastors often think that they have to come up with something new. No, we just have to take what we're already doing and contextualize it for men so that it makes sense.
Rev. H.B. London: Thanks, Pat, because you're right, man. You're singing my song. As a pastor to pastor, and I see so many pastors who struggle in their church, I know the answer to a lot of those questions. And that is, if the men could get involved and become the leaders and become the spiritual giants that their families want them to be, and that God expects them to be. And Pat, you were talking about, it doesn't have to be a big thing. Just in my hand I'm holding here, I'm thinking about I wrote this in the book, "The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper," a long time ago for The Promise Keeper's book.
But what I try to do, three simple things. Number one, I try to establish the level of a man's spiritual background. I just try to talk to them about where they were from and what they were like as a kid. The second thing, establish a common ground for shared interest. So many men never get a chance to talk about themselves, and I just wanted to hear their story. And the third thing was to establish the groundwork for ongoing relationships. If you don't have ongoing relationships-
Patrick Morley: It's over.
Rev. H.B. London: ... then it becomes a promise keeper's event. Ongoing relationships takes promise keepers to the level that it was intended.
Patrick Morley: That's correct.
Vince D'Acchioli: There's nothing wrong with the event, per se. It's just catalytic.
Dr. James Dobson: Promise keepers has done a great work. I want to make sure that we don't disparage it.
Vince D'Acchioli: The tendency is to think that the event-
Patrick Morley: It's part of NCMM, so we're grateful to PK.
Rev. H.B. London: But men must realize that there's soon to be somebody at the other end of the phone when they need them.
Vince D'Acchioli: That's exactly right.
Patrick Morley: It's discipleship taking place in the local church. In fact, that's the vision of NCMM, is a disciple making ministry to men in every church. And we thank you so much for giving us this national forum today. We want to raise a national dialogue about the importance of allocating more intellectual and financial resources to helping our men, so we thank you for that.
Dr. James Dobson: This is an important one. This is high on my list of priorities, and it's been an honor to have you all here. I have the feeling that there are three or four more commercials we could get done.
Patrick Morley: I've got one. I've got one.
Dr. James Dobson: You just gave one by giving the title of your book. Let me give the title of this book again, Effective Men's Ministry: The Indispensable Toolkit for Your Church.
Roger Marsh: Have you considered if your church is really ministering to men in your faith community, perhaps God is calling you to begin that conversation. Friend, you just heard the conclusion of this two-part discussion featuring Dr. Dobson and a panel of experts in men's ministry here on Family Talk. If you'd like to go back and listen to any part you might have missed, or if you'd like to share this program with a friend, you can do so easily from our website. Go to drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. That's drjamesdobson.org/familytalk. Also, keep in mind, you can listen to the program on our app as well.
Now, before we leave the air for today, I want to share a special need we have here at the ministry. Like numerous other ministries nationwide, the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute is also experiencing a shortfall in contributions. If the Lord has positioned you to stand in the gap and assist us in this area, we promise that we will steward these monies well and put them to good use by continuing to fight for the matters of the family in the public square.
If you believe that the institution of the family is the bedrock of a strong, healthy American culture, and the bedrock of your church community, as we heard today from these men, won't you stand with us and support Dr. Dobson's fight to defend the family? For more information on how you can support us online, go to drjamesdobson.org. That's drjamesdobson.org. Keep in mind that your donation is completely tax-deductible. And you can also give over the phone as well, 877-732-6825. That's 877-732-6825. I'm Roger Marsh, thanks so much for listening today to Family Talk, the voice you trust for the family you love.
Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
Dr. James Dobson: When I was in college, I ran a long distance race that I will never forget. I didn't win it, but I did learn a valuable lesson about myself and about marriage.
Roger Marsh: Dr. James Dobson for Family Talk.
Dr. James Dobson: It was my freshman year, and I really wanted to win my first race badly. Although I hadn't trained properly, I bounded onto the track full of energy and optimism. At the sound of the starting gun, I tore off as fast as I could run and I left the pack far behind. By the second lap however, my side was splitting and the pack was closing in behind me. Somewhere near the halfway mark, I was sucking air frantically and my chest was heating like a great gray whale. I soon collapsed on the infield grass in a sweating heap of failure, losing the race and my pride in one great disaster.
But I did learn a lesson that has stuck with me to this day: marathons are very different from sprints and you have to learn to pace yourself if you're going to endure to the finish line. And isn't that true of married life too? You have to set a pace that you can maintain through all the ups and downs of everyday living and make up your mind to let nothing knock you off the track. It's called lifelong marriage, and it sure beats an early collapse on the infield grass.
Roger Marsh: To get involved, go to drjamesdobson.org.
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