Wild game dinners are a seriously strong asset for reaching men. Men's ministry comes in all shapes and forms, but if you're looking to reach hunters and anglers, wild game dinners have got to be in your normal rotation.
Why? Because wild game dinners are the best front door you can have for reaching outdoorsmen.
The Question I'm Asked Most Often
Getting to speak across this nation to scores of hunters is the single greatest form of fun in ministry that I've had to this day, even after 25 years of ministry endeavors. Wild game dinners are a favorite of mine because wild game dinners offer an ecosystem where a host of a man's values come crashing together: food, free gear, storytelling, and from an evangelism perspective, a captive audience who share my core values in terms of a love for hunting.
The question I'm most often asked by event planners is, "Jason is there as best day of the week to have a wild game dinner?"
My answer is: yes.
There absolutely is a better day to host an event, and it's Thursday.
Thursdays For Wild Game Dinners?
Here's what you have to understand up front. We're not talking about some massive event for men that has 15 moving parts. Wild game dinners are not meant to be the end all, catch all, for your answer to men's ministry.
In fact, the greatest failures ... by far ... that I see in terms of wild game dinners is when churches try and do too much in one single event.
My word, I've seen churches offer ropes courses and go kart rides for kids, fishing seminars for men, turkey calling seminars, a bluegrass concert, and then a dinner and speaker ... all in one event. It is almost always a failure - because the event lasted from 12 noon to 5pm by the time I actually got on stage. Nobody has 5 hours for what is basically a dinner and a speaker.
An effective wild game dinner has a meal, great door prizes, a speaker.
And then it's over. In 2 hours.
So, if you keep that mentality, you'll win.
Now, why Thursday?
Thursday Means You Radically Reduce Calendar Competition
When you host an event on Saturday, you're competing with EVERYTHING!
You're competing with football games, baseball games, cheerleading competitions, a man's "honey do" list, weekend vacations, all the way on down to a working man's first open day in weeks to finally go fishing.
Your wild game dinner is going to lose against those options.
Every. Single. Time.
Are Thursdays perfect?
No ... but they are far, far better than Saturday in my experience. I speak at probably 20 churches a year, and I'm telling you, those that have Thursday events, I notice the crowd is strong, and I cannot recall a pastor being downhearted about deflated expectations over attendance.
Again, you have to keep it short. You cannot spend 45 minutes handing out door prizes.
(read specifically about the fiasco in "surefire way to ruin wild game dinners" here)
You must plan months in advance, plan well, have your teams focused, and if you do, you can pull it off with amazing efficiency.
Addicted duck hunter Todd Young, Discipleship Pastor for Summergrove Baptist Church in Shreveport, said this about the proven track record for Thursdays:
[follow Todd on Twitter: @ToddWYoung]
Being in full-time ministry over 20 years and have led sports leagues, hosting special events, charity fundraisers, etc., Thursday has always proven to be the best night for any event to get people there.
Recently we hosted a wild game dinner, and our attendance was around 650 men. Measure that against the fact that our entire Sunday School attendance average is just under 900 people, which obviously includes men, women, children, and preschool; so, we had WAY more men at this Thursday night event than we ever have here on a Sunday morning.
From a facility standpoint, having the event on a Thursday allowed our "set up team" to get our game dinner event rooms set up during the week - at nights after work hours - so that we didn’t interfere with our volunteer's weekends for prep time.
Small Benefits About Thursday
- Men usually come straight from work. It's a natural extension of their day.
- You're hosting the event on a school night. Normally that works against you, but not in this case. Because it's on a school night, it forces you to stay committed to a 2 hour event.
- The church itself is more open for traffic. Saturday events mean other people are using your facility for sports leagues, music practices, etc. Thursday eliminates that.
If you'd like additional resources on hosting wild game dinners here's a list of links from my treks across America observing churches of all sizes, shapes, and flavors. Hope it helps!