Wild Game Dinners can be a super effective way to reach men who would never come to your church.
Wild Game Dinners are very effective if you do them well and have a vision for what you are trying to accomplish.
However, if you’re going to host a Wild Game Dinner, you can ruin the ministry effort if you cut corners in a few key areas.
For the last 20 years I’ve spoken all over the nation at Wild Game Dinners. I’ve stood on the stage at Wild Game Dinners looking into the eyes of huge crowds and small crowds. I’ve spoken at Wild Game Dinners that were cooperative efforts between multiple area churches and I’ve spoken at Wild Game Dinners that were just an annual tradition. In short, I’ve seen Wild Game Dinners in all shapes, sizes, and flavors.
I’ve seen what works. And I’ve had a front row seat, too many times, to what doesn’t work at Wild Game Dinners.
Here’s some observations on how many churches ruin what could be the greatest ministry effort they host each year.
Taking Too Long To Give Away Gifts.
Talk about a vibe killer! You’ve seen hundreds of men come through your doors. Over half of them are not connected to your church. The food was great. The speaker did a good job.
They started coming through the doors at 6pm. It’s now 7:45pm.
And for the next hour, you hand out small prizes. It’s nothing short of mind bending and painful.
Solution: Give away gifts all night long.
While men are eating, give away your smaller gifts. When the speaker is finished, give away your best 3 to 4 “main gifts” and call it a night.
From the moment the speaker is finished speaking, you should be out the door inside 15 minutes.
Problem: Emcees That Hijack The Event
Probably 50% of the Men’s Ministry events I speak at have an emcee. That’s a great idea and it keeps the night moving. However, all too often I see an emcee that loves to hear himself talk. They tell long stories, or they feel the need to comment on everything.
Solution: Have An Honest Conversation With The Emcee.
If you choose to go the route of an emcee, that’s great, but tell them to use discipline. Remind the emcee that their job is to move the event along, not to be the Keynote Speaker In Disguise.
Problem: Wild Game Dinners That Overreach
To put it a different way, I’ve seen too many churches try and do too much in one night. They have inflatables for kids, vendors come in and sell items like homemade beef jerky, and they will simply attempt to get too much done in one event.
Solution: Choose Discipline.
If you are hosting a wild game dinner, then let it be that: a dinner. Have your speaker, and be content with that.
Problem: Opening The Event Too Early
If you tell people it opens at 5pm, that’s when they will show up! Far, far, far too often I’ve seen churches open the doors at 5pm and have dinner at 7pm. That’s a surefire way to have people never come back, because, by the time they eat and have the speaker, it’s 8pm until they leave. That’s the length of time of an NFL game!!!! And I can promise you I’ve never seen a wild game dinner that rivals the NFL experience!
Solution: Don’t Overreach.
Have the dinner. Have the speaker. Be content with that.
Problem: Turning A Men’s Outreach Into A Worship Service.
If men wanted to come to church, they’d come on Sunday.
Please, please … PLEASE do not do this.
I’ve seen it so many times and it is heartbreaking.
You finally get 500 men to come to your church. 248 of them are not Christians. And then there’s a southern gospel quartet that sings Bulah Land and says “Y’all come on and give the Lord praise tonight” and it becomes a worship service in disguise.
And you know that is? It’s lying.
You told them it was going to be a Wild Game Dinner not a gospel concert.
If you want to reach non-Christians, don’t have worship services with camo.
Solution: Don’t Do That.
Seriously. Don’t it.
Problem: Failure To Follow Through
The entire point of having a wild game dinner is to share the gospel with men who would otherwise never come to your church. And a wild game dinner can be a fantastic avenue to achieve that goal.
However, one area that almost always short-circuits the event is that churches don’t follow through.
In my years of ministry experience, there’s a very real reason why: your leadership team is tired.
They’ve been working on this event for a year and they are “over it.”
Solution: Recruit A Follow Up Team Separately From The Leadership Team
One of the smartest things I ever did when I was learning how to host wild game dinners was something I did by accident!
I asked a few men if they would have one job and one job only: follow up with guests.
By accident, I didn’t really include them in the leadership strategy meetings leading up to the men’s event, and buddy, by the time the event rolled around, they were like Walker dogs waiting to be let out of a truck to tree a coon.
They knocked it out of the park.
When everyone else was exhausted and spiritually flatlined, their battery was fully charged for their job.
Be creative. Have them drop off a NIV Outdoorsman Bible at the door. Yes, go see these people who make decisions for Christ. Seriously. They are new believers. Don’t leave them as spiritual orphans. Have them go to the home and drop off a Bible and just have a conversation about next steps.
Here’s a few more great tools on best practices in how to follow up after a Men’s Ministry Event or a Wild Game Dinner.