When I first got started with disability ministry, it was not a grand calling. I did not wake up in the middle of the night with a vision from God who provided a clear direction for ministry. My introduction to truly serving the disability community was far less extravagant. Mary Tatum, who runs the Shine Disability Ministry at Southeast Christian Church, approached Gary Spangler and I saying she had a family she wanted to see if we might be able to help with.
That was it. That was the grand intro.
This family was a single mother of two teenage sons, both of whom were non-verbal and both of whom were on the Autism spectrum. Over the year we spent with this family, hanging out with the sons while the mother could attend church, I learned so much. I could go on and on about what those two young men taught me, however, I wanted to focus on having a male role model and leadership within the disability ministry community.
In all the training and seminars that I have attended, the percentage of male volunteers is exceptionally low. Too low if we are being honest. At the most recent training seminar, out of an entire room of attendees, if you exclude the staff that is paid to be there, I could count 3-4 men in the room. When I mentioned this to others, I was told that is normal. It does not seem normal to only have 1-2% of the volunteers in a ministry be men. That can not be right, can it?
What can we do about that?
I am no expert on all the reasons why men might shy away from participating in disability ministry. I understand that for many, men and women, it might be uncomfortable, especially if disability is something they did not grow up around. I wanted to find a way to remove some of those barriers, get everyone together, and just have a good time.
My idea was to create a “trivia night” for the guys and just for the guys. Given the situation with COVID-19 at the time, we could not get together and go bowling like we used to. Since the church was open and had this amazing space that we could use, it just seemed like a perfect fit for us to host a trivia for the guys there. Trivia night is not only a great opportunity to serve the men in your area affected by disability, but it is a great way to get men to step up and volunteer and introduce them to your ministry.
I made some notes along the way so that I could offer up a “blueprint” on what we did so that you can take the ball and run with it or make changes based on what would fit your group the best.
This will obviously depend on your group and what their interests are. When sending out the initial invite, we would recommend asking ahead of time, to gauge what topics to cover. When we put together our trivia questions, the location we were having our guy’s night has two large TVs mounted on the wall capable of running a PowerPoint presentation.
Our questions were broken up into three sections, one for sports, one for movies, and one for random facts. While this group is not a “Bible study” we did want to make sure we add in a little bit of Jesus when and where we can. Each section has two bonus questions that are worth more points and those questions cover Bible trivia.
There were also a few extra tie-break questions add at the end just in case those were needed. For these tie-break questions and the Bible-related questions, I made the slide backgrounds a different color so that they would stand out as being different.
To keep this simple, every correct answer was one point. The Bible questions were worth three points each. I also created a scorecard to make it easier to see who was in the lead.
I will go out on a limb here and say that our guys most likely did not expect to receive any prizes. Prior to COVID, when we would get together to go bowling, we just enjoyed hanging out. However, there is something extremely fun and exciting about knowing that a prize or two are on the line.
For first place, I purchased a trophy from EDCO (EDCO “Brain Power” light bulb trophy with black plate, silver laster, and silver laser trim) and had it personalized with our ministry logo and date on it. Hopefully, this trivia night will become an annual event, and having a trophy for each year would be fun bragging rights for the winners. The trophy was top-notch quality and at $67.75 shipped, it was a very reasonable price.
For 2nd and 3rd place, we had a few gift cards handy. I know most of our group has an iPhone, iPad, or some mobile device, so 2nd and 3rd place would receive a $25 gift card to the Apple Store. For everyone else, I took their names and put them in a hat, and then drew a winner, who got a $25 Nike gift card.
Since this event was hosted under COVID restrictions, we had to think outside of the box a little with regard to food. We couldn’t just do pizza or a taco buffet bar. Gary Spangler came through with the idea to buy bottled drinks and individually packaged chips and salsa. He also bought some packs of cookies for those who might want dessert. This allowed everyone to have their own food at their own table so we could still adhere to the current COVID rules and guidelines.
Here is where you will need to get busy recruiting. I am including some additional positions to the ones we needed in the hopes that it will give you the chance to get more men to step up and participate.
- MC/Host: You need a main host, someone to run the entire show, stay focused and on track, and navigate through the questions.
- Scorekeeper: This position must be separate from the MC because it can get a little hectic depending on the number of people involved. Since we were not on a game show with fancy buzzers to indicate who had the answer first, we just went with the honor system.
- Greeter: Our room was upstairs and most everyone was familiar with where it is. You may have families that do not know where your trivia night is hosted or how to get back to the room. Having a greeter out front and/or someone to guide guys over to the trivia night room will make a huge difference.
- Food: Guys can not get together without food. It is something hard-wired into our DNA. Plus, trivia just becomes more fun when you have something to eat while you are doing it. When you are sending out your initial emails about questions and topics, also ask about food preferences and any potential allergy issues. Your “food dude” will oversee getting everything together, bringing it to trivia night, and passing it out.
- Media: I would be willing to bet that you know someone at your church who loves photography. Getting that guy to step up and volunteer an hour or two of their time by taking photos will go a long way. Show off the smiling faces in the group, the volunteers having fun and everyone smiling.
- Room Setup and Take Down: Based on how many guys have signed up to attend, your room size, your setup, and any potential COVID-based rules or guidelines, having a few helping hands get everything prepared and broken down will go a long way.
- Roamers: If you have a new volunteer who wants to get involved but is still hesitant, make them a “roamer” for the night. This is a person that just strolls through the room here and there and makes sure everyone is doing good. Chat, smile, hang out, clap, etc. Maybe it is telling someone where the restroom is, maybe it is moving a desk or chair. Having someone there to roam and help with random tasks will be a tremendous help.
Personally, I feel like our group trivia night was a big hit. The fella who won the first-place trophy that Monday night brought it in on Sunday to show his church group. When I saw that, it meant a lot to me because I saw how important it was to him.
My goals for our trivia night are nothing short of massive. I want food trucks, corporate sponsors, red carpet, major prizes, door prizes, the works. I want it to be such a major event that we need the local police to direct traffic in and out. I know that won’t happen without people getting involved, especially getting other men to step up, and more importantly, step into the lives of those affected by disability.
The PowerPoint slides that I created, along with the scorecard, can be downloaded below for free. My prayer is that all of this gives you the springboard you need to have an impact on those in your area.
Jason joins the Ability Ministry team and brings over 20 years of graphic design and marketing experience to the table. He has handled projects from local start-up businesses to publicly owned internationally based companies, including a Shark Tank company. Jason currently reside in Louisville with his wife, two daughters, and dog Pepper. In his spare time, he is a Master’s competitor in USA Weightlifting. His family attends Southeast Christian Church.