Thinking of starting a Christian men's group? Make sure that you have a group suitable to overcoming many challenges and defeating many bosses on your noble quest. Whether you're meeting at Waffle House at 6 a.m. for earnest prayer to Father God, for quiet coffee and confession at a coffee shop, or for Bible study at Jim's house, the right group is essential for spiritual success.
Would you, sir, take two fighters and no rogues on a dungeon crawl? Or worse, two rogues and no fighters? Of course not. And so it is with Christian men's groups. The right balance of personalities needs to be struck, the vices of one offset by the virtues of another, different skills and abilities brought to bear.
If you're about to start a men's small group, then your prayers for wisdom just might have been answered. Without further ado, the perfectly designed group, with each of the six men conveniently described as an easily recognizable archetype:
1. Elder Statesman...
...is the oldest guy in the group, but he's not so old he must be looked after. He must have done everything, and done it well, and should by now be resting on his laurels. He is the group's talisman of success; failures are handled by Parson Sage.
Elder Statesman works hard, and knows how to get things done. He has many contacts throughout the city and country who can help in the completion of side quests. When he and Mr. Patagonia combine to make plans, success is an almost guaranteed outcome. He understands and enforces authority structures, even informal ones. The most effective rescue team a men's group can assemble is composed of The Confessor, Parson Sage, and Elder Statesman.
Elder Statesman can't understand why you don't have your s**t together yet. He barely tolerates The Confessor. When a rescue team is assembled Parson Sage must stay between the other two; if they are made to work together for too long the whole group descends into chaos. Descends into cynicism because of the failures of others.
2. The Sportsman...
...loves a Bass Pro Shops. While the Elder Statesmen has done it, The Sportsman is doing it right now. Perhaps with a few more bumps along the road, but he's getting it done. The Sportsman is most useful during service side quests, such as fixing a widow's clogged pipes or shorted circuit. He knows how to work and how to have fun. Special abilities include Raconteur and Charming Waitress.
The Sportsman will often take the lead; when he does so things happen quickly. He is anxious to do practical, hands-on work. He sees problems practically and solves them practically. He is as useful on group camping trips as Mr. Patagonia, although is skill set runs more on the hunting and fishing side of outdoorsmanship.
The Sportsman will often take the lead; when he does so things happen quickly. He tries to get along with The Confessor, but cannot. He thinks that everything is simple. He usually does not enjoy craft beers.
3. The Confessor...
...leaves thy shriveled mind naked to the lidless eye. You know everything you'd ever want to know about him, but are afraid he knows more about you than you'd ever want known. Yes, you know about that struggle he had with porn, his wife's weird nighttime cleaning rituals, his fights with his mother-in-law, and even how much he grieved over his dead cat. The thing is, everytime he pours his heart out, two or three others near him do the same. Such is his power.
The Confessor always provides the group with a backup agenda. Whatever the plan that fell through was, Baring of Souls is always an option when this guy is around. He is also very powerful where newcomers to the group are concerned; while many are immediately repelled by the intimacy he forces, those who survive his crucible become committed members of the group. Finally, The Confessor makes it very difficult for other members of the group to hide their secret sins. We all know about Mr. Patagonia and his lint fetish thanks to him.
Must be constantly protected from Elder Statesman and The Sportsman. Even when the group's plan is still on, The Confessor might attempt to hijack the meeting with Baring of Souls. Also, we all wish we didn't know about Mr. Patagonia's lint fetish.
4. Mr. Patagonia...
...is an early riser. His day is following a schedule, and so is his life. His stomach is flat, but is not an immodest six-pack. His hiking boots and fleece vest are gentle reminders to always be road-ready, even if we're just going to work after this. Although he is going to ride his bike from here, he will arrive at the office wicked clean of sweat, ready to grab the day by the ear and chide it for being a sluggard.
Mr. Patagonia's punctuality will encourage timeliness in the others. Although he will not take the lead during the meeting, his earnest and expectant silence will ensure the group doesn't goof off too much before getting down to the business of study or prayer, at the risk of some serious white-boy awkwardness. He is useful on group camping trips and any sports quests not involving the Big 3 (football, basketball, baseball). Mr. Patagonia is unlikely to be satisfied with "be warm and be filled", instead insisting that someone come up with a better ministry idea than that. Also, Mr. Patagonia always has a plan.
Mr. Patagonia has a little bit of trouble with a joke, especially one at his expense. His extremely high level of earnestness, which is helpful during active ministry, negatively impacts the entire group's relaxation scores during fellowship missions. He is unlikely to understand why the others are such inept campers. Mr. Patagonia will need someone else to implement his plan. Elder Statesman and The Sportsman combine well in that role.
5. Captain Fantastic...
...shares with Mr. Patagonia the power of earnestness. It is not so much that he thinks everything is going to turn out well all the time, as it is that he is always willing to go for it. Captain Fantastic's skill sets and knowledge are usually the broadest of all the men in the group. He has tried everything once. He can cast Light of Enthusiasm over any group idea or project, but only for a short time.
Captain Fantastic often acts as the visionary of the group. He is particularly useful in new or unusual situations. He is a multiclass character who can be used to support any other man in the group in sidequests geared toward their abilities.
Light of Enthusiasm fades quickly. If the other men do not exploit the opportunity provided when Captain Fantastic casts, the group is often worse-off than it had been before. Captain Fantastic thinks he knows more than he does.
6. Parson Sage...
...has had a rough go of it, but his rich experiences and many failures have taught him a thing or two. He might not be able to tell you if something is a good idea, but he can tell you if it's bad. He has the ability to match all your experiences to his, so that he is always able to impart at least some wisdom, whether you want it or not. And you probably need it. He casts Healing Balm.
Your men's group is going to have a lot of bad ideas. Having Parson Sage around will help the men navigate the minefield of their own stupidity. Parson Sage is also able to put all plans and missions and quests in perspective; there is no thing new under the sun. Sage is a balance character: he not only contributes to harmony between The Confessor and Elder Statesman, but also provides the dose of reality that some of the more enthusiastic members of the group often need.
Parson Sage's influence needs to be monitored. Just as he balances some of the men, others must balance him out. If this is not done, some men in the group can be paralyzed by his abilities. Too much perspective can be a bad thing. Descends into cynicism because of his own failures.
That, gentlemen, is the perfectly designed men's group. Dare I say that it would be foolhardy to enter the dungeon of small groups with any other party? I do dare. Imagine the trouble you would get in if your group were composed only of Confessors, or of Captain Fantastics, or Mr. Patagonias.
Please note that any of these character classes are capable of leading a party, depending on their leadership scores. This will largely inform the tone of the group as a whole, and shape their quests. For this reason alone, balance between the men is an important consideration when designing your group.
As a last note, I know that I think that I know more than I know. I'll let you decide what class that makes me. And I'll let you decide how seriously to take this.
The peace of the Lord be upon you.