All Mennonite church life was altered tremendously by the experience of Civilian Public Service during World War II and the overseas relief work directed by Mennonite Central Committee, which followed. Those returning from such service became the backbone of church leadership for a generation. The success of Mennonite Central Committee as an institution spawned the institutional life of our Mennonite Conferences with their large budgets and staffs. Some of these veterans became pastors.
Those with other gifts also wanted to serve. One result was the establishment of Mennonite Men in 1950. Meanwhile thousands of Mennonites had settled in Paraguay. They needed a road from the colonies to market their crops in Asuncion. Mennonite Men sent volunteers and a bulldozer to help begin the Trans-Chaco Highway. This brought enthusiastic support. Meanwhile, Mennonite Disaster Service came to be, attracting wide support.
After a strong beginning in the 1950's, Mennonite Men languished in the 1960's and 1970's. Reasons are hard to determine. They might include the widespread mood of anti-institutionalism, the attraction of other causes and lack of a significant project. A resurgence began in 1983 with the formation of the Tenth Man church building program.
During the first several years Tenth Man functioned as a lay movement without staff. Since 1987 a Mennonite Men Coordinator has been employed to encourage giving to Tenth Man—now JoinHands—and develop men's ministries in general.
Mennonite Men functioned as an auxiliary in the General Conference. The former Mennonite Church had no men's organization. One of the contributions of the General Conference to integration was Mennonite Men which has continued as a bi-national church organization.
Today, in addition to the grant making component, Mennonite Men is reaching out to men in congregations and conferences by providing retreats and resources to address a variety of issues men experience.