Nashville, Tenn., Dec 22, 2017 / 02:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- You’ve heard it said that beardliness is next to Godliness.

Well, maybe you haven’t heard exactly that. But there’s something about holiness and hairiness that have had the saints singing the praises of facial follicles throughout the centuries.

“The beard must not be plucked,” said St. Cyprian.

“The beard signifies the courageous...the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man,” said St. Augustine.

The folks at “Bearded Gospel Men” feel similarly. Begun five years ago as a blog and Facebook page, “Bearded Gospel Men” was started by Pastor Joe Thorn mostly as a place where he could joke and write about beards, God, and all things manly and Christian.

Since then, blog has grown into a community of more than 40,000 people, mostly furry-faced men, interested in growing in holiness and hairiness together.

The popularity of the blog spoke to a deeper need for authentic Christian community among men, prompting the creation of the new book, “Bearded Gospel Men”, based on the blog.

“The dark secret of the Christian publishing industry is that 70 percent of book purchasers are women, so the whole market is kind of geared towards women,” Jared Brock, co-author of the book, told CNA.

“It’s not the publisher’s fault obviously, they’re responding to market demand,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean that men, the bearded and the clean-shaven, aren’t hungering for authentic Christian community, he added.

That’s where “Bearded Gospel Men” can help. The 30-day devotional written especially for dudes chronicles the lives of the holy and hairy who came before - men who lived the Gospel message and rocked a wicked beard at the same time. It also includes follicular facts, jokes, and all of the beard puns two men could muster.  

“There aren’t a lot of books - especially devotionals - that are written specifically for men, so we’re glad to be able to give guys another weapon in their arsonal to help build their band of brothers,” Brock said.

The book is meant to be read in small groups, and small chunks, at a time. Each chapter is a day of the devotional, and tells the story of a bearded Gospel man, as well as a prayer, scripture verses, and questions for contemplation and discussion.

What exactly is a Bearded Gospel Man?

“Of course the key words in bearded Gospel men are obviously Gospel and men,” Brock said, the emphasis on beards largely a joke.

“We actually profile a couple of women in the book, as well as guys who didn’t have beards, we call them the ‘beards that could have been,’” Brock added.

Nevertheless, there is something about meeting fellow bearded fellows that establishes an instant connection, he noted.

“There is something about when I pass another guy on the street with a beard - we give each other a little ‘Hey what’s up bro’ nod, and there’s so much more (of a connection) when you bring God into the mix,” he said, such as when he met the book’s other author, Aaron Lyford.  

“For Aaron and I that was definitely a bonding moment - hey we both have beards and love Jesus? Cool!” he recalled.  

The Bearded Gospel Men who stories are told throughout the book include perhaps more obvious choices, such as John the Baptist and Jolly old St. Nicholas, along with some lesser-known but nonetheless bearded and holy men such as Charles Monroe Sheldon.

“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ Sheldon invented the phrase about 100 years before those bracelets took over the world,” Brock said.

He was looking for a way to attract young people to Christianity, and eventually published a book full of stories about a man trying to live like Jesus. However, due to a publishing error, the book ended up in the public domain, and while it was a wild success, Sheldon barely saw a cent from his original idea.

But that didn’t stop Brock from living life as a Bearded Gospel Man, Brock noted.

“He just continued doing his thing, he kept preaching, he kept writing books, he was a social activist before social justice was even a phrase,” he said, founding schools and mentoring men from poor areas.  

Brock said he hopes that the devotional can inspire community and Christian conversation among men who may have felt they were missing those things in their lives.

He added that he views the whole community of Bearded Gospel Men as a pub - anyone is welcome to come in and join the conversation.

“We kind of picture Bearded Gospel Men like a pub, it’s this warm, welcoming space where anyone is more than welcome to pull up a stool and have a conversation about things that matter,” he said.

“The fire is lit, the drinks are poured, welcome to the pub.”

More information about the devotional book and the community can be found at BeardedGospelMen.com.