Reflections by agency officers and staff
of the General Commission on UM Men
What kind of Christian do I want to be?
By Bishop Gary Mueller
Maybe it’s my age, the fact that I’m in my 40th year of full time ministry or that I’ve been a bishop for a while, but, for some reason, I’ve recently been asking myself, “What kind of Christian do I want to be?”
The interesting thing about my response is that it always begins with the kind of Christian I don’t want to be.
I don’t want to be one kind of Christian in public and another in my private life.
I don’t want to be the kind of Christian who claims he wants to do God’s will, but goes ahead and does what he wants instead.
But most of all, I don’t want to be one of those Christians others look at and say, “Well, if he’s what a Christian is like, there’s no way I want to be one of them.”
I want to be a Christian who actually experiences the love of God, which is more powerful than all my insecurities, failures and mistakes.
I want to be a Christian who accepts Jesus’ invitation to be in relationship with Him as Lord and Savior every moment of every day, and to be his follower all the time.
I want to be a Christian who is becoming the person God dreams for me to be, regardless of what’s going on in my life, because the love of Christ is transforming my attitude, beliefs, temperament and actions from the inside-out.
I want to be a Christian who is head-over-heels in love with Jesus for all of eternity.
But, most of all, I want to be a Christian who so loves other people that I can’t wait to share His love with them.
So how about you? What kind of Christian do you want to be?
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Is it what we did or didn’t do?
By Gil Hanke
Recently, some of the commission staff members attended an annual event, sponsored by the YWCA. The purpose of the event was to increase public awareness and support for their work in the area of domestic violence.
You may be familiar with similar events in your area. People are invited to a free breakfast where they hear great speakers and are asked to make a donation.
What draws people to this event is the subject, the speakers and the timing (it begins at 8 a.m. and lasts 90 minutes).
One speaker was a victim of domestic violence; others were staff or senior volunteers or sponsors. The keynoter was Scott Hamilton, the gold medal Olympian, author and humanitarian.
Scott is a man of action, discipline and courage who has faced multiple life-threatening illnesses and survived. I thought he was an unusual pick to deliver the keynote address, and I think he would agree. He is not known for work with those who have experienced gender-based violence. He did not talk about what he had done, but gave us a very personal journey of opportunities where he should have acted and did not.
What guides him are the fruits of the spirit.
Scott described many situations where he was silent or invisible. He was so honest and open, it led all of us to examine where we have failed to be true to the Gospel.
Something happened in Scott’s life that led him to make every effort to be engaged where he had once been silent.
What opportunities will you embrace this week as an active, visible, vibrant disciple? Where in your life are you actively sharing the Gospel and where are you being an “undercover” Christian?
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
The Scout oath and the oath we should take
By Steven Scheid
The Scout oath reads:
“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
This is the benchmark for the discipline and growth in a troop, pack, crew, post, or team. It is the base.
Behaviors are measured, moved back into alignment or edged forward based on this foundation.
I have been asking myself, “What oath or measuring stick should we use as followers of Christ?”
We have often said our goal is to “love God and others as yourself.”
That goal becomes problematic when a person does not like himself.
Suicide is up. Obesity is a huge problem. Some people don't seem to like (let alone love) themselves. They show little care and less intent.
For that reason, I challenge the church to quit saying, “Love others as yourself.”
We are not the measure.
The correct measure is best summed up in John 13:34:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
We need to love as God loved.
The most powerful and infinite God became bound in the prison cell of a human body for 33 years by choice. How many of us would be willing to suffer that long for anyone?
Christ died for us!
We, as the church, are to love as Christ loved.
Scouts repeat the Scout oath at the start of each meeting. It sets the measure of who and what they are to be.
Let us begin every time, in every place, and in every meeting with the silent oath: “On my honor, I will do my best to love as Christ has loved.”
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Have faith in fearful times
By the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance
As I have conversations with men throughout our UM connection, I consistently hear them say they are concerned. Their concerns focus on their local church, their men’s unit, family, and what’s going to happen to the UMC in 2019.
As varied, as these things may seem, the one thing I hear in every case is that they are not only concerned, they are afraid.
Fear, an old English word, means “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Both Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament implore followers of God to “not be afraid.” Further, the author of Psalm 56 reminds his reader that:
When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God, I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
We live in a period when many people are afraid.
This environment of fear limits the choices people see when making decisions and doing ministry. Men, who normally would make good thoughtful, prayerful decisions, make impulsive and less thoughtful judgments out of fear.
God has called us, through men’s ministries, to be people of faith. People who believe in a reality that we have not necessarily seen. Many men fear change or fear the unknown. God, however, says:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
As leaders and men in ministry, I ask that you join me in a time of calm, rather than fear, knowing that God is in control. May we together embrace Psalm 56 and say:
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you (God).”
Your brother on the journey,
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Go –– make a difference
By Steve Nailor
Thanks to those of you who are working to realize our primary goal to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” It takes all of us to step up and become involved in order to move our ministry toward that primary goal.
The achievement of this goal requires close relationships with men and your pastor(s).
In his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow writes, “When a mother comes to faith in Christ, the rest of the family follows 17% of the time. But when a father comes to faith in Christ, the rest of the family follows 93% of the time.”
When you combine that fact with the knowledge that of the 110 million men in the United States, nearly 80 million don't attend any church, you understand why I am committed to this ministry.
UM Men offer scores of resources and training opportunities to help churches reach unchurched men in their communities. However, many pastors, district superintendents and bishops are unaware of what we offer to support their ministries.
You occupy a key position to help them become acquainted with our programs.
You also occupy an important position to challenge men to become legacy builders and to make certain they belong to chartered churches.
I invite you to reach out to your fellow men in the same way as the Good Samaritan. This man, who was an alien to Jewish culture, saw someone in need, gave him what he needed, and committed to provide long-term care for him.
Let’s take the lead and set the example for others to follow. Invite your men to come along side of you and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Blessings to you and your leadership. Go and make a difference in someone’s life!
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
Establish a plan of succession
By Mark Lubbock
“But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.”
At the commission, we frequently use the phrase “growing in Christ.” That growing process involves three steps:
Men who want to grow in Christ need skilled and trained leaders to help them through these steps. But, such leaders are in short supply.
One of the reasons for this leadership shortage is the absence of a leader-in-training process where every leader has an understudy.
As you see in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, they were mentored and trained before they were given assignments. Even when they were far away, Paul continued to provide guidance.
If we followed the practice of Paul, we would create understudies who would do much of the core work, which would prepare them to take the lead one day.
Like Timothy and Titus, these understudies would learn by engaging in ministry under the tutelage of an experienced leader.
If you want to revitalize and strengthen your organization, then consider implementing this concept right away.
If you don’t know how to implement this succession plan or how to select men for the role of understudy, contact Jim Boesch, a certified men’s ministry specialist, or me. Any of us can lead you through a gifts-discovery process, coaching, and ministry placement.
We can bring this training experience to your church or district. Let us know how we can help you develop a leader-in-training process for your ministry.
Mark Lubbock is a certified men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men
What are your ministry discipling metrics?
By Jim Boesch
My career military father used a saying in his parenting efforts with me and my two brothers: “Expect what you inspect.”
I quickly understood he was indeed going to measure how well we performed our household or yard maintenance tasks.
While I may not have agreed with them, he had his own set of metrics.
What are the metrics you use to measure the discipling growth of:
- A man?
- A men’s ministry?
- A local church?
Make sure your metrics are God’s metrics. How you evaluate and measure the spiritual growth of another man should be the same as our creator God.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor”
––I Corinthians. 3:6-8
The impact of a disciple-making men’s ministry organization should not be measured by how many events are held or by how many men show up.
While headcounts and the number of activities are factors, God only measures the impact of our ministries by the change in a man’s heart and his actions. Those changes require nurturing and pruning time.
Real heart and behavior change is transformational and only come through the working of the Holy Spirit in God’s time.
While we may not immediately witness the fruit of our ministry labors, Paul spoke of a day when “each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor”:
“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.”
––I Corinthians 3: 13-14
I hope you will be a good steward of the planting and watering of the good news of Jesus Christ in the lives of men.
Jim Boesch is a certified men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the
General Commission on UM Men