From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
April 15, 2016
Just become it, so you can do it
By Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.
I stumbled upon the following 1891 quote from Henry Drummond in The Programme of Christianity.
The tendency of the religions of all time has been to care
more for religion than for humanity; Christ cared more for
humanity than for religion--rather, His care for humanity was
the chief expression of His religion.
He was not indifferent to observances,
but the practices of the people bulked in His
thoughts before the practices of the Church. It has been
pointed out as a blemish on the immortal allegory of Bunyan
that the Pilgrim never did anything––anything but save his
soul. The remark is scarcely fair, for the allegory is
designedly the story of a soul in a single relation; and,
besides, he did do a little. But, the warning may well be
weighed. The Pilgrim's one thought, his work by day, his dream
by night, was escape. He took little part in the world through
which he passed. He was a Pilgrim travelling through it; his
business was to get through safe.
Whatever this is, it is not Christianity.
Drummond challenges us to examine our brand of Christianity to see if we are more fixated on the trappings of the Church than on actually being involved with people.
If we are to be judged by our statements and debates we receive high marks. However, if God judges us on our actions and our ability to inspire others to join us in transforming people, we are truly struggling.
We have tried in vain to answer the deep hurt, yearnings and longings in humanity with statements, programs and position papers when all people really want from us are deep relationships.
As Pilgrim did, we often seek to escape relationships with our neighbors; we even avoid the strangers down the street and sometimes we refuse to have meaningful relationships with the people for whom we advocate. We may even avoid deep relationships with those who sit on pews next to us.
If there is a group that needs relationships, it’s men.
The world cannot be transformed unless that effort is led by transformed people.
So here it is: Jesus said to those first four he called, “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.”
Jesus can transform you from a person who is preoccupied with your own survival to a person who is willing to be engaged in the lives of others.
I challenge you to see opportunities right around you. Engage yourself in a small accountability group where you will stop trying to escape responsibility for your transformation, and you can help others through a transformative partnership.
Open your eyes to people and places that need you and the transformative power you are experiencing in Christ.
Get busy becoming a Christian.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Centered on bringing men to Christ
By Gil Hanke
I recently attended an extraordinary meeting with men who do what I do in different denominations. The meeting included men’s ministry leaders from the UMC, the Southern Baptist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Episcopal/Anglican Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, and a Mennonite Church member who works in an independent church.
We shared meals, offered personal prayer requests, talked about our ministries, and we were taught by John H. Armstrong, a missional-ecumenist and author of Your Church is Too Small.
We are men of different ages, different races, and we have different beliefs about Communion, Baptism, clergy credentials, and what is and is not the role of bishops. We participate in different styles of worship. Our first languages are different. We live in different parts of the U.S. Some are volunteers and some are full-time employees.
We met for a day and a half, and there was not an unkind or harsh word spoken. No one boasted, “We do this better than you.”
There were several new faces at this meeting, and it was simply amazing.
So, what made this such an extraordinary meeting? Simple- we centered ourselves on finding better ways to bring men into a new, on-growing relationship with the living Christ. We centered our thoughts only on the discipleship of men.
I do find it interesting that as members of the UMC, we have “make disciples” in our mission statement. Do you or I ever attend meetings where that is the sole/soul focus of our attention? It does make for a great meeting.
I pray we learn to do that on a regular basis in each of our churches, districts and conferences.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Are you making disciples?
By Steve Nailor
Having just left my term as president of Northern Illinois Conference UM Men, I now feel blessed, privileged, and honored to serve as the new president of the National Association of Conference Presidents.
My predecessors have lead with great enthusiasm and commitment to our UM Men’s work. I hope I can bring some perspectives that will continue to excite, challenge, inspire, and bring meaning to our calling to make disciples across our great church.
I joined Gil Hanke at a meeting of leaders of the National Denominational Men’s Ministry. Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Lutheran Evangelical Church of America served as host.
We were all there for the same purpose––to share what they are doing about making disciples for Jesus Christ through our various men’s ministries. We prayed for one another, cared for one another, shared meals together and discussed how to make stronger men throughout the church.
It is important for us to understand that we are not the only church struggling to strengthen our men’s programs and ministry. We are by far the largest and have the most programs. Having said that, I would ask, “Do we have too many programs, and do we have the right programs?”
I asked our conference leaders not take a shotgun approach. I asked them to do a great job on a program or ministry they were passionate about
There is something for everyone to be involved with that could make a significant difference in folks’ lives.
I was in a meeting just today with a young pastor and we were discussing how to develop leaders for today and tomorrow. We communicate in many ways. However, we are not all computer users or experts. So how do we communicate with the masses?
Jesus calls us to go to all nations (Matthew 29:16-20). He did not say, “Go here, but not over there.”
Disciples are made through relationships and if we do not have relationship how can we expect to make disciples. Working on our relationships both with Christ and others will build foundations for ministry.
Yes, Christ lives; He lives in you and me.
Praise be to God!
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
The seventh anniversary of scouting ministry specialists
By Larry Coppock
Just seven short years ago the Office of Scouting Ministries Committee launched a volunteer leadership position to help local churches establish and expand scouting ministry opportunities. The scouting ministry specialist (SMS), was created to help offset the untenable 1 to 70 ratio of district scouting coordinators to local churches.
Today, 300 SMS equip hundreds of churches with a variety of scouting ministry initiatives and capacities. Most importantly, scouting creates portals or entry points for making new disciples.
Requirements of a SMS
1.Be 18 years of age or older.
2.Provide proof of youth protection training and/or take an online sexual ethics and safe sanctuaries course.
3.Show a record of scouting/youth ministry experience.
4.Read Scouting Guidelines (2016)
5.Submit $45 for a 5-year membership or $250 for a lifetime membership.
Responsibilities of a SMS
1.Provide information about national scouting ministry awards and recognition.
2.Introduce churches to the PRAY awards.
3.Encourage church leaders to attend regional and national training opportunities, such as a June19-24 session at the Summit in West Virginia.
4.Assist with bishop’s dinners and other district and conference events.
5.Cultivate relationships with conference and district leaders.
Larry W. Coppock
National director of scouting ministries and acting executive director of Strength for Service Incorporated.
The vital keys to a vibrant men’s ministry
By Mark Lubbock
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
I love to visit different men’s groups, organizations and ministries. The fellowship is stimulating and I often discover enlightening and sometimes surprising new ideas.
On occasion, I’ll drop in on a men’s group that seems frozen in time. You could come to this group in 2016 and pretty much have the exact same experience as you might have had in 1993––the same format and the same old activities. Such a static pattern generally leads to declining attendance.
In part, this occurs when the same people fill the same leadership roles without change.
Contributing factors may be the failure to seek input from the target audience, and a long history that causes people to assume that the same pattern should continue.
So, how do you break out of this rut and invigorate your men’s gathering?
In the last newsletter several contributors spoke about setting goals and staying true to them. For this exercise I’ll assume that your men’s group has a recently reviewed “Vision.” With that in mind then, take a look at the following suggestions:
1. Every men’s gathering should center on your vision statement.
a. If your vision is to “reach every man for Christ,” then ask, “What is our next meeting going to do to fulfil this vision?” A dry meeting with reports being read will surely fall short. A speaker who talks about the proper fertilizer to use on your spring garden will not address the vision. Always plan the program in light of your vision and mission.
b. Be sure to include a spiritual element. It does not have to be a Bible study, but look for appropriate ways to offer spiritual food.
2. Schedule regular meetings as far ahead of time as you can. Ideally sit down in November and schedule the events for following year. Ask each man to mark his calendar and make it a priority. If you give each man an important task to do for the meeting, he is more likely to be an active participant!
3. Give men something to do:
a. Devotion leader.
b. Set up.
c. Personal testimony on how God is working in their lives.
d. Prayer advocate who gathers requests and leads prayer.
e. Program planner to select speakers and themes of gatherings.
4. Hold executive planning meetings separate from the regular gathering, and handle all of your committee and routine business in these meetings.
a. Reports could be included in a newsletter.
5. Promote your gatherings:
a. Calling team––Personal invitations always work best!
b. Announcements in the church bulletin.
c. Announcements in the church website.
d. Announcement in church e-mail notices.
6. Progressive leadership should be considered where members of your group have multiple opportunities to serve. You might want to have a small pool of men who each rotate the responsibility for the theme and program planning of your gatherings. Whether it is a weekly group, monthly meeting, quarterly planning session or annual dinner, involve different men in the planning and management.
a. Succession planning should include a structure where vice presidents and assistants learn their roles prior to stepping into the leadership positions. Always have men in training. This not only makes your team stronger and more effective, it keeps things fresh and engages more men.
7. The “right next step”
a. At every event and meeting, dinner and gathering your executive team and program planner should offer attendees “the right next step” to take after this meetings. Plan future activities and announce them on calendars so men can make plans when the current activity ends. You might offer men the following choices for their next “right next steps”:
- Scouting Awards Workshop.
- New Weekly Men’s Small Groups.
- Wesley Class Meeting Training on Small Groups.
- Men’s Motorcycle Ride.
- Men’s Night at the Game.
- Father/Son Banquet.
- Father/Daughter Banquet.
- Walk To Emmaus.
- Wesley Building Brothers.
- Accelerating Ministry with Men Training.
- Mend Training – Men End Abuse training.
- Potato Drop Day.
- Strength for Service Devotional Distribution to First Responders.
- Young Dads Outing.
- Grandfathering the Fatherless Event.
The list of possible “right next steps” is entirely up to your leadership team, but it is important to be intentional and to plan/calendar these events on a regular basis. Men will quickly lose interest if the group is not going somewhere.
What is working well for you? Please share this and as I gather a list of successful ideas I’ll share these in a future article!
As always I seek your comments, ideas and thoughts.
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
Attack the gap!
By Jim Boesch
“The gap between knowing and doing is often much greater than the gap between ignorance and knowing.”
This quote by Ken Blanchard speaks loudly to the fact that while a lot of good, relevant training events occur, much of it is never applied. The training is not producing the results it is designed to achieve.
Too often, the learner invests time, resources and energy into the venture, but he comes away no more equipped to produce the anticipated change in his behavior than when he started.
In order to ensure training is effective, we need to do more than have participants fill out evaluation forms on their way out of the door.
We also need to provide post-training experiences to help learners transfer new skills and knowledge to their ministry roles. Additional sessions should help overcome the inevitable obstacles that will surface as men attempt to apply their training in their families, at work and in their churches.
When we seek to help men move from knowing to doing, we must be aware that to learn something new a man will always go through four levels of change:
1.Knowledge change begins with instruction. Learners must be provided with more information on a specific topic, subject or task. If this doesn’t occur, the rest of the change attempts will be built on a faulty foundation. As the old adage goes, “You can’t do what you don’t know,” and “You can’t sell what you haven’t bought.”
2.A learner must have the proper attitude. Does he regard the training as relevant and worthy of his time and energy. Attitude is tougher to change than knowledge but easier to change than behavior.
3.Behavior must change if anything lasting is going to happen. A change in behavior can lead to transformation in life. If it doesn’t have a lasting effect, then the learner will soon fall back to his original patterns and the event will create just a short-lived behavior modification with no lasting change.
Note: The first three levels of change must occur within the heart and soul of the learner in order for the fourth level of change to have any possibility of success.
4.A change in behavior is embraced by a community. The change becomes system-wide when all of the members of the organization accept and support the desired change by having gone through the first three levels successfully.
But why is change so hard? The answers are considered below in the discussion of principals of the “Seven “Dynamics of Change” with strategies to mitigate some of the resistance:
1.Men will feel awkward; ill at ease and self-conscious. Most people would rather things stay as they are with a minimal of change in their lives.
Strategy: Help people know what to expect. Provide an accurate picture of what the future will look like when this change occurs. You can also provide advance promotion about proposed changes.
1.Men will feel alone even if everyone else is going through the same change. Many people internalize change as to how it affects them, even when others are right there with them, suffering alongside. Also, men have a tendency to separate from others when under duress or struggle so they can fight their battles alone and in control.
Strategy: Structure activities that create involvement utilizing the change process among as many of the people being affected as possible. People are very resourceful and can often help each other come up with varied and successful solutions to anticipated issues accompanying changes.
2.Men will think first about what they have to give up. Even change that men may deem to possibly be good for them at the beginning may soon fall prey to the negative thoughts of having to also give up something they are used to doing in order to accommodate the new behavior.
Strategy: Pray and ask God to help identifying what needs to be “given up.” Help men be more willing to give up some of the control they have over their lives by helping them get in community with others. Encourage them to “give it up for God and a cause greater than themselves.”
3.Men can only handle so much change. Men handle the newness and often difficult nature of personal change in varying degrees. Some men seem to thrive on large doses of change while other men can get almost paralyzed by even the smallest disruption in their everyday schedules of life.
Strategy: Set priorities, and go for the long run. Help men see the prioritization schedule of the various steps of change they will need to manage. In most cases, the entire change process does not have to be taken in one fell swoop. Be considerate of the actual needs of the men along with the timelines that need to be followed to accomplish the change effectively. Be willing to have discussions with the men with regard to how you see this strategy playing out. Their buy-in is critical to the success of this strategy.
5.Men will be concerned that they don’t have sufficient resources (time, money, skills, etc.). Some men will have a legitimate cause for concern in this area as some of their prior change management experiences will have been poorly handled in that the resources were not adequate to produce the new behavior as it was presented to them.
Strategy: Get creative about how you can involve the men as much as possible in the change strategy planning with regard to how, when, where and how much of the required resources are going to be allocated.
6.Men are at different levels of readiness for change. Some men, by nature and personality, will just be able and willing to handle change more rapidly and completely than others. Don’t fight it or try to change the dynamics of the man; try to be considerate of the needs of the men as you are designing and scheduling the change-management schedule.
Strategy: Identify those areas where change is easy and then look for areas where there’s more resistance to change. Let men work through the easiest changes first, and coach them through the rough spots as they occur. Get peer support for them by working in teams.
7.Remember, if the pressure to change is taken off, men will revert back to old behaviors. If allowed, human nature takes us back to that with which we are comfortable until the new behavior has had time and practice to create permanent change.
Strategy: Find ways to keep the “pressure on.” Continue to promote the benefits of the new behavior to the men and make sure they continue to be exposed to the coaching leadership style of training in which the men are fully supported in their efforts to change by observation and feedback on a consistent schedule.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Jim is a master trainer in facilitating workshops for “Lead Like Jesus,” servant leadership training; “Understanding Men's Ministry,” discipling leadership training; and “Equipping Equippers” learning-facilitation training. You may host any of these workshops in your area by calling him (407-721-0416) or by e-mail.
By Mark Dehority
“Follow me as I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1
This is the rallying cry of the men God is raising up in United Methodist Church as men’s ministry specialists.
These are men are building His kingdom in homes, churches and organizations.
These are men who dedicate their lives to following Jesus Christ and leading others in that same pursuit.
This article is a brief look at the men’s ministry specialist process and where it's going. The article takes information on the men’s ministry specialist process from the GCUMM website.
“The mission of every men’s ministry specialist (MMS) is to serve UM lay and clergy leaders and their congregations in developing effective processes to make disciples of men for Jesus Christ.”
There are 38 men certified men's ministry specialist and 27 candidates. With God’s help, the ministry of these 65 men is making a large impact. These are active disciples with a heart for Christ. The work is being strengthened and supported by the bands of brothers these men form.
Men's ministry specialists work in local churches, district organizations, conference organizations and represent men's ministry in the global UMC. This mission is carried into many ecumenical groups.
So, do I fit in? Is this for me?
The core values of a MMS are:
1.A growing disciple of Jesus Christ.
2.A person mentored by and accountable to a Christian spiritual mentor.
3.A servant leader, called to serve in men's ministry.
4.An individual of Godly character, faithful, trustworthy and credible.
5.A disciple of Jesus Christ who is committed to the UMC.
6.A life-long learner who is continually growing with God.
Everyone is called and everyone has a role in the kingdom, but all are not called to the MMS. God’s calls are diverse and far reaching.
However, the Lord is raising up an army of men dedicated to building the kingdom by bringing other men to Christ. This is a call for men to lead others to Christ by leading families, churches, businesses and every kind of organization.
These men are also being raised up in other denominations and ecumenical ministries across the country. The call for godly men as fathers, husbands and leaders is strong.
This is how it works.
•A man realizes a call and desire.
•He contacts the GCUMM or one of his brothers in this ministry.
•He discusses his call with a men’s ministry specialist.
•He makes application.
•He is assigned a coach and a team leader to guide him through the process.
•The candidate is assigned a team that made up of other candidates and certified men's ministry specialist.
•The group meets on a regular basis to talk about their walks with Christ and their ministries. This band of brothers becomes a very important part of his ministry.
•The candidate starts with a relationship with the spiritual mentor to help guide his growth.
•He will complete a course of study and an interview.
•He will be certified and start a lifelong pursuit of his call. This is the beginning of a meaningful walk with Christ. It is supported by a strong band of brothers and connections with others that provide the support and equipping necessary for this life.
As Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 9:37 “The harvest is plentiful and workers are few.”
There is plenty to do.
If this is your call, please contact Joseph Strausbaugh, charter system administrator and men's ministry specialist coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) (615/620-7269).
Mark Dehority, deployed staff and men’s ministry specialist
General Commission on UM Men
Are you living the dream?
By Dan Ramsey
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother, Mary, was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph was faithful to the law, but he did not want to expose her to public disgrace, so he had in mind to divorce her quietly. After he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’, which means ‘God with us’.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
Joseph’s dream changed––not only his life––but the whole world.
What can we learn about Joseph and his dream?
Joseph was righteous man.
He was considerate and compassionate to marry, his fiancée. When he heard about Mary, he decided to divorce her privately, in spite of disappointment and heartbreak.
He was obedient to the voice of God. He must have had a very clear, powerful revelation from God.
But, let me take you back to Joseph’s early years and what might have been his thoughts and dreams growing up. We know that he became a carpenter and that being a man of high integrity his work skills were probably very high. I wonder if he had dreams back then. Was he involved in sports, hunting, or fishing? At what point did he want to become a carpenter? Did he have dreams of opening the first Gallery Furniture of Bethlehem? He became a very righteous man so his willingness to help people and care for people was also part of his young life. So did he have a dream of being a great carpenter and making a difference in people’s lives? Did Joseph clean up his room every day? Did he carry out the trash? Did he play with his friends every day? What did it take to seek perfection in his career and exhibit integrity throughout his life? It very well could be that he got it from his upbringing and his mentors.
His attention to his work ethic made him successful in his career.
Joseph had a great career, he was engaged to the woman of his dreams. He thought he was set for life. Then Mary told him she was with child.
Talk about a dream crasher!
Think about the state of mind of Joseph and Mary during this time of their lives.
Joseph––doubt, disappointment, heartbreak, and shame
Mary––shame, and fear of probable lifelong public disgrace
But God had a plan that would wipe away all of those trying emotions. God’s plan would give them the strength and courage to fulfill the blessing that was bestowed on them. To be the earthly parents of the son of God.
Have you ever had a dream shattered and your life changed forever?
I was into football and baseball at John H. Reagan High School, and I dreamed of playing football at the collegiate level.
My dream was shattered when a knee injury ended my football career.
I thought my life was over, what would I do now? Repairing knee injuries back in the 1960s were a lot different than they are now.
A few years later, I was called by God to realize another dream of becoming a Houston police officer.
I got to live that dream for 30 years.
God also gave me a wonderful wife, Nancy.
But back to Joseph.
The Bible does not reveal much detail about Joseph's role as a father, but we know from Matthew that he was an excellent earthly example of integrity and righteousness. Joseph is last mentioned in Scripture when Jesus was 12 years old. We know that he passed on the carpentry trade to his son and raised him in the Jewish traditions and spiritual observances.
Years ago Mark Lowry, a Christian comedian and vocalist recorded a song entitled “Mary did you Know”. The song is about questions he would like to ask Mary if he had the opportunity to speak to her.
I would like to be able to speak to Joseph sometime, and maybe his questions would be like the ones Mark would ask Mary.
Joseph did you know that your baby boy would someday walk on water?
Joseph did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that you baby boy has come to make you new?
Joseph did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Joseph did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has trod where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you kissed the face of God.
O Joseph, did you know?
The blind will see; the deaf will hear; the dead will live again.
The lame will leap; the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.
Joseph, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Joseph, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am!
I won’t be able to ask him those questions until I get to heaven, but I look forward to that conversation.
Are you living the dream?
I hope you listen and live the dreams that Christ blesses you with.
Because He Lives!
Dan Ramsey, former president
National Association of Conference Presidents