Reflections by agency officers and staff
of the General Commission on UM Men
The fellowship of believers in a VUCA world
By Bishop James Swanson Sr.
Episcopal Bishop C. Andrew Doyle of Houston says we live in a VUCA world: Volatile; Uncertain; Complex; and Ambiguous.
It is in this world that you and I are called to be faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus Christ.
The song "For What It's Worth" was written by Stephen Stills. It was performed by Buffalo Springfield, recorded on December 5, 1966 and released as a single in January 1967. Read these lyrics and you get a sense of the upheaval of those days:
"There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
I hear a similar conversation and see a similar atmosphere within The United Methodist Church today. Stills verses were great in drawing a word picture of that day and time but I'm drawn more to the chorus "It's time we stop, what's that sound. Everybody look what's going down."
Stephen Stills tries to help his generation to STOP and REFLECT. He asks that we look not at whether we are right or winning but look at WHAT'S GOING DOWN.
It is difficult to do that when we are more committed to winning than we are to loving each other.
It is difficult to do that when we feel our known world spinning out of control and another world coming into being that is so unknown to us and where there is more unpredictability than stability.
I believe this is tremendously difficult for men. But maybe, just maybe, God is teaching us that this is God's world and not ours.
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., president
The General Commission on UM Men
Pathways to hope
By Bishop Gary Mueller
Anyone engaged in a realistic assessment of The United Methodist Church these days must acknowledge the existence of real, and often deep, differences. But, there are amazing signs that remind us of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst.
We see these signs where people are taking time to focus on shared Christian doctrine. They are investing in relationships that are being transformed by Jesus into something wonderful, and going all in on making disciples of Jesus Christ.
We see people who hold tight to the reality that God is still God, and God is not finished yet. They believe with heart, soul and mind that they have Jesus, and that is all they will ever really need. They are experiencing the fullness of God’s unconditional, invitational and transformational love in Jesus Christ, and they understand it’s not how “successful” they are; it’s what Jesus’ power can do through them.
We see people who are choosing to be their best selves, and not their worst. They act and speak humbly and not arrogantly. They treat those with whom they disagree as brothers and sisters in Christ, and not as adversaries. They stay connected with each other, and they do not turn their backs on anyone. They ask the Holy Spirit to fill them with hope, and they are not entrapped by fear. They do not rely on themselves; they rely on God through prayer.
We see people who invite others to walk with them in sharing the amazing grace Jesus shares with the world.
Yes, we see the signs all around us. May they multiply so much we are incapable of counting them.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Following the advice of James
By Gil Hanke
We know our moto: “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers.” (James 1:22 CEB). Another key verse is “Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they are like” (James 1:23-24 CEB).
In our world and work today, we are surrounded by noise. It comes at us from all sides, at all times, in multiple formats, at levels that disrupt our souls. The noise is angry and insulting, assaulting, and insists it is the only truth.
Does the noise drown out the voice of God? Does it bring only confusion? What are we to do?
If we talk about the noise, complain about the noise, get upset by the noise, we are only adding to the noise. In that state, we actually can forget who we are…. and whose we are.
James would suggest we “do” the word, so I suggest the following:
- Put yourself to doing. Serve others, volunteer at a shelter, visit a nursing home or folks who are homebound, call members of your church who don’t attend regularly, call people who are ill and not able to attend worship, offer a ride, read to a child, help with the Cub Scouts who meet at your church. Put yourself on a high-service diet.
- Restrict your noise intake; put yourself on a low-noise diet. Watch the news; but not four times a day, read emails pushed to you, but only from positive, respectful persons and only for a few minutes a day.
- Seek silence: for prayer, devotional time, searching the Scriptures. Enjoy nature. Take a walk.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
Why engage in scouting ministries?
By Steven Scheid
The Discipline states: “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The question of how to do this is a challenge; generation-to-generation change gets more rapid.
One answer is scouting ministries.
In the article “Poverty, Dropouts, Pregnancy, Suicide: What the Numbers Say about Fatherless Kids”, Claudio Sanchez asks best-selling author Alan Blankenstein about the impact of fathers on children. He pointed out that 24.7 million kids in the U.S. do not live with a biological father. This is only increasing. How can you learn to be a father if you never really had a father? The damage continues from generation to generation.
Malachi 4:6 says, “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” We are seeing that slow destruction. The very title of the Sanchez article sets one on edge. It does not bode well for our future.
This direction is reversible. I remember standing in Congaree National Park with a scoutmaster. He was staring into the stars after teaching nighttime navigation.
The Scouts stepped away starting their own conversations. One Scout said, “Mr. Eric is like my dad.” Another said, “He is my second dad.” A third responded, “I guess he is my third dad. I have a step-dad but Mr. Eric is better.”
Eric is a man who cares and gives of himself making a difference. He made a choice to get involved, and young people have been changed.
If we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ, we must find ways to spend the time with young people.
Discipleship requires time and presence. A campfire can open doors once closed.
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
I am only one person
By the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance
This phrase has been used by hundreds (if not thousands) of men to explain why a project, ministry or initiative of the church cannot be accomplished.
If Dr. Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace prize recipient, had believed that phrase, she would not have planted 10 trees in Kenya. That action began to change the environment and the community.
“I was in Japan a few years ago when I heard a story about a hummingbird,” said Dr. Maathai. “There’s a huge fire in the forest and all the animals run out to escape. But, the hummingbird stays, flying to and from a nearby river carrying water in its beak to put on the fire. The animals laugh and mock this little hummingbird. They say, ‘The fire is so big, you can't do anything.’ But the hummingbird replies, ‘I'm doing what I can.’ There is always something we can do. You can always carry a little water in your beak.”
As leaders and members of United Methodist Men, we too can do something. We can do something in our family, something in our church, something in our community, in our districts, conference and throughout The United Methodist Church.
All of this starts with one person believing he can do something.
You do not have to “reinvent the wheel.” The Center for Men’s Ministries at the commission has a vast number of tested ministry programs that can assist you in bringing about change.
As a young boy, I found encouragement in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul assures me that one person, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can make a change.
You are one person, who can bring about change.
We are here to help you.
Your brother on the journey,
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
You may be the only Jesus men see
By Steve Nailor
Ponder these key questions:
- When you picture a church what does it look like?
- When you are in ministry what does that look like?
The mission of the General Commission and the National Association of Conference Presidents is to “Help men know Christ, so others may know Christ.”
You may be the only Jesus some people see.
Do others see Christ in you?
Are you joyous, kind, enthusiastic, patient, and filled with love toward others?
Our mission is to build relationships that will last. If you want men to connect to each other, they first must see that you or someone truly cares about them. Do you spend time with them? Do you try to find out what they need? Do you encourage them?
Is Christ recognizable when men see you and talk with you?
When I picture church, I see God working with groups of men. The fruits of the spirit are developed and shared with others. The last, the least, and the lost are served.
Jesus said, he did not come here to be served, but to serve.
Sometimes we sit next to another person for years without ever trying to find out his needs or trying to find ways to serve him.
Our job as leaders is to create space and opportunities to help others grow in Christ.
We are called to step out in His name seeking His guidance and wisdom.
What does church look like to you?
Do others see Jesus in you?
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
Go from ‘stuck’ to ‘growing’
By Mark Lubbock
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”
Proverbs 11:14 NIV
Instead of steadily growing, do you find your men’s ministry is stuck––or worse––shrinking? If so, I have good news for you.
Did you know the commission solely exists to support you and your organization? The commission has a huge variety of resources, programs, partnerships and skilled men’s ministry specialists who can help increase outreach to men.
Evaluate the scope of your ministry. With whom are you connecting? What are their needs and how are you meeting them?
While participating in a Man in The Mirror training experience, I was asked two questions:
1) “How many men are in your church?”
2) “How many men are part of your men’s ministry?”
I dutifully noted the number of men in my church, then, I listed those who showed up at specific men’s ministry activities.
The two numbers were far apart.
The next statement from our facilitator shook me: “Every man in your church is a part of your men’s ministry.”
This changed the way that I looked at ministry to men and helped me reach out beyond the current groups that met periodically.
You, too, can expand your reach.
Through the UM Men network, you can access training tools, gifted speakers for events, quality group resources, ideas to promote spiritual growth, planning tools, and resources for a variety of activities.
Contact your conference or district president of UM Men and tell him of your needs.
Also check here for great articles, free webinars, and free downloads.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or if you need a speaker for an event.
Mark Lubbock is a men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men
Who is responsible for your discipling?
By Jim Boesch
“Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw Simon and his brother Andrew putting a net into the sea. They were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” At once they left their nets and followed Him.”
Mark 16: 16-18
The question for today’s reflection is “How can your church encourage each person to own his own growth as a disciple?” (Selected from Intentional Discipleship System Questions by Discipleship Ministries UMC).
The answer to this question is paramount to our effort to establish a foundation for Jesus’ church to accomplish the purpose for which it was created.
This harkens me back to my days as a training manager in a business in which the company provided training for the employees, but the employees had an equal responsibility to contribute to their own personal growth.
Today’s faith communities own 50 percent of the responsibility for their Jesus followers to become disciples who are then capable of making disciples of others. The person following Christ owns the other 50 percent of the responsibility to make and live into the changes in his life that enable others to mature into fishers of men.
To support our local churches in fulfilling their end of this 50 percent discipling responsibility, our commission provides tremendous training and equipping resources to achieve these heart changes.
To fit the busy schedules of congregations most of the training materials of the commission and partner agencies are available in both instructor-led and internet-based formats.
The commission also provides regularly scheduled webinars that provide information and strategies for ministry and for personal spiritual growth.
In considering the adage “A man can’t sell what he hasn’t bought himself,” please consider how the commission can support you and your men on the journey to become fishers for Jesus.
Jim Boesch is a certified men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the
General Commission on UM Men
Become a Legacy Builder:
Hundreds of men and women support ministries to men and youth by being Legacy Builders. These partners in ministry want to guarantee The United Methodist Church will be able to continue scouting ministries and ministries to, with, and by men with their generous financial support. If you are a Legacy Builder, we want to relay the gratitude of those who have been touched by and through scouting ministries, Upper Room prayer ministry, and men’s ministries. If you are not a Legacy Builder, consider what giving as little as 33-cent-a-day can do to make disciples of Jesus Christ. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.