From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
Missing the obvious
By Gil Hanke
I was at a meeting at another agency this week, and in a small-group discussion we talked about some possible issues that face local churches in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Philippines. We had a long list of products, people with expertise, training and resources that could be helpful. We basically asked, “How do we determine what a local church might need from this laundry list of great resources. How do we determine their specific needs in specific areas?”
The answer was obvious; first we ask, second we listen carefully.
Last year, the Connectional Table had a meeting in Maputo, Mozambique. I went early and stayed late to work with the men of that great conference.
On the day of my presentation, I met with a great group of men––young and old––all active in the men’s ministry within their local churches. After some formal introductions and an exchange of gifts, the translator turned to me and said, “We are ready to hear your presentation.” I asked, “How much time do we have together today?” He replied that no one was in any hurry to leave, and the whole day was ours. So, before I spoke, I asked, “What do you want me to know about successes and struggles you have as men in your churches and community?” I listened, and learned. I tailored my presentation to address what they taught me.
Since coming to this job––with the help and guidance from staff, the board and leaders like you––the commission has made some significant changes. But, we are always seeking ways to help you have a successful ministry to men and to youth through scouting.
So, I have a question and I am ready to listen to you.
What do you need from the commission that would accelerate the mission and ministry of (and to) men and youth in your church and community?
That is the question, and I am ready to listen.
I promise, if you need it, we have it, or we know where to get it, or we will create it.
My email address and the phone number at my desk are below.
Think and pray about what you need. It could be special training, particular guidance, providing a mentor, or preparing a new resource.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I am listening.
Striving to be a servant,
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Spend time with God
By Steve Nailor
Brothers in Christ, I write to you today with a heavy and deeply concerned heart. The last three weeks have brought one global tragedy after another. My prayers and thoughts go out to all those who have lost loved ones or who had someone injured.
In Luke 10: 38-42, Jesus is invited to the home of Martha and Mary to share a meal. He comes in and makes himself at home in the living room. Jesus––as only Jesus can do–– begins talking with them. Martha leaves the discussion to check on the details of the meal. Mary, on the other hand, sits with Jesus and listens to his teaching. Martha gets upset with Mary and she asks Jesus to tell Mary that she should come and help her. The Lord answers, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
If you had an opportunity to sit with Jesus and enjoy a meal with him, what would you want Jesus to teach you? Mary was in the moment with him and listened to his every word. How is your time being spent with Jesus? Do you have a quiet time with him or do you tell yourself, “I just don’t have time, I am too busy.” Too busy doing what? What can be more important than strengthening your relationship with our Lord? Are you taking time daily to be with our Lord and Savior?
I can just hear Jesus telling Martha to order a pizza and come and join them. “Come here and sit with us and hear the living word that will last forever. The meal will keep but my time with you is limited; please join us.”
Paul tells us (I Thessalonians 5:16-21): “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.”
Have you pushed your time with God to the curb because you don’t have the time or you don’t want to take the time? We are in devastating and scary times in our world and country. Take time for Jesus and hear Paul’s words: “Don’t suppress the Spirit. Listen for it and share it with others.”
May God’s love overcome evil in our world.
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
Five reasons to consider scouting as a ministry
By Larry Coppock
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
After assuming this position nearly 20 years ago, volunteer leaders would periodically pepper me with stories about how their local churches were making disciples through scouting programs. Their excitement inspired me to list several reasons to consider why “scouting––the program” should be viewed as “scouting–– the ministry.”
Here are five of the ten reasons published in the 2016 edition of Scouting Guidelines.
The ministry of Christ revolved around the profound concept of reaching out to others. Modeling Christ’s example, scouting seeks to touch lives with the compassion of Christ. We have found that when we reach out to others, the blessings of God are returned to us.
Surveys indicate that 50 percent of the youth who join scouting through the church come from un-churched families. Scouting is one potential entry point for persons to join the church. Scouting provides a great way for local churches to serve their local communities and, in the process, offer new and exciting programs that churches may transform into ministries.
3.United Methodist Men
UM Men groups have traditionally been the “standard bearers” of scouting ministry. UM Men units have been a source of manpower and volunteer leadership as well as a link between the congregation and local youth agencies. They have assisted in fundraising events, work days, special events, and a variety of mentoring opportunities.
4.Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY)
PRAY offers age-appropriate studies that focus on discipleship, family, and service. Young people are drawn closer to Christ and invited to become better acquainted with their church and pastor. The PRAY series is a Bible-based resource that emphasizes service to others, brings recognition and increases self-esteem of the youth through work with adult counselors and mentors.
The scouting program can be an effective outreach ministry of the local church. Through intentional planning, the church can transform its scouting program into an important youth ministry. Scouting has the potential to be a far-reaching ministry for the entire community.
Be an advocate for scouting ministry in your local church!
Larry W. Coppock, national director, scouting ministries
General Commission on UM Men
By Mark Lubbock
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
2 Corinthians 5:18”
July was a month of international terror. There were senseless killings that took place in foreign lands and shootings in several U.S. cities where citizens and police officers died. All of these events divided communities. Individual acts and language helped draw hard lines between people. My home town of Baton Rouge was one of the seriously impacted towns.
Woven through the emotions and activities that flow from the expression of personal pain are two common threads.
First, everyone wants to “do something.” There is a visceral call on the spirit of each affected person to take some sort of action.
Second, there is a reflexive and intentional engagement of the Holy Spirit.
The first thread is expected and normal in every crisis and traumatic experience.
The second thread is much less common, and is often completely absent.
But, the second thread became the governing mantra in Baton Rouge. We focused on that which binds us together as Christians. The result was something different from what outsiders had hoped. We developed a real community.
Outsiders came to our city to promote their own agendas and to leverage the free publicity afforded them by media entities looking to boost their ratings. Yet the leaders of our community sought common ground based on their shared Christian faith. Despite personal hurt and grief, leaders met together in numerous groups with the desire to reach out to one another with Christian love and reconciling grace.
While local media remained engaged, it did not take long for outsiders to understand that instead of the riots and violence for which they hoped, Baton Rouge was going to engage in civil discourse. Outsiders quickly left, seeking lurid news to celebrate elsewhere.
For more than 20 years, I’ve been a part of interdenominational and interracial clergy and community groups seeking to build personal relationships. Thus, when leaders met to discuss appropriate responses, they already knew and respected one another. There was a mutual love for one another across the lines that normally divide because of the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
The years of effort of just a few leaders served as a solid foundation for the community to build upon when the crisis arose. Though small in numbers, the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst was more than enough to overcome the divisive temptation of disruption sewn by the outsiders.
Why this happened
None of this “just happened”; this was the result of commitments and actions of concerned members of the church universal. Tragedy and hurt could not break the bonds forged by relationship-building activities.
Here are a few of our actions that you can try in your community.
WORSHIP TOGETHER––Periodically cross racial and denominational lines to visit each other’s houses of worship. Recognize there are different doctrines and ways to worship, but celebrate the things you have in common. In Baton Rouge, people of different skin colors and backgrounds spent two weeks in worship services that became a spiritually bonding time.
BREAK BREAD TOGETHER––A couple of times a year, visit one another’s homes for a meal. Taking time to honor one another is a great foundation for building respect, love and trust. It is possible to get to really know the heart of another person over a shared meal and conversation.
TALK TOGETHER––Once a relationship has been created it is possible to have honest conversations that do not skirt touchy subjects. My friends and I speak candidly about the problems that arise from racial bigotry. It is present on both sides of the fence. We do the same with denominational differences. More importantly, we offer a venue to unburden our souls in the comfort of mutual love. With Christ in the center of the conversation, we remain one in the Spirit while working out issues.
SERVE TOGETHER – This weekend over 10,000 people from all walks of life, all races and all religious backgrounds gathered together to serve the community. Trash was picked up and hauled, yards were mowed, groceries were purchased, buildings and houses cleaned, painted and repaired and so much more! Side by side, people bonded in service to the needy. There is nothing quite as satisfying as going home after a 12-hour day in the hot, humid climate, knowing you served others while building friendships.
DON’T STOP NOW––Relationships do not happen by accident, and cannot be truly current without intentionally planning ongoing activities. We may still hold a person dear in our heart even if we haven’t spoken for the last five years, but we will not have a clue about what is happening in his or her life. It is vitally important to continue investing in these relationships by planning ongoing fellowship and activities.
You may have some hurt that you need to express, a fruitful experience to share or a question to ask. Please feel free to contact me. I am available to speak to your church or group and would delight in the opportunity to lead training for your church leaders.
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
Grandkids––You can take them with you
By Mark Dehority
We have all heard the sometimes-distressing news that “you can’t take it with you.” The end comes and we have to leave all of our everything. But, we can take loved ones with us, or, at least, meet them there.
My bucket list isn’t very long. I have done most of what I wanted to do.
The big thing on the list is getting to Heaven with all of my grandchildren. My bride, Lynnette, and I have 32 extra-special people we consider grandchildren. We are a mixed family with hers and mine and everyone else’s. People are married and remarried and we can’t prove a genetic link to all the people that call us grandpa and grandma, but they are our grandkids.
I am not sure how Heaven works. I am confident that many of my relatives are there, including my first wife. They give me a clear message: “Don’t forget the grandkids.” This is the most important item left on my bucket list.
So, how do I get these wonderful kids and their parents headed in the right direction and how does that impact my call to men's ministry?
From a men’s ministry standpoint, this is a topic that can bring us together and get us moving. The majority of men I know have grandchildren and want the very best for them.
At our local “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference, I enjoyed Dr. Dan Erikson’s presentation about grandfathering and his book Grand Fathering -Live to Leave a Legacy. Dan’s impact has started to redirect a major portion of my ministry to men.
Dan is an entertaining speaker with a great message. His message is grounded in Scripture and relevant to all men––especially grandfathers (contact Dan at: firstname.lastname@example.org).
With Dan’s help, I have arrived at the following conclusions:
- God calls us (and our wives) to be the spiritual leaders of our families. We are called to teach, lead and model the kind of Christian behavior that invites them to follow Jesus.
- We need to look closely at the behavior we model. It is easy to be loving to the kids, but, making a positive spiritual impact on their lives has to be intentional. If we are absent, that will have an impact. If our lifestyle is secular, that will have an impact.
- You can't sell what you haven’t bought. We can't just tell them to pray. We must pray with them. This applies to all aspects of our spiritual lives.
- In order to lead our grandchildren to Christ we must become the fathers, grandfathers, husbands and men God wants us to become. That transformation is men's ministry.
See you on the other side. Hopefully, I'll be the one with all the grandkids.
Mark Dehority, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
Jesus prayed for unity
By Jim Boesch
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
John 17: 20-23
One of Jesus’ hopes from His earthly mission was that His disciples would become one with each other. He wanted a unified witness to God’s love as shown through His mission, death and resurrection.
On the night before His execution, Jesus prayed that his disciples would be unified, protected and engaged in lives of holiness.
Just the disciples became one in Christ, so too are we called to be one in our time.
Our creator God, the one who formed and breathed life into all that exists, did not bring forth this vast array of diversity for the purpose of division, but rather for the sake of interdependent unity.
The diversity of these spiritual manifestations is a reflection of who God is, and who He wants His children to become.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Through Scripture, God has shown us many ways to exist together in His diversity:
Paul was a champion of this:
Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
This is so the body will not be divided into parts. All the parts care for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. If one part is given special care, the other parts are happy.
1 Corinthians 12:20-21, 25-2
While division is not part of God’s plan for unity, neither is conformity in which all must think, look and act the same. True unity is not achieved by sameness but by having the common mission and purpose to glorify Him and to build up others for His kingdom work.
Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!
1 Corinthians 12:29-30
If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.
1 Corinthians 12:17-20
Only through sustained servant leadership at the local church level will God’s plan for selfless, loving unity in this world come to fruition.
If we are to build upon our God breathed and inspired differences, it will be through Jesus Christ’s body, the church.
The lasting, transformational change that a hurting, fearful world is looking for today will only occur through the fulfillment of God’s vision of the local church being the hands and feet of Jesus taking the Good News to the streets.
I offer you today a suggested first step of simply gathering together in our churches, homes and communities. Do not gather in order to “fix,” “change,” or “amend.”
Gather to express a love for all of God’s creation with prayer for a willingness to be present and to listen to our brothers and sisters as we share our lives and seek God’s will for His Kingdom.
Gather as Christ’s Church united in mission and purpose.
I leave you with scripture that Paul penned to the church in Corinth as they struggled to find their way in fulfilling Jesus’ commands.
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:10-11
Gather and pray together.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
The good, the bad, and the ugly
By Dan Ramsey
Recent events have strained our communities and law enforcement all around the world.
I spent 30 years as a Houston police officer and I experienced a lot of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I spent 8 to 10 hours a day working with my brothers and sisters in police work. We spent more hours together than we did with our own families. Most of the times we were confronted with the bad and the ugly; only occasionally did the good outweigh the bad.
A few weeks ago a friend and former Houston police officer passed away and prior to the funeral. I asked my wife if I still bleed “blue,” a term that law enforcement uses when caring for fellow law enforcement officers in their times of need.
She did not know.
During the funeral, I found out quickly that I did still bleed blue.
Those funerals don’t get any easier.
I have participated in many police funerals and I did not always know the officer personally, but we still had a bond in that we both faced the good, the bad, and ugly wherever we worked.
In the last few weeks five officers were killed in Dallas and three were killed in Baton Rouge.
In an email, Mark Lubbock asked for prayer for an emergency surgery. He also said that prior to the operation, he asked his surgeon how was it with his soul.
The surgeon told Mark that he was struggling. He said he had seen a lot of horrible things in his years as a doctor but as a member of the surgical team that operated on Baton Rouge officers, the deaths really hit him hard. He said all of the trauma teams were hurting.
Mark told the doctor about the Strength for Service to God and Community devotional book and how they were written for first responders.
The surgeon asked Mark if he could get one to read and share with his coworkers.
Mark gave him his personal copy.
A day later, I saw the Rev. Duren Boyce, lead chaplain for Baton Rouge Police Department on television. You could tell he was hurting and exhausted after providing spiritual support to his fellow officers.
I needed to respond.
I did not know Chaplain Boyce, but I called his office.
I expected his secretary or another employee to answer the phone, but Chaplain Boyce, answered.
I introduced myself as a retired Houston police officer and told the chaplain about the Strength for Service books. I asked if he could use some and he quickly answered that he would be “eternally grateful.” He said he needed more resources to help his officers.
With the assistance of Larry Coppock, the generosity of members of Grace UMC in Houston who had ordered a box of the books, and books provided by World Wide Technology, I arrived at the Baton Rouge Police Department on July 25 with 468 Strength for Service books.
It was the same day as the funeral of Montrell Jackson, a 10-year veteran of the police department, who left behind a wife and a 4-month-old son.
The chaplain and I talked about the books, and I prayed with and for him, the department, and community. Before he left the funeral, he prayed for me.
I also met a young officer named Kobb who was guarding the main police station. He said he had never experienced such pain.
The faces of Chaplain Boyce and that young officer told the story of a hurting and exhausted department, but they were not going to give up.
Officer Montrell Jackson entered a plea on his Facebook page just days before his death: “Don’t let hate infect your heart!”
Thank God for Strength For Service!
Thank God for Grace UMC!
Thank God for Mark Lubbock!
Thank God for people and communities responding to Gods call to make a difference!
Thank God for sending his son to die for our sins!
Because He lives, we can face tomorrow!
Dan Ramsey, former president
National Association of Conference Presidents