From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
February 15, 2016
An unpredictable world
By Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.
The song “For What It’s Worth” was written by Stephen Stills. It was performed by Buffalo Springfield, recorded on Dec. 5, 1966, and released as a single in January 1967. It became one of the most popular protest songs of that era.
This was a time filled with bold challenges to the establishment, the institutions that had dominated our society, thought patterns, decisions and direction for the United States for many years. And suddenly that which we were familiar with and counted on for a sense of security was no longer there. 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 could continue with the last two verses but, I think you hear the tenor of the song as Stephen Stills interprets what he saw in America in 1966.
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." It is in these often repeated words that 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 are 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. Maybe we were never in control. Maybe through these unpredictable times God is leading us to become men of faith who are learning how to lean and depend on Jesus rather than our own power and strength.
Oh, by the way, we survived the 60s, do you think we will come through 2016?
I love part of Stills’ last verse:
“Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid....”
In an unpredictable world we need to hear the Psalmist.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything?”
Psalm 27:1 CEB
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Will you take it personally?
By Gil Hanke
I had an interesting conversation this morning with the deployed staff. It was a conversation that continued in my head long after the e-meeting was over.
The conversation began with a discussion of the mission statement of the UMC: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” What appeared to us to be missing is the “who” in the statement. The simple answer is “The United Methodist Church.” So, as Dr. Phil likes to ask, “How is that working for us?”
In the midst of decline, there are some areas of growth.
What makes the difference?
A contributing factor to success is when we the mission statement is taken personally.
I am reminded of the words of a great hymn, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me o Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” The hymn goes on to point out that it’s not my brother, sister, preacher, deacon, father or mother––it’s me.
Not only are we personally in need of prayer, but if we are on the road to discipleship, our task––no, my task is to disciple others.
We wonder why our church is losing members or losing folks who attend worship, or have dwindling Sunday school participation. But, we have to look in the mirror and ask, “What am I doing about it?” If you are a disciple, you are to be a fisher for other people. When fishing, you don’t catch one with every cast, but you’ll never catch any if you never cast a line.
There is a decline in some of our churches because only a very small percentage of people invite others to visit their churches.
What is keeping you from inviting someone this week to church? The worst thing that can happen is they say, “No,”
That will not be a new experience for you.
It would be more appropriate if we interpret the mission statement to read, “With God’s help, I will make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world this week.”
Or, maybe we could adapt Jesus’ invitation: “With God’s help, I will fish for others this week.”
We can’t wait. Lives are at stake, and families are at stake.
Don’t be embarrassed and don’t be obnoxious; simply be honest. If you found a great restaurant you would tell others about it. Why not do the same for a great place that brings you peace, joy, and salvation? It is your job….. and mine.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Because He lives
By Dan Ramsey
Well, we are reaching the end of our four-year run in leadership and ministry.
It has been a blessing from God to me and many others. As we begin with new leadership, let me encourage and challenge you to do a few things.
1. Set God-type goals to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
2. Continue to be involved in hands on-ministry opportunities such as providing devotional books and Bibles, feeding the hungry, supporting scouting ministries, engaging in Bible studies and accountability groups, developing leadership in the local church, supporting our pastors, supporting the commission, and utilizing the resource’s that are provided.
3. Pray and listen! And I mean pray hard and often. God speaks to us all of the time, but many times we don’t listen for that still small voice that comforts us and takes us down God’s path.
We have reached out to many small churches in the last few years and have learned that God has given us an extra portion of grace while celebrating the good news of ministry that is alive.
That being said, we still have a lot of work to do.
It is not time to retire. It is time to move on in our walk and celebrate our Risen Savior.
I pray for the new leadership in the NACP, as well as the UMM Foundation, and the GCUMM.
Remember, don’t give up! And I’ll see you down the road.
Because He Lives!
Dan Ramsey, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
Do something: Become a mentor!
By Larry Coppock
““Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify (build up) another”
Sometimes I wear a black t-shirt with gold lettering that I received several years ago when I became a big brother to Calvin, my second “little.” It states “Do Something. Become a Mentor.” I like to wear it when I work out at the YMCA so it has maximum impact.
It’s nice to display these types of messages to cause people to think and act.
It’s been ten years since the commission signed an agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) to become the first-ever national partner to provide faith-based mentoring support. Since that time, BBBS has moved their national office twice, had a complete turnover in senior level leadership, including all of the original staff that we collaborated with to craft our agreement. While these national agreements offer important endorsements and direction, ministry happens at the local level. More than 400 affiliate offices can help a potential mentor start the process.
Children of incarcerated parents stand a 70 percent probability rate of following their parent(s) into a life of crime. The population group most affected is African-American males.
This is unacceptable
Politicians and government leaders at high levels offer little in the form of advocacy or action to address this horrible trend. However, their inaction does not inhibit our ability to take leadership roles and make a difference. We are our brother’s keeper! It is up to each one of us to take that first step, and it’s never too late to start.
It is important to note that Gil Hanke, general secretary, began his “big brother” journey when prompted by a speech by Karl Dean, former mayor of Nashville, who serves as a big brother. Like Mayor Dean, Gil and I chose the school-based program as an option because it is flexible and fits rigorous travel schedules.
Several former conference presidents serve as big brothers along with countless others across our denomination. We appreciate their commitment.
However, we can do better. UM men should be setting the bar high with a servant-leadership model that reflects our numbers and passion for being “Doers of the Word.”
Please think and pray about becoming a big brother. It only takes an hour a week to make a significant difference in the life of a young boy.
Please contact me for more information.
Larry W. Coppock
National director of Scouting Ministries and director
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Setting and Meeting ‘Core Values’
By Mark Lubbock.
“And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, to he may run who reads it.’”
Those who have a passion for ministry with men are eager to see participation, activity and growth. We want to have a good story to tell about how God is using men’s ministry to make a real difference.
A friend of mine told me how each year his men’s group at church hosts a pancake-breakfast fund-raiser. It grows larger each year, and it generates funds for ministry and missions.
However, my friend says, it’s nearly impossible to get the men to take interest in other activities.
This past year, the breakfast was scheduled on the same day as a major national men’s conference. They were aware of the conflict and rescheduling was possible, but they had no interest in making the change. In so doing they missed out on an opportunity to encourage, excite and equip the men of the church. Had the same men who cooked and served moved their event back a week or two and then brought the volunteers to participate in the men’s conference it is likely that this same group would have been inspired to offer more for the men of this church.
One reason the men were not interested in the men’s conference is because the breakfast fulfilled their mission. There was no “larger vision” for the men of the church. Certainly there was no plan or mission to “help men grow in Christ so that others man know Christ,” the UMM mission statement.
There is nothing wrong with a pancake breakfast, and it is wonderful that they followed through. What we have, though, is a marked lack of a greater vision.
They were content to do an annual meal and call this men’s ministry. But, I know the men in this group and firmly believe they would readily step up to a larger vision should one be cast!
In both the secular world and the church those who set goals and measure progress against the goals are much more likely to achieve and advance.
First UMC in Deland, Fla., spells out their “core values” on their website:
“. . . Our UM Men and Women, small groups, senior activities and youth fellowship are some of the ministries that provide opportunities to belong.”
“We believe in the Great Commission and our congregation commits to becoming disciple-makers.”
“Our congregation covenants with one another to be a people of God whose primary source of power and strength comes from a commitment to prayer.”
“We believe in exceeding our own personal boundaries to touch all those we encounter.”
“This congregation commits to a lifestyle of ministry, striving to be like Jesus as servants – inside our church, our local communities and beyond.”
“We believe that God has called His people to gather in worship to give Him glory and praise . . . “
When core values or a mission statement are embraced, you will see that pastors will teach and preach about these values and keep them before the congregation. The Administrative Council will measure all activities against the goals, and if something does not meet or fit in these values then it will not go forward.
To be successful in ministering with men, you must set worthy goals, and regularly look at progress towards meeting these goals. Men will engage in activities that have a worthy objective even if it is not their favorite way to spend time!
The vision is the “outcome,” or what you want your church and neighborhood to look like in a few years. A mission statement describes the scope of activities you will take to achieve the vision.
What is the mission statement for your church and for the men in your church? Do you have one? Is it worthy of pursuit? Does it inspire men’s souls? Does it change the world?
Start by setting a real, doable, challenging goal or mission statement that addresses a larger vision.
Next, make sure everything you do fits into this vision and mission statement. It must in some way, meet or fulfill an element of each. Plan activities that will help you fulfill your mission and your vision.
Regularly share and explain the vision and mission statements as a routine part of every activity. You must repeat the goals and the way you will reach goals to help men know the why and how.
ASSESS & MEASURE all activities. If suggested activities do not align with core values, tweak them or toss them out. Measure your progress at least quarterly. Too often the only thing churches measure is attendance and offerings! Be intentional about measuring spiritual goals.
REPORT how you are doing. Men are encouraged and stay engaged when they see progress. Share your progress report with the entire church, not just the participants in your men’s group. You will find that over the long haul this will inspire more men to join in!
PROGRAM activities to meet your goals. Regular men’s fellowship should be a component, as should regular opportunities to be discipled. Look for ways to introduce appropriate spiritual elements into every activity. Pray before meals, offer a short devotion with activities, encourage men to share struggles and victory, schedule regular times where men can share their personal faith journeys.
TRAIN your church leaders annually. The General Commission on UM Men offers world class training on topics like: “Lead Like Jesus,” “No Man Left Behind,” “Reaching Every Man,” “Wesley Class Meeting,” and “Building Brothers.” Take advantage of these opportunities and be sure to provide training events in your church and district.
As always I seek your comments, ideas and thoughts.
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
How to craft a compelling vision for your men’s ministry in 2016
By Jim Boesch
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
When you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
"Where there is no vision, the people perish, but blessed is he who keeps the law."
Local churches function best if they have a kingdom-building vision.
As servant leaders, it is our responsibility to work with others to discern what this kingdom-building vision looks like in our communities.
The mission statement of our global UMC is to “make disciples for the transformation of the world,” Our challenge is to determine how this mission statement will be applied in our communities.
While there are many published models to help organizations establish guidelines for how they should be structured, I offer a four-part visioning format:
- Define your mission or purpose. Prayerfully ask God help you discern His mission and purpose for your local church. Ask, “What business are we in?” “What are we trying to create in this organization of Christ followers?” What is our mission/purpose statement?”
Jesus was very clear about what business he and his disciples were in. He called his disciples to become “fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19).
A mission/purpose statement needs to express a higher purpose for the greater good that gives meaning to the efforts of all people who are involved in the organization of church.
A clear mission statement sets the direction for your ministry. If you set no direction then you don’t know where you are going and any plan will get you there.
- Establish a clear vision of the future. The key question leaders need to ask in prayer is “What does our picture of the future look like for our church if we live according to our mission and purpose and everything goes well?” “What will the future look like if the ministries in our local church are running as planned?” ––In our men’s ministry? In our youth and student ministry? In our children and family ministry?
Jesus outlined a clear vision to his disciples: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end if the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Establish your church’s values. The key question to prayerfully ask is, “What will govern how we behave in His local church?” “What are the core beliefs and behaviors that will guide us as we establish the limits and boundaries of how we will live as His church?”
Values are the non-negotiable principles that will define the character of your church leaders. They are those traits that you will want to see in every area of ministry at your church. Every person whom you encounter will be touched by your commitment to these non-negotiables. Honor them in all you do.
As you develop your own value priorities, it is helpful to know and understand what Jesus set before us his values when he responded to the Pharisees as they sought to test him with the question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40.
*These values will drive the formation of a vision of the future which in turn drives the mission and purpose.
- Set your church’s goals and expectations. The key question church leaders may now ask is, “What do we focus on now?” “What are our expectations for the coming months?” “How do we set objectives to achieve the future we have envisioned?” “What are our people are capable of doing?”
A critical part of goal-setting is to make sure everyone who is involved in the process agrees on what good behavior looks like. Make it clear who will perform what, when, where and how often.
** Many of you took part in three webinars in October and early November of 2015 under the title of “Discipling Goal Setting, Implementation and Feedback for Men.” Those sessions dealt specifically with this fourth step of the visioning format. I will be glad to discuss goal setting with you if you desire.
In closing, I realize some local churches may not have defined and published mission/purpose statements. Some churches have no defined pictures of the future and have not established values that provide boundaries for their ministries.
Other churches may have done work to craft the first three elements but may be struggling on the fourth element of the vision of setting specific goals that lead to an understanding of God’s will and the fulfillment of the vision.
It’s never too late! February is a great to time to determine this current state for your church and then go from there into 2016.
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.
Jesus versus ice cream
By Mark Dehority
Dairy Queens sell ice cream.
The church of Jesus Christ makes Christians.
The best Dairy Queens make all kinds of offers to attract and retain customers. Sometimes it's hard to figure out which promotions are the most productive.
The most common trait of these organizations is that they sell great ice cream. They offer it in many ways and configurations. They have different kinds of sandwiches and promotions, but they always have the ice cream.
The web page uses this simple sentence to describe the corporation. “DQ® operators have been providing consumers with crave-satisfying treats and food since 1940.” Employees at Dairy Queen know and understand what the offer. Each Dairy Queen has a complete operating manual to guide the way.
Almost everyone at Dairy Queen can tell you why they're there. They can clearly describe what they want and expect. Even children young enough to barely talk can tell you why they are at Dairy Queen
We in the Methodist Church have great “ice cream”; we have Jesus. Jesus leaves no doubt about the reason for his church. He is the reason. We are to accept him and model his behavior.
The best churches do all kinds of different things to disciple the people who come through the doors. Sometimes it's hard to figure out which of these things are most productive.
The most common trait of these organizations is they provide opportunities for real relationships with Jesus Christ. The offer comes in many ways and configurations, but they always have Jesus, front and center.
Our webpage using this simple sentence to describe our church. “Create disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Clergy staff and laity in the best churches understand what they offer. We have a great operations manual, the most popular book ever written.
Almost everyone who is great at growing churches can tell you why they're there. They can clearly describe what they want and expect. Even very young children can talk about Jesus.
Heartache comes from congregations with many clergy, staff and laity who don't understand why they are there. They can't clearly define what a Christian is or does. They have trouble explaining why they're in church or even why they have a church.
It is time to get to the basics. God loves us. Jesus loves us. God wants us to love him. God wants us to love our neighbors. Jesus gave us very specific commandments and commissions that describe our “ice cream.” God provided us with a great operations manual. We need to open it, study it and follow it. It is so wonderfully simple and terribly complex.
More Good News
As we think about techniques and tools to help our churches and men’s groups make disciples GCUMM is ready to help. We have many tools and a group of men with the heart to help you. We continue to train and send out men’s ministry specialist to help organizations at all levels disciple their men. Men are located all over the country and can help you now. Please contact me to locate help in your area. No organization has more resources than the GCUMM.
Mark Dehority, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men