A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff of the General Commission on UM Men
By Gil Hanke
Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face to face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
One of the joys and challenges of serving in my position with the commission is experiencing the UMC outside the U.S.
In May, both Bishop Swanson and I attended the Connectional Table meeting in Oslo, Norway, the furthest north I have ever been.
I arrived late in the evening, and it was raining and overcast.
I could tell from the road that the meeting location was on a mountain, but when I got my weary self to there, the only thing I wanted to do was get some much needed sleep.
In the morning, the view was nothing but fog.
We engaged in some activities in town, but when we returned to the lodge, we could still only see fog.
We were told by our hosts that the view was spectacular––the city below, and fjord that reached to the North Sea. After one of our meetings I went for a walk and discovered that immediately behind our location was a huge ski jump used in several Olympics dating back to 1954. I had not seen it because I was looking in the wrong direction and because it too had been obscured by the fog.
Finally, several days later as we were in the final stages of our meetings, the fog lifted and the promised blue sky and view appeared. The view was indeed spectacular.
We deal with a lot of stuff in our lives.
There are annoyances we can’t shake, worries about the world, our church, our families, our country. We are promised––and even offered––direction, but sometimes all we get is fog.
What keeps me going, is finding those rare places and people who help me see things clearly.
The commission, with help from men’s ministry and scouting ministry leaders from across our connection, have planned a place where you and I can see things clearly.
The 12th National Gathering features proven voices on topics that clear the fog, and that will bring you hope and wholeness. Workshops, sermons, and mission projects will provide you with tools to help you grow in Christ and bring others in your local church and community into that glorious light.
The sight and sound of hundreds of men of all ages, standing together, singing together, praying together, learning together, being in mission together, connecting together will be life giving and life changing.
Join us in the bright light of Christ, July 7-8, in Indianapolis.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men
National Gathering offers transformational scouting ministry workshops
By Larry Coppock
The Office of Scouting Ministries is excited to offer three life-changing, disciple-making scouting ministry workshops at the 12th National Gathering of UM Men, July 7-8 at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis.
We invite you to attend one or more of these 90-minute sessions designed to be inspirational and informational.
Reaching Youth: Planning, Organizing and Communicating for Effective Discipleship
Co-led by Missouri Annual Conference Scouting Coordinator Amanda Vogt and North Georgia Annual Conference Scouting Coordinator Chris Karabinos.
Patrick Sterrett, Scout executive of Crossroads of America Council, will join in a panel discussion facilitated by Phil Howard, chair of the Scouting Ministry Committee of the General Commission on UM Men.
This workshop will enhance your ministry with youth and young adults. Currently, 324,000 youth meet in 7,000 UM churches through church-sponsored civic-youth organizations. More than half of the youth come from unchurched families. Discover new and exciting ways to recruit and disciple youth and parents while engaging members of your church and conference in these outreach ministries.
Reggie Grant, former NFL standout and author of several books on mentoring, will lead this workshop. Grant will share the leadership role with Darcey Palmer Schultz, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, and Bill West, president of Rocky Mountain Conference UM Men and a seasoned mentor.
This workshop will be led by Nick Hiratsuka, an Eagle Scout from Tucson, Ariz. Recognizing that advances in technology have created a new type of bullying, not faced by previous generations, our youngest workshop leader used his film-making skills to produce “It’s Not Just a Joke,” a video to promote discussion among youth and adults about cyberbullying.
Nick serves on the technology team at St. Mark’s UMC; he is president of his high school film club, and volunteers with a youth theater group in his community.
To enhance scouting ministries in your church or to start something new and exciting please attend one or more of these sessions. You won’t be disappointed!
Larry W. Coppock, director of scouting ministries,
General Commission on UM Men
On being ambassadors for Christ
By Rick Vance
As I was preparing to board a plane to go to my annual conference, I read that Nashville had been named the friendliest city in 2016 by Travel & Leisure. (Huffpost-July 14, 2016). On the other side of the spectrum, Miami was voted the most unfriendly.
As I began to think about the differences between the two cities, I wondered how people would rate the friendliness of our church and its men’s ministry. If we were to poll 20 people who had recent contacts with our church and the men’s ministry program, what would they say about the friendliness?
As UM Men, we spend a great deal of time discussing the next best program, best study or best group to reach men.
We believe that many men don’t make their relationship with God a priority. However, that assumption is wrong. Several studies show people do not turn away from God; they turn away from the church.
I suggest that response also extends to men’s ministry.
The Travel & Leisure article reports that even though there are great beaches and great food in Miami, “the city’s residents were less than welcoming.” Contrasting this with Nashville, the article said the “locals were eager to share their home with newbies.”
What are some of the principles we can learn from this article?
- People want to be warmly received.
- People are less concerned with programs, activities and appearance.
- People want to be included in the community.
If we apply these ideas to the church and its men’s ministry, what would change?
- Our ministry would be a place that is safe for men to come as they are. Our men’s ministry would welcome all men where they are and help them find hope and acceptance while offering opportunities for accountability.
- While we would continue to offer ministries that have worked historically, we would also be open to the reality that God is calling all people to something new. New ministries, new activities and new ideas would be prayerfully considered and enacted.
- We would allow newbies to be part of the family. Men who are new to your group do not just want to be welcomed and given a place to sit, they want to help set-up, plan, implement and celebrate the ministry.
- Ministry would be done in relationship with God and others and with some form of accountability. Time would always be made to build relationships with God and each other.
My continued prayer is that people will rate our ministry as the best in America.
One last thing, it is not too late to join us at the 12th National Gathering of UM Men in Indianapolis. Please go here for registration information.
Your brother on the journey,
Rick Vance, director of men’s ministry
General Commission on UM Men
By Steve Nailor
He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.
To celebrate means to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, or holiday.
I am looking forward to three celebrations.
Donnette and I will celebrate 50 years of marriage on July 1. The prevalence of divorce and likelihood of the death of one of the two partners makes this an infrequent celebration.
Donnette and I got a head start on the July 1 celebration with a late-June week at Hilton Head with our two children and their families. It is truly a gift from God to listen to cousins interacting and having great fun together.
I am also looking forward to a celebration when we achieve a goal related to the “Meals for Millions” program of the Society of St. Andrew.
I first became exposed to this wonderful organization 48 years ago. Our conference launched a major campaign to raise funds for “Meals for Millions,” a program that gleans fruits and vegetables to feed the hungry.
In March, 2016, I was blessed by God to be elected president of the 56-member National Association of Conference Presidents. At the 2017 meeting, we challenged every annual conference to double their gifts to “Meals for Millions.”
I look forward to a March, 2018, celebration of the achievement of this awesome opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
The third celebration which I am anticipating is to once again attend the National Gathering of UM Men in Indianapolis,
I have attended every gathering since the 1973 meeting at Purdue University. Listening to more than 5,000 men sing “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” gave me the chills. I have heard great preaching and singing at all these gatherings. There is a great line up again at this year’s gathering as well.
I pray that you will join me at this celebration in Indianapolis.
You will praise God and experience great and awesome things. Take a step of faith and invite a buddy or two and join other men celebrating the Word of God.
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
What are we teaching?
By Mark Lubbock
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Children learn by observation. They quickly pick up an understanding of their parent’s values by watching what parents DO.
What parents say is important, but only if it is confirmed by accompanying behavior. Today’s homes have self-identified “Christians” who make decisions and live their lives much the same as non-Christian households. They’ve compromised and lowered their values from a biblically based system to that of the current culture. The outcomes are children who see nothing wrong with cursing, watching sexual images/scenes, taking a me-first attitude, disrespecting elders, and failing to take personal responsibility for their actions.
A 2015 Gallup poll showed that 75 percent of Americans consider themselves Christian. Yet when you look at the choices and behavior of the average family and individual, most demonstrate values that are not in harmony with Christian discipleship.
Images, story lines and dialog on a prime-time TV channel that describes itself as “The Family Channel” reflect themes and language that would not be allowed in any Sunday school class. So why do we not even notice this in our own homes?
My wife and I visited the home of a nephew who is raising his family with biblical values. They have cable TV and while we were talking I saw him glance up and quickly change the channel. It puzzled me for a moment as no one was watching the TV. He explained with disgust, “Ah, it’s those Victoria Secret commercials again.” What took place was an automatic edit of the allowed images in his living room. He has a process at home to not only protect his family, but to pass on values he deems important. The point here is that he and his wife take responsibility for what is allowed in their home. Will this protect the children from being exposed to sexual content? Of course not. What does happen is the children have values in place that gives them a basis for knowing what is right and what is wrong.
A wise friend of mine constantly reminds me, “That which is permitted becomes acceptable.” So how do we in the church set appropriate boundaries and yet remain loving and relevant in today’s society? More importantly, how do we teach and establish biblical values as the norm in our own household?
According to research conducted by the Center for Bible Engagement (CBE) most churched and unchurched homes have similar behaviors.
In other words, by simply observing how the two neighbors act, one attending church the other an atheist, you would see few differences in their core values. The key indicator for positive change is a simple yet radically profound factor: The number of times an individual engages with God’s Word. Their studies showed that people who engaged the Bible three times a week or less, behaved just like those who are unchurched and do not believe in God.
However, when a person engages the Bible four times a week or more dramatic differences immediately appear. Here is how researchers report the results of their study:
The Power of 4
A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages scripture four or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.
In fact, according to their research, the following additional changes are observed in those who are in God’s Word four or more times a week:
- They are 228% more likely to share faith with others.
- 407% more likely to memorize scripture.
- 59% less likely to view pornography.
- 30% less likely to struggle with loneliness.
It breaks my heart to see Christian homes accept as normal and mainstream behaviors, images and practices that are far from family-friendly. It is not necessary to make a list here, for two reasons. Some would read and agree without hesitation while others would be astonished that anyone is concerned with items listed.
Getting back to my question, how do we teach and establish biblical values in our household? It always starts with “me” (or “you”).
We all need to be disciples of Jesus which means we are actively learning and applying behaviors consistent with the teaching of His holy Word. Sunday school can be good and important, or simple a social gathering where one can hide. The real meat of discipleship comes from small groups and personal study and prayer.
The commission and our men’s ministry specialists strongly recommend reading and then applying the practices contained in Dr. Kevin Watson’s book The Class Meeting. This quick read teaches the principles developed and applied by John Wesley. Kevin explains it this way:
“Class meetings were essential for the first Methodists, and they are essential today, because they helped people grow in faith in Christ and learn how to follow Jesus with their lives."
By becoming students of Jesus we will inevitably also become transformed through the Holy Spirit and start to look different to others. Last night at a men’s leadership meeting one of my buddies shared a quick testimony. He had been encouraging a co-worker to give in to Jesus and commit his life to our Lord.
My friend Ken shared his own personal testimony and simply asked his friend if he was ready to make a change in his life. This had been an ongoing conversation over weeks, and that day his friend said, “Yes, I’m ready.” He gave his life to Jesus, began reading the Bible, attended a small group and learned simple ways to speak with God.
As a result his life began to change. Tragically, he was killed in a car wreck just three months later. But the testimony of his transformed life was so compelling that an aunt called my friend Ken asking him to be a pallbearer as he was responsible for the radical change in this man’s life.
A quick review then shows us that for our household to look and reflect true Christian values we first must each “be” a disciple of Jesus.
It is important that we engage with like-minded friends and that we consider a model like The Class Meeting to help us grow. We need to share honest stories, complete with our real struggles, as we seek to grow as disciples.
It is equally important that as we read, study and pray, we also have encouraging friends around us to support us through our inevitable challenges. ‘
It is time for men to lead by example.
The commission and men’s ministry specialists offer training that can get this process started. Consider inviting one of these leaders for an evening at your church, district, or annual conference.
As always, I’m interested in your thoughts, comments, corrections and suggestions. Please contact me. I’m available to speak to your group and also to conduct training.
Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member
General Commission on UM Men
We announce, but we don’t invite
By Jim Boesch
Do we just notify men of upcoming men’s ministry events and programs?
Or, do we ask men to join us in gathering at important discipling events or programs?
We’re good at creating programs
As leaders and influencers of men, we do well at coming up with plans and programs for men while toiling to affect ministry through men in a positive kingdom building and serving way.
We do all the upfront work of assessing, designing, developing and implementing some really good life changing, disciple-making systems and programs for the men God is putting into our lives. Then we stop. It’s built so our job is done. Time to start thinking of something else we can do for our next men’s event!
We are pretty effective at designing and scheduling programs and activities for men.
We’re good at announcing
We are also good at notifying men of these activities.
We put our newly created cutting edge, in-your-face promotional flyer on as many websites as we can think of; the more the merrier. That is how everyone gets their information and makes their decisions of how to do life today, isn’t it?
We are careful to not do it too early though as men seeing it on that website day in and day out for too long will get them immune to its impact. Then they will not click on that all important link to the registration page so they can take that next step themselves in becoming a disciple.
Another step we have used forever in our efforts to notify men is taken when we put our event announcements in weekly church bulletins so all the men will see them and sign up right away. Just to be safe, we put the same announcement in our monthly church newsletters and any other newsletter we can find. Surely, that approach will reach all the men we know and get them committed and registered to attend our events.
And if all that isn’t sufficient to accomplish our goals of telling men to come be part of the Body of Christ, we now even have that instantaneous method of reaching out to the masses called the TEXT message. Halleluiah! This 49 character tool that has all but replaced the phone call enables us to get our notification information to all the men in our electronic contact list in a matter of minutes. Surely, in most generational cultures this text is even better than talking to the men in person, right? It just makes sense that if every 12-year-old in the universe has a cell phone, surely every man has a cell phone with a data plan that we can tap into to reach them in addition to all the other means listed above to notify them again of all the great stuff God has planned for them.
We’re not so good at inviting
For the most part, we are pretty good at creating, scheduling and notifying, the big problem that too often derails this ministry is we do a poor job of asking men to show up!
We notify men in a multitude of ways, but we just don’t take that personal step of asking a man to attend. We don’t seek out a man, connect with him, look him in the eye and ask him to come with us to experience our ministry offerings.
We assume seats will be filled through osmosis of the vast array of communication notices. Or maybe we feel there will be a magical Red-Sea parting by God that provides a clear, unimpeded path to the ministry events we build.
Ask a man to an event? You mean actually pick up a phone and call a man? You mean stop a man when you see him at church, at work, in the community or in your neighborhood and just ask him to come with you to a men’s ministry event?
Why in the world do we need to go through all that when we have all these other quicker, less intrusive and more efficient ways of reaching out to men to notify them of the good news of all the awesome men’s ministry stuff we have lined up for them.
We need to ask a man because the outcome we are seeking as disciple-makers is not about just reaching out to men, or even reaching and getting in touch with men. It’s about so much more! It’s about reaching out, reaching, notifying, informing and asking men to gather with other men to experience the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s about creating welcoming, transformational environments that support them where they are as men, fathers, sons, churched, unchurched, believers, non-believers, followers of Jesus, non-followers of Jesus.
So, today before it’s too late, commit to be a kingdom building and serving influence on that men’s ministry event you have planned or are planning for this summer,
Keep notifying and keep informing. But for the sake of serving and building Christ’s kingdom, also ask men to join you in following Jesus, in being changed by Jesus and in committing to the mission Jesus commanded us of making disciples!
Jim Boesch, deployed staff member
General Commission on UM Men
What is your group?
By Mark Dehority
Are you Republican, Democrat, Gay, Straight, Millennial, Boomer, Native American, Hispanic, White, Asian, Methodist, Catholic, Jew, American, Syrian, or Chinese?
We and others choose these names to define us as groups and individuals. None of them are biblical names. These are names the world uses to define us.
Saved and lost
I want to pose two other categories; “saved” and “lost.” These are biblical terms. These are the names Jesus uses to define us.
What if we focused on these two names?
What if in our daily activities; we saw only those that are lost and those that are saved? How would our behavior be different?
If we are lost, we need to be saved. If we are saved we need to save the lost. Jesus is quite clear about our role in the world. I want to note that; I do believe the Holy Spirit is the one doing the saving, but the Holy Spirit works through us and we do have a role.
Save our enemies?
Who does Jesus want us to save? Does Jesus want us to save people we view as racist? Does Jesus want us to save people we view as corrupt? Does Jesus want us to save people who have different political views? Does Jesus want us to save our enemies?
Are there any people Jesus doesn't want us to save?
So, who wants us to leave people unsaved? The evil one doesn't want us to save anybody. The evil one is always looking for ways to deceive us and divide us. The evil one wants us to believe this is not our role. He tells us that we need to manage earthly things. Our pastor can save people. He wants us to focus on groups and differences.
One of the biggest lies that helps separate us is that other groups are somehow less than us. We hear this in political arguments. The people from the other party are not as good as us. They love the country less than us. Lives of people in other groups are worth less than ours.
We must raise ourselves above this logic. We must turn to God in prayer and scripture to answer these questions.
The nut group
There is another group we could be identified with, it is the “nut group.” We could be part of that group that always goes around talking about Jesus, like those that go door-to-door. Jesus talks about people like this Matthew 16: 24-26. It is really, not a bad group.
Even if we don’t go door-to-door God has a plan for us. The Lord will put people with us that need to hear the word.
The questions become: Are we prepared to talk about how Jesus saved us? Are we prepared to share His story and how it changed our lives? Are we ready to save these people? Does it matter who they are?
Mark Dehority, deployed staff member
General Commission on UM Men