October 2012 Leader Letter
October 15th, 2012
From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
October 15, 2012
Greetings from the president of the general commission
By Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.
I extend to you holy greetings in this new role as the president of the General Commission on UM Men.
I ask that as I and the leadership team assume this responsibility, you begin to lift us up in prayer that we be fruitful, faithful and true.
I am confident that if the people of God pray, God’s preferred future for men’s ministry in and through the UMC will become a reality.
I believe that our General Secretary Gil Hanke and our staff have their hearts and minds set on reaching men for Christ. They are helping those already in the fold to grow in their discipleship in order to unleash the redeeming power of the Holy Spirit on a hurting world. Their efforts are transforming lives, healing communities and helping the reign of God become a reality.
I realize that there is much to bemoan, but I am also aware of many places where the light of Christ is shining because transformed men of Christ showed up:
- Boys of incarcerated parents have discovered that while their parents are no longer physically available to them, God provided men willing to stand in the gap.
- Young families struggling to become families where love rules their home have discovered this is possible because men helped their father learn his true role in the family.
- Seniors who didn’t have access to their homes after losing mobility now can enter their own homes because the Carpenter touched men at a nearby UMC and they followed that Carpenter down the street.
I invite you to discover with us how we can––through this powerful connection called the UMC––bring more bright spots into view through men in our local churches and men waiting in your neighborhoods to be invited into the light.
I ask you to join us in being obedient to the Christ who says:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
–– Matthew 5:16
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., president
General Commission on United Men
Getting to the feet of Jesus
By Gil Hanke
I really love the story found in three of the gospels about the four guys who bring their disabled friend to be healed (Luke 5:17-26). It is a great story and relates well to men’s ministry. Here is what we know:
- Something had laid this man out, and he was not functional in his home, society, or church.
- He had four great friends who would not be turned away.
- Walls and roofs did not matter.
- His friends knew what they needed to do; they knew what Jesus could do.
- His friends did not mind doing something different; they trusted Jesus and most of the folks in the room.
- In the midst of a miracle some church folks just focus on the wrong thing.
- Thanks to these four men, Jesus was able to do what only Jesus can do.
You know the story, but I think there is some additional information that the disabled man might want to add.
Being carried on a mat over smooth ground is scary. Particularly scary if you are paralyzed and cannot protect yourself if one friend falls.
Being carried on the rocky roads of Galilee was very, very scary.
Being carried up narrow steps or a ladder to be placed through a hole in the roof is terrifying.
If anyone questioned whether this man was really disabled, the journey to the house proves his diagnosis.
The agenda for the teaching meeting and the agenda of the four friends appear to be at odds. But considering Jesus wants this room of men and women to rely more on God, and that with that relationship comes wholeness, each made adjustments and God was glorified. But some quibble over words or format, and miss the glory of God right in front of them.
My questions for you are: (Yes there is homework)
- What lays you out? What paralyses you? What are you going to do about it?
- Who brought you to the feet of Jesus? Have you thanked them or thanked God for their witness?
- Who do you know who needs to be brought to the feet of Jesus?
- Who are the three friends that will help you? What is your crazy plan?
I believe, with all that is in me, this is what we are called to do. Let’s do it! Let me know how it works out.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
Replacement or the real thing?
By Dan Ramsey
In today’s world of competition, it has lately been all about the replacement referees and the regular referees.
These are the earthly people that are supposed to make all of the right calls. They are to pass judgment on the participants of the big game. They make the calls to say whether or not the participants are playing the game according to the rules.
It is amazing that in a world of turmoil and uncertainty the biggest front page story, the major headline of all the news is about a game with replacement referees.
A few years back my daughter was a collegiate athlete and played softball for the University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE!). All of her playing career, as well as my two son’s careers in football at McPherson College, consisted of seeing the regular umpires and referees year after year.
Most of all the referees were good at what they did but some needed improvement. Kind of like the replacement refs of today.
You wanted to see some of them go back to their day jobs. The replacement refs and umpires as well as the regular refs and umpires are not perfect and they made the calls as they saw them.
In our frustration we all wanted things to go our way. It is like that in life. We want our ministry to go the way we see it and that may not be how it really is.
I remember my father was a hard-working man and he attended as many games as he could. No matter the result, win or lose, he was always at the fence during and after the game to tell me he loved me and that he was proud. My father always said that it would be all right. Just do the best you can.
God has a plan for you and me to do His will.
He will make the calls and they will be the right calls whether you think so or not. He wants us to share the Gospel in order to change hearts from the inside out.
He is our heavenly father who is always at the fence to love us and support us even when we fall.
All we need to do is trust him and put our faith in him for everything. He is not a replacement ref or even the regular ref. He is the Right call for you, me and the rest of the world. He is our savior and provides us with an unending love that surpasses anything you can imagine.
Always go with the right call!
Dan Ramsey, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
Strength for Service joins the Combined Federal Campaign
By Larry Coppock
Strength for Service (SFS) recently joined the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) as one of its newest members.
Since 2002, over 460,000 SFS devotional books have been distributed to military men and women around the world.
While troops are being withdrawn in some deployed locations, we continue to receive requests from chaplains.
In order to continue free distribution to military chaplains our leadership team has crafted a strategy to employ additional funding sources. 2012 marks the first year of participation.
What is the Combined Federal Campaign?
CFC is the world's largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with more than 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and internationally to help to raise millions of dollars each year.
Pledges made by federal civilian, postal and military donors during the campaign season (September 1st to December 15th) support eligible non-profit organizations that provide a variety of services throughout the world.
The mission of the CFC is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.
CFC presents federal employees an opportunity to support tSFS ministry through workplace giving. Please let your friends who work for the federal government (military, post office, etc.) know about SFS and encourage them to support book distribution through the CFC. All they need to do is include the CFC five digit number on their pledge form. The CFC number is 45689.
UM Men and volunteer leaders from around the country are manning SFS exhibits at CFC kick-off events to spread the word.
Some of these persons include:
Michael Feist, Clovis, Calif.
L. W. Smith and Herman Lightsey, Columbia, S.C.
Nathan Bush, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
David. F. Hopper, Jr., Robins AFB, Ga.
Ken Todd, Falls Church, Va.
Don Scandrol, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Charley Gray, Raleigh, N.C.
Dave Mendyk, Lincoln, Nebraska
Craig Nordaker, Lincoln, Nebraska
Glenn Wintemberg, St. Louis, Mo., Area, Shaw AFB, Il.
Larry Dozier, Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, Calif.
Russell Cline and Lew Weil, Joint Base McGuire, -Dix- Lakehurst, N.J.
John Walls, Detroit, Mich.
Jim Russell and Denis Sjoquist, Seattle, Wash.
Ed Shytle, Huntington, W.Va.
Ralph Herron, Parkersburg, W.Va.
In addition to helping us spread the word you may also contact me to volunteer in case a CFC event is scheduled in your area.
To obtain additional information and/or receiving a pledge card please visit the following web site: http://www.opm.gov/cfc/
For additional information on Strength for Service to God and Country, please visit http://wwwStrengthforService.org
Larry Coppock, national director of scouting ministries and director
of the Strength for Service Publication Fund
General Commission on UM Men
Calling all Men
By Mark Lubbock
To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind.
There are men’s groups all across the country who enjoy great success. As I look at the profile of individual groups that connect well with men some commonalities arise. While each group may have a different character, at least one aspect stands out in those that engage a large number of men. The men in these groups are “called out” to support at least one important mission.
Men need a mission, a calling, a purpose to rally around. The groups that have great activity also have focused missions. In the fall 2012 UM Men magazine there are reports of significant activity where men’s groups raised thousands of dollars for targeted purposes, organized mentoring projects with at-risk youth, rebuilt homes, served scouts, packaged literally tons of fresh produce for the hungry and much, much more.
Civic organizations continue to thrive with numbers of men participating - largely because they have a purpose that challenges a man’s heart. Men are created by God to be noble creatures! In order to draw your men, to reach those who are not connected, you must first connect with their heart.
What is the challenge that you offer your men, in your church, district, region, and annual conference? Is your offer so compelling that they will give up their precious time and commit to participate in it fully? Do you offer your target group, which by the way is ALL of the men in your church, something more than boring business meetings and monthly breakfasts?
If not, start by first making up a list of potential call-to-men ideas of things that need to be addressed in your area. Next, spend time in prayerful discernment. It seems like our normal approach is to make our plans first, and then ask God to bless our ideas. God has a plan, but we often choose what makes sense to us - leaving Him out of the process up front. Proverbs offers wisdom about God’s way:
In their hearts men plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
There is no lack of noble deeds that need to be done in your area––tasks that create great opportunities for meaningful men’s fellowship. One nationwide ministry that I’d love to see UMM actively support is our Wesley Foundations located at colleges all across the country!
Don’t wait. Begin NOW to assess your core mission, and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit! Through prayer you will arrive at the right project for your group to inspire your men. Opportunities will abound to connect more and more men in active ways as you plan and execute your mission. This is a time to recruit men for specific roles, to build a functional team. Be sure to share responsibility and create opportunities for men to take on leadership roles.
Use the mission as your call to men. Invite them into fellowship and service. As you do so you’ll be opening up the door for men to enter into relationships that will ultimately move them along the discipling process.
Focus on one project at a time, and do it well!
Finally, always be thinking forward asking yourself, what is the next right step to offer your men as this project draws to a close. By keeping the planning process ongoing you will capture the momentum and keep your men––including the new men––engaged!
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Completing Our Review of the Habits of ‘Leading Like Jesus’ in 2012*
By Jim Boesch
We will now complete the fourth of the servant leadership domains, the Habits––daily disciplines to keep focused on leading like Jesus.
In August, we identified the five habits and went into detail on the first two of solitude and prayer. This month, we will provide more applicable detail of the remaining three habits of “applying Scripture,” “abiding in God’s unconditional love,” and “maintaining supportive relationships.”
To again recap our recently shared literary journey––the four domains of servant leadership we have been reviewing are:
Habit #3 Applying Scripture - Prepare for the challenges that are yet to come.
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
A key component for success in the discipline of this habit is the pre-requisite of storing up the Word of God, which will indeed prepare us well for the challenges that will most certainly lie ahead for us throughout our earthly lives.
If you remain in Me and My Words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.
A wake-up call: A wise person once said, “Life is like a tube of toothpaste; you never know what’s inside until you’re squeezed.” In times of personal crisis, you want to be able to call on the resources of faith that you have stored up.
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
Maybe it’s time to crawl from under the covers of complacency and replenish our spiritual resources or risk being caught unprepared when the next challenge or temptation comes our way.
For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him shall not perish but will have eternal life.
Habit #4 - Abiding in God’s Unconditional Love––proceed with confidence grounded in trust.
A new commandment I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.
John 13: 34-35
Jesus certainly set the standard for us on Unconditional Love. It was just before the Feast of Passover and Jesus know the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. (John 13:1)
What does unconditional love mean for the servant leader?
- Accepting that you are unconditionally loved –
“For God so loved YOU…”
- You must unconditionally love the people around you –
A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Love those at home. Love those at work.
Love the maintenance worker. Love the new neighbor.
Love whomever you encounter.
So much of what we are talking about in servant leadership has to do with the human ego and our capacity to accept the unconditional love that is always there for us. Undoubtedly all parents would answer YES if asked whether they loved their children or not! But if asked if they would only love their children if they were successful, all would certainly say NO, that a parent’s love is unconditional.
What if we all accepted that unconditional love for ourselves? What if the all definitions of success as the world defines success were irrelevant to you? Then you would already have all the love there is. Once we accept that we’re unconditionally loved, earthly things don’t mislead us.
Our God demonstrated His unconditional love for us when He gave Jesus to die in our place.
The antidote for fear and pride is faith in God’s unconditional love for us. The true servant leader is one who clearly understands what unconditional love is all about and puts into practice daily.
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Habit #5 - Maintaining supportive relationships – sharing vulnerability, receiving support and being held accountable.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Leadership can be a very lonely business. When we rely on our own perspective of how we are doing, we are bound to slip into convenient rationalizations and blind spots that can quickly invalidate the integrity of our witness to a watching world.
Servant leaders consistently and constantly provide Encouragement and Feedback.
We do the best we can – we plan, strategize, we act – but still we need some outside information to help us see how we are doing.
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but a man is tested by the praise he receives.
Truth-tellers: We all need trusted truth-tellers, preferably those not directly impacted by the results we achieve, who can help us keep on course. If you can’t name any active truth-tellers in our lives, it’s time for a change.
Truth-tellers are important for the opportunities for growth they help create. This growth can then occur in 2 main ways:
- When you are open to feedback from other people and
- When you are willing to disclose your vulnerabilities to other people.
So, it is indeed a two-way process.
Feedback should be considered a gift. When someone provide you feedback, say “Thank You” and then ask “where did you get it – what did you see me do, what did you hear me say, what special instructions can you give for me to improve?” Who else can I ask about it/
We are all vulnerable; we fall short of our goals/objectives, etc. Don’t be afraid to share your vulnerability as a servant leader. It will be one of the most powerful things you can do to build your team, to build relationships with the people you are leading.
So, bring truth-tellers into your life and listen to them. You don’t have to do everything they say, but they want to be heard. For a good case study on this read Exodus 18:13-27 to see how Moses and those who looked to him for leadership benefited from a trusted truth-teller.
This completes our review of the five Habits of the Servant Leader.
If you would like more information or would like to talk to me more about how we can provide this Servant Leadership Development Workshop and Bible Study program to the leaders in your local church, district, conference or jurisdiction, please contact me at your convenience.
May God bless you in your service to His Kingdom,
*This theme and text was captured from The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. The book is the framework of the Lead Like Jesus servant-leadership-development ministry.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Where are the young guys?
By Greg Arnold
Every retreat, workshop, sermon, and event that I have conducted over the past year seems to always drill down to the following question: “How do we get younger guys interested in UMM?”
My standard answer always comes in the form of a question, “Can you define younger?”
I’m a 42-year-old guy––a young man in the eyes of many of you. My “youth” makes me a prime target on the radar of men’s ministry. I’m one of the “younger guys.”
For many of the groups I address, “younger” often lands in the 55 – 65 age bracket. However, the filter I use to determine the age of a “young guy” falls between the ages of 20 and 40. It’s a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
So, why do so many of our men want to get younger guys involved? The most common reason is, they want to leave a legacy that will enable younger men to enjoy the community of church like it used to be. This is where we find a disconnect between younger men and older men.
The definitions of engagement and community have widely different emphases in current culture than how our “Baby Boomers and “Great Generation” define them. The world began to shrink in the 1980s and became one massive interconnected world from the 90s ––and growing smaller every day.
It’s not enough to want younger men to be involved; we must engage and do something about it. Studies have shown that the UMC isn’t declining––it’s dying… literally.
We are burying members of our congregations faster than we are birthing them. It’s simple math which requires a formula change in order to produce different answers. So how do we modify the formula?
Reaching younger men is not only essential to the vitality of United Methodist Men, it’s essential to the health of our entire denomination. Can we be the generation that turned it around?
Will members in the future talk about us as the men who ignited the United Methodist Church growth?
Will we be a part of the solution? Or will we simply sit in our meetings with seven other men, and complain about those guys who don’t come anymore?
You have a heart to ignite the church into a new era; you want to see the flame catch while on your watch. Now let’s do something about it.We’re modifying the formula – and we need your passion to fan the flame.
Together with the GCUMM and backed by leaders in the episcopacy, a new training is available to help you reach younger men.
There are more than 32,000 U.S.-based United Methodist churches, and our goal is to reach every single one of them. Then, we’ll begin reaching around the globe. A monster goal for certain! It won’t be easy, some will give up, but we won’t be deterred.
Are you in?
Whether you have 15 in worship, 150, 1500, or 15,000 – this training will impact your community of faith. Bring this workshop to your district and alter the trajectory of your church and community. We’ll answer your number one question – “How do we get younger men involved”?
Next step? Email me.
I look forward to meeting you.
Greg Arnold, deployed staff
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Plan to attend the National Gathering
July 12-14, 2013