From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff to leaders of United Methodist Men
Making a list
By Gil Hanke
My wife and I exchange lists of specific items we want for Christmas. We do this because I grew tired of giving her something I wanted her to have, wear, or use which was never seen again.
As most of you, we place a limit on what we will spend on each other. If you add up the cost of everything on her list or on my list, it far exceeds the financial ceiling to which we agreed. So, we don’t know exactly what we are getting for Christmas, but we know we are giving and receiving things that we both want or need.
While I have made a Christmas list, I’m not making a list of resolutions for 2017.
In past years I made resolutions which I did not keep.
I then made resolutions that are impossible not to keep:
- “I resolve to end my figure skating career” (I can’t skate).
- “I resolve not to go sky diving this year” (I would only jump out of a plane only after the pilots have jumped out of the plane).
Instead of a list of resolutions, I am making a prayer list. I invite you to do the same.
In addition to prayers for peace and health in our homes, church, country, and world, I have some specific prayers that will be posted where I do my devotions each morning:
- A prayer of thanksgiving for family and friends, and for the work I get to do.
- A prayer that the men of this church will have a transforming, on-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Prayers for Haiti––that they could enjoy a stable government, that they could have seeds to plant and crops to harvest after the disastrous hurricane, prayers for the children we serve through the Hope of Hearing, and that the people of Haiti could experience a future bright with hope.
- A prayer that each of our local churches could be known for its welcome, passionate worship and its service to its community and the world.
- And a prayer that when I pray, I will listen more than I talk.
So, what’s on your list?
Striving to be a servant,
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
Faith modeling and servant leadership
By Larry Coppock
“As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake.”
There is a difference between faith modeling and faith teaching. Faith teaching is instruction about a particular faith, for example, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or a specific doctrinal stance, such as one’s beliefs about God or the Bible.
The Office of Scouting Ministries emphasizes faith modeling while clearly stating that faith teaching is the responsibility of the home or the religious institution or organization.
Jesus constantly provided a faith model for his followers. When the disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, called a child into their midst and talked about becoming like children. Then he said, “As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake,”
This passage conveys the high calling of those who inspire youth by modeling their faith. As a Scout leader, you are entrusted with the precious gift of young lives. Parents, who have experienced the miracle of a new life, are sharing that miracle with you. They are expecting you to model your faith and to help their children grow. Civic youth-serving agency programs stress citizenship, character development, and physical fitness. As a Scout leader you are encouraged to promote these values.
Young people learn a great deal about lifestyles by observing others and by practicing the behaviors they witness. Most parents can tell stories of how and when their children imitated them. Just as you have learned that personal skills are better taught by demonstration, followed by a chance to practice the skills, so faith development is encouraged by demonstration, with encouragement and opportunities to practice faith skills.
As a servant leader, you are expected to abide by the policy that specific religious instruction is the responsibility of the home or the religious institution. However, you can let young people know that God is important in your life by the way you live in their midst. You can live a faith-oriented lifestyle. If you are a scouting leader in The UMC, you have committed yourself to demonstrating a belief in God.
Edited from Scouting Guidelines 2016. Order your copy from Cokesbury.com.
Larry W. Coppock, national director of scouting ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Questions to consider this Advent
By Rick Vance
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem. . . . When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”--–Matthew 2:1, 10-12
At this time, people begin to reflect on the year past and look forward to the possibilities for the year to come.
Leaders and visionaries always look at current reality in the light of wisdom from the past and find hope for the future.
So it is in this Christmas passage from Matthew. The wise men (magi) have studied the sky for a long time. Well aware of the wisdom of the prophets regarding the birth of a new king of the Jews (the messiah), the magi see a bright star. They know God is doing a new thing, and they want to participate in this new miracle.
While most sermons focus on the gifts these leaders bring, I suggest the magi themselves offer insights into what our ministry should look like.
The magi knew of the prophecy and they understood the importance of the birth. They were willing to do whatever it took to respond. They humbled themselves and offered Jesus the best of what they had. They were willing to be obedient to God’s word rather than follow man.
I believe God is calling UM Men to be more intentional in our ministry to and with all men. As I look at our past, I am convinced God is calling us to draw closer to Him, so we might share Christ with the world.
The questions we must engage
- Do we have the faith to start the journey?
- Are we willing to do what it takes to make the journey?
- Do we have a plan to follow God on the journey?
- Will we be willing to listen to God even if we are called to go in a different direction?
Once we answer these questions, we will be able to live out our mission “to help men grow in Christ, so others may know Christ.” This is a huge mission, but let us not forget that God is with us on this journey!
The July 7-8 National Gathering of UM Men will help us understand “Discipleship is a contact sport.”
Until we gather in Indianapolis, the staff of the commission and men’s ministry specialists are here to provide resources for a journey that will draw you closer to Christ and the ministry He has for you.
As you continue your journey to Christmas and a new year, I pray you will be overjoyed and filled with excitement.
Your brother on the journey,
The Rev. Dr. Richard Vance, director of men’s ministry
General Commission on UM Men
The Son is greater than the angels
By Steve Nailor
We just finished the Christian year and now we are in the Advent season.
The lectionary for the first Sunday declares the Son of is greater than the angels (Hebrew 1:1-3).
I had not thought much about that until I was planning for a worship service at a nursing home in my community. During my study for the Sunday service, I noted that the author of Hebrews describes in detail how Jesus Christ not only fulfills the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, but how “God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him” (Hebrews 1:2).
I just finished having a meeting with the executive committee of the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP). That group consists of jurisdictional presidents, the national prayer advocate, staff members of the commission and NACP officers.
Each member shared enthusiastic reports about what was happening in his area.
I asked each of them to establish two goals:
- A goal for themselves in their current position.
- A goal to determine what they need to do to strengthen their ministry. Some need to help establish leaders in inactive conferences and some need to establish better working relations with active conferences.
Both goals should help men strengthen their relationship with Christ.
I also invite you to establish two goals:
- A goal related to how you can enrich your relationship with God during this Advent season.
- A goal to listen to the needs of others and find ways to help them cultivate a deeper relationship with God through Christ.
Let us together listen to the powerful and profound messages during the Advent season and discover how God is speaking to us.
I know that for some Christmas is not always a happy time, but if we listen and seek God’s guidance, you never know what might happen. Jesus tells all who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads that he will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Listen for Christ in your life.
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
By Mark Lubbock
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another; be compassionate and humble.”--1 Peter 3:8 - 8
Social norms change with every new generation.
A wonderful example is to look at personal journals from the founders of our great nation. In a letter, George Washington shows his deep conviction and devotion:
“I cannot conceive any more honorable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source and original fountain of all power… I shall now, Sir, close my correspondence with you, perhaps forever.”
An appreciation of God and His sovereignty is evident in the routine communication from most of the founding fathers. Benjamin Franklin offered observations that go contrary to the social norms of today:
“The worship of God is a duty; the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself in being watered and putting forth leaves, although it never produced any fruit.”
Franklin also publicly promoted positive values that conform to the Proverbs such as:
“Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.”
Today, the folks in media and those who speak publicly clearly have a very different set of values than that exhibited by our founding fathers.
The comparison leads us to ask, “What are the governing values of my household?”
The answer will either conform to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible––or not!
We all have value systems in our minds, but they can be far different from the value systems found in our hearts. The Bible tells us that our actions spring from the depths of our heart, so the behaviors and choices we make reflect the state of our hearts.
To flesh this out, consider our behavior when watching television with our families. When somebody curses, or a “love scene” (let’s face it––it is more often a “sex scene”) appears, what example do we set for families? My nephew immediately turns the channel or turns off the television. When a commercial comes on that reflects values he does not support, he changes the channel. When words are used that conflict with his values he turns the sound off. So guess what?––his family follows his example.
So, if you are numb to the point where you don’t even notice the cursing, the sex scenes, and inappropriate behavior, your value system shows that these things are OK.
Even if in your mind you think, “Well no, I don’t like this, but it is everywhere and there is nothing I can do about it,” the fact that you take no action shows these behaviors are part of your value system!
My goal here is to shine a light on a growing blight within the church and community. I believe men set the pace by quiet acceptance or loving leadership. If our behavior shows what we believe, others will––at the very least––respect this. Over time most in our household will adopt the same value system.
What are our values?
Jim Boesch, a deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men, helps folks establish values system and develop ways to bring their behavior into conformance with these values.
Jim leads a session where participants list specific values and behaviors on a flip chart. I encourage you to do something similar with your friends and family.
It might be something like this:
- Love others as myself.
- Keep my promises.
- Only let things into my eyes and ears that honor Jesus.
The idea is to measure actions against values. If they do not align, then you do not take that step.
In the 1930s, IBM created a culture that encouraged people to stop and think. Signs everywhere in IBM said, “THINK.”
As a result, everyone in the building began to assess details about everything they did, and come up with better ways of doing every-day tasks! In fact, the signs even affected visitors.
One way to ensure that you incorporate your values into daily living is by keeping them always in front of you. You might write them out on a small piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or auto dashboard, or computer monitor. Such a practice will always keep your values prominent in your mind.
You may also want to review your values and behaviors with your family and friends. Examine a recent event and discuss how well this fits in with your declared values. By intentionally and routinely reviewing behaviors, you and your friends will develop a culture of values-based living.
As a closing shot at giving you a baseline to measure behavior, consider the attributes reflected in the scripture passage below. How many of these are a part of your current spiritual DNA? What would you like to see added?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
––Galatians 5:22-24 - 22
We can either sit back and let the world and those around us define who we are, or we can assume personal responsibility and make the appropriate and necessary course adjustments to make sure we are the people that Jesus Christ wants us to be––His disciple.
You might want some help in this whole process and the General Commission on UM Men is here to help. Contact me or other staff members for more information on how we can assist and facilitate transformational training. We can suggest speakers who will lead you in a transformational process.
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
I am my brother's keeper, and he is mine
By Mark Dehority
“I will be my brother’s keeper. Be the light for him to see and if he stumbles I will do for him what he would do for me,”
––From the song “My Brother’s Keeper” by Dan Holmes
Christ calls us to be our brother's keeper.
How we do that is sometimes obvious. At other times it is obscure and complex.
What exactly do I do different on Monday morning? How do I disciple others? How do I become my brother's keeper? How do I allow him to keep me?
My Wesley Study Bible says:
“In John 14:15 and 21, Jesus links loving him to keeping his commandments, so that love is the only law in our relationships––with oneself, with neighbors, with enemies, with creation and with God. In practice, it means promoting the highest good of others and not causing harm.”
Even though this is a tall order, it explains how I can love others. It takes away much of the uncomfortable parts of loving each other.
Love looks like Jesus.
God will put people in our path
We can’t be all things to all people. But, God will put people in our paths who need various levels of brotherly keeping.
This can be as small as offering a meal or a ride (and always a prayer) to a brother in need. It can be as deep as being a proverbial Paul to a brother Timothy.
Intentionally practicing small acts of kindness is a basic part of Christian life.
Develop a plan
Once we decide we are going to walk with Christ, it is important to develop a plan of action.
I am comfortable with the small things. I keep a small amount of cash to give to others and I ask people if I can pray for them.
For the deeper and longer term, I find small groups provide an opportunity for growth in making disciples and becoming my brother's keeper.
- The Understanding Men's Ministry course
- The Class Meeting
- Disciple Bible classes
- Wesley Building Brothers
- Walk to Emmaus.
The “Understanding Men's Ministry” course is provided by the General Commission on UM Men and is the foundation of our “men's ministry specialists” certification program.
This course focuses on the number one priority of our church and men's ministry––“Making disciples of Jesus Christ.” The course guides us through the process of evaluating our current culture and men. As we identify men and where they are in their life as disciples, we can identify opportunities for their transformational growth. It provides long-term structure and constant growth for every man associated with our church or organization. For more information, contact The Rev. Dr. Richard Vance (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are we ready to be helped?
Do we have brothers who we can turn to for support? Or are we going to spend our lives pretending to be “fine”?
Discipling is about relationships and being ready to be each other’s keeper. We must admit our brokenness and accept help,
Are we ready with a hand up and a prayer?
Are we ready to share our stories?
Are we ready to help others to find a deeper relationship with Christ?
Discipling is something we do with others, not to them,
Mark Dehority, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
Are we working to fulfill the right mission?
By Jim Boesch
Since the 2008 General Conference, the mission statement of the global UMC has been “to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” According to conversations with Protestant and Roman Catholic friends and acquaintances that’s pretty much the mission of all Christian church organizations.
Is this the right mission for UM men to pursue?
As I see it, is the answer is “yes” and “no.”
Yes, it is the right mission in that it is indeed true the ultimate mission of Jesus’ church is as he directed us in His Great Commission:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ––Matthew 28:19-20.
Of note here is the fact that this command of Jesus’ to the disciples was given them at the end of their developmental time with Him on earth and they were maturing in their faith and commitment to His cause far beyond where they were when they first began to follow Jesus.
And while that is also the charge of His local churches in which you and I worship our Creator God, our personal missions and purposes are different; at least in the beginning stages of our faith journey.
Do you remember Jesus’ first direction to the men He was selecting to become His disciples that would indeed one day begin the process of changing the world?
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.––Matthew 4:18-22
In offering you the advice of “you can’t do what you don’t know” and “you can’t sell what you haven’t bought,” I conclude Jesus’ first earthly mission was actually to make disciples of the men He chose before they could in turn go out and make disciples of others. In other words, when the 11 men were effectively maturing disciples from having followed Jesus for more than three years, He stated they were now ready to begin influencing others in their discipling pathways.
So no, it isn’t the right mission for our local church men in that Jesus’ command to the disciples was for them first to become disciples to eventually be able to make disciples of others.
Jesus didn’t say we had to begin day one of our journey by making disciples of the people God put into our everyday lives; rather He said to follow him first and in doing so He would prepare us to influence other people to be more like the Christ. That’s a huge difference and one that we can handle if we begin to change to become His disciples before we seek to change others.
To become Jesus’ disciples in our local church communities, we first need to discern our personal purpose and mission. What is God’s plan for our role as kingdom builders and servers where he has us planted right now?
Becoming disciples ourselves will often be the hardest part of our faith journey. On the surface of our daily struggles, this can be a very daunting challenge for us to achieve in our pursuit of becoming like the Christ.
We are living in a global society where the influencing distances between all of us is shrinking as we seek to influence each other more readily with our ideologies, beliefs, and actions. With the breadth of communication resources and vehicles available for the 88 percent of U.S. residents owning a mobile information sharing device, it is no wonder that we can be overwhelmed with the vast array of ways to make something out of someone else. How many emails will it take? How many tweets? How many Instagrams?
Add to that the fact that we are not always sure how well we are doing at living each day as a practicing, growing disciple of Jesus Christ ourselves and things can really get confusing.
This challenge of finding out what our personal missions are as part of God’s kingdom will be better served through transformational discipling relationships with other men who share this common bond of desiring to become more like Christ. This can be an outcome of the community of our local churches.
In summary, as we start planning for 2017, our ministry through men should be more tuned to supporting men in their first becoming disciples themselves to one day being able to make disciples of others.
A church full of men becoming disciples of Jesus Christ themselves will certainly be capable of making disciples of others.
I would bet on that outcome.
Merry Christmas and may 2017 be a discipling year for you and your loved ones.
Jim Boesch, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
Enter the national contest
Now is the time to enter the second annual national contest for the most outstanding local church, district and conference ministries to men.
Wall plaques will be presented to the top five local-church ministries, the top district and the top annual conference. The top local church will receive a trophy and a wall plaque.
The deadline for entries is Feb. 1, 2017.
There is no cost to enter and there is no form to fill out. The only requirement is your group must be currently chartered (email Joe at email@example.com to confirm your status).
Simply describe the ministries, the number of people involved, the amount of money raised and to whom it was contributed, along with ways in which the ministries have made a difference in the church and community. Do not confine your report to the activities of the small group of men who engage in Bible study. The ministries encompass all the activities of men in your church, district or annual conference.
E-mail information and photos to RPeck@gcumm.org.
Entries will be judged by a panel composed of conference and jurisdictional presidents of UM Men selected by Dan Ramsey, former president of the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP).
Winning entries will be announced at the March NACP meeting in Nashville. Winning ministries will be advised in advance of the meeting so representatives may plan to personally receive the awards. Plaques and trophy may also be presented during annual conference sessions.
Make sure that your church’s UMM charter is recertified for 2016 and 2017. Check with your local treasurer or church secretary to ensure your church is still connected with GCUMM. If you are unsure whether or not your church has recertified, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To recertify online, click here.