From your partners in men’s ministry
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
December 15, 2015
Blessings––What memory will you make happen?
By Bishop James Swanson Sr.
It must have been the Christmas Pageant of 1960 at James D. Burress Elementary School when I was chosen to be one of the shepherds for that pageant. The school choir would be singing a Christmas carol “O Holy Night” and when they began to sing the verse “Fall on your knees, O hear the angels voices…” I, and my two other shepherd friends, were to fall on our knees and cover our faces. (I still love that carol) It was the highlight of my elementary school years and I still get goose bumps thinking about that scene. I don’t know if that Christmas pageant had the same impact on my friends that it had on me but I will never forget it. I even wonder while I’m writing this “What happened to those guys?” Did they stay with or were they ever a part of the Church?
Statistics as far back as 1985 said that for every four boys who attend church we lose three by the time they reach the age of 18. If that statistic is correct then I wonder what caused me to stay rather than what caused the other three to leave. I would rather spend my time examining what are the positive elements we can begin to create and implant in boys lives to provide them with positive influences that might help them stay with Christ and the Church rather to choose to leave. I also believe if we can help congregations, faith communities and churches create these environments we can create disciples that will live those principles out in their lives that will affect the young lives they come into contact with outside the church.
I was blessed to be a part of two congregations between birth and 30. And I’ve never thought about it until now in this way, but both Green Chapel and Duncan Memorial Churches were blessings to me.
I went to church because I enjoyed being there. The people created an atmosphere that made me want to be there every Sunday and even during the in-between times.
According to a recent study by Lifeway Research, attending church on a consistent basis was one of the greatest indicators of whether or not young people would continue to be a part of a worshipping community throughout their lives. Well that was a part of my experience. And although my mom did expect me to attend church, she never compelled me to participate in the “extracurricular” activities of church life. Yet, I gravitated in that direction. I was also blessed with men who took time to speak to me, instruct me, congratulate me, encourage me and even let me cry on their shoulders when my mom died.
There was an expectation in that small church that I was to be an example of what it meant to be a “saint.” I assure you that I never lived up to that expectation, but I didn’t go out of my way to be a bad example. I was given the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes and to give leadership in my church among the youth and the adults.
Look around, especially this Advent Season, and see “What Memory You Will Make Happen?” for a boy or girl in your church or community in need of your attention and encouragement. Create a space for them to see God in you, so they will “fall on their knees and hear the angel voices” in you.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
The best of . . .
By Gil Hanke
As we finish out 2015, we will read or hear lists from the media: “The Best of (fill in the blank) for 2015.”
I know what has been the best for me in my work with GCUMM for this year, and that has been starting, and helping others to start, small weekly groups with men, using the format outlined in Kevin Watson’s book, The Class Meeting.
These meetings are done electronically, usually for an hour every week, and groups ask the same types of questions that Wesley asked. These groups were and now are really the core of disciple making. Members of the group can see each other on a laptop, tablet or smart phone, and even with groups where no one knew any of the other members, it works very well. The one I started with six strangers last year at this time is still going strong.
Which brings me to the “Best of 2016” and beyond. Beginning in January, we will have multiple webinars which you don’t want to miss. I will be doing an introduction to “The Class Meeting Model,” and will walk you through the process of getting that started in your local church. For those who want to try it before they set one up, that will be available as well.
In addition, there will be other webinars on scouting, and other aspects of men’s ministry. One will introduce you to what it means to be a men’s ministry specialist; another will outline ways you can learn about your spiritual gifts as you consider the question “What is God’s call on my life?” A webinar will focus on training to lead men’s ministry programs in local churches, districts and conferences. A February webinar will be on “Tool Belts United,” a local mission project in Florida that helps “make-over” the buildings of small-membership churches.
Each of these webinars will be an hour, and most will be recorded. All are free. Each one will have a follow up with each participant to offer assistance in implementing what you learned.
So, what is the point of all this? Simple, as the GCUMM we have two main points of focus. One is mentoring youth through established scouting and youth serving entities like BSA, GSA, Camp Fire, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. The other is bringing men into an on-growing relationship with Jesus Christ through proven discipleship experiences. That is what we do. So get onboard and allow us to help your local congregation reach all the men of your church and community. Let us help you serve the youth of your church and community.
Let’s joyfully embrace to opportunities of discipleship in 2016!
Start planning now for our 12th National Gathering which will be in Nashville, July 7-8, 2017.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men
By Dan Ramsey
“Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will succeed.”
During this Advent season, I look back over the past four years as your NACP president and I think about the millions of lives that have been changed from the inside out by this ministry.
I will never forget the lives you supported by giving Strength for Service to God and Community devotional books to firemen and police officers. I can assure you that you made them feel wanted and supported.
I can imagine the faces of small ones who were able to take meals home after you bagged rice and beans at the NACP meeting.
Young people may never know of your financial support, but they will never forget their experiences in scouting.
I also think of thousands of hungry people who have been fed and the lives that have been changed by the Lord through your support of the Society of St. Andrew.
All across the country and the world you became involved in ministries that made a difference. Even the close times you spent with a friend or loved when they were hurting, you lent the ear or held their hand.
Your gifts have blessed many––even people you don’t know.
Thank you for stepping up to the plate and going on offense to move forward in God’s game plan.
“It’s all about the offense.”
I hope everything you do is done because of your commitment to the Lord.
Sharing Christ with everyone you meet is what the Lord calls us to do. If you are strongly committed to placing your works to the Lord, you will be successful.
This is my last Advent article as your NACP president. I believe we have made the difference in many of local, district and conference units of UMM over the past few years. We will always remember to let them know how God is our strength and by his grace we all can work for his good in our communities and around the world.
Remember, “Great is thy faithfulness!”
Nancy and I send all our love to you and your families as we come to the end of 2016. I appreciate each of you, even if I have not met you. I know that we will all celebrate together when we are called home. I look forward to that great day.
Keep up the good fight and look forward to the day you hear these words. “Well done thy good and faithful servant”!
“Because He lives!!!”
Dan Ramsey, president
National Association of Conference Presidents
Scout Sunday, 2016
By Larry Coppock
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
This time of year I try to remind all of our church leaders about the importance of recognizing children, youth and adult leaders who contribute valuable time to so many projects that benefit local churches.
While these projects and good deeds occur throughout the year one of the best times for recognition is Scout Sunday (Feb. 14). Scout Sunday can be a memorable day for Scouts meeting in packs, troops and groups (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, Big Brother Big Sisters) sponsored by your church.
Before outlining some of the awards to consider let’s take a look at how we did in 2015.
Scouting by the numbers
- 21 Scout leaders trained at Philmont Training Course
- 24 Bishop’s Awards of Excellence
- 75 Good Samaritan Awards
- 224 Cross and Flame Awards
- 303 Scouting Ministry Specialists
- 5,716 PRAY awards given through UM churches
- 6, 500 Churches with scouting units
- 10,503 Scouting units in UM churches
- 20,000 New Testaments with Psalms given to Scouts at high adventure centers
- 331,000 Youth served by scouting units in UM churches
Pastors who have been working with young people may use Scout Sunday to present Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.) awards. Also, the Scout leader, children or youth director may nominate Scouts or UM youth for the Good Samaritan Award. This includes anyone between the ages of 6-30 who demonstrates the attributes of the Good Samaritan described in Luke 10:25–37. Eagle Scouts (service projects) are prime candidates.
Pastors may also use Scout Sunday to honor adults who lead the scouting program. Adults may receive the Cross and Flame Award. The Shepherd Church Award was established to recognize churches for utilizing scouting as a ministry.
Remember to invite those families that come into your building once a week for scouting activities: Surveys show that 50 percent of youth and families who visit local churches through scouting come from un-churched families, which represents a significant evangelistic opportunity.
As noted in Proverbs, let’s not hold back from others what is due them when it is within our power…
Share your Scouting Ministry Sunday stories with us. Please send us a brief article and action photo for potential publication in Scouting News.
For more information about scouting ministries, please visit our web site: www.gcumm.org.
Larry W. Coppock
National director of Scouting Ministries and director
General Commission on United Methodist Men
We can help people experience Jesus’ Church this Christmas
By Jim Boesch
If, as we celebrate the coming of the Christ Child, we begin with the end in mind we can provide a reflection of Jesus’ Church to all who come to worship with us this holy season.
“Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”
Our choice is simple: As we gather in worship with others this Christmas, we all have a role in influencing whose church they will experience; will it be ours or Jesus’?
When strangers enter our doors, will they see a church selfishly serving our purposes, through our agenda, in our time schedule and for our benefit?
Or will they see the selfless church Jesus built which serves all according to His plans, in His time and for the ultimate glory of our Creating Father?
“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Will people see a church we have morphed into a comfortable community that separates Sundays from the struggles that plague us the rest of the week?
Or will they see the church Jesus birthed? ––a church that challenges us to bring our daily lives to the foot of His cross and to acknowledge the spirituality of all of life.
As others enter our homes and churches, will they see only those who think, look, and act as we do?
Or will they be blessed in being in Jesus’ Church where all of God’s people are welcome, a community that shows diversity can create unity and not division.
“In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”
As seeking people enter our churches will they find a seemingly private gathering?
Or will they sense this must be Jesus’ church as they are welcomed, loved on and given grace and opportunity to be a valued part of a greater whole.
“The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as all believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.”
To those who enter our church this Christmas season, will they experience a community with a stubborn unwillingness to change?
Or will they sense they are in Jesus’ church where transformational change is not merely sought but is in fact the discipling DNA which courses through its very veins?
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”
Finally, for those seekers or “Chr-Easters” who will again cross our thresholds this Christmas, will they feel the smallness of our church’s often fearful mission of preparing ourselves to just survive each week in today’s world?
Or will they joyfully enter Jesus’ church where His mission will always be to know Him, to trust His way and abide in His love in preparation for us to live for eternity with Him in His Kingdom.
I pray your influencing choice will be one of kingdom-building for His glory and my hope is this will be a very, merry Christmas season for you and all those God puts in your path.
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.
Onward Christian soldiers
By Mark Dehority
Zealots and extremists are on the news and in our conversations. What can I do from central Illinois to combat this?
God is busy calling a group of Christian soldiers who are about to change the world. The UMC has in its midst thousands of men who are called to build the kingdom.
You may be one of them
It is not hard to find a conversation about the woes of the organized church, decline and decay, no young people, yada, yada, yada. But, there are some great things happening. Men's ministry is awakening throughout the country. In most mainline churches and many ecumenical groups God is stirring men’s ministry.
With all that’s happening the UMC is richly challenged. For the last decades a structure to equip and send out these men has been in the works. The General Commission on United Methodist Men is a small organization with six full-time and three part-time staff. It is aligned with the United Methodist Men's National Association of Conference Presidents.
Together we have grown and waned and wandered, but still connected many men to this work. The commission is connecting and sending out more than 60 certified men’s ministry specialist and candidates. Together we are connected with almost 300 conference and district presidents. We are connected with more than 4,000 local men’s presidents.
“Give me one hundred men . . .”
John Wesley had a vision. He said, “Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergyman or layman, they alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon the earth.”
God has called up thousands of men to this task. I believe he created the structure within the UMC for us to connect, equip and send these men out. We have a vast array of tools and resources to accomplish this mission, probably more than any other group in history.
In order to accomplish this, we need to disciple each man individually. We also need to strengthen our connection so we can reach out to each of these men. As we equip them to disciple others the world will change.
Scripture tells us God has a plan for each of us. I believe he has a plan for this group. These are big plans because they come from a big God. Each one of these thousands of men has the ability to reach many men. Each of them has the ability to create stronger families, godly leaders and a ministry that is building His kingdom. This means changing the hearts of men, one by one. With every man who decides to let Christ guide his life, the gates of hell are shaken and the kingdom of heaven is built on the earth. This is the valid way to defeat the devil’s plans.
Now back to "you may be one of them.” The men I know struggle sometimes with; who, when, and where. They don’t struggle with why and what. God has put this ministry on their hearts and they can’t let it go.
If God is placing this ministry on your heart, pray and pray and pray and then call and get connected with GCUMM. The harvest is plentiful and we need you as a brother in Christ.
Mark Dehority, deployed staff member and certified men’s ministry specialist
General Commission on United Methodist 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, 2016.
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, president of the National Association of Conference Presidents (NACP).
Winning entries will be announced at the March 3-6, 2016, 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.
Local church, district and conference winners will be featured in the summer 2016 issue of UM Men magazine.