June 15, 2011
From your partners in men´s ministry A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff to leaders of United Methodist Men
Victory in Jesus
By Bishop James R. King, Jr.
Every morning I pray for God’s kingdom to fill me, every person and every nation.
Men of God, I truly believe that is the will of God for us to grow in faith as disciple of Jesus Christ that the world may be transformed.
As people of faith, we look forward with hope and excitement as we are being propelled into a wonderful future knowing firsthand how much God loves us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God is good and merciful and those who receive God’s love have started their faith walk. Immediately the person of faith enters a war zone where the spiritual life is challenged by the ways of the world.
I find it interesting that as soon as Jesus starts his ministry on earth, following his baptism, he was tested by Satan. As we seek to do the work of God with joy and thanksgiving in our hearts, the ways of the world shout back with a loud voice, "We will not give up our ways;" thus begins the spiritual battle.
The Bible teaches us that after Jesus had risen, he met with the disciples and said:
Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.
Jesus reminds us today — just as he did the first disciples — that we need the Holy Spirit to guide us, comfort us and give us strength for growing the kingdom of God (a Christ-like world) because it will not be easy.
A well-known author said, "The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and of these more than 80 percent are negative." Hurt and pain are pervasive in the world today. The church must recognize that if hurt and pain are not reconciled by God’s grace they will have a strong presence in the center of our Christian fellowships. What we are to accomplish as disciples of Jesus Christ cannot be done without the spirit of God empowering us.
The primary purpose of gathering as men of God is to highlight the importance of staying spiritually centered as disciples of Jesus Christ. For when we gather around the table or around a missional activity we will bear witness to the challenges of our faith as we point to our battle scars but also as we sing "Victory in Jesus."
Men of God, stay connected to God by practicing the spiritual disciplines of our faith. God’s will for us is good. We must do the rest.
James R. King, Jr., president
General Commission on UM Men
By Gil Hanke
As many of you know, I often sign my letters: "Striving to be His servant." Last month I gave you some figures that indicated growth in men’s ministry and scouting ministry. Yes, I am proud of you and your work to expand these vital ministries, but I also know we are called to do better. Wesley talked about "striving toward perfection;" today, those words are included in questions bishops ask of candidates for ordination.
Here are some ideas that might help your church reach more men and youth for Christ this summer.
- Pray daily for your pastor, for the leaders of your church, and for the folks in your community that don’t know Christ.
- Pray that God will make the path clear to you as to how to reach those outside a faith community.
- With the help, blessing and guidance of your pastor, YOU add at least one new way for men to grow in Christ this summer. That could be a men’s study, a video series, older men teaching younger men how to fly fish, help with a local mission project, a 4-week men’s Bible study or other small group experience.
- Organize men inside and outside your church to help build a Habitat House or set up a work day at your church camp or Scout camp.
- Provide lunch for a work team at a Habitat House or other local mission project.
- Partner with the youth of your area to glean a field and get that produce to the hungry.
- Persuade men of your church to assume some of the responsibilities for Vacation Bible School.
- Encourage men to sponsor an adult program during VBS and invite parents of VBS children to participate. Establish teams to visit neighborhoods around your church. Don’t ask to come inside, just introduce yourself and tell them you’re from the UMC up the street. Ask if you could pray for them; if they agree; pray and offer them a card with name and address of the church, worship times and any special event such as a VBS.
- Host a 4th of July community hotdog lunch at your church.
- If your church or a church in your district has a youth or adult mission team going somewhere this summer, help transport them to and from the airport. After their return, invite them to share their experiences at a community meal.
- Adam Hamilton has books and videos with great ideas about reaching un-churched or de-churched folks. Those resources could be a starting point for men to lead churches back into their communities. Check with your district or conference libraries as they may have those materials.
As the general secretary, I also have some requests on behalf of the GCUMM. Pray for us, as there are some things that may come up at General Conference that have some unintended consequences for us. Pray that we don’t get distracted by what might happen so we will continue to concentrate on the ministries at hand.
Yesterday, I was on a conference call with our new prison ministry partners. One of the leaders is a retired bishop who told me that he discovered that the men’s organization that was doing such great work in his local church was not chartered. He asked them why, and they basically said they had just forgotten. So, they passed the hat, wrote the check.
Please make sure your church is up to date on its charter for men’s ministry. If you are waiting to be asked, consider this a personal invitation. The Louisiana Conference has as a goal to charter every church in the state. Let’s begin with our own UMM and encourage others to follow.
If you have questions or additional ideas to share, please let me know.
You are loved.
Striving to be His servant,
Gilbert C. Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
A Scout's Reflection
By John Dowell
Several weeks ago, while driving to church, I began singing an old campfire song that was a favorite of my Boy Scout troop many years ago. Some 30 minutes later, as I pulled into the parking lot, I was able to recall the entire song.
Softly falls the light of day as our camp fire fades away, silently each Scout should ask, have I done my daily task? Have I kept my honor bright, can I get to sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared everything to be prepared?
Simple words, but they ask profound questions a growing boy needs to ask and answer.
First, the song tells us the day is over; night has come, and it’s almost time for bed. We are asked, "What have we done during that day? Has it been a positive experience?"
The camp fire is fading and it is time for reflection. Have we done our daily tasks? Have we been helpful to all we have met that day, expressing concern for the well being of others?
The next question asked is, "Have we kept our honor bright?" That includes honoring our mothers and fathers, all of our family, our friends, our uniform as a Scout and most important our God.
If we have accomplished the above, our conscience is clear and sleep comes easily.
Lastly we are asked, "Have we lived the Scout motto: 'To be prepared'?" Are we preparing to learn the lessons life throws at us? Are we able to confront the trials and not run from them?
I marvel at the powerful impact these simple words can have on the lives of teenage boys.
As I go through the fourth quarter of my life, I ask myself the same questions.
The campfire is fading, not for a day, but for my entire life.
During the past years I ask, "Have I done my daily task?" "Have I been a helpful person, reaching out to other people, especially those who do not have as much as me?" Jesus said it best — ". . . the least of these, my brethren."
Next I ask, "Over the years have I kept my honor bright?" In the branch of service I served, honor was paramount — pride in one self was important and I pray my life reflects this sense of honor to my family, my friends, my church and most important my God.
Then, does sleep come easily or does worry and guilt prevent it at times?
If I am truthful, the answer is, "Yes I’ve had a few sleepless nights."
Finally, I ask, "Have I met or run from the trials and pitfalls that life throws at me?"
Simple words that need to be answered by young and old. How we act on the questions throughout our lives makes all the difference — It has for me, and I am sure it will be the same for you.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
John Dowell, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
Scouting, an effective and underutilized evangelistic approach
By Larry Coppock
Scouting for Boys, one of the highest selling books of the 20th century, was written in 1908 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, a famous British general.
Baden-Powell is credited with founding the Scout movement by incorporating aspects of his military experiences along with a camping experiment in southern England. His vision for developing young boys into leaders with good citizenship and character traits has thrived for over 100 years.
After learning about the Scout movement while on a visit to England, prominent businessman William D. Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in 1910. The BSA just celebrated 100 years of service to youth.
Over 371,400 youth meet weekly in 11,300 units in 6,700 UM churches, approximately 20 percent of UM congregations.
Over 17 percent of youth in scouting experience church for the first time through membership in a Cub Scout pack or a Boy Scout troop.
Also, recent reports indicate that 43 percent of UM churches in the United States did not receive a member by profession of faith in 2010, and yet 50 percent of boys in Scout troops housed in UM churches are un-churched
In order for a church to take advantage of this well-kept evangelistic opportunity it must commit to two responsibilities:
1. Provide a meeting place in the church building.
2. Identify, select and approve adult leaders.
Church-sponsored units enjoy many benefits from the local BSA council including youth-protection training for its leaders; liability insurance; low cost accident insurance; access to camps and high adventure facilities, including rustic chapels; and basic and ongoing training for all registered adult leaders.
The presence of hundreds of un-churched youth meeting in UM churches offers an opportunity for congregations to minister to the needs of youth.
Pastors should help congregations view scouting as a way to serve their communities and method to introduce un-churched young people to Jesus Christ.
Let’s start with God’s holy word and prayerful discernment.
Larry Coppock, national director
Scouting Ministries and director, Strength for Service Publication Fund
General Commission on UM Men
'Rise up, O men of God'
By Mark Lubbock
On almost a weekly basis as I serve as the guest preacher in churches around the Louisiana Conference, I have the privilege of sharing evidence of positive changes in the church. Many such changes are initiated and led by the men.
The recent rash of natural disasters provides another great opportunity for the church. As the Mississippi River floods propagated south to Memphis, the local faith community took the lead in providing shelters and help. In fact, I heard the following in a National Public Radio interview:
It's interesting and refreshing in some respects to see the faith-based community coming together and taking the lead on their own, and there may be some things they can teach us, too.
Laura Howe, a Red Cross spokesperson
I believe God provides his care through the church. We have the ability to provide resources, volunteers and prayers to address needs of our communities.
As the tornados hit the South and Midwest, I saw men rise up to provide mission teams and relief support. Their actions show men will rally around a just cause and un-churched men will join them, when invited.
Are you looking for a way to inject new life into your men’s group? Prayerfully consider inviting the men in your community to determine how best to respond to the needs of communities that have suffered damage.
Here are some possibilities:
- With many destructive weather events this spring, and with the 2011 hurricane season looming, the UM Committee on Relief is facing its own historic challenge to raise sufficient funds in order to be present where needed, not only in the wake of storm or flood but over the long haul of recovery. Please give generously to 2011 US Spring Storms, UMCOR Emergency Advance #3021326.
- Assemble UMCOR cleaning kits.
- Connect with a conference or national Volunteers in Mission team.
- Your men will come up with creative ideas
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Effective meetings - Process vs. content
By Mark Dehority
This is the first in a series about effective meetings and your role leading them. It is about process vs. content. The process for the meeting is the structure. It comprises the steps the meeting is to go through to reach its desired outcomes. The content of the meeting is produced by the structure or process. If the process includes creating a list of agenda items for an upcoming conference, the items listed are content. In this case how you decide to compile the list is process. For the purposes of this article we will assume that we are charged with the creating a list of agenda items for an upcoming conference.
The leader of the meeting is charged with developing and controlling the process of the meeting. The leader should leave the content of the meeting to the participants. Effective leaders own the process and keep the heck out of the content.
The following are some "process" steps for a meeting with explanations, examples and a definition of the "content."
Process Step #1: Meeting Outcome
Explanation: Clearly define the expected outcome of the meeting. What exactly do you want to accomplish? This needs to be very objective. Can you answer a simple yes or no to its completion?
Example for our meeting: "A list of agenda items for a conference."
Content: The items on the list.
Process Step #2: Choose Participants.
Explanation: Once the outcome is decided, we need to decide the best group to come up with the list. The basic purpose for having the meeting is because more than one person is needed to accomplish the task. If not, do it yourself and get on with your day. Include everyone needed to get the job done and no one else. Don't meet without the people you need. You must accomplish the outcome. If not, do not meet. Do not make anyone else attend. It is a waste of their time.
Example for our meeting: A complete list of the people required to establish the agenda for the conference.
Content: names on the list. In these first two example, you decide.
Process Step #3: Meeting Introductions
Explanation: Introduce the participants and meeting outcome.
Example for our meeting: Clearly explain why the participants are there, what the expected outcome of the meeting is and their part in accomplishing it. Introduce the participants. Bring the meeting to a prompt start. Clearly explain the outcome and agenda. Have the participants introduce themselves. You control the question. For example, "Tell us your name, where you are from and what you job is."
Content: their name, where they are from and their job.
We will continue this list in our next article.
Remember the point of this article is: The leader of the meeting is charged with developing and controlling the process of the meeting. The leading should leave the content of the meeting to the participants. Effective leaders own the process and keep the heck out of the content.
Mark Dehority, deployed staff
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Be encouraged! Stand firm! Keep fighting!
By Greg Arnold
It may be hard to see sometimes, but I want you to be very encouraged that men (both young and old) are waking up. God has richly blessed me with the opportunity to reach out and meet men from all walks of faith and all sides of life, and I must report that we're waking up.
Men are answering the call and the challenge to stand firm, to organize, and to press forward.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to offer any hard numbers that would reflect such a stirring. The lack of evidence can often cause us to doubt or perhaps move to skepticism, but take heart. We have hope.
And the hope we have is the evidence. Sound familiar? Men's ministry is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges our church faces, and it’s worth every penny of effort, sweat, and prayers—we need all of those from each of you.
The power of one man coming to Christ and living out his faith has implications that last for generations. Children follow their fathers, wives support their husbands, churches gain Godly leadership, and communities rally behind them. All of this we know. So why do we struggle so hard to keep the focus? Because it isn't easy — that's why. Don't give up; your work is making a difference.
My magazine, Live Bold (www.livebold.org) celebrates the daily grind of men who are trying to live their faith out on the front lines — at home, at work, at play. We write about building up ministry and one another. We encourage the fellowship of uniting in faith and worship.
We exist to help build men into God-fearing leaders.
We offer practical insight and speak of things that need to be discussed. Your prayers for this effort are needed!
Whether I'm speaking at events, browsing through comments and emails from readers, or speaking to pastors and leaders about building a strong men's ministry, the word continues to be –– keep fighting!
We're behind you! The community of faith is stirring and we can't afford to let off the gas.
What can you do? Encourage your peers to connect, to join the conversation, to prod one another along in the effort to build up one more man. If you can help one man find his seat at the table — make room — the whole family will follow. I'm no expert, but it seems like that will reverse a few declining church rosters. Wouldn't you agree?
Greg Arnold, deployed staff
General Commission on United Methodist Men