From your partners in men’s ministry ––
A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff
to leaders of United Methodist Men
June 15, 2012
A future with hope-
By Gil Hanke
Let me begin with a confession––one that I am not proud to make. I accepted this job in obedience to a call. I did not fret the details because I knew that this move was what God had planned for me. But I must confess that for the last two-plus years, I have been nervous about May 5, 2012; the day after General Conference.
In this position there are many things that I can control or manage, but there are many I can’t. How General Conference would deal with the General Commission on UM Men (GCUMM) and with the current set of general secretaries hung over me like the dark cloud in a cartoon.
At one level I trusted that God did not bring me to this point to hang me out to dry, and that this ministry really does make disciples of Jesus Christ. But there was, at best, uncertainty.
When it was over I felt like God was telling me, “Didn’t I tell you this would be all right? What were you worried about?”
I am filled with hope and with new energy. That cloud is gone, and I think the future of men’s ministry is very bright. What are the signs? Here are a few.
• At the end of General Conference, the Council of Bishops made new assignments to the GCUMM Board. Bishop James Swanson, a great leader within this denomination will serve in a leadership role in the commission for the next four years. I have already met with him and, as he said, “This is a natural fit.”
• Every week I spend about an hour with our four deployed staff members. It is one of my favorite hours of the week. These guys are remarkable, sold out servants waiting to be used by the church. They inspire me, motivate me and hold me accountable.
• In the last two years there has been a steady increase in cooperation between agencies and new partnerships that reach deep into the annual conferences. Since May 5, plans are underway for additional work together.
• Since May 5 there has been some strong validation of the ministries that we hold within the commission, matched with a strong desire to see the Kingdom prosper through collaboration.
• Phone calls and emails indicate growing interest in groups of men doing ministry weekly and growing in Christ daily––more than just a monthly breakfast with an optional prayer.
• A strong interest within central conferences to share their ministry through, to, with and for men.
• Validation from lay leaders, pastors and bishops that we are going in the right direction.
• An increasing number of men who are serving as scouting ministry or men’s ministry specialists.
There were many tasks that were slowed, until we got through General Conference. With that burden lifted and sparked by the clear support within the church, the pace of our ministries will increase and the fruit will be even more obvious. What can I do to get you excited and hopeful?
It is with mixed feelings that I tell you of a change in our staff. Ann Waller, who has been the voice you hear when you call the office, the person who supplies you with all your requests, and is the one who keeps charter and EMS records up to date will retire this summer. She has an opportunity to live with her daughter as she studies in Europe. Words cannot thank her enough for her work done in the most loving manner. Although we are excited for her in this new and delightful opportunity, she will be greatly missed.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
Life in the second half
By John Dowell
When discussing men's ministry in the UMC, conversations often turn to "how do we get younger men involved?" "How can we draw them into our fellowships?" Knowing the average age in the UMC is inching above 56 years (probably older in units of UM Men), how can we relate to younger men?
In many of our churches (especially larger ones) older and younger groups attend separate worship services. Some churches have a contemporary service for younger families and a traditional service for older members. While this isn’t always true, it is an indication that we have unintentionally created an age division within congregations. It is also sadly true that too many churches have few young families attending any Sunday service.
A number of years ago someone thought he had it all figured out. He predicted the last United Methodist will die in a certain month in a certain year.
I do not believe this will happen.
When I was young boy going to Sunday school and church, mostly older people attended. As a teenager, it was the same; there were mostly older people in attendance.
When I visited church as a young adult with a family, mostly older people gathered for worship.
Now that I am older–––you guessed it––mostly older people attend worship services.
I believe this cycle will continue. The church is now and in the future will be populated by older people.
Maybe we just don’t have an answer to how to attract younger men.
At my present age, I have little––if anything––in common with a 18 to 30-year-old man, other than we both love Jesus. Young people want to hang out with people their own age.
Maybe we should turn our attention to men with whom we can relate––those who share our interests and our values––men who are in the second half of their lives.
Please, before you turn on me. I know there will be those who believe I'm suggesting the death of our beloved ministry.
Hear me out.
We should let younger men do their own thing under the large umbrella of UM Men ministries. When they become 35 to 50 years of age, they may feel comfortable moving into a UM Men fellowship.
We are not doing a very good job of reaching a huge group of men who are above 50 years of age. How many hundreds of thousands of older men do not know Jesus? The answer is obvious. Our work is cut out for us.
Let me give you two examples:
Abe Brown was an African American high school football coach who won the Florida State Football Championship in the 1960s. After integration, he became dean of boys at a major high school in Tampa, and when he retired he founded one of the most productive prison ministries in Florida.
After retiring as coach of the Indianapolis Colt NFL football team, Tony Dungy associated himself with Abe's ministry and is actively involved today.
An outstanding retreat speaker, Abe died in 2011. When he preached at our retreats, he compared football to life. He said the game of football is won in the second half. The game of life is the same, no matter how you may have lived the first half of your life, it is won or lost in the second half. Scriptures are filled with lives changed and victories won in the second half.
The second example comes from Finishing Strong, a book in which Steve Farrar hammers away at the importance of finishing strong in our lives, He calls us to be sure that in our second half we are well grounded the love of Jesus Christ and our love for others. Time and again he gives examples of men who started fast out of the box in their Christian life, only to fade in the second half, along with examples of men who finished strong.
Many second-half men need Jesus. The Lord has given us the opportunity to invite them to "come and see what the Lord can for you.”
Men, we can do this and if we do, it will change our ministry. It will change the makeup of our churches and the Kingdom of God will be blessed forever.
John Dowell, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men
By Larry Coppock
The impetus for the creation of the Boy Scouts of America came from a casual incident that occurred in 1909. William D. Boyce, a Chicago publisher, lost his way in a dense London fog. A boy came to his aid and––after guiding the man––refused a tip. The boy explained that as a Scout he would not take a tip for doing a good turn. This gesture by an unknown Scout inspired a meeting with Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the British founder of the Boy Scouts. As a result, William Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.
It's amazing to me how mundane acts can facilitate great undertakings. Although much planning and organization surely had to follow, Mr. Boyce was so impressed by the selflessness of the Scout that his initiative transformed what was then a regionally-based program for boys into what would become a world-wide scouting movement. Think of the countless good turns that have resulted from a chance encounter in a London fog.
Jesus had many chance encounters of the non-miracle variety; these less-significant, less-publicized events may be termed as the good turns of His day. However, collectively His life, His teachings and His deeds sparked a movement that today we know as Christianity.
The small and seemingly less significant undertakings on our part may have untold repercussions through the Holy Spirit.
Let's ensure that events like the one that happened to William Boyce in the London fog are not only good turns but acts done with a spirit endowed in us by our Creator.
While some of the greater outcomes may never be known to us, they will not go unnoticed by Christ. Paul reminds us: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13):
Larry W. Coppock, director of Scouting Ministries
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Calling out the Godly men
By Mark Lubbock
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV -
At the end of our noon businessmen’s Bible study, two of my buddies joined me in a coffee shop for a post-study conversation. During these uplifting exchanges we talk of our life and encourage one another. Before leaving we end with prayer. After we finished praying, I happened to look up and saw a table of ladies nearby staring at us with huge smiles on their faces. Our prayer in a public venue seemed to greatly please them.
Thinking about their response caused me to reflect back in my life to instances where I’ve seen prayer outside of church. These days I see it quite often, but to be fair I spend a lot of time in Christian company.
Digging back to my childhood though, I cannot recall ever having had a single encounter with a Godly man. No one stands out in my recollection as a man who lived for Jesus Christ. I neither saw nor heard of any of my friend’s fathers praying for their family or reading from the Bible. To take it a bit further, the examples of manhood that I witnessed suggested that real men do not read the Bible nor do they pray. Instead they . . . well, you can fill in the blank.
What example do the children see in your community? Among your crowd, are there a few men who live as a disciple of Jesus both at home and work? To get real personal, when they think of you, do you believe they envision you as a praying man?
I’ve learned that in order to live out the Christian lifestyle in all areas of my life I need help. So, I got together with a couple of my buddies and asked them to join me in a quest to become a true disciple of Jesus. We banded together as brothers and plugged into various studies, formed our own weekly small group, and participated in local and regional men’s activities. Before long we were seeing results. We were becoming transformed.
If you are ready to step up your game or want help for your group or church you will be pleased to know that we are ready for you. The General Commission on UM Men is a rich resource for you personally, and for your church and your group. Contact the commission to get started today.
My challenge to you: “Find a partner and make a mutual commitment to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
More of ‘Lead Like Jesus’ in 2012
By Jim Boesch
This month we will review the third leadership domain, the Hands – methods and behaviors of a leader.
The four domains of servant leadership:
“The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor”
Leading like Jesus is about more than just theory; it’s about doing. It’s about changing the way you lead others. It also means making a commitment to change your behavior first to be more like Jesus. It means starting to ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” before you assume the role of a leader.
The transformation that must occur in order for people to truly see their lives and leadership differently cannot effectively take place without first developing a relationship with Jesus. When you start to journey with Him, He will call in a consistent voice for you to shed your self-serving habits and begin to do as He would do.
Another factor that contributes to creating a sustainable transformation is having a significant role model to lead the way. If people around you have set aside their own self-centered ways to model the role of a God-centered servant leader often enough, the servant leader’s behaviors begin to rub off on others.
The servant leader as a performance coach
A key activity of a servant leader is to act as a performance coach. When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, he pledged to fully support and guide them as they developed into “fishers of men.” This is the duty of the servant leader––to invest his life into the lives of those who follow.
Through the act of empowerment, a performance coach changes his leadership style according to the development of his followers, both individually and as a group. As a role model, Jesus used His hands (effective leader behavior) to transmit to His disciples what was in His heart and head about servant leadership.
A performance coach supports and influences the development of his followers through the three components of performance planning (goal setting), day-to-day- performance coaching and performance evaluation over time.
These three functions will help the servant leader accomplish the transition of his followers by being personally committed to accomplishing goals through the growth and development of those who follow.
By guiding His disciples through the four normal stages of learning a new task––from novice to apprentice to journeyman and finally master/teacher, Jesus brought his disciples on a journey from dependence to independence.
The key to achieving lasting transformation in this servant leader role of developing followers to become the best they can be is to correctly match leadership style and behaviors to the developmental level of the follower.
When a follower is in the novice stage of development, the leader must exhibit instructing leadership behavior to help the follower advance to the next developmental stage of apprentice. At this stage, the leader should use coaching behaviors to fit the needs of the follower at his current level of skill and commitment. The journeyman needs mentoring and master needs only commissioning.
To create optimal effectiveness in this leader-follower partnership, certain things must take place. Both leader and follower must:
- Understand the learner stages and the follower needs at each stage.
- Agree on goals and objectives for the follower.
- Determine together what the follower needs at each stage for each goal and how the leader will provide it.
- Be aware of when the follower is shifting from one learning stage to another and what that means to their relationship.
In summary, the role of the servant leader is the same throughout this learning transformation process––to provide what the learner needs to advance to the next stage of his personal growth and development.
Next month we will discuss the Habits of a servant leader.
It is for His glory that we serve,
Jim Boesch, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
By Mark Dehority
I am returning home from an engagement in Port Huron Michigan, I want to avoid the Chicago traffic and decided to take a road less traveled. Just east of Chicago, I cut south on Route 49 through Valparaiso, Ind.
It is midmorning on a late spring day. It is overcast and raining off and on. Everything is green and fresh, as I cruise across the Northern Indiana Prairie. I turn on route 10 and pass the small village of Wheatfield, four streets wide east to west. I am enjoying the drive across route 10 and then I encounter a warning sign. It is warning me about a church ahead. 400 yards up the road I pass the Shiloh Assembly of God Church. A beautiful little country church like thousands scattered across the Prairie. The sign out front welcomes me to a special Mother’s Day service and a special speaker.
I kind of laugh to myself and muse; I'll bet this church really blocks the traffic. It has to be a real danger. As I continue my drive across route 10, I just can't stop thinking about this little church.
It occurs to me that a little church like this may needed a warning sign for a lot of reasons. Many people try to warn us about these churches. The evil one must be joyful when he hears warnings about church. I have heard them, at times in my life, maybe even said them to myself and to others.
- Don’t go there, they’re all hypocrites.
- Don't go there, they're all sinners.
- Don't go there, you're not dressed nice enough.
- Don't go there, you won't fit the click.
- Don't go there, they will not accept you.
- No good can come from going in that building.
- The world gives you everything you need.
- You can take care of yourself, you’re smart enough.
- They just want your money, and your time, and your soul.
Wow! There are tons of reasons not to go in there. It must be a scary place. It sure doesn’t agree with my life. I am ok the way I am. But, that is God’s house and His congregation. Sometimes, some of the things I mentioned above can be true, but they miss the point.
Like most little congregations it is a probably a struggling group of God’ people; trying to figure out His plan for them. Trying to make this little piece of prairie part of His Kingdom. God bless the people of the Shiloh Assembly of God Church. It probably bears saying that I don’t know anyone at this church. But, I do know many little churches and my speculations come from those experiences.
So, watch out for the warning signs on the road and in your heart. They may dissuade you from a life of joy.
Jesus Christ has a world of peace and well-being for you. God has a plan for you to prosper. God is inviting you. Jesus Christ is inviting you. Look past the warning signs. Look past the evil one. Look past the world.
Look past all of the warning signs and come in; it can be great in His little Church.
General Commission on United Methodist Men