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, 2011
By Bishop James R. King
Hello, men of God,
During a presentation on the values of a disciple of Jesus Christ I shared an alarming statistic: Only 27 percent of men have a close male friend who knows and supports them.
As men, we have a particular chemical make-up that predisposes us to be the hunter––the protector. This gift of strength can work against us if we are not careful. I have a friend who often says, “The overuse of strength can become a weakness.”
God did not make us to stand alone.
When we try to go through life alone, we are setting ourselves up for a great lesson: “We need support.”
We need God first and foremost. Without God we can do nothing.
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.––Psalms 9:10
Jesus instructed his first disciples to wait and receive the Holy Spirit before going out into the world as witnesses for they will need support, direction, and confidence to meet the challenges that surface as they seek to do God’s holy will ( Acts 1: 4-5).
We also need one another. Christian fellowship is the mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
All who believed were together––Acts 2:44
Christian fellowship serves as a bridge that connects us to others. Without the bridge of fellowship, we will not have the necessary support and encouragement to fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
We were not made to live as islands unto ourselves but rather as children of God who are created for partnerships.
We need one another.
When you are involved in a fellowship group you have positioned yourself to please God and attain the goals attached to your dreams. There is an accountability component to true fellowship that enables you to stay the course when distractions come your way.
I encourage you to get in a fellowship as soon as possible.
Fellowship will serve as bridge that will connect you to others, and this will help you any many ways.
Think about the benefits: You will find a Christian fellowship group to be healing, encouraging, fun, and you will never have the feeling that you are alone.
Get on the bridge and be blessed.
James R. King, Jr., president
The General Commission on United Methodist Men
By Gil Hanke
This month I began an extensive travel schedule of meetings and conference retreats. I am not complaining; I knew that was part of the job when I accepted this wonderful position.
These travels have taken me to places were the economic downturn has hit very hard. Men I meet are out of work, or––as one of my friends put it––“unexpectedly retired.” But these men know who holds them; their future is clear.
At one event, a gentleman was only able to come to the first night; he was working the next day “mucking out” a house in another part of the state. Many men in that community were “out of work,” but they were working hard to repair flooded homes in that part of the country. Men in other regions were rebuilding burned-out houses.
Some men left retreats early to be part of the “sandwich generation”––caring for a child for part of the day, and caring for an elderly parent part of the day.
In every case, these men were unsure what would unfold the following month, but they were absolutely sure of God’s love for them. They were obedient and honest.
I have also been with men who have been let down by others.
Men had agreed to help them with a project, come to an event, or they promised to stand in the gap, but they did not. These were men whose “Yes” was “No.”
These were not bad folks; they didn’t mean to let others down, but they just couldn’t admit that circumstances would prevent them from doing what they had promised. Rather than ask for help, for prayer, or for a hand, they agreed to something they know in their heart would not happen.
Maybe we have reached a time when we really can’t say, “Yes.”
We need the courage to say, “Help me” or “Sit with me,” or “I think I need to share something with you.”
At retreats and meetings, there are always men who need to talk and equal numbers of men who are good at listening.
Being obedient includes being honest with folks who really care about you. With all the text messaging and e-mail, an honest request for some personal assistance may be the best practice in communication. We are blessed to have men and women whose obedience to God’s call is to listen and love us.
As I think you know, I get to be in several small groups each week with men who are honest and hold me accountable. These men have a dynamic impact on my life. Not only do these guys have my back, they keep me on track. Through them, I see the light of Christ which guides my way.
One last thing –– In August and September I did a webinar on “Men in Mission that Make a Difference.” At the end of the training sessions I asked folks to write an inspiring mission story from their experience on any mission project. I have not been overwhelmed with articles. So I open it up to you. E-mail me 1,000 words or so that would start a conversation or be a moving devotional. Include pictures if you can. I think it will make a great devotional book and add to our website.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
By John Dowell
Few topics will conjure less enthusiasm than a discussion of the UM Men charter. However, please bear with me as we approach this vital subject from a different perspective.
When local churches are asked to charter, the question frequently arises, "What do we get out of it?”
Our answers are mundane: “You get the UM Men news magazine, a certificate, membership cards, a program book, and support material.”
While this is true, it is not the primary reason to charter. The motivation lies not in the amount of "stuff" we receive, but rather what the charter provides. Let me illustrate:
If you do not have a passion for feeding the hungry in our country, then do not charter, because UM Men and the Society of St Andrew work together to end hunger in America.
The same goes for feeding the hungry in Third World countries. Stop Hunger Now, a ministry in which we participate, helps end this scourge throughout the world.
If you do not care about little children being able to hear clearly, then don't charter. The commission supports Hope for Hearing, a ministry in Haiti led by General Secretary Gil Hanke. Children's hearing is checked, ear canals are measured and hearing aids are distributed on the next mission trip. This is often the first time children experience sound. If this doesn't tug at your heart, then by all means don't charter.
If you have been a Scout or your children and grandchildren are Scouts, but this is of no interest to you, then don't charter. In the late 1970s the General Board of Discipleship decided they would drop scouting. UM Men, who at the time were under the umbrella of the board, said, “No––scouting is too important not to be part of the UMC.” We took over the responsibility for the ministry that now includes Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Camp Fire USA, 4-H, and Big Brothers - Big Sisters of America. UM Men are proud to be part of the lives of these young people.
In the last 10 years the UM Men have given over 450,000 Strength for Service to God and Country devotional books to the U.S. military, fire fighters, police. Testimony after testimony tells how this little book has given comfort to men and woman who have faced the trials of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. If this doesn't touch you, then do not charter.
A new ministry coming on board with the commission is Disciple Bible Outreach Ministry. Its purpose is to take the blessing of the 34-week study into prisons throughout the nation. Over 70 prisons in North Carolina have engaged in this ministry. Four other conferences are coming on line. God's Word is reaching inmates in a thousand U.S. prisons. Imagine what a change this can make in the lives of those who are incarcerated and especially when they return to their home communities. If you do not believe this will have profound impact, then don't charter.
I frankly do not see how we, as Christian men, would not want to be part of all of these ministries.
Chartering is a first step in saying, "You can count on me!"
If we–– as men in the local church––choose not to charter our unit at a cost of $85 a year, then it is possible some of these ministries may not continue.
We are the only commission in the UMC that provides 78 percent of its own budget. That means, only 22 percent comes from apportionment monies.
We must rise to the point that the commission becomes totally self-sufficient.
We can do this.
The charter is the vehicle and success lies in our hands!
John Dowell, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men
By Larry Coppock
My wife, a pastor, frequently asks me how the sermon went the afternoon or evening of the Sunday she preaches. My answer is always a resounding, “Good!”
Some sermons just grab my attention. A few weeks ago was one of those days. She referred to a chapter in the Abingdon book When the World Takes the Wind out of Your Sails, by James Moore.
I don't normally comment on social issues as they directly or indirectly relate to the church but facts in the book compel me to comment.
In chapter eight, Moore cites a California Department of Education study comparing the top seven discipline problems in public schools in the 1940s with the top twelve of present day.
Top seven discipline problems in1940:
1. Talking in class
2. Chewing gum
3. Making noise
4. Running in the halls
5. Getting out of turn in line
6. Wearing improper clothing
7. Not putting paper in waste baskets
Top twelve discipline problems today:
1. Drug and alcohol abuse
5. Robbery, assault with deadly weapons, and burglary
6. Arson or bombings
10. Gang warfare
12. Venereal disease
What can we, as Christians, do to counteract these astonishing environmental shackles that handcuff our youth and dramatically impact their social, intellectual and spiritual building blocks?
It's time to do more to address the political correctness that pervades our consciousness when it comes to “separation issues” as they relate to the church and its parish. We should be exploring more ways to integrate the teachings of Jesus Christ, the ultimate change agent of peace and goodwill toward men.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Shall we take Him up on His promise?
Larry W. Coppock
Director, Scouting Ministries
General Commission on United Methodist Men
‘And then they gather’
By Mark Lubbock
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. -- Hebrews 3:13-14
In the last 24 hours I attended two men’s events in polar opposite settings. The first meeting was in an urban mega-church, the second was in a rural blue-collar church.
- At noon yesterday I attended my weekly Business Men’s Bible Study luncheon attended by 150 – 300 men from all denominations.
- Last night I was waaaay out in the country at a relatively new church-start at their monthly men’s night. It was standing room only.
Two weeks ago I attended a local church monthly men’s event that had a crowd of 350-400 men.
And this morning, I received a phone from an excited guy near Shreveport who told me of monthly gathering with more than 100 men. He also reported on a group of 35 men who meet weekly for breakfast and Bible study.
There are five common characteristics of all these groups:
- They offer free meals of man food. Donations are accepted to offset the cost.
- The atmosphere is man friendly. For example, at a “Jersey Night,” men are invited to wear their favorite sports team shirt. The environment is configured to encourage fellowship. In some cases men sit at round tables; in others there is a designated area for men to congregate and eat.
- They offer men’s activities such as contests and robust music:
- No offering is taken.
- A man-specific message challenges them in an encouraging way.
None of these were United Methodist churches . . . but they could be!
The good news is men are ready and eager to get together for Christian fellowship.
The ground is fertile, the pump is primed. We just need to make a new plan to meet the men where they are.
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member
General Commission on United Methodist Men
Men’s ministry agency celebrates achievements, ponders future
NASHVILLE, Tenn. –– The agency responsible for expanding ministries to men within the United Methodist Church celebrated the certification of 30 men’s ministry specialists and 127 scouting ministry specialists who are helping local churches increase their outreach to men and young people.
Meeting September 7-10 for the last time this quadrennium, 20 members of the General Commission on United Methodist Men celebrated their four-year accomplishments, including the election of Gil Hanke as top staff executive, the recruitment of three volunteer deployed staff persons, and an increase in the number of chartered groups of United Methodist Men in 29 annual conferences.
As they looked to the future of men’s ministry, the 19 men and one woman discussed the probability of reduced funding for commission ministries and the possibility of new structure.
For the first time in the history of the denomination, delegates to the General Conference, meeting April 24-May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Fla., will consider a proposed 6.5 percent decrease in the World Service Fund.
The Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration are recommending a goal of $241.3 million for the World Service Fund for the 2013-2016 quadrennium. United Methodist Men presently receive one-half of one percent (0.5%) of that total. There is also a possibility that the decrease could increase to 16 percent if a proposal for additional $60 million for training young people and central conference clergy is approved.
The commission anticipates it will continue to receive 20 percent of its operating budget from the World Service Fund. Eighty percent of the agency’s $1.3 million annual budget is derived from charter fees from groups of United Methodist Men and from gifts from individuals.
In a discussion of the proposed structure, Bishop James King, president of the commission, explained that Connectional Table and Call to Action groups want to create a way for the United Methodist Church to become more “nimble.” “The church is dysfunctional,” said King. “General Conference meets once every four years and no one has authority to make adjustment between sessions.”
The proposed structure calls for the General Commission on United Methodist Men to be continued as the Board of United Methodist Men with a governing board, reduced from the present 25 members to 20 members.
Under the proposal, the top staff executive of the Board of United Methodist Men would serve as an ex-officio member of the General Council for Strategy and Oversight with voice but without vote. The 45-member council would meet once a year to establish long-term strategies to be implemented by a 15-member board of directors of the Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry.
The center would elect an executive general secretary and staff members of nine general agencies would be organized under five offices reporting to the center.
The boards of Pension and Health Benefits, the United Methodist Publishing House, United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women would continue to be responsible to General Conference.
In earlier reports the Call to Action Committee was uncertain about where to locate United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women, but finally decided to support United Methodist Women’s efforts to move from a division of the General Board of Global Ministries to a separate board. They then categorized the two agencies as membership-based boards that would report to General Conference.
Members of the commission were encouraged to carefully study the proposed new structure and to share their responses with General Conference delegates.
Hanke, top staff executive of the commission, was elected as a Texas Conference delegate to the General Conference. He will serve on the General Administration Legislative Committee, which will review and possibly revise the proposed radical changes prior to presentation to the 1,000-member plenary session.
In other business, the commission:
- Reviewed plans for the July 12-14, 2013, National Gathering of United Methodist Men at Belmont University in Nashville;
- Learned that 452,000 copies of Strength for Service to God and Country have been printed and distributed, mostly to deployed military personnel. The commission endorsed plans to create a 501c3 non-profit corporation to continue to receive funds for the historic devotional book and to add new publications to meet the spiritual needs of the military personnel, fire fighters, police officers and first responders. The non-profit status will encourage secular organizations to support the effort to print the books;
- Received a report on the packaging of 101,000 Stop Hunger Now packets during the World Methodist Conference sponsored by United Methodist Men, Mississippi Conference, Korean Methodist Men, and a Korean Methodist congregation. Larry Malone, former staff executive of the commission, was re-elected as president of the Men’s Section of the World Methodist Conference;
- Learned there are 376,000 young people involved in Scout troops and packs meeting in United Methodist Churches. Noting that most of growth in scouting is occurring in churches, Boy Scouts of America have launched a Faith-Based Initiative (F.B.I.) to retain and strengthen these organizations;
- Learned that the United Methodist Men Foundation allocated $10,000 to provide New Testaments to 6,000 Scouts attending the Protestant worship services at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, with additional copies for Scouts attending the Minnesota-based Northern Tier High Adventure Program;
- Received a report on the Amachi program, an effort by Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BBBS) to match men and women as mentors of children with at least one parent in prison. The commission launched the effort in 17 annual conferences with more than 40 matches. Mark Scott, a BBBS executive, noted that the first Amachi match occurred March 29, 2001, at the Philadelphia-based Eastwick United Methodist Church (now Eastwick Worship Center).
- Received a report from the Upper Room Prayer Line noting that United Methodist Men organizations contributed $6,735 to the prayer line and 16 new volunteers added 2,256 hours of extra coverage by the daily prayer line.
- Celebrated the 13-year support of the Society of Saint Andrew Hunger Relief Advocate Initiative with advocates in 17 annual conferences. These advocates led 1,979 volunteers to pick up 1.92 million servings of fresh food for America’s hungry. United Methodist Men also provided another 8.4 million servings of fresh produce through the society’s potato project.
- Set plans for a paver project in which United Methodist Men are invited to place engraved bricks in front of the national office on Music Row in Nashville at $500 for an 8x8-inch paver, or a 4x8-inch paver at $200. The men agreed to purchase a paver in memory of Charles Steele, a Tennessee Conference leader who died in 2011 and gave significant gift in his will to United Methodist Men ministries.
Take your men to a movie
ALBANY Ga.–– Take your UM Men organization to see Courageous, a film produced by the pastors of Sherwood Church in Albany, Ga.
The movie is about four fathers in law enforcement who go through a terrible tragedy. They begin looking at their role as fathers . . . and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God’s intention for fathers.
The film encourages men to “rise with courage” in their homes and as leaders at a time when 4 of 10 marriages end in divorce and more than a third of all children live away from their biological fathers.
“God led us,” said co-writer and producer Stephen Kendrick, a father of four. “We believe God is calling men to rise up with strength and with leadership in their homes, with their families and with their children.”
“We focus on the crucial role of father; it’s not just to be a father who loves his kids,” said Alex Kendrick, co-writer/director of Courageous and father of six. "It’s to be engaged with a purpose—to be a father on purpose.”
The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men and chief executive officer of Louisiana Men of Christ, has seen the film times in previews with church and civic leaders.
“I always come away encouraged with what can happen,” he said. “It’s a Christian movie, but it’s also a crossover movie for the general population. Not all viewers may connect with the Christian message but they will certainly connect with the excitement of the story.”
For information, visit http://www.courageousthemovie.com/takeaction_faq
Visit a blog by Mark Lubbock about the movie and enter your response (www.gcumm.org).