Reflections by agency officers and staff
of the General Commission on UM Men
Improving on Shakespeare
By Gil Hanke
Improving on Shakespeare is dangerous. I can’t take credit for this idea. I can’t give credit to the story I heard on the radio, because this quote came quickly as I was driving in Nashville traffic. All I heard was this, “To be or not to be; that is the answer.”
Rarely am I concerned that we “rush” into most decisions in our ministries. The late Rev. Bill Hinson, former senior pastor at First UMC, Houston, once stated, “If you can name a problem or a sin, The United Methodist Church will study it for at least 10 years.”
Here is what we know: Wesley and his cohorts grew the Methodist movement in small “class” meetings, which asked in different ways, how each participant had experienced God in the last week. We know that today, those meetings work well face-to-face or screen-to-screen through some form of video conferencing. We also know, younger men welcome this e-format. So do men who may or may not be interested in attending your worship services. So do men who feel there should be more to life than they are currently experiencing.
Unfortunately, when asked, many local churches do not have an organized or systematic structure that “makes disciples for the transformation of the world.” This does not need more study. You and I need to “be” disciples. Although we often feel like we fall short in our walk of discipleship, there are actual steps, in proven sources, that can move us and others toward a better version of discipleship today than what we practiced last week.
“Being” is the answer.
The commission has the materials to help you and your church become welcoming place for disciples who make more disciples of Jesus Christ.
As spoken by Nike:
Just do it.
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on UM Men
A week to value
By Steven Scheid
When an airplane takes to the sky, it starts by rushing down the runway. The plane accelerates until it reaches the point of lift off. As it mounts to the sky, g-forces push passengers back in their seats.
The trepidation and white-knuckle grips of passengers cannot alter the course of the plane.
They are not in control.
I have learned to lean into letting go.
Once money has been spent, privacy has been forfeited at a security checkpoint, and the rush to the gate is complete. It’s time to go.
My first week as the national director at the Center for Scouting Ministries has been much the same.
Interviews have concluded, background checks are finished and the long haul from South Carolina to Nashville is complete.
It’s time to go.
Change is a constant.
My first week in Nashville was full of changes.
The BSA had just changed the name of scouting units from “Boy Scouts” to “Scouts BSA.”
Then the Latter-Day Saints Church announced their departure from BSA, effective December 2019.
The core remains.
The corporate name, Boy Scouts of America, will remain the same, and United Methodists remain committed to our longstanding relationships with Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Campfire USA.
In the same way, we continue our commitment to growing the character and values of young people.
Change is a constant.
Not one of the youth I have met over the years has stayed the same.
Nashville, a city I used to know well, has changed.
I have changed.
The core remains
The heart remains the same.
Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, said, “Look wide, beyond your immediate surroundings and limits, and you see things in their right proportion. Look above the level of things around you and see a higher aim and possibility to your work.”
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministry
General Commission on UM Men
Reviewing responses to the ‘Amending through Faith’ project
By the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance
As I sit at my computer to write this article, I am reflecting on the many responses we have received about the “Amending through Faith” project being launched this month throughout The United Methodist Church connection.
- “‘Amending through Faith’ helped me realize the way I was talking to my wife was hurting her and destroying our marriage.”
- “This program gave me language to talk about a problem facing the church.”
- “I’m excited about ‘Amending through Faith’ but disappointed that my annual conference will not allow me to show the promo video.”
- “We are not going to use the materials at our annual conference, because we are a rural area that does not have a problem with domestic/gender-based violence.”
“Amending through Faith” is a program that challenges “good men” to enter a dialogue about the systematic and systemic issues that cause and perpetuate gender-based violence in our society. It challenges men to take a stand to change the dialogue in an effort to stop the violence.
I rejoice in the lives and relationships that already have been changed just through the pilot test group. I also am shocked and disheartened by a few comments that indicate some men still don’t get it.
It is believed that about 25 percent of Christian homes witness abuse of some kind. This occurs throughout the U.S. and around the world. It happens in the cities and in the country, in rich households and in poor ones. It is unacceptable for us, as leaders in the church, to ignore this fact.
The parable of the Good Samaritan implores us as men of character and integrity to speak for and give help to those who can’t speak for and care for themselves. The “Amending through Faith” project is a faith-based, biblically sound resource for men to do just that.
To get more information please go here or give me a call (615-620-7277).
God is truly calling men in the church to “help men grow in Christ, so others may know Christ.”
Will you join me on this journey?
Your brother on the journey,
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
A time to express gratitude for the past and look to the future
By Steve Nailor
I was on a walk one day and stopped at the Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans in our town. At the entrance was this sign; “We veterans are grateful to these benefactors and their heartfelt support which brings peace, honor, and healing to every veteran through the building of this memorial. God bless you all.” The memorial includes the names of the men and women from the Rockford area who sacrificed their lives for me.
As I walked on, I thought about John 11:25-26. Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
He asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”
Perhaps we need to ask, “Do we believe this?”
Do we think about the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us?
Do we believe in the Resurrection?
Do we share that faith with others?
We are called to:
- Engage in daily Bible study and prayer.
- Bear witness to Christ in all personal contacts through words and actions.
- Engage in Christian service.
This is a special time of the year to remember the fallen men and women. It is also a time for us to make a difference in our communities.
I think of Luke 10:27, where a law expert challenged Jesus with the question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered: “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
The expert answered: “Love your Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said: “You have answered correctly.”
Let us remember the past and look forward to the future that Jesus promises. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Not only do we believe this, we are called to share it with others.
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
Your meetings can motivate
By Mark Lubbock
“They help each other and say to their companions, “Be strong!”
When men gather for fun, the atmosphere changes; they let down their guards and enjoy one another’s company.
Too often men’s meetings are boring.
Here are a few ways to make meetings fun, helpful, and effective.
- Provide pre-meeting time for conversations. Provide a pre-meeting time with coffee and donuts or a meal. The Holy Spirit will provide some surprises during this unstructured time of casual conversations.
- Use time efficiently. Business meetings are necessary but structure them in a way that makes the best use of everyone’s time. Create committees to hammer out details prior to the meeting. Distribute reports electronically before the meeting and avoid reading them aloud. Use the time with the full group for making final decisions based on committee recommendations.
- Create a time to share experiences. Set aside a portion of the meeting for men to share experiences in small groups –– it’s a Wesleyan practice that also allows men to get to know and affirm one another. Limit the time to three minutes per man. This will not detract from the general meeting.
- Share the vision. Keep the mission and the vision at the forefront of every meeting. Sport teams and strong organizations do a great job of reminding members why they exist. Help men understand they exist for a larger purpose. They are a part of something important and rewarding.
- Underscore progress. Help your men see how they are progressing along the way to their stated goals. Men want to participate in an organization that is achieving something, and they are likely to invite friends to join them.
Mark Lubbock, a certified men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men
God wants all of life to be spiritual
By Jim Boesch
“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Are you living a spiritual or a secular life?
It is your choice.
You can assess your spirituality by how you:
- Wake from a night’s sleep.
- Eat breakfast, shower, shave and make other preparations to get your day started.
- Travel to your daily calling of work, school, church or home.
- Live your day in your work, school, church or with your family.
- Spend your discretionary evening or nighttime.
- Prepare for your night’s rest.
Do you want to live more spiritually through the presence of God in your thoughts, actions, deeds, words and relationships?
Do you want to move from the often-preached ought-to life to a truly spiritual life?
First, and immediately, pray more. Ask God to show Himself in all your life today. Then seek Him throughout the events and people He puts in your life.
Next, spend time daily in solitude listening and looking for the presence of God who created you. He is present in places where you least expect to find Him.
Then, daily live through God’s word. Read your Bible and doggedly apply the message(s) that show up in ways that will glorify Him.
Lastly, take the risk and seek relationships with the people God puts in your life through your work, church and family. They are not there by accident. Live more authentically with Jesus followers who daily seek to experience God’s transforming presence in their lives.
In the end, a man pretty much does what a man wants to do.
Will you lead a secular or a spiritual life? The choice is yours.
Jim Boesch, a certified men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the
General Commission on UM Men