UMNS Photo: Bishop James Swanson
“Who are you?”
When asked that question, most men begin by talking about their vocation (I am a civil engineer. . . I am a carpenter . . . I am a plumber).
Speaking to two gatherings of United Methodist Men on successive Saturdays in August, Holston Area Bishop James Swanson said the answer to the question is not what you do for a living, but what God created you to be.
“You are created in the image and likeness of God, and you are created to give God praise,” he said.
Most of the world’s troubles––budget deficits, war, violence––are related to the inner wars that people fight because they don’t know who they are, he said.
“These are tough times, times when men's hearts are challenged. It’s a time when men––like the church––have to decide, ‘What are the things that are most important?’”
The importance of ministry to men
“We had a great time ... learned a lot and celebrate the transforming power of Jesus,” said the bishop in a blog following Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 “Calling All Men” events.
“Statistics tell us that if we win a man to Christ––if the man is married––we will about 90 to 95 percent of the time also win the wife and children,” said the bishop. “We also know that men typically come to Christ as a result of a personal witness and not a corporate witness.
“This is why we need men in our churches to begin to personally witness to other men. It is imperative that today's church understand the different spiritual needs of men if we are to win men to Christ.”
A total of 369 men attended the two events. Offerings totaling $1,845 will be given to an effort to provide “Strength for Service” devotional books to the military; hunger-relief efforts by the Society of St. Andrew; the Upper Room Prayer Line; and Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries.
This is the fourth year for the “Calling All Men” event. In previous years, the men hosted one weekend event.
"Our goal is to bring men to Christ," Mike Smith, president of the Holston UM Men, told The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper. "So our design team talked about what might be best to get men to come into an atmosphere that would not be intimidating to a man who does not go to church but would also be acceptable to men of the church."
“Calling All Men” was held Aug. 20 at Christ Fellowship Church in Kingsport and Aug. 27 at Cokesbury UMC in Knoxville. Attendance was 158 and 211, respectively.
Morning speakers included the Rev. Greg Depriest, lead pastor at Christ Fellowship, and Bob Kesling, University of Tennessee director of broadcasting.
Workshops included "How to Help Men Worship" with the Rev. Jeremy LaDuke; "How to be Christian in a Secular World" with the Rev. Randy Frye and the Rev. David Graves; and "Addiction: Unmanageable" with the Rev. Mark Bebee.
Bishop Swanson served as celebrant and speaker at the closing communion services.
Special thanks to Annette Spence, editor of The Call, for providing the information upon which this article is based.