Reflections by agency officers and staff
of the General Commission on UM Men
Walk through your unclear future
By Bishop Gary Mueller
There are times you’re clear about just how unclear you are about your future. It may be because of a diagnosis of cancer, the looming Special Session of General Conference or any of a million other things that can unexpectedly turn your life upside down in an instant.
These events force you to deal with shattered assumptions, and to figure out what’s next and find a new normal. While you don’t like having to do it –– and may grieve deeply every step of the way –– you can deal with almost anything that happens. But beware. There are traps waiting to ensnare you every single time you think you’ve got all of the uncertainty in your life under control so that what was an uncertainty becomes a disaster.
There is a way you can avoid these traps - at least most of the time.
Give up the illusion of thinking you can handle it by yourself and, instead, go all in with God who can’t wait to give you what you’ve been looking for all along.
Sure, you’ll continue to feel pulled back-and-forth between trying to do it all by yourself and trusting God in a deeper way than you ever have before. But you can do it - over and over and over again if need be.
Just keep choosing God who created you in God’s image.
Just keep choosing Jesus who does for you what you can never do on your own.
And just keep choosing the Holy Spirit who fills you with comfort, purpose and power.
Sure, you’ll still have to do your part. And it may be hard. But you’ll be doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. And that will help you walk through your unclear futures every single time.
Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president
General Commission on United Methodist Men
How full is full?
By Gil Hanke
Ninety percent of my days begin with reading the Upper Room Disciplines and the selected Bible verses.
A recent reading included John 2:1-11, the first reported miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana. The excellent devotional for that reading was written by Linda McKinnish Bridges, from Richmond, Va. Some people get hung up with the wine in this story. Others discuss how Mary appears to force Jesus’ hand. Bridges points out that Jesus tells the servants to fill the huge jars with water, and they “filled them to the brim” at his request. So, if the water was his rare material, and if they filled the jars only half full, it would have limited the size of the miracle. The jars became filled to brim with the finest wine, because 100 percent of the jars was available to be changed.
If we ask God to fill our hearts, our minds, our spirits with his blessing and with his grace, do we offer our whole capacity to be transformed?
Do we open ourselves completely to be filled to the brim? Or do we say, “God please fix this need I have, but please don’t mess with any other parts of my life?” That would be like going to a mechanic and asking for an oil change, when we know that the tires are bald, and the brakes don’t work.
Luke 11:9 tells us, “Ask and you will receive… Knock and door will be opened to you.”
Today, open the door wide––all the way. Don’t limit God’s access to you. Let Him fill you to the brim.
Gil Hanke, chief executive officer
General Commission on UM Men
Sharing the light
By Steven Scheid
A little-known part of the Scouting movement is the sharing of the Peace Light of Bethlehem, an ever-burning flame at the birthplace of Jesus.
Every year since 2001, the flame has been brought by Scouts and Scout leaders from Bethlehem to Europe and then to North America.
In 2018, the flame arrived in New York City via Austrian Airlines on November 25.
Scouts and Scouters then transported the peace light to several cities across the U.S. On December 9, the flame arrived at First UMC in Hiram, Ga., where it was used by the Helton family to light the Christ candle at the center of their Advent wreath.
Just as the peace light was carried by Scouts from Bethlehem to Hiram, so scouting has the potential to light a fire in the hearts of youth. The fire is emblematic of the give and take of ministry. When we give, we receive.
I encourage each church to embrace their youth by initiating or expanding their scouting ministry.
Next Christmas the peace light will return. Scouts, consider bringing this ever-burning flame to your church.
Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Time to evaluate your ministry
By the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance
One of the missions of the General Commission on UM Men is to “help every man in the UMC and the communities served by the churches to have an on-growing relationship with Christ.”
As we begin 2019, I would like to challenge you, as leaders in UM Men, to evaluate the men’s ministry of your church. The evaluation should not only look at what you have accomplished but should also include what men are active in the ministry and what men are “missing in action.”
At the 2016 General Conference, Bishop Swanson and Gil Hanke challenged the church to connect men to God and then connect them to the church.
How successful is your total church’s men’s ministry accomplishing this task? As leaders in the UM Men, we are charged with helping the church have a cohesive ministry that reaches beyond the “breakfast meeting” into the church, so that all men can be encouraged to grow into disciples of Christ.
The community surrounding your church is also important. Is your church doing things to reach your next-door neighbors? Have you ever planned an event and invited folk from outside your church family to attend?
Men are “missing in action!” There should never be a time where any man is left behind. Statistics tell us that less than 10 percent of men have another man with whom they feel safe to talk when they have a problem. Your total men’s ministry should provide a place for this to happen.
So please evaluate your total men’s ministry. Where are you connecting men with God? How are you including all men, not just those who look and think like you?
How are you breaking down the “club” model and moving to a “ministry” model for your chartered subscribed men’s ministry?
The Center for Men’s Ministries has resources that can help you on the journey. We would also like to hear about the ministries you are doing. Please email me and let me know.
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men
Challenged to make a difference
By Steve Nailor
Disciples develop as a result of relationships with others and the constant contact with God. Men do not become disciples by accident.
Many of us have mentors who give their listening and loving ear to us. At our National Men’s Gathering in Indianapolis, t-shirts were distributed that said, “Discipleship is a contact sport.” There is an abundance of evidence that this statement is true.
The mission of the United Methodist Men is to “help men grow in Christ so others may know Christ.”
In his letter in the winter edition of UM Men magazine, Gil Hanke said there are many more mentors out there.
Ask yourself, “Whom am I mentoring?” Mentoring begins with a personal contact and then continuing to build on that first contact.
The commission provides a wide variety of resources to support you as you serve God as a mentor.
Review the resources here.
I am in the fourth year of participating in a Class Meeting group. The weekly on-line meetings have provided me with strong support group of men. This happened because someone invited me to give it a try. You can invite others to share their stories, needs, and desires in similar gatherings.
Churches with fewer members might consider teaming up with other churches for men’s ministry. Others may be in a place where they can help other churches expand their ministries to men.
I encourage each chartered church to invite two other churches to become charted and then support them.
I have a saying on my personal stationary, “Service is the rent we pay while here on earth.”
What kind of service are you providing to your church, community, or neighborhood?
If I can be helpful to your Men’s Unit, please email me.
I invite all conference presidents, prayer advocates and other leaders to attend the March 7-10 annual meeting of the NACP in Nashville. It’s imperative if you want to attend to fill out this registration as quickly as possible. There are a limited number of hotel rooms available.
Steve Nailor, president
National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men
I wish I’d known that
By Mark Lubbock
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,”––Proverbs 3:13
One of the great delights that comes from my interaction with UM Men is the amazement and appreciation they show when I tell them about the many resources they can access as chartered churches. Many, if not most, had no idea that such a rich supply of resources existed to help them with their church and men’s ministry.
The commission does an outstanding job of responding to the needs of the local church and men’s groups with the end result of being an ever-growing body of tools, instruction, training, how-to guidance and more. I’d love to list everything available to you here, but there is not enough room!
Instead, let me share some important highlights with you beginning with the commission staff. I am blessed and proud to serve with these tremendously experienced and gifted leaders. Click here to see who makes up your commission team.
As a conference president I regularly invite our deployed staff, commission leaders and men’s ministry specialists to speak at events, to facilitate retreats and to conduct leadership training events. I highly recommend that you consider doing likewise. This group of men represent the most experienced and highly trained pool of experts that you can find in men’s ministry. Why not take advantage of their knowledge and expertise by inviting them to your events and activities?
Take this just a bit further and consider scheduling quarterly training for each district and ask leaders from your church to join you in learning and growing. Training provides a great reason to gather and creates the opportunity to get to know others across the district and the annual conference.
You’ll build unity with the men and develop connections that will strengthen your ministry.
Mark Lubbock is a certified men’s ministry specialist and a deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men
What is God calling you to do in 2019
By Jim Boesch
Did you the same, lame New Year's resolutions knowing they would run out of steam by Valentine’s Day?
What if you did something different?
- What if you started out this year on your knees, reminding yourself of the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of Creator God?
- What if instead of re-firing your confidence in yourself, you renewed your faith and trust in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit?
How would that be for a change in focus and resolve?
I ask you to reflect on three questions as you consider your 2019 resolutions:
- Do you believe you were created by a loving God on purpose for a purpose?
- If so, do you believe God has a calling on your life to fulfill that purpose?
- Most importantly, do you know what that calling is?
First of all, you were, indeed, created by God on purpose for a specific purpose; not by accident and not by mistake.
In Genesis 1:26-31; 2:8-9;15, you can surmise one of God’s purpose for you is to tend His garden/His world as it has been since Adam and Eve.
Secondly, in reading Ephesians 4:1-13 it becomes clear you are called by God to use your spiritual gifts to build up the church, the body of Christ.
I recommend three resources to help you discern God’s call on your life:
- The Class Meeting –– Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience by Kevin Watson to help you form aWesleyan-style meeting.
- “Network Servant Profile Assessment Study” by Bruce Bugbee to help you assess your spiritual gifts, personal style and passion that together make up God’s calling on you.
- Soundtrack a 40-day playlist through the Psalms by J.D. Walt of Seedbed Ministries.
A deployed staff member of the General Commission on UM Men