Pandemic ‘good for business,’ says men’s ministry executive
“You might say ‘the pandemic has been pretty good for business’.”
That’s what Dr. Rick Vance told 11 participants in a September 17 on-line meeting of the Men’s Ministry Committee of the General Commission on UM Men.
The director of the Center for Men’s Ministry explained that the virus and social isolation has slowed things down so men have begun to seek answers to troubling spiritual issues. “There has been an exponential increase in requests for resources during the pandemic,” he said.
Rick noted an increase in the number of virtual Class Meetings, a gathering of eight to ten people who talk about their experiences with God. The classes are based on a practice introduced by John Wesley as describe by Dr. Kevin Watson in his book, The Class Meeting, Reclaiming a Forgotten and Essential Small Group Experience. These meetings center on ways to put discipleship into action. It is not about knowing more; it is about doing more.
Rick is presently leading one class, and Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission, is leading two. Each participant in the classes has agreed to form a class of his own at the conclusion of the eight-week study of Watson’s book. Gil will begin a fourth class in October.
An increase number of resources
“This year, we published three new resources,” said Rick. “The first, Mission Stories from a Reluctant Volunteer by Gil Hanke, is given to those who provide financial support for the commission. The second, Thirty Stops on the Journey, is a 30-day devotional sent to all charter subscribed churches. The third resource is a virtual publication entitled United Methodist Men Pray for Peace with Justice; it is available for anyone to download.”
The commission continues to provide Amending Through Faith, an eight-week study series for men who are passionate about ending violence against women
The commission also provided a video to conference presidents of UM Men to use in their conference sessions. The staff also posted a number of videos of webinars addressing different topics and videos of five national days of prayer are available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_9MW6WKoEywHdSARau8Kxg.
In other business, the committee:
- Learned there are now 39 certified men’s ministry specialists who help churches in their areas find additional ways to minister to men. An increase in the use of Zoom and other on-line tools open ways for a specialist to serve communities far from his home territory.
- Noted a 4 percent increase in the number of EMS and Legacy members in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period in 1019. There are now 2,442 EMS members and legacy builders. There are 3,312 chartered organization, an increase of 146 in the same time period.
- Expressed concern about increased incidences of derogatory language against women as found in national political circles and local levels. “Good guys speak out,” said Rick. “Our silence speaks to what we accept.”
- Learned the commission is preparing a 2021 coordinating calendar that will include national, conference, and district events related to men’s and scouting ministries. The agency is considering the possibility of an on-line summit national meeting in early 2021.