NASHVILLE, Tenn.–– “UM Men have a clear goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, but we haven’t a clue about how to achieve that goal.”
That’s what Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men, told presidents of annual conference units of UM Men at a March 5-8 meeting here.
“It’s as if we wanted to teach people how to swim by providing information on the history of swimming, a list of the best places to swim and a study of swimming techniques without bringing them to a swimming pool,” said Hanke. “You can’t create swimmers without getting wet.” He invited the men to jump into the disciple making pool.
Hanke asked the conference presidents to use modern technology and new terminology to recast a play from a playbook established by John Wesley. Quoting from The Class Meeting, a book by Kevin M. Watson, Hanke said early Methodists utilized small group structures not to study the Bible, but rather to lovingly engage one another in conversations about their souls.
Hanke encouraged leaders of UM Men to use the eight chapters of Watson’s book as a way to introduce the class-meeting to eight men through electronic meetings where men can participate without leaving their homes or offices.
“If 30 of you can find eight people in eight districts to participate in eight meetings, and if those eight men can each form groups of 10 from 10 churches and if those 10 can form groups of 10, we will reach 26,670 men by Christmas,” said Hanke.
He does not suggest that men use the title of “class meeting.” “Call it a ‘Transformation Group,’ a ‘T-group’ or anything you wish,” said Hanke who participates in three similar groups. He noted that it might seem strange to begin such a group with a book, but the study serves as an effective beginning.
This process interfaces well with all that we do.as a movement,” he said.
“I hope you’ll do what Gil asked you to do,” said Tim Bias, top staff executive of Discipleship Ministries. “People are famished to be in loving relations with others and to understand that God is real.”
Bishop James Swanson, president of the General Commission on UM Men, participated in the meeting electronically and also endorsed the process.
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