By Gil Hanke
In early March--in spite of ice, snow and bitter cold--we had a great meeting of about 80 leaders in men’s ministry in Nashville.
Much of the weekend was devoted to training conference and jurisdictional presidents and their prayer advocates.
One of the challenges I gave the men was to complete the eight-week study found in The Class Meeting––Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience, a book by Dr. Kevin Watson.
I asked the presidents and prayer advocates to find at least eight other men from different parts of their conference, and to do this study for an hour a week for eight weeks, using Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. Those eight guys would agree to repeat the eight-week study with ten persons from area churches, who would repeat the study with ten members of their churches.
The class meeting was an essential part of being a Methodist in the 18th century when this movement grew at an exponential rate.
It was so important to Wesley that regular attendance at a class meeting was a prerequisite for attending worship. Why? Because Wesley, and those leading the movement in the U.S., knew that making disciples did not occur in worship, although worship is essential.
Disciples are made in small weekly groups where the topic is about how each person has interacted with God that week.
As I told the group, many men have a “historical” relationship with God rather than being open to seeing the work of God, learning the teachings of Christ, and feeling the movement of the Holy Spirit every day.
When the emphasis of the movement shifted from the class meeting to the Sunday school, Methodists became smarter, but the shift eliminated an activity once essential to making disciples.
I invite you to join in this renewing movement within the UMC. If just 30 of the men that met in Nashville follow this pattern, over 26,670 persons will begin a renewed on-growing relationship with Christ before Christmas of this year.
Striving to serve
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men
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This article is part of the April UMM e-letter. Other authors of that e-letter include: