ยท Leader Letters

From your partners in men’s ministry ––

A bi-monthly e-mail letter from agency officers and staff

to leaders of United Methodist Men

February 15, 2011


The presence of God

By Gil Hanke


Over the last several weeks, I have become increasingly aware of the vital roles of prayers and presence. It was two years ago that I became general secretary, a position that continues to be a blessing.

Even when technology fails, communications get crossed, deadlines surprise, routine is misplaced, or other virtual storms strike, I know I am not alone.

If you and or your church is struggling –– if you feel like the cards are stacked against you –– if tomorrow, or next week, you encounter situations that seem just too big, too confusing, too … whatever . . . remember where you can find rest.

Learn from my mistake: I sometimes spend prayer time telling God things He already knows, rather than listening to God for comfort and direction.

Take time to be in prayer and try to listen more to God than to list those things He needs to fix.

I am preparing for the National Association of Conference Presidents meeting which will include the UM Foundation meeting and a Men’s Ministry Advisory Team meeting.

As I look at reports for each of those groups, I am pleased that our many ministries of the GCUMM continue to grow. For example, although I get calls, emails and letters each week asking, “Why should we charter at our church?” thirty annual conferences have more charters this year than last.

A few weeks ago I was present at a district UMM dinner on a Tuesday night in Norfolk, Va., where they installed their leadership team for the next year. Fifteen men stood to assume leadership positions within that district. It was an impressive sight, not only in the number of leaders, but also in the diversity of age and ethnicity represented. They had hoped for 75 to attend, planned for 100, and had to set up more tables to seat all 115 guests.

So the message from me today is that in the midst of change and challenge, we still see growth, fruit, vitality; we still hear that still small voice and find comfort and peace.

Part of the preparation for General Conference is a prayer guide that invites the Holy Spirit to grant us wisdom and holy conferencing as we prepare for this event. Soon we will enter into Lent, a time of reflection and prayer. It appears to me that God is telling me I need to spend more time with Him; what is He telling you?

May God continue to bless our journey together.

Gil Hanke, general secretary

General Commission on UM Men



Living with pain

By John Dowell


It was Friday around 4 p.m. Earlier that day I had a root canal at the dentist’s office.

I began to feel a little discomfort in the area of that tooth. By 6 p.m., the discomfort had graduated to a burning pain.

I needed to return to the dentist, but he had told me I was his last patient before he was leaving town for the weekend.

The tooth kept hurting.

By 8 p.m., I was pacing the floor. Aleve provided little relief. This wasn't supposed to happen. A root canal procedure destroys the nerve––or so I thought.

I slept little Friday night. Saturday and Sunday the pain would not let up. Every hour was dominated by pain. I couldn't focus on work or sleep. I know a toothache is not life threatening, but at that time, it would be hard to convince me otherwise.

When I woke up Monday morning, the pain was gone!

This experience gave me a greater understanding of what pain can do to people. Of course, we all go through pain occasionally. Many people, however, live every hour under a cloud of unrelenting pain.

A survivor of pancreatic cancer said, “I live with pain each and every day. I find myself wondering what it would be like to live as the old pre-pain me for just a couple of hours.”

Physical or emotional pain is invisible to others. How can one feel what a mother is going through after the death of her first born? We can’t see beyond the tears, and we are not able to experience that deep hole in her life.

With my toothache, I appeared functional, but I wasn't.

Now I look at people differently. How many of them are burdened with pain? One in ten? One in four? It could be much higher –– each one feeling isolated in pain that others don't see or comprehend.

 After receiving medication, just where can we turn when we experience pain? Our family? –– perhaps, but in my case, I wanted to get away from everyone. The pain gave me a sense of helplessness.

Maybe the church is where we can take our pain. When Sunday morning came, I knew I could take it there, but I felt church members really wouldn't understand, so I stayed home.

Could indifferent responses to the physical or emotional pain of others be one cause of the decline in church membership?

The pain that accompanies death, divorce, job loss, and foreclosures can make us feel depressed, weary, torn, disheartened and most of all –– alone.

Our shallow hope-you-are feeling-better response doesn’t provide much comfort and persons living with pain generally know our well-rehearsed offer to pray is much too automatic.

We appear to be more concerned with helping people “get over the pain” and less concerned with helping them live boldly with chronic conditions.

In the meantime, the hurting person feels unloved and rejected, so they just stay home.

How can we respond?

I confess I don’t have the answers.

I do know we need to do a better job of helping people in pain realize they are not alone, unloved and deserted.

We need not only to pray for the afflicted; we need to pray that we will gain greater compassion for others.

This is how I see this problem. I covet your response.

John Dowell, president

National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men




Life after a death

By Larry Coppock


My mantra during most of my personal and professional life has been reflected in the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”

I admit sometimes it’s difficult to live up to that motto. A recent example: the events surrounding my mother’s death after an 18-month battle with cancer. Most of us are reasonably prepared for life and, of course––as a Christian, life after death–– but not necessarily life after a death.

Dealing with issues following the death of a loved one can feel overwhelming. Pre-death events can be just as taxing.

I lost my mother in November; we had her memorial service in December. My mother lived with my family for 23 years before God called her home. She was 87. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother and wife.

While celebrating my mother’s life, I found myself dealing with an array of post-death issues. While my two older sisters, my wife and children have all been supportive, the tasks, at times, have been overwhelming.

The events surrounding my mother’s lengthy decline in health and demise often seemed surreal. The transition to post–death issues seem to come from every direction: credit card companies, insurance companies, the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, hospice care, Medicaid, Medicare, selecting the appropriate cremation vase, ordering a headstone, and much more.

While my mother did have a will, she had few assets and some debt. Balancing decisions with siblings can also be important as you want to make sure that all the loved ones have ownership in these important matters.

In the midst of all this, I found comfort in the fact that God is my constant companion. I continue to pray for His guidance and wisdom to make decisions that serve to strengthen family relationships and honor my mother’s wishes and most importantly: preserve her legacy and her memory.

My hope in writing this article is that I touch a chord of commiseration for those who have persevered through trying circumstances, and, likewise, encourage those who may be facing a similar experience in the future. My advice: Pray, keep the faith, persevere, and pray some more.

God’s blessings,

Larry W. Coppock

Director, Scouting Ministries

General Commission on United Methodist Men




Raising true leaders

By Mark Lubbock


… to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

Ephesians 4:12 NIV


Successful organizations value their members and have active training processes in place. Leadership is personally committed to equipping members - and they themselves invest in personal growth. John Maxwell teaches that “successful people have simply formed the habit of doing things that unsuccessful people will not do.” Zig Ziglar states “I am a constant learner. You need to be a constant student because things change.”

True leaders lead by example

I make a point to undertake training and invest in personal growth experiences throughout each and every year. Let me encourage you to do the same – lead by EXAMPLE!

You may not be aware of the many opportunities available to you so let me list just a few:

The General Commission on United Methodist Men has a true passion for equipping the leaders of tomorrow. Here is a small sampling of some of the leadership resources the GCUMM offers.

  • Understanding Men’s Ministry - I heartily recommend that you start with this course offered by the GCUMM. This 10-hour course lays the foundation to craft a successful discipling process for the local church. This process forms the cornerstone of connecting the men to the church to make disciples.
  • Wesleyan Building Brothers – This process leads men to spiritual fatherhood and to spiritual reproduction through a Wesleyan Band of Brothers. “Spiritual reproduction is the foundation for evangelism.” Building Brothers equips church leaders by removing four universal barriers that keep men from pursuing and knowing God. The process takes men from spiritual immaturity to maturity.
  • Letters from Dad – If God were to take you home today... what would your wife and children hold in their hands tomorrow that would let them know that they were the treasures of your life? This program provides the means to leave a living legacy for your family.
  • Specializations – The GCUMM directs two very significant certification programs to develop and equip men to serve. “Men’s Ministry Specialist” and “Scouting Ministry Specialist” certifications provide a pathway to serve within the United Methodist Church.

The list of resources goes on and on. For example, each annual conference offers lay speaking courses covering a huge variety of topics. These teach and equip leaders for service in the church.

The Upper Room offers a host of great resources including life-changing programs for leaders like the “Walk to Emmaus” and “Spiritual Formation.”

Why not invest in yourself, in your leaders and in your church by scheduling an equipping event? Contact GCUMM to learn how to begin (866-297-4312 or gcumm@gcumm.org).

My challenge to you for 2012

Make a personal commitment to invest in yourself by participating in at least one UMM training event.


The Rev. Mark Lubbock, deployed staff member

General Commission on United Methodist Men




Live Bold Tour

By Greg Arnold


Jesus Christ invested himself into teaching and leading His disciples. His training was extensive and he spoke directly into the heart of the men who would go and transform the world for His sake.

When we make Christ our King, we celebrate and accept His charge to “go and make disciples.” As United Methodist Men, we must be willing to carry out that mission.

In an effort to bring you encouragement, walk alongside you, and offer unfettered access to resources that can enable you and your men to live into the call of Christ, we offer you The Live Bold Tour.

The General Commission on United Methodist Men is sponsoring an exciting men’s event and making it available for your conference, your city, your region! The Live Bold Tour is a one-day men’s event built to catapult your men into an intentional form of discipleship and service – prompting men to live bold as we are called by Christ and demonstrated in the early church of Acts.

Limited dates and locations are available! Make certain you explore the options soon. The tour features worship music led by Phil Stacey (American Idol finalist and worship leader), Robert Noland (author of The Knights Code) and Greg Arnold (publisher of Live Bold magazine and a GCUMM deployed staff member).

Allow GCUMM to step into your area and walk alongside your efforts to empower men to make disciples for Christ.

For more information, visit www.livebold.org/tour or contact me.

May we all strive together to reach men for Christ. Together, we build stronger families, churches, communities, and the body of Christ!

Greg Arnold deployed staff member

General Commission on United Methodist Men





More of ‘Lead like Jesus in 2012’

By Jim Boesch


The “Lead Like Jesus” servant leadership development program deals with four domains of leadership:

  1. Heart
  2. Head
  3. Hands
  4. Habits

This month we will review the first domain, the heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Self-serving vs. servant leader:

Effective leadership starts on the inside––it is a heart issue. Jesus wants to give us a “heart attack.” If He can get inside of us and make us loving, caring, honest serving people on the inside then there is a good chance we’ll be the same on the outside.

  • If you don’t get the heart right, then nothing will make you a servant leader. You can learn all the techniques of servant leadership but you will never lead like Jesus until your heart longs to serve rather than be served.
  • It’s not easy getting and keeping your heart right when it comes to servant leadership. Why? The reality is as babies we’re all born self-serving with selfishness ingrained.
  • The lead-like-Jesus journey is all about moving from a self-serving heart to a servant heart.


Today we aren’t talking about ego in psychological terms; we are talking about major heart issues.

 “Edging God Out” or “Exalting God Only.”

Which will it be?

If we are not careful, the temptations in our lives––particularly pride and fear––can make it easy to edge God out as our focus of worship and our source of security and self-worth.

But, take heart, you can alter your EGO by choosing the mirror image of Edging God Out which is Exalting God Only!

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

  1. Instead of pride and fear, choose humility and confidence that bring health to relationships and acts of leadership.
  2. Instead of separation from God, choose community and self-acceptance results.
  3. Instead of distortion, choose truth that will restore and cleanse relationships.

As a leader of self and others you will have an ego. Will yours Edge God Out or Exalt God Only? Your choice!

Next month we will discuss the Head leadership domain.

 May His grace and peace surround you all days,

Jim Boesch, deployed staff member

General Commission on United Methodist Men




Whose church?

By Mark Dehority


Whose church is this? This is one of the basic questions that we must ask and answer when starting to help a church grow. 

There are really only two answers; a) ours and b) His.

The answer to this question controls the culture, the growth and the long-term future of the church.

Our church is about what we want, expect and need. His church is focused on what Jesus Christ wants, expects and commands.

If it is our church; our opinion counts, what we want counts, it is our opinion vs. our brothers, the choices are ours, and the glory is ours.

If it is His church; His opinion counts, what He wants counts, it His opinion vs. the world’s view, the choices are His and the glory is God’s.

In a series of meetings on ministry development, I discussed this question with some of my clergy and lay brothers and sisters. These were some of their observations.

Our church

His church

 A church focused on security.

A church focused on witnessing.

A church focused on the building.

A church using the building.

A church looking in.

A church looking out.


A church focused on change.

A church focused on me and what I want.

A church focused on mission.

Comfortable, easy and timid.


An institution focused on dollars and numbers.

A congregation focused on relationships.

Get the bills paid.

Vision and purpose.

A church focused on people like us.

A church focused on all people.

How the pastor serves us.

How the pastor leads us.

A church focused on being fed.

A church focused on feeding.

A group in bibs.

A group in aprons.

Need the Holy Spirit.

Filled with the Holy Spirit.

Pray for the immediate.

Pray for the kingdom.

What this church does for me and mine.

What me and mine can do for Him and His.


This little exercise is pretty easy and generates good discussion. Just get a group of your (or His) church brothers and sisters together. Ask them to spend a couple of minutes pondering the question. Then start the discussion and stand back.

My experience with vital growing congregations is that they are in constant or regular prayer about His will, for His church. He will tell you the truth. I have found no evidence of trick or misleading answers. I have experienced quite a few misguided adventures when we decide. I even led several of them.

I believe that the Lord is anxious for our church to become His.

He is ready and waiting for you and me.

He has the answers and wants to share them. He even gave them to us in an instruction book. I started to write down a bunch of them, but decide to leave you with just three. To make it easier on me and harder on you, I didn’t even quote chapter and verse.

How to make your church into His church:

1)      “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence”

2)      “Love others (his people) as well as you love yourself.”

3)      “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Then teach them in the practice of all I have commanded you.”

Passages come from The Message version of the instruction manual. 

One last note, these three are all described as things that are commanded.  After you engage in the recommended exercise, invite your group to ponder these answers for the direction of whoever’s church you attend.

Mark Dehority

General Commission on United Methodist Men



Speakers selected for 2013 National Gathering of UM Men

An 11-year veteran NFL player, a UM bishop, the president of Man in the Mirror, and the pastor of a growing congregation will headline the 11th National Gathering of United Methodist Men.

Don Davis

 Don Davis, 39, a regional director of the National Football League Players Association and an 11-year player with four different NFL teams, will be one of four major speakers at the July 11-14. 2013 event at Belmont University in Nashville.

After registering 238 tackles as a student athlete at the University of Kansas, Davis played for the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots. He played for the Patriot when they won two Super Bowl championships in 2004 and 2005.

After retiring from the Patriots in 2007, Davis joined Patriot Coach Bill Belichick’s staff as assistant strength and conditioning coach and team chaplain. The following year, he became director of NFL programs for Pro Athletes Outreach, a ministry to pro athletes. In 2010, Davis was named regional director of the National Football League Players Association, the organization responsible for the players’ wages, hours and working conditions.

“When people think of ministry often times they think of a church,” said Davis. “That is not what ministry is. I believe ministry is sharing your life with others so that each party can benefit from the experiences, life lessons and mistakes that have formed ones thinking.”

Davis loves to quote a Baptist preacher who told him, “It is a sin to bore people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“I am dedicated to keeping the message cool and relevant, but at the same time making sure that the message is completely Christ-filled and doctrinally sound,” he says.

Don and his wife, Yanette, have two daughters.


David Delk

 David Delk, president of Man in the Mirror, has a great talent for helping people remember vital truths from God's Word. His use of humor, illustrations and unique visual aids help men apply biblical principles to life.

He is the author or co-author of five books, including The Marriage Prayer, The Dad in the Mirror, and No Man Left Behind. He has had articles published in numerous magazines.

Delk was named emerging leader of the year by the National Coalition of Men's Ministries, and he has served as a visiting lecturer in biblical studies at Reformed Theological Seminary.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Furman University and the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fla., Delk was formerly a senior consultant with Energy Management Associates where he developed software and managed consulting projects with large public utilities.

He lives in Orlando with his wife, Ruthie, and three children.

Bishop James Swanson

 The Rev. James E. Swanson Sr. is a graduate of Southern Bible College, Houston, and C. H. Mason Seminary, ITC, Atlanta.

The bishop was ordained an elder in the South Georgia Conference and served as pastor of St. Mary’s Road UMC in Columbus, Ga., for 14 years. Under his leadership, that church grew from 16 active members to 950 with an average Sunday morning attendance of 525.

While at St. Mary’s Road, he was a co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Activity where he helped erode the influence and growth of gangs. In 2001, he was appointed superintendent of the Savannah District.

Swanson served as a delegate to the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 General Conferences, and he was elected to the episcopacy in July, 2004, by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference and was assigned to the Holston Area.

He is a trustee of Emory & Henry, Hiwassee, Tenn.; Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga.; and Andrew College, Cuthbert, Ga.

He was a founding member of the Steering Committee for the Convocation of Pastors of African American United Methodist Churches.

He is married to the former Delphine Yvonne Ramsey. They are parents of six children, and they have ten grandchildren.

The Rev. Shane Bishop

 A former history teacher and coach, the Rev. Shane Bishop is pastor of Christ UMC in Fairview Heights, Ill. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Atlanta.

Under his leadership, since 1997, the number of people in worship at Christ UMC increased from 400 to over 1,000. In the last three years, 200 people have joined the church by profession of faith.

During that 15-year period, Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference has recognized Christ UMC with its Award for Church Growth and Evangelism for Large Churches four times. Bishop was presented the Denman Evangelism Award in 1996 and was inducted into the World Methodist Evangelism Council’s “Order of the FLAME” in 1999. In 2010, the conference named him Distinguished Evangelist of the Year.

“The church is not an institution among institutions, a charity among charities or a good cause among good causes,” says Bishop. “We are the hands and feet of Christ entrusted with the transformation of the world.”

Shane and Melissa have two grown children and two grandsons.


American Idol star to sing at National Gathering

 Phil Stacey, one of the top five finalists on season six of the American Idol television show, will be the featured singer for the July 11-14, 2013, National Gathering of UM Men in Nashville.

“From the inside out,” the theme of the 4-day gathering, comes from one of Stacey’s hit songs. The song is a prayer for Christ to change us from the inside out.

Stacey's powerful voice caught the attention of more than 30 million television viewers each week, and he combines that musical gift with passionate heart for God.

“I was incredibly shocked that out of 103,000 contestants I got that far,” he says.

"I've always wanted to sing Christian music and I almost signed with a label when I graduated from college, but God had a plan for me, and God is anything but predictable," Stacey says.

For Stacey, ministry is a family tradition. "Both of my grandfathers were pastors and my father is a pastor; not only were they pastors, they were incredible Christians, great examples of integrity," Stacey says. "They weren't religious people, they were relationship people. They had a great relationship with Jesus. I saw that and I wanted that in my life. I got saved when I was very young."

Stacey grew up singing in church and later attended Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., where he became part of the acclaimed Lee Singers. "The Lee Singers were famous to me," says Stacey, who remembers how he felt when he first found out he'd made the cut. "I was shocked. I thought, 'I'd better register for classes.' I took out loans and went to college basically to be in the choir."

After college, he and his wife, Kendra, moved to Denver where he took a job as a music minister, and he later served in the Navy and was lead vocalist of the Navy Band Southeast.

“I think that as a recording artist and as a member of the body of Christ, there's nothing that I could do that's more powerful and more awesome than just being a part of what the local church is already doing to reach their community for Jesus Christ and I keep that in my vision,” says Stacey.

“I don't feel any particular pressure to release the greatest musical project in history, I just want to do what God has put me on this earth to do.”


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