· Scouting, Susanna Wesley, Leadership Development, NACP

It’s all about relationships

NASHVILLE, Tenn.––On the opening day of the March 7-10 gathering of conference presidents of UM Men and conference prayer advocates, the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance advised the 80 participants to focus on relationships.

“Men’s ministry is all about relationships,” said Vance, who serves as the director of the Center for Men’s Ministries. “It’s about man to man, God to man, man to God, and man to church relationships.”

Follow first

Noting that the first disciples spent three years following Jesus before they became leaders, Vance said, “You can’t lead if you don’t follow.”

He noted that most of the conference leaders serve as leaders of study and accountable groups, but few of them serve as members of such groups. “We need to be in a group to which we are accountable,” said Vance. “Ninety-eight percent of men don’t have another guy they can go to when they are dealing with life struggles.”

Ministry accompanies mission

“Ministry is different from missions, but ministry frequently results from missions,” said Vance. He explained that men who work together to build a handicap ramp frequently share their faith and find ways to provide spiritual nurture. That’s where ministry begins.

Practical advice

“How many of you like meetings?” Vance asked in opening another training session. Few men raised their hands.

Vance offered several suggestions to improve the quality of UM Men meetings:

  • Know why you are meeting.
  • Select participants – Not everyone needs to attend every meeting.
  • Develop an effective agenda with a proposed outcome.
  • Start and end on schedule.
  • Ask group for suggestions when time is running out.
  • Provide follow-up information that highlights who is to do what and by when.
  • Get a commitment from the participants to attend the next meeting

Ministry is complex

Vance asked the men to form table groups to determine their biggest obstacle in ministering to men. He received a long and varying list of obstacles.

“Men’s ministry is complex,” said Vance. “Our ministry must reach men at all points of their journeys.”

He noted the Center for Men’s Ministries has many new resources that conferences and local churches may use to reach both the men in the church and those outside the church who are looking for relationships. “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” said Vance. “We have the resource, or we will find the resource. If we can’t find it, we’ll create it.”

In other business, the assembly:

  • Recommended the General Commission on UM Men consider the possibility of eliminating the EMS $45 category of membership in favor of the Legacy Builder program in which men provide a minimum $10-a-month support for men’s ministry.
  • Commissioned Odell Horne, Jeff Thornton, and Robert Wright as certified men’s ministry specialists,
  • Learned that future issues of UM Men magazine will only be available on the commission website in an online format.
  • Received reports on the February special session of the General Conference via video calls from Bishop James Swanson, president of the commission, and Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president.
  • Learned of the death of Robert Powell, former president of the NACP and former president of the UM Men Foundation. Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission, missed the opening sessions of the NACP meeting in order to attend the funeral in Dothan, Ala.
  • Learned that the Upper Room Living Prayer Center plans to end the live call-in ministry and replace it with a living prayer wall on the Upper Room website. 
  • Received a report from Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, that notes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will end its partnership with Boy Scouts on December 31. “This leaves 425,000 boys without a chartering partner in scouting,” said Scheid. This is a great opportunity for UM congregations to welcome these Scouts into their troops.
  • Received a report from Wade Mays, director of the Meals for Millions program of the Society of Saint Andrew. Northern Illinois Conference was the top supporter of that ministry with a gift of $20,437; Virginia Conference was second with $9,305; Susquehanna was third with $7,400. Iowa Conference received the “But-the-Spud Award for the greatest percentage increase in giving with a total of $4,351, a 446 percent increase in giving from 2017 to 2018.
  • Received advice on ways to reach younger men from Odell Horne, a certified men’s ministry specialist based in Atlanta and a member of YoungER Men of the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
  • Presented, via video conversation, the Dale Waymire Award to Ed Shytle, former president of the UM Men Foundation battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. An additional $4,950 was added to a UM Men fund honoring Shytle.
  • Received an invitation from Greg Arnold to join Adventure Men.
  • Presented a Life Achievement Award to Marc Stowe, a 21-year staff member of the commission.
  • Approved the 2019 budget of the UM Men Foundation that provides $114,500 for the Scouting Ministry Center and $41,000 for the Men’s Ministry Center. The Jan. 31 report shows the foundation has assets totaling $2.4 million.
  • Poured 800 pounds of rice and 500 pounds of beans into plastic packages for children at the Tusculum Elementary School in Nashville.
  • Presented Susanna Wesley Awards of Excellence to Nancy Ramsey, Nancy Dozier, and Rita Custer.


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