· Scouting, Ministry to Men, charter, Legacy Builders, Church Renewal, NACP

 Reflections by agency officers and staff

of the General Commission on UM Men

June 2019


‘Do you love me more than these?’


By Bishop James Swanson


This is probably one of the most piercing questions Jesus ever asked of Peter.

“Do you love me more than these?”


It has always amazed me that Jesus and Peter did not engage in a sidebar conversation around definitions. We would not be comfortable with this question. We would want Jesus to more clearly define what he meant by “more than these”.


I’m guessing that Peter was thinking

  • “I’m a Jew, Jesus.”
  • “I shouldn’t hang out with Gentiles.”
  • “I can’t eat their food.”

Jesus knows what Peter is thinking, he responds, “I hear you. Peter. but do you love me more than these?”

It is a question Jesus also asks of all who follow Him, and especially those who have been set aside for special service for Him.


The latter category not only includes licensed and ordained clergy but also laity who serve in leadership roles in local congregations and other places,


“Do you love me more than these?”


Could it be that at the core of the lack of vital, vibrant and thriving men’s ministry is a failure to take this question seriously? You see the question is not about your love for the local church you attend, the local United Methodist Men unit of which you are a part, the district or conference office you hold or even the jurisdictional or general church office to which you have been elected.


The key to effective and fruitful men’s ministry is to answer the question: “Do you love Jesus more than these?”


Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. president

General Commission on UM Men





In need of prayer


By Gil Hanke


One of the many ministries we proudly support is the Upper Room Prayer Center. I recently posted prayers on the Prayer Wall. but mostly I provide written responses to prayers posted at that website.


If you watch the news you understand some of the stress and pain in our world. If you would like to help someone cope with those difficulties, you may want to respond to prayers posted on that electronic wall. It is tragic and inspirational at the same time.


You will find a lot of down-to-earth hurt and hope in the prayers posted there. These folks feel they have no one else to join them in prayer.


In the past, one of the blessings of UM Men retreats was experienced by prayer warriors who would answer the Upper Room phone line day and night. At the end of the retreat the conference prayer advocate would proudly announce the number of prayer requests that had been answered.


As you know, for many good reasons, those person-to-person phone calls have been replaced by posting prayer requests on the electronic wall.


I visited the wall this morning and was shocked by the hundreds of postings that came in. It is transformational to read those prayer requests. It is also transformational for those of us who add responses to those requests. And it is transformational for those who feel so alone to read prayers offered on their behalf.


Reading and responding to these posted prayers would be a great way to start any or all church meetings. Think of the number of prayers your small group could answer in just a few minutes.


It is also a great way to add to the devotionals you read each day.


If you are not familiar with the wall, the prayer is followed by a number which indicates the number of responses received. “One Response” means the person who offered the prayer has received only an automatic response from the Upper Room. That is a prayer request that needs your attention. He or she is waiting for a personal response from you.


I checked your schedule. You have the time, why not now?


Post a response on the wall.


Gil Hanke, chief executive officer

General Commission on UM Men





Teach young people what to do when lost


By Steven Scheid


Our Scouting ministries partners have millions of members, most of whom are youth. The programs provide opportunities for fellowship and great activities, especially outdoors. As a result, Scout leaders and the Center for Scouting Ministries are deeply concerned about safety. We use simple tools to remind young people what to do in potentially dangerous situations; one example is the mnemonic “STOP”.


If you become lost:


Stop! Stay in one location. Realize that help is available and on the way. Your chances of being found are better if you stay in one place.

          “Wait upon the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31).


Think! Take time to collect your thoughts and evaluate the situation. Remember that we all lose our way sometimes. Making a mistake does not make us any less valuable. Don’t’ hide from searchers who are looking for you.

         “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works” (Psalm 119:27).


Observe your surroundings. When you look around it is not as bad as you think. Make yourself visible. Signal for help. Prayer is a call for help from the one who made your surroundings.

“My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:12).


Plan for your own safety. Look at the things you already have. How will you use them to keep dry, out of the wind and insulate yourself? Get shelter and clean water. Plan how you will thank your rescuers when they find you.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).


Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries

General Commission on UM Men





The fields are ripe for harvest


By the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance


“Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest.”

––John 4:35 (CEB)


Over the last several weeks I have been traveling to several cities for speaking engagements.


Whenever I go into a new community, I make it a point to visit neighboring UM churches. Most of these people don’t know about charter subscriptions. They find it is difficult to reach men and they don’t know there are helpful resources.

As I reflected on that, I recalled numerous times I have gone to orchards to pick fruit. We harvested the fruit on the lower branches and the ground; however, we never reached the fruit near the tree tops.


“If someone doesn’t pick the fruit from the tree tops, I will lose a great deal of the crop,” said a farmer. “People seem OK with grabbing the easy fruit, but they leave the rest to spoil.”


The experiences lead me to ask, “As leaders of UM Men are we guilty of just trying to reach known churches, while leaving the unfamiliar and more difficult-to-reach churches untouched?”


Currently 90 percent of our churches do not have chartered men’s ministry. Most of these churches are probably looking for ways to connect with men in their churches and communities, but they have not been contacted by local UM Men leaders.


Jesus reminded his disciples; “The fields are ripe . . .”


I challenge you, as UM leaders to look up and see the harvest that God has for you to reach. 

We have a variety of resources that can help you as you go out into the field. As a disciple, go and make disciples and connect them so they have the support and resources they need to make disciples as well.


Your brother on the journey,


The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries

General Commission on UM Men





Many raindrops bring a great harvest


By Steve Nailor


Several days ago, I sat in my garage and through the open door, I watched raindrops bounce off the pavement.

I thought about the importance of rain to the world, and I thought the rain drops might serve as a metaphor for our ministry with men.


If each rain drop could represent a United Methodist man, the combination of talents and skills could bring new life to our churches and communities. One raindrop can’t do much to revitalize a dry field, but a combination of raindrops can produce a massive harvest.


Our mission is to “declare the centrality of Christ in every man’s life” (Discipline ¶2302).

From the bottom of my heart, I believe men hold the key to the church’s growth and stability.


Jesus gave us two commandments:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

––Matthew 22:37-39 (NAS version)


If we were to make Christ central in our lives and if we were to follow these commandments we could make a difference in the lives of others.


Be a drop of rain and join with other men in making a difference in your community and your church.


Then breathe in the fresh air of new vitality following the rain.


Steve Nailor, president

National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men





They are waiting for you


By Mark Lubbock


“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7


Over the past year I’ve identified a clear pattern of something new and wonderful taking place.


God is moving in the hearts of young dads to step up to do something in ministry with men. Interestingly, most of the men I’ve encountered are not connected with any UM Men organization. Indeed, many have never even heard about the national organization or the general commission.


It has always been God’s call to offer everyone we meet a personal invitation to visit our church.

How do we find and connect with this new wave of leaders? It may sound obvious, but the saying, “If you don’t look, you will never find” rings true in this case.


We should view every encounter with men as an opportunity to invite them to participate in our men’s ministry activities.

Each district might provide a printed UM Men calendar that includes the activities and contact information for every group and church in the district. Handing out the calendars with person-to-person invitations would go a long way toward increasing the number of participants.


Want some great ideas for activities and men’s groups? Try this free download “Expand Your Ministry To Men”. Another useful resource is the book How To Disciple Men, available at Amazon on this link.


Mark Lubbock, a certified men’s ministry specialist and deployed staff member \

General Commission on UM Men





Follow first

By Jim Boesch

Jesus’ first charge to his 12 hand-picked disciples was not to leave Jerusalem to “make disciples of all nations . . .” (The Great Commission––Matthew 28:18-20).


His first directive was “Come follow me . . .” (Matthew 4:18-22).


We work hard at doing church on Sundays and Wednesday nights. We support missional outreach in our own communities and around the world.


We collect and donate tons of material for needy people and projects. All of this is done for good purposes.

But are we becoming the disciples God calls us to be?


Are we engaged in service to God’s Kingdom during our all-too-brief earthly journeys?


Lasting transformation can only be sustained through following the same disciplines that Jesus practiced.


  1. Abide in God’s unconditional love––with confidence grounded in trust.          A new commandment I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”––John 13: 34-35


  1. Practice solitude––spend time alone with God.          “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” ––Mark 1:35


  1. Experience prayer––speak with God.          “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’” ––Luke 11:1


  1. Apply Scripture––prepare for the challenges that are to come.           "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ––2 Timothy 3:16-17


  1. Maintain supportive relationships––share their vulnerabilities.          “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” ––Proverbs 27:6

We are created to change the world; let’s be change agents who reflect God’s love and grace.


Jim Boesch, deployed staff member

General Commission on UM Men




Back to News Articles