· Scouting, Ministry to Men, Leadership Development, Church Renewal, NACP

Reflections from the General Commission on UM Men



The reason for our heartache

By Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.

The Rev. Steve Casteel, former director of connectional ministries for the Mississippi Annual Conference, gave me a copy of We Are All Weird by the Seth Godin, author of 19 international bestsellers.

The book paints a picture of anger, chaos, confusion, frustration and a desperate searching––the same experiences I am witnessing during this difficult time in our church family. The book helps me as one of the bishops trying to lead this beloved UMC.

Godin ask us to reexamine four words, MASS, NORMAL, WEIRD and RICH.

MASS––the easily reached majority that seeks to conform and survive.

NORMAL––people in the middle. Finding and amplifying normal is essential to anyone who traffics in mass (The UMC).

WEIRD––what we call people who aren’t normal. More and more people are weird by choice which flies in the face of the culture of mass and the checklist of normal.

RICH––Godin’s word for someone who can afford to make choices.

Now why am I writing about this? Well, because I believe as we wrestle with the future of our denomination, we need to look past a momentary fix that gets us away from our pain.

We need to look deeper in order to discover the origin of the headache and heartache we’re feeling now. Can those of us who are charged to lead the UMC forget the political quick fixes and truly engage our people in the midst of their pain to walk through this wilderness?

So, what does this have to do with my uneasiness in the spiritual place in which I now reside?

I believe we’re on a journey that God is using to shape us, and we are rebelling against that process.

But, it’s God’s way of shaping you and me.

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. president

General Commission on UM Men




Headlines vs. reality

By Bishop Gary Mueller

The headlines scream, “The United Methodist Church is going to split!” These words that bring joy to some and strike terror in the hearts of others increasingly seem to be the reality we face in our beloved denomination. But what hurts my heart so deeply is how quickly this assumption sucks the energy out of local congregations and leaves those who love Jesus feeling powerless and hopeless.

This is why I want you to understand something. Regardless of the chaos and uncertainty, the reality is that your church will still be part of the Body of Christ; your church will still make disciples of Jesus Christ; your church will still form deeper disciples; and your church will still equip and send disciples to transform lives, communities and the world. This is not an aspiration. It is a fact.

This reality frees you to boldly embrace your identity as the Body of Christ, live your purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ who make disciples, and show the rest of the UMC and the world that differences of perspective are never the defining final word––even when it is assumed that they are.

I give thanks to God that so many UM congregations have figured out how to thrive with a diverse group of people who have perspectives that are diametrically opposed. But it’s not happenstance; Jesus gathers people who normally wouldn’t give each other the time of day to worship together on the same pew, pray together, study together, serve together and care for each other. And when they do, things miraculously change!

So, remember this when things may appear unsettling, bleak and even hopeless: God is still God, Jesus is still Lord, and the Holy Spirit is still at work.

Praise be to God.

Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president

General Commission on UM Men




Establish time for self-care

By Gil Hanke

Where do we start when we are “taking care of business?”

We are preparing for several huge events within our denomination.

Delegates to General Conference are studying books with all the resolutions and proposed legislation to be considered at the May session in Minneapolis.

We are busy providing churches with materials for Scout Sunday on February 9th.

We also are making plans for a March meeting of conference and jurisdictional leaders of men’s ministry and prayer ministry.

Meetings, trips, deadlines. Work, work, work….

But how do we prepare for all of this?

In Matthew 11, we hear the promise to those of us who are already “weary and heavy laden” that Christ will give us rest. But we must be open to that. If you are overwhelmed by your schedule for the next few months, join me in taking these steps.

  • Spend more time in prayer and in meditation for comfort and guidance.
  • Answer prayers from folks on the Upper Room Prayer Wall. Responding to prayers of people you will never meet will move your focus to others.
  • Participate in a small group that you do not lead.
  • Engage in local mission work that brings you joy.
  • Help out at a school or give some time to a cause that matters to you.
  • Call folks you haven’t talked to in a while, just to listen to how they are doing.
  • Engage in soul-filling activities; read a book for fun or see a movie with family or friends.

We tend to ignore these activities because “we don’t have time.”

As a person with a color-coded schedule on my computer, I realize that none of these activities will take place unless I plan for them.

So, along with the meetings and the phone calls and the other deadlines, put these “self-care” events on your calendar and hold to them. Don’t let a work schedule get in the way of serving in a way that is fulfilling.

Gil Hanke, chief executive officer

General Commission on UM Men




The order of things

By Steven Scheid

I came into work on Monday after a week out of the office. The rose bushes had been cut back to six inches above the ground. They are large and bloom from spring until late in the fall. I was taken back by the heavy cutting. It appears most of the rose bush is gone. This is winter. It is time to do the work of pruning. All living things go through times of change.

Movements start small. A seed of need sparks a person and then community. The seeds of the Methodist movement came from such a seed in John Wesley’s heart.

The Boy Scouts of America came from a seed in the heart of Baden-Powell.

They have both bloomed into large organizations. Both have winds of change pushing hard at them. Change is coming. Pruning will happen. It is the order of things.

The beauty of this divine order is the amazing regrowth. The roots are unseen and hold fast. They are prepared for the warmer weather coming. They will feed a set of branches and leaves. Blossoms will again fill the air.

Why are we surprised at this dynamic change? Within our Christian faith the expectation is death and resurrection.

John 12:24 (NIV) calls us to see the divine order. “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

It is around us in the winter. The pruning brings back a healthy plant.

There will be a shock as change occurs. I cannot forecast the future. There may be a division in our denomination and there may be a bankruptcy within Scouting.

Whether or not these particular events occur, change will come.

We must be rooted and ready to grow and bloom again.

Steven Scheid, director of the Center for Scouting Ministries

General Commission on UM Men




An examination of our mission statement

By Dr. Rick Vance

The mission statement of the Center for Men’s Ministries is “Coaching men to thrive through Christ, so others may know Him.”

As we begin 2020, I challenge you think about this mission statement.

The first part of this statement, “Coaching men to thrive…,” indicates that, as people involved in men’s ministry, we are called to relational action. Coaching, (a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance) is in itself a form of relationship that requires us to know a man and work with him to achieve his goals to not only know Christ, but to excel and grow in his relationship with Christ. This is more than an invitation or breakfast meeting. To coach men to thrive, requires us to be intentional in meeting with men in accountable relationships and providing suggestions and resources based on their journeys.

The outcome of this relationship is to help men have an extraordinary relationship with Christ and be involved in exceptional and meaningful ministry.

The second part of the statement, “so others may know Him.” Recognizes that we are not in relationship with Christ just for our own wellbeing. While this is important, we are called to be disciple-makers, people who invite others on their journeys of thriving through Christ.

The Center for Men’s Ministries has many resources and training opportunities to help men and local churches reach, mentor and coach men. If you are up to the challenge of coaching men to thrive through Christ, we can be your resource center. Just call.

Blessings on the journey

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

General Commission on UM Men




Assess your skills and get involved

By Steve Nailor

A new year is here, and I am thinking about our ministry to men in 2020.

New NACP leaders will be elected at the March 5-8 annual meeting in Nashville. I encourage all conference presidents to attend. If you are in a conference that is not organized and would like to attend, please contact Rick Vance (615/620-7277).

As we begin a new year, I encourage you to think about your skills and attributes for ministry. Consider the following questions:

  • What are your abilities?
  • What are your gifts/talents?
  • What is your passion?
  • What needs to be done?


While several items might be considered under this topic, I would like you to look at your leadership capabilities and your level of self-motivation. If you are a self-motivated leader, UMM needs you.


Think about your talents. We know change is coming to our church; do you have a talent that could help with that issue? Maybe you have the gift of friendship and listening to others. What about helping others with accountability issues? Maybe that is one of your talents.


What is your passion in life? What do you love to do? Do you have a passion for helping others? Does sharing Christ or disciplining others through a ministry for men sounds exciting to you?


If you have one or several of these skills. You are needed in men’s ministry. Changes are coming to our church and we need committed leaders with a passion for making a difference in the lives of others. You can not affect ministry by sitting on the sidelines and thinking “George will do that.” That’s not going to happen.

I encourage you to get involved and help other men, your pastor, and your church to become stronger and more relevant in these changing times. Our mission is “Coaching men to thrive through Christ, so others may know Him.”

When we get involved as men, our churches will grow and prosper.

Steve Nailor, president

National Association of Conference Presidents of UM Men




So––how is that working for you?

By Mark Lubbock

“Either consider the tree good and its fruit good, or consider the tree rotten and its fruit rotten. A tree is known by its fruit.”

––Matthew 12:33

New Year, fresh start? Maybe, maybe not. Frequently I hear folks say, “If you do what you’ve always done then you will get what you’ve always gotten.” Yet these same folks don’t seem open to change themselves. How about you? Are you content with your spiritual life and progress as a disciple of Jesus?

Consider your personal spiritual life, and your personal ministry work (You ARE engaged in active ministry, aren’t you?) What is the outcome? Are lives changed? Do you behave more like Jesus today than this same time last year? Would people look at your ministry work, at your life’s example, and say, “I can see Jesus at work here!”?

We all are a work in progress, most of all myself. I see some pretty raw places in my life and can easily identify areas that don’t look much like Jesus. There are positive changes though, particularly when I look back over the past 12 months. I do see progress, in spite of the work yet to be done. There are some good spiritual disciplines in my life, and my personal prayer life and Bible study are working to bring about desired changes.

Yet, if we are not showing evidence of spiritual growth and transformation it is very likely we are continuing to do the same thing we’ve always done, but we somehow expect different results. Why not take a moment to perform an honest assessment of your own spiritual life right now, then do the same for your ministry.

A free online spiritual assessment is available here.

Remember, you are not alone, and your challenges are similar to those we all face. The Center for Ministry to Men is here to support you and your ministry. Contact me if you would like help, resources, training or a speaker!

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

General Commission on UM Men




A spiritual journey

By Jim Boesch

People wishing to make a journey from selfishness to selflessness embark on a mission of seeking and discerning who they are and whose they are, as opposed to what they are in this life.

When they seek to make this journey, God will provide the direction.

Selfishness is understood as caring only for one's own interests, benefits, and welfare, regardless of others; Selflessness is having primary concern with the needs and wishes of others.

Selflessness is not about thinking less of yourself; it’s about thinking more of others.

In 2 Timothy 3: 1-4 Paul speaks to selfishness by saying “But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Conversely in Luke 6:35, Jesus speaks of selflessness when he asks us to “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. If you do, you will have a great reward.”

Only by following the direction of the Holy Spirit will we be able to make this transition from a “me-first attitude” to seeking to serve God and others.

We are called to answer God’s call to works of mercy through compassion and justice, our ability to respond is dependent upon our degree of selflessness.

Jim Boesch, a certified men’s ministry specialist and deployed staff member

General Commission on UM Men


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