|Men from St Andrew UMC, Highland Ranch, Colorado|
I've talked about men's ministry before in this space, and there's been some interesting discussion posted in response to some of the foundational ideas I've been putting forward. They are, in brief:
- God's purpose is that men and women work together - and at the peak of their capacity - to further the work of the Kingdom of God in and through local faith communities...
- Too many of us do very little at capacity, and most especially at church
- One of the best measures of church health is the percentage of actively engaged men, ages 25-70
- The Preacher's Husband is ideally situated to inject life into men's ministry initiatives
- I believe it's self-evident that - in many congregations - a vacuum exists where the church could benefit from more effective male leadership
- The traditional "one more civic club - but at church" approach to men's ministry, one that looks and acts like just another Rotary, is aging, dying, and increasingly irrelevant.
The best case scenario is a faith community where there are options, and where there is constantly something new on the scene. Not to replace outdated programs (because they still meet the needs of those who participate) but to supplement, add, reinvent and renew.
|Some of the Sun-risers|
So I have been very pleased to see our established men's breakfast group (The Sun-shiners) grow steadily while - at the same time -my small-group Bible-study has gained strength. The Sun-shiners - who struggled at one point to bring five or six men to the weekly Tuesday morning prayer breakfast - now have 25-30 active members with as many as 20 in attendance from week to week.
Their ministry has become a vital component in our prayer outreach. The men discuss prayer needs, they pray for the individuals concerned, and they sign a prayer card that they then send to each person they have prayed for. It's a powerful witness and an encouragement to everyone involved.
|A sampling of The Men's Room|
Yesterday evening, Wednesday, I counted 18 men in my Bible-study. We very much need to start a second small-group. Our format is completely different. We share what's going on in our lives, we read scripture together (often in the context of a book study), and we pray for one another. Ideas like care, encouragement, accountability, support, and "provoking one another in love" (Hebrews), are at the core of our purpose.
My Wednesday evening group is all about being disciples and encouraging one-another to be faithful.
As The Preacher's Husband, I like to talk about our freedom from "traditional" clergy-spouse roles, our lack of dependence on stereotypical expectations, and the joy of living outside the bounds of pre-packaged, shrink-wrapped, cookie-cutter cultural norms...
... That said, there's some serious discipleship work to be done amongst the men who stand around the periphery of church life. And we, my friends - my brothers - are just the guys for the job.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6)
In Christ, and because of Christ - DEREK