And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless… (Philippians 1:9-10)
Between Friday morning (early), and Sunday evening (late), I travelled some 3,300 miles, met around 100 new people, spoke five times for a total of around five hours, participated in a variety of very meaningful small-group sessions, and had the opportunity to engage in deep one-on-one conversation with at least 25 of the participants. All told, a very profitable three days.
I’ve done a lot of these weekend conference events, but it was the first time I’ve ever walked off an airplane to see a guy holding up a sign with my name on it! So I couldn’t resist taking his photograph.
I’ve keynoted conferences with hundreds in attendance, and I’ve shown up to speak at breakfasts with as few as five guys around a table at Panera Bread; but I have to say it’s the small weekend retreats, with anywhere from 25-50 participants, that tend to give me the most satisfaction.
Plus, and this is from the heart, there’s something about the genuine spirit of my friends in the Disciples of Christ/Christian Church that communicates a beautiful embracing of the Gospel of Love that always touches me deeply.
CHALLENGE: I could stop there, I guess, and leave this post at the point of, “Wasn’t that a nice weekend,” and, “Isn’t Christian fellowship just the best!”
But, while retreats are an important element of growing and nurturing our own faith, there’s a huge “So What?” that I covered in more than one of my lectures, and if the “so-what” doesn’t stick, then there won’t be many more retreats because there won’t be more than a handful of active men’s ministry participants back in the local congregations.
I shared the powerful story of last year’s pre-dawn trek up Mount Sinai, of waiting for the most meaningful sunrise I’ve ever witnessed, of meeting God up there on the mountain, and then the spectacular journey back down into “The World.” I passed on what God showed me about the message of light and life that we are all charged to take with us when we return to the routine of our everyday lives.
And I asked this question, “Who here in this room knows what it is to have spiritual children?” Because we can’t really say that we are disciples unless we are also in the business of making disciples. Or, as my amazing wife, Rebekah, puts it, “Make disciples, to be disciples, to make disciples, to be disciples….”
Listen to the Great Commission, given by Jesus.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
OUR CALLING: Our calling is to be daily ambassadors of The kingdom of Light and Life. This life with Jesus is so wonderful, so beautiful, that it should be spilling out from us as naturally as our excitement over the victory of a favorite team or the refreshment we feel at the beginning of fall after a long, hot summer.
I’d like to go back to Kansas next year, and see 64 faithful, motivated, overflowing-with-optimism men. Not because numbers in and of themselves are anything at all, but because of the joy this year’s 32 will know when they each lead a new disciple into deeper waters.
The future of any ministry – and this is particularly critical when it comes to the unique challenges of ministry to men – rests on one iron-clad principle: We have to pass it on; we absolutely must – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.