why the church needs men, and why men need each other

IMG_5038Yesterday I met my good friend Ray for golf and conversation just over the border into Virginia. It was one of those “good value for the money” outings. Not only were the green fees fairly low, but we both hit the ball a lot of times. The result was a low “cost per shot” ratio.

We did enjoy ourselves, and we both hit a fair number of memorable golf shots; but the real reason we try to spend time together is to invest in the relationship and to share our ongoing pilgrimage as followers of Jesus.

I first met Ray when he invited me speak at a Disciples of Christ regional men’s retreat. Some of the guys had studied “GET REAL” together and they wanted to hear more. We instantly became friends, because it turns out we’re pretty much in the same place on the same journey.

We’re able to encourage each other because we both understand how important it is for men to be intentional about cultivating spiritual relationships; heart-level sharing that goes beyond the surface where so many of us like to keep our interactions – carefully engineered not to penetrate the chiseled yet vulnerable shell.

Derek and Ray
Derek and Ray

So the golf was fun and the conversation deep. Both of us have heard a clear calling to lead men into a deeper understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, and we share the same passion for a men’s ministry model that reflects the character and the priorities of Jesus, rather than the politics, preferences, prejudices, and thinly veiled sexism of 21-st Century American’s reactionary “man-up” religious culture.

GOOD NEWS: Here at WFPC, I’m encouraged every time I meet with a group of men who are meeting together for the purpose of encouraging one-another as disciples of Jesus. Between the three covenant groups and Friday-morning’s study, around 50 men are involved.

There’s a lot going on here in women’s ministry too, and co-ed discipleship is flourishing. But I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it some more in the future; A vital men’s ministry, where guys explore together what it means to live as passionate followers of the Living Way, is one of the most important “vital signs” in a healthy church. But – and this is one of my soap-box issues – discipleship needs to be about renewing ourselves in the image of Jesus, not re-imagining Jesus in the image of us.

It’s Sunday, friends – don’t forget to go to church – DEREK


5 thoughts on “why the church needs men, and why men need each other Leave a comment

  1. My pastor gave an excellent sermon on this scripture, and both the men and women really enjoyed hearing it. I didn’t hear any boo’s. Our pastor was very clear that this is definitely not about a man Lording over his wife. That is plain wrong, and that is where many men get this all mixed up, think it’s their way or the highway, and destroy a marriage. It’s really about loving Jesus and respecting Gods Word, don’t you think?

    I don’t quite understand the “Man Up” reference. Are there any books or studies that churches offer that you are talking about? We just did this study recently, and really opened up my eyes. Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood: Dennis Rainey. Sometimes men just give up, come home, sit and watch TV, or do a myriad of other things that take away from a fruitful marriage. It might give you and idea for one of the classes you offer and your church. All the men in my group found it to be awesome, and humbled us. It caused many of the men to open up, share, and get teary eyed, cause they realized some of the wrongs they have done. Me included btw. I believe there are some videos on YouTube if you have an interest in that. I am very confident that it’s not a thinly veiled sexism of 21-st Century America, but there is a critic of everything I’m sure. Have a great evening, and God bless. G

    Wives and Husbands

    22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

    25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.a 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

    English Standard Version

    Wives and Husbands

    1Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

    7Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.


  2. Paul was far more progressive than he is given credit for. Of course, the passage you introduced actually begins with, “submit yourselves one to another.” Radical for the time! But then Jesus is all about flipping cultural stereotypes upside down – and that is where I believe so much of the teaching in the evangelical world misses the mark. It promotes a chauvinistic, sexist model that has very little to do with following Jesus, and a lot to do with propping up an inequitable power culture…


  3. Derek- I appreciate your take on the value of your golf outing. Often times I “get more hits for the money” as well. I also like the “good walk spoiled” commentary on the game. I wonder how often we excuse our lack of consistency in following Jesus to the distractions around us. Sometimes we play bad golf because we are doing other things well- like being blown away by the beauty of the course or sky or needs of our friend.
    I used to live in a community that had a small club and sometimes a member would say, “Hey come play with me” when what they wanted was time with a pastor to talk about something other than golf. The score didn’t count- the time did, golf was the venue for something bigger than the game.
    Hit them long and straight- keep eyes on the target- enjoy your time with friends- and keep making progress on the course of life.


    1. Thanks, Lynn:
      Golf is simply a great excuse to be outside with good people. If I score well, that’s just gravy.
      There is always so much to learn, and I’m thankful for the company of faithful fellow-travellers.
      – DEREK


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