Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:18-19
It’s Monday morning, I’m safely home, and I have a few thoughts from my Sandy Cove weekend with the 1st Presbyterian men’s ministry from Lancaster PA.
Like every retreat I’ve ever led, the event gained momentum the more time we invested together. Consequently, the concluding worship service, outside in the fresh morning air, brought everything together in a way that simply had to be God.
Another key factor was having all three preachers (Geoff, Don, & Dan) at the retreat. The pastor for spiritual formation had to leave late Saturday to preach in Lancaster the next morning, but the lead pastor and the pastor for mission ventures participated 100%.
During worship, and before my “wrap things up” message, I asked volunteers to briefly answer the question, “What has God showed me this weekend?”
- One man shared that God had convicted him regarding prayer. “I’m an activist,” he said. “I tend to get on with things. God showed me how critically important it is that my activism comes out of an engaged relationship with Jesus.”
- One of the pastors said, “God has shown me that men’s ministry – and its amazing potential to effect spiritual growth in the church – needs to be a priority when I am planning ministry initiatives. It has moved to the top part of my list.”
- Another man confessed, “God convicted me regarding holding back when it comes to sharing my faith. My relationship with Jesus is so wonderful, and I want to communicate that passion as a natural part of my life.”
- Two of the younger guys said God had shown them – is showing them – the importance of friendships anchored in faith. “I now know without a doubt that I do have guys willing and available to hold my arms up,” one of them said.
BROKE MY HEART: One more insight that struck me hard came after worship, when we were getting ready to leave. It came from a young man – around 35 – who took me aside to thank me for what he called a “first time ever,” experience. His work often puts him in close contact with men’s ministry events.
“I attend a lot of retreats for men,” he said. “This is the first time I haven’t had to sift through the constant misogyny and chauvinism to find something worthwhile.”
His words both broke my heart and encouraged me at the same time.
His words broke my heart because they reiterated the sad fact that 21st Century men’s ministry is still dominated by a model that is sexist, reactionary, politically activist, and fundamentally un-biblical.
Then I am also encouraged because what he said validated the importance of what I’m doing. My leadership, my writing, my speaking, my commitment to bringing this important word to the world in the future.
So; a good weekend all around! I’m encouraged, I’m re-energized, and I am grateful for every opportunity I have to share a good word about the transformation that happens when Christian men move from the church membership model, to an identity as intentional, deliberate, all-in, disciples of Jesus.
In love, and because of love – DEREK