My “trip” to speak in New York

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

Hebrews 10:23-24
– Opening slide

Saturday morning, with the help of imagination, technology, and the enthusiasm of a Presbyterian pastor, I showed up for my first speaking gig in almost two years. COVID made 2020 a bust in terms of “getting out there,” and 2021 was looking to be the same – but then a conversation with a New York minister turned into, hopefully, a precedent for things to come.

What we had wanted to do – the first time Rev. Bruce Gillette and I talked – was a men’s retreat. Then we shifted to a morning workshop with breakout groups. Then, finally, the format had to be less interactive and limited to an hour after the guys met for breakfast.

And so, instead of hopping on plane and meeting in-person with the good men from Owego Presbyterian Church in the Finger Lakes region of New York, I fired up ZOOM for the first time since leading my Sunday morning class in late July.

Novel arrangement:

The arrangement was novel for me. Most of the guys were in the church hall, distanced and wearing masks. Then a handful dialed in via ZOOM.

They had me projected up on a giant screen, along with my PowerPoint slides.

– talking about discipleship

This made conversation difficult, so after greeting everyone (the tech guy walked around with his laptop so I could meet them all face-to-face) I shifted my format from them talking 75% of the time to 25-75, with me “lecturing” more than I typically intend.

Of course, I had way too much material planned to cover in an hour, so some of the time was about, “Here’s my outline; take good notes and talk about this together later, in small groups.”

Because small groups – covenant groups – is the model I always intend to steer men’s ministry initiatives toward.

That’s why the title of my presentation was: “A Transformational Men’s Ministry Model That Works.”

The “Secret Sauce”

The publicity blurb said, “Author Derek Maul believes men’s ministry is key in faith communities that thrive.”

So this morning I’m sharing the outline I used for the “Why I am here today? What is my purpose?” segment of the workshop.

  1. I believe men’s ministry is the “secret sauce” to a vibrant church – regardless of size.
  2. I believe the traditional model is nice, but often fails to engage men at the place Jesus wants to meet us.
  3. I believe that following Jesus can – and should – be a journey that is beautiful and challenging and demanding and rewarding and emotional, and that we need one-another in terms of Support, Encouragement, and Accountability.
  4. I believe that the message of Jesus is more relevant and more needed and less understood than ever before, and that it is our opportunity as Christian men to live into the light, the love, the grace, the mercy, the reconciliation, the hope, and the promise that Jesus brings.
  5. I believe that if Jesus was standing on a nearby mountaintop, giving The Great Commission at the conclusion of his ministry, and we were the only ones there… I believe that this group of men would (by the power of his love) be equal to the task.

I felt like we connected fairly well, considering the constraints of the space and the masks and the technology. And I would love – one year – to have the opportunity to meet with them all (Bruce, Stuart, both William and William, Jim, Bill, Grant, Bob and the other Bob, Earl, Cliff, Rick) for an in-person retreat…

But it will be a retreat with at least three times that many participants, because the guys will have been committed to moving forward as “disciples who make disciples”, inviting and mentoring and leading along the way!


– Derek Maul (and Max)

But for today, this is what we do. And what we have to do as church communities is to stop wishing for “a return to normal” and instead move forward in terms of offering the light and the love of Jesus in any way that we can.

Jesus never said he was going to wait around, and only offer “more and better life” when it was convenient, and when everything lined up in a way that made it easy for the disciples to plug in. Nope, Jesus said “Get on with making disciples now!”

Tomorrow is not “now” – today is.

So live already – DEREK

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