“ But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:15
Thanks to Jim Ferry and Kipp Spanbauer for the images
Friday evening, speaking to a small crowd of men in White Memorial Presbyterian Church‘s new state-of-the-art worship space, I had the sudden realization this was the first time I had given such a presentation, live, since before the pandemic.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 men, 200, or just the twenty or so at White Memorial, nothing beats actually being there in person, and my heart was full.
The evening was billed as their “Spring Retreat” with a cookout, icebreakers, then my keynote. But what it really turned out to be, I believe, was a rallying point for guys interested in what men’s ministry might look like going forward. A kind of “coming out of the pandemic” reimagining.
If you read me at all then you already know – from posts, articles, and books – where I stand when it comes to the connection between cutting edge men’s ministry and the vitality of the church. And by “cutting edge” I most certainly do not mean looking in the rearview mirror at the 50’s and 60’s, and trying to replicate whatever worked then.
There is nothing wrong with the traditional monthly men’s breakfast that meets maybe nine times a year, and that can still be a great place for everyone to come together periodically, but what men really need is deep and authentic community, the invitation to “do life” together, to meet every week to share their stories and challenges and celebrations in the context of prayer and Bible study, and to do it with guys they trust.
Heart of my message:
So here is my outline from the heart of my message. It’s a manifesto of sorts. This is what I believe about men’s ministry and what can be possible in any church, of any size, when men are serious about following Jesus:
- I believe vital men’s ministry is the “secret sauce” to a vibrant church – regardless of size.
- I believe the traditional model is nice, but often fails to engage men at the place Jesus wants to meet us.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 (whoever I am talking to) would – by the power of his love – be equal to the task.
White Memorial Presbyterian Church was pleased with the turnout. I was especially encouraged to see two or three younger guys represented, and I told them about the powerful ministry of the “Fathers Who Aren’t in Heaven” subset of Wake Forest’s ministry to men.
Here’s the thing: there is always room for us to grow as disciples of Jesus, there is always something to learn, and there are always people around who need us to reach out to them. And the best place to do all of that is in community, with the support of those who can share our dreams and our hurts and our need for God’s love.
Peace, blessings, grace, and promise – DEREK