Saturday, April 10, 2010

Virginia - faith, fun and opportunity

This is an amazing weekend in Virginia. I'm here with around 75 Disciples of Christ (DOC) men, privileged to serve as the keynote and program speaker for their conference/retreat. I have honestly seldom encountered such an enthusiastic, genuine group of guys.

We started with a golf tournament, yesterday, and I don't believe I've ever played on a more interesting and visually stunning course. For some reason, I was hitting the ball long and straight. My team managed to get a (two-man, best ball) winning score of 67. I even carded a few legitimate birdies, tee to hole, and almost aced a 190 yard par-three.

The DOC in Virginia are in the process of retooling their men's ministry - it's a task that needs to be addressed in most Christian Churches of every denomination.

These guys have recognized the "Writing on the Wall" and, rather than:
- A) Insisting that the clock be rolled back to the 1950s
- B) Abandoning men's ministry all together
- C) Whining ineffectually, while adopting a defeatist attitude that proves its own point...
(All the above approaches are being tried by too many men's organizations), they took a long look at the model they have been using and decided pretty much to start over, step away from the "same old same old", and invite God to "Do a new thing."

Consequently, there's an air of renewal, hope, optimism, belief and purpose here that is sure to usher in some positive results.

Bottom Line:
Here's the fundamental questions these guys are asking: "What does it mean for men to live as followers of Jesus in the 21st Century?" and "How can I serve God as a disciple in my local church?"

The old way of men's ministry (failing men's ministry) is all about protecting the structure. Baton down the hatches - talk incessantly about "the good old days" - close rank - sponsor another pancake breakfast on a morning no man under 70 can attend - shore up the walls - save the organization. The focus is on protecting a used up, worn-out model that's increasingly irrelevant in today's world.

The new way of doing men's ministry is about developing a culture where men see the value of renewed spirituality, and where that sense of living discipleship works its way into every aspect of our lives.

I'm personally very excited that some of my work (GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men) is helping DOC leaders articulate their vision.

The day of a "Men's Club" at church may well be over. And I think that's a good thing - because the vision that's replacing it is a vision of:
  • Men committed to following Jesus...
  • Men meeting together for mutual encouragement and to hold ourselves accountable...
  • And men asking this question: "What can we do, as brothers, to further the Kingdom of God and to strengthen the mission of my local congregation?"
That's the kind of men's ministry that will attract men of all ages. When my life, and yours, is animated by the transformational truth of a renewed relationship with the Living God - then the question of renewal and vitality throughout the congregation is already being addressed.

I believe God is calling men to leadership. Leadership via example. An undeniable model of what it means to live as if we mean it - to live lives rich in spirit and in truth - to live without reservation - to live the kind of life that following Jesus calls us to....


Ray said...

The men are already emailing and sending Facebook messages to me about how much they enjoyed your message. What a powerful weekend indeed! Thanks again for the personal time you took with the men one on one and with Greg and I. We will certainly stay connected.

I wanted to also share with you this morning yesterday's 'Call to Worship' I put together as I listened to your Saturday evening presentation...your words:

What do we dare with our faith?
By daring to follow Jesus.
We all know people who regress to the unremarkable.

What do we dare with our faith?
By thriving to really LIVE!
Jesus said, 'Take courage-I have overcome the world"

What do we dare with our faith?
By casting away mediocrity.
Devotion, discipline, desire and daring will lead us out of the boat!

What do we dare with our faith?
By daring to be Disciples of Christ, followers of Jesus.


Derek Maul said...

Sounds so good when you say, it, Ray!