Published June 7, 2007
DULUTH — While serving in the Middle East, Air Force pilot Jordan Lee did his job to make things more secure for his wife and two children back home in Warner Robins.
Uncle Sam’s priority for Lee was gathering surveillance while piloting his E-8C. Lee had an additional mission – to maintain a consistent relationship with Christ and be the man his family expects him to be. Lee, a member of Westside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, accomplished this partly through the Bible and book study groups he would organize among his crew members. The practice followed him home.
“I realized I liked the studies and wondered why we couldn’t do that among guys at home, too,” he said. “I talked to a couple of friends and we started a men’s Bible study at Westside on Wednesday mornings.”
Lee added that the group started off with a dozen members and now has up to eight regulars, “a good size for an accountability group,” he said.
The fact that Lee, a layman, has taken a leading role isn’t unusual, said Glen McCall, specialist for Men’s Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
“Most churches – including large ones – do not have a staff person leading the Men’s Ministry, which are designed to support other ministries,” said McCall. “Men are to be fully engaged in the life of the church.”
McCall speaks from experience. After accepting Christ at 15, he immediately became part of his church’s Brotherhood ministry. He got involved in leadership roles at 19, beginning more than 30 years of active participation in men’s ministries.
“In getting involved, men will be engaged in learning how to take personally the Great Commission,” said McCall. “It’s an opportunity to cultivate men that the church can count on to help them in their fulfillment in ministry.”
A men’s ministry at Westside had been tried before, but “dried out” said Charles Anthony, a layman who heads the ministry.
Changed heart, changed family
“Nehemiah chapter 8 made me want to do this,” Anthony said. “When Nehemiah started reading God’s word to the people, they were under conviction. The next day the men came back to learn more. They took what they learned back to their families to change lives.
“If you capture the heart of a man, you’ve captured the family,” said Anthony. “Once his heart is changed, the family follows that.”
Capturing the heart of a man starts with speaking his language, stated Stacy Dyer, pastor of Harmony Grove Baptist Church in Blairsville. Events featuring pastels and flowers don’t cut it. Ones including the woods and eating do.
The church’s third annual Outdoor Extravaganza this year was a prime example of the bent on reaching men. The event itself was a facet of M.U.D. (Making U Disciples) Ministries, whose founder, Eric Hixon, uses outdoor events to reach others.
“In every church there are folks who like to hunt and fish,” said Dyer. “We just take their interests an factor in Christ in order to give them an upward look, a God-consciousness.”
Jeff Deaver, a deacon at Harmony Grove, started the church’s sportsman’s ministry so that special needs individuals could enjoy the beauties of nature and the outdoors. The goal was to provide lasting experiences designed to connect others to Christ. Since its inception, the ministry has grown to include all those with an interest in the outdoors and not just the handicapped.
“We strive to teach the proper handling of firearms, archery gear, and other sports equipment through safety courses, but most importantly, we want to reach the lost for Christ,” said Dyer. “We have seen men get involved in this ministry who have not been able to plug in anywhere else in the life of the church.”
Although valuable components, McCall is quick to point out that a successful men’s ministry needs to be more than Bible study and wild game suppers.
“As stated in our GBC Men’s Ministries team strategy packet, prayer, missions education, missions action and involvement, and discipleship and spiritual development are the major categories upon which a good foundation is laid for a well-developed, all encompassing, comprehensive ministry with men and boys,” said McCall.
For about two years Chris Sims and Jeff Hayhurst, deacons at Cartersville First Baptist, had been part of a men’s Bible study on Friday mornings. A year ago the two started talking earnestly about putting legs to their ideas on an organized ministry that would reach men to involve them in the church.
“We had four guys who began praying over it and getting other men involved,” said Sims. “It was a good core to start with.”
Participation in the first event, a rafting trip to Tennessee, surprised Sims and Hayhurst when 40 men went. Involvement in community missions last fall remained strong as the men’s group worked through Habitat for Humanity, handed out hot chocolate at Cartersville’s Christmas parade, and spent time serving food and interacting with children at the Bartow County Boys and Girls Club. At a skeet shoot 70 men attended, with seven coming forward to pray over various decisions.
The purpose of the ministry got renewed clarity when the church’s interim pastor, Stan Wilkins, fell at his home Thanksgiving weekend and died days later.
“We saw the men’s ministry at that point as an effort to keep the church families together by bringing in the men and discipling them,” said Sims.
“We used resources and looked for guidance from churches such as First Baptist Woodstock and Johnson Ferry [in Marietta]. We’ve been sticking to a premise we first heard from Danny Singleton, former Men’s Ministry leader at First Woodstock. ‘Give the men what they need in the context of what they want.’ We try to reach men where they’re at.”
Recently, the group took another retreat to the mountains. On June 23, they’ll sponsor a car show and motorcycle ride to raise funds for a scholarship in Wilkins’ name for ministers attending New Orleans Seminary.
North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, one of the larger churches in the GBC, hired James Chastain as associate of men’s ministries in 2004. He says the desire to establish the ABCs of a men’s ministry began with comparing what was available for X and Y.
“We have a strong women’s ministry at our church and started to look at what men were doing,” he said. “We wanted men more involved and doing ministry. Women are very involved but men typically only come on Sunday. We wanted to build those relationships and have guys get involved with each other and the church.
“One of the things we started doing was promoting the use of small groups and meeting once a week. We’ve seen a lot of growth individually out of that. There are now at least 20 small groups meeting outside the church for Bible study.”
In addition, North Metro has taken men on several mission trips and hosted a banquet with Florida State coach Bobby Bowden speaking.
The impact of a men’s ministry isn’t measured totally in the now, but the legacy left behind, stated McCall.
“Men learn the responsibility of training up young men and boys for missions and ministry in the church. They’ll develop the legacy that will help bridge the gap for generations to come.
“It’s not just a ripple. Educational programs like RAs and Challengers have an impact on the young boys following these men. They’ll learn the emphasis on being leaders in their home, church, and community. They’ll learn to support the vision of the pastor and the church staff.
“They work to be the man of God they were created to be.”
• Nine will have kids who leave the church.
• Eight will not find their jobs satisfying.
• Six pay the monthly minimum on their credit card balances.
• Five have a major problem with pornography.
• Four will get divorced, affecting 1 million children per year.
• Only one has a biblical worldview.
• Ten will struggle to balance work and family.
– GBC Men’s Ministries Team Strategy Summary
Resources are available through the Georgia Baptist Convention for churches interested in starting ministries geared toward men. Ronnie Jordan, pastor of Calloway Baptist Church in LaGrange, found himself in such a situation when church member Todd Wyzykowski approached him last year about the subject.
“Todd’s desire was for men to take the leadership role God designed for us to have in the community, family, and church,” said Jordan. “We started with the basics, beginning with teaching our men to be witnesses.
“We’ve had fellowships and a few mission projects, but are still in our infancy. We’re excited about it.”
On Nov. 7 GBC Men’s Ministries specialist Glen McCall led a one-day training seminar at the church, outlining the major components that build such a ministry: prayer, missions education, missions action and involvement, discipleship and spiritual development, and activities.
“It was great,” said Jordan. “Glen sparked the fire for us to get started. Todd took over from that point.”
GBC Men’s Ministries will be hosting a Statewide Leadership Conference Aug. 11 at First Baptist Church in Powder Springs. Several facets of Men’s Ministries will be addressed, including Disaster Relief, Baptist Builders, Outdoor Ministry, and Royal Ambassadors. Registration deadline is Aug. 3.
For more information call (770) 936-5256 or (800) 746-4422
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