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Georgia leads SBC in Men's Ministries participation

State posts 21 percent jump while SBC increases 6 percent overall


Joe Westbury/Index

A Georgia RA counselor watches over young boys from his church on the lake at Camp Kaleo last summer. The camp, located just north of Macon, is underway with a full summer schedule of camping and spiritual development activities.

The Georgia Baptist Convention leads the SBC in the number of men, young men, and boys participating in Men’s Ministries for the 2008 church year. And the difference between it and the next state convention isn’t even close.

A comparison of men’s work convention-wide showed Georgia Baptists ahead of North Carolina Baptists by 35,726 according to a statistics released by Baptist Press on May 18.

Georgia Baptist churches reported 88,719 individuals participating in a variety of ministries under the Men’s Ministries umbrella. That number, documented in the Annual Church Profile for the 2008 church year, shows a jump of 15,521 individuals and 120 churches participating from the previous reporting period – a 21.20 percent increase.

The top 10 states, after Georgia and North Carolina with 52,993, were Tennessee with 35,641; Alabama with 33,480; South Carolina with 29,630; Mississippi with 23,970; Florida with 19,638; Virginia with 10,476; and Louisiana with 10,318.

Although SBC total church membership, Sunday School attendance and the number of baptisms declined in the period, participation in Baptist Men’s ministries and Royal Ambassadors jumped almost 6 percent.

According to data collected for the recent Annual Church Profile by LifeWay Christian Resources, the number of men and boys enrolled nationally in Baptist Men and RA programs in SBC churches jumped to 403,575 in 2008, compared to 381,355 in 2007.

“Churches are recognizing the critical need for developing their men for leadership,” said Glen McCall, specialist for Men’s Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention. “I believe that leadership for men is not an option. It is what we were created for and are called to do.

“As men grow in Christ, they become stronger leaders in church, the home, workplace, and community. Families become more faithfully?engaged in the life of the church. Thus strengthening the men, strengthens the families, who strengthen the church, which strives to fulfill the commission of Jesus for evangelism, discipleship, and missions.” Tennessee placed second behind Georgia in chalking up the biggest increases in growth. Among Tennessee’s 3,000 SBC churches, 297 showed a 50 percent or more increase in men’s ministry – a 17 percent jump.

“The emphasis on the Royal Ambassador Centennial last year may have contributed to this upswing,” said Jim Burton, team leader for mission education?at the North American Mission Board. “We heard from many churches in 2008 that realized they needed to re-prioritize teaching boys about missions and developing men into leaders.”

“A strong RA Ministry Program helps the church develop boys into faithful men with a mission heart,” added McCall. “Many of our churches realize the important influence of Christian men in the lives of their boys, especially for those who do not have that male role model in their own homes.”

After 1908, RA chapters multiplied and by 1935, had grown to some 4,500 chapters in the U.S. Royal Ambassadors is now an international organization with groups in 14 countries.

“Men’s Ministries touches every aspect of the lives of men,” said McCall. “Their mission field starts at home, but it reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth. These men mean business regarding the mission of Christ and His Church.”