I attended the WACMM Conference "Iron Sharpens Iron" on Saturday, March 1, 2008. It was a blessing to be there. There were many seminars to choose from and the choices were difficult, but I chose one regarding men's ministry and one regarding fathering. The plenary session speakers were Steve Farrar and Phil Downer. I had not heard Steve before and I enjoyed his "saying how it is" in an uncompromised fashion. He speaks strongly, to the point, with humor. He speaks truth and says it how it needs to be said. I am quite familiar with Phil Downer. I took a guy from my church to join with guys from Fellowship Bible Church, where I learned about how men's ministry is a discipling community. That was where I was first discipled in a men's ministry and Phil Downer's book Eternal Impact was instrumental in instilling a vision of discipleship within me. I later moved away and joined Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA), where I began discipling men in a book study. Our first book back in February 2006 was Eternal Impact by Phil Downer. I was able to speak to Phil at this conference and share this with him. Going to this conference was not just a time of learning, growth, and encouragement, but also a return to my men's ministry roots. I include my notes from the highlights from both the plenary sessions and the seminars below.
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"You're a man, so you're a leader."
"The challenging events are the one's you don't plan."
Crisis is the test of a leader.
"All of my goals are pain free."
Life doesn't work out that way "because God wants to mature me. There's going to be crisis. …God works in our lives through crisis."
They (God's people) got into Egypt via crisis (remember Joseph?) and they exit via crisis. Background: Exodus 1-12.
"He's [God's] in charge of every crisis that occurs in your life."
Exodus 13:17: God, on purpose, did not take them on the logical route.
God led them into the crisis on purpose. Why? Read Exodus 14:4, 17: "I will be honored." God is SOVEREIGN. You intended it for evil; God intended it for good.
Crisis: Exodus 14:10; see Psalm 57:2-3. You will encounter crisis, but God has a purpose.
Steve Farrar got into men's ministry via crisis.
Crisis turns us to God.
"God still knows how to make a way."
In crisis, "we just honored God."
God puts us in crisis. → We cry out because we don't see a way out. → Then, God makes a way.
Experiencing crisis is an opportunity to experience God.
We walk faith to faith, smaller faith to BIGGER faith.
Go to God's Word!
"It's worth the crisis to see the living God."
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Cultural anomaly - women lead the church (even when not in a position) and it has become the last thing considered masculine. It is often considered "for women and children." It used to be a masculine place.
How are men portrayed in the media? What does "education" teach boys and about boys?
We are losing 95% of our boys. There is an absence of men. Fathers are not present
or they are disengaged.
"If you try to raise boys without men, you get predators" (William Bennett).
Home is the hardest place to lead. Pray with your wife daily. "It is hard to do that which matters most."
"Boys make excuses. Men take responsibility."
Women step in to fill the void men leave. Are you leading at home? Adam was passive. Men need to lead the family. Men need to lead the church.
We need to see the warrior, the one who picked fights with the Pharisees, not just the gentle shepherd.
Jesus picks fights and goes into territories where he is unwelcome. He's not always comforting. This isn't a stroll on the beach, but a war. Jesus doesn't ask if disciples want to follow Him or want to be saved. He says, "Follow me."
Men cannot do feminine, but women can do masculine.
Focus on your men - it will grow your church.
How do we communicate the gospel in masculine terms/language?
Know whom you are reaching.
Don't get anxious about it. When you relax, you listen, and God speaks.
We have created structures with consensus decision-making as opposed to leaders making good decisions quickly. Think about a war. Do the soldiers discuss the strategy or follow the orders?
Men will follow leaders but not a vacuum or a situation where everyone has to agree.
Look what is done with church settings:
Church isn't a hospital. Church is war preparation for Monday's battle.
How do men understand, listen, process?
Challenge them rather than comfort them. Don't just say, "I'm sorry" and walk away. Say, "I'm sorry I scared you…" and then wait for the man to respond to the challenge with perhaps a "No, you didn't scare me. [Bring it on!]"
Don't follow culture to the point where you don't trust Scripture to speak to men's lives, but do follow Jesus' example. He spoke men's language to His disciples ("follow", not "relationship", though relationship is true).
Remind men that they are men.
Not maleness (God's image is both male and female), but help boys move to authentic Biblical manhood (masculinity) -- the life of Christ expressed in our gender.
Not a place to exalt men.
Be a devoted follower of Jesus.
Jesus doesn't promise a problem-free life, but adventure.
Studies need application.
Encourage as well as hold accountable.
As a leader, talk about your screw-ups.
"If you want to impress people, you can do it from a distance, but you can't do it up close." If you're real, then you get close, then you can be a man with them.
Getting men engaged: Men gravitate towards certain things:
Most men over 40 don't have a friend. Struggle with a facade of competition. Once a man shares his weaknesses, men are drawn to him (But don't exalt sin. Confess weaknesses. Model repentance. Share wisely).
"Most men die of shrapnel.
Some men die in flames.
But some men die inch by inch
playing little games."
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Fathering is at the heart of God's story. Why is God referred to as the Father? What does the Father imply?
Relationship, responsibility, authority, reproduction
Everyone has a father (even if not known)
Fundamentally, father implies reproduction.
Father is the most fundamental name in human relationship, but it is most difficult to do because of rebellion.
Only 2 people in the whole world call me Dad and it's a huge responsibility that is difficult.
ICAN - Fathering like the Father
"Only a man can induct a young man into manhood."
Do your kids see you worship?
God takes initiative, which is the masculine nature.
God created (Genesis 1:1): God initiated. Going out. Men's hearts are to go out. God created Adam out of dirt and said be fruitful and multiply. He took Abra(ha)m out of Ur. He took Moses out of Egypt. God initiates. God is INVOLVED. Be there when you are there.
Find ways to be involved even if you aren't physically there.
God is always involved with us. He never leaves us alone.
For your kids: lead, come along side, let go and support. It's a move from a science to an art.
Keep your cool! Don't be different Dads. Anger under control can lead to training. Anger out of control can lead to bitterness, hurt, etc. Are you fighting with or for your children. Maturity helps with consistency. God does not change!
Be who God made you to be.
Know your kids.
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When's the enemy hit you? When you're tired.
The finest don't leave men behind.
As we go, goes our marriage.
As we go, goes our church.
God's looking for a man; He's looking for you.
We've lost leadership.
Where's your semper fidelis?
Matthew 28:19: Make disciples.
Are you willing to train leaders?
Genesis 14:14: 318 trained men sent out by Abraham
Spiritual reproducer, disciple-maker: Disciple men until they become this!
How are you doing? How are you really doing? [silence]
What are you hiding? What are your secrets.
1 Thessalonians 2:7: like a nursing mother?!
As a discipler, don't wring necks. Let Jesus do it.
Trust → TRUTH → TRANSFORMATION
Start DISCIPLESHIP at home.
Ask your wife/children: "Have I hurt your feelings?" followed by "Have I ever hurt your feelings?" Then, apologize, ask forgiveness, and pray. Do this until "it's gone."
You fail as a leader when you fail to communicate how to do it. Ask, "How are you (really) doing?"
God said, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased." Do you say this to those whom you disciple?
2 Timothy 2:2: Teach others to fish for men!
Have you hesitated when God says, "Go."
Are you willing to go after the dead (unsaved) and wounded? Leave no man behind.
Ask for ONE to disciple from God.
Leave no ONE behind.
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