Life Changing Men’s Events
By Gary Yagel
On a warm November evening in 1966, at a camp called Hilltop, I faced the most important decision of my life. I had just been challenged to fully devote my life to Jesus Christ. Along with the other kids on this Young Life weekend, I was outside, observing the 20 minutes of silence following the Saturday night talk. Alone with God, I confessed my sins and surrendered my life to him.
That night I did what I’m sure my pastor, Sunday School teacher, and Young Life leader had talked to me every week about doing. But it was not until I got away on a retreat that I came face to face with the need to make a decision about following Christ, wholeheartedly. In Young Life circles, summer and weekend camps are notorious for the way God’s Spirit uses them to lead teens to surrender to Christ.
What does this have to do with men’s ministry? A lot. A weekend retreat or a Saturday morning seminar is a powerful tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to grow men to new levels of surrender and commitment to Christ. Consider these benefits of such an event for men:
The Biblical content they can receive. Getting men together by themselves enables teaching in two areas that are specific to men-their unique responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and spiritual leaders, and their unique temptations due to their hard-wiring as men. It is true that men could get the same content by reading a book or listening to an MP3, but 98% won’t. They are far more likely to come to a seminar or retreat that addresses their issues as men than to pick up a book and actually read it.
Deeper connection with the other men. 94% of Christian men have no best friend. They are fighting their spiritual battles alone. A carefully planned seminar or retreat will encourage the kind of discussion that enables men to realize that they are not alone in their struggles. Very often it is right after experiencing this closeness at a retreat or seminar that a man will decide to get into a weekly men’s study or begin meeting weekly for breakfast with a few close brothers for encouragement and accountability.
Renewed Passion for Christ. Today’s men are overworked and exhausted. They are so busy meeting their responsibilities on the job, in their homes, and in their churches, that their emotional tank is often near empty. A great seminar or retreat pours the energy of renewal into men’s souls. Time away from the routine allows a man to recover his spiritual perspective, think about things he has pushed to the back of his mind, and find rest. Often it is not necessarily a great insight that benefits him most from a Saturday morning seminar. It is the renewal of his passion.
There is a caveat about retreats though; they need to be done well. Young Life promises teens the greatest week or weekend of their lives, and they do all they can to make that promise come true. Our men’s events don’t have to quite that well done-but they need to be well planned, and very male-friendly. The speakers need to have something valuable to say about the issues men care most about. These issues are explained in the FAQ part of our PCA men’s ministry website click here.
To help you find men’s seminar and retreat speakers within the PCA we are compiling a speaker list, which will be posted on our website. We have listed those we know about later in this issue of GITG. Please email us with information about PCA men’s speakers and websites you know about firstname.lastname@example.org
Article originally part of “Get in the Game”
a periodic email communication from CEP
October / November 2008 Vol. 4 No.4