For those who read this who don’t yet know, I am working with and for Gary Zelesky, the new Men’s Ministry pastor at my church. This is not the entirety of our work, but that’s another story for another blog post at another time. For the past few weeks, Gary and I have been meeting together, as well as with many other people, brainstorming and brain-picking for the purpose of January 7, 2009. This was the date of the launch of a new era of men’s ministry at my church, and what we believe, in our nation.
Gone are the days of the sanitized, cliche-laden, boring, androgynous church activity. As the men arrived, we had a live basketball game on ESPN playing on the screens, music playing, not one, but TWO Harleys flanking the stage which, by the way, had a catwalk that jutted out so men could literally surround the stage as they sat at their tables. We had a brick facade as a backdrop, very much like you might see in a comedy club.
The senior pastor, Greg Fairrington, approached us 20 minutes before we were scheduled to start, and said he had never seen this many men, this early, at anything the church has ever done! There were over 100 men there 20 minutes before we were scheduled to begin. By the time we started, we were bringing in extra chairs to accomodate the over-capacity crowd. I haven’t gotten a total headcount yet, but we had 200 chairs set up before the extras were brought in. By all reliable accounts, this was the best attendance the church has ever seen for a men’s ministry gathering on a Wednesday night.
While Gary and I, and the rest of the staff, are encouraged and exicted by these numbers, that’s not what this is about. What literally gave me chills and caused my eyes to well up was when Gary stood before the men and reminded them of our purpose as men. He reminded us of the relatively meaningless things we get excited about, such as sporting events and concerts, yet we are passive when we enter into the presence of the one true God. So with that in mind, Gary shouted, “HE IS HERE!”, and all the men vaulted from their seats to their feet, and lifted up a shout…a roar of praise to the Lord.
I’m telling you, it gave me chills. There is nothing quite like the roar of a room full of men who are lifting their voices to God. But this wasn’t about emotionalism or manipulation. These men are hungry. These men are filled with anticipation.These men are poised and eager for God’s marching orders as we move in to battle to take back what belongs to us as men of God.
Most of the men, naturally, are married. I have personally heard from so many of the wives who have shared with me that they have cried to God in prayer that their husbands would be hungry in their pursuit of God. That they would live lives of passion for the Lord. Following the night’s activity, I bumped into the Women’s Ministry director who told me that one of the ladies in her group, who met at the same time in another room, said her husband had long ago given up on the men’s ministry night at the church. But he came tonight, and couldn’t wait until next Wednesday when we meet again. This wife emotionally shared that this was an answer to her diligent prayer.
I am excited to be part of this ministry. I am sure I don’t understand 1% of the reasons God brought me to this church at this time. I am sure I don’t understand 1% of why me, of all people. Frankly, I’m not going to lose sleep over the reasons. What I know is, He brought me here, He has ordered my steps, and I’m just following His marching orders. What I experienced Wednesday night wasn’t emotionalism. That fades when the lights go down, or that next bill comes in the mail when you’re already tapped out for the pay period. What I experienced was the power of God flowing through men who are eager to become mighty men of valor. Men who are hungry for more of God. Men who aren’t afraid to humble themselves in a posture of prayer. Men who aren’t afraid to raise their hands and their voices in a room full of other men, or a sanctuary filled with men, women and children. Or even at home, when no one but God is there with them.
This is a new era. A new day.
Bring it on!
(OK, so much for “brief”)