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Michigan men to assist veterans

Men doing window install

How can men find purpose and meaningful relationships? Don Archambeau says UMM is one way to do both. He asks for help in revitalizing UMM in the Michigan Conference.

DON ARCHAMBEAU
President, Michigan Conference  UMM

Between Juneteenth and Independence Day, we also passed through “Prime Days.” You know, the days we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we possibly don’t even like. God has provided a rich standard of living and has given us our individual independence. Yet, materialism takes its toll on our relationships, moral and spiritual values. At the same time, the pursuit of our independent life has costs when we do not anchor our faith in God’s word and remain dependent on following Jesus Christ. Dependence on God and realized spiritual, moral, relational living gives life purpose. Seeking purpose and developing meaningful relationships in a broken world means everything to searchers who are struggling. 

It is no surprise that men come to church from different faith underpinnings. Some are unchurched. Others are ‘cultural” Christians looking for the God they want versus the God who is. There are “Biblical Christians” defined as those that trust in Christ and Christ alone and those men who are just hurting. (Patrick Morley. “The Man in the Mirror” © 2014 Zondervan, pgs. 62-66) All come having the same basic needs.  Men seek meaningful relationships, search for a purpose, and seek God, not understanding God is seeking them.    

To that end, the purpose of United Methodist Men is “to coach men to thrive, in Christ so that others will know Him.” So that there is no confusion, all men, no matter what ministry they provide, are United Methodist Men whether they attend UMM functions or not. Our mission is to leave no man behind. Our focus must keep this vision in mind.

Per the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, Director, Center for Men’s Ministries, the UMM plan aims to: Develop relationships with the men in your church; get men involved in small accountable groups; listen to the men to determine their needs, interests, and hopes; and encourage these men to invite other men to join them.

Gil, Hanke,  General Secretary of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, established the Wesley Class Meeting as a weekly online gathering for faithful men before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the use of the virtual meeting platform to skyrocket. The concept came from the book “The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience” by the Rev. Kevin M. Watson. I would love to bring introductory Class Meetings to you.

Clearly, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted plans and activities. It is time to lay strategies to reopen and re-energize. To that end, the Michigan Conference UMM has partnered with Rebuilding Together, a mid-Michigan Tri-County non-profit, to work on a one-day rebuild project, Saturday, September 18, 9:30 am – 3:30 pm. The project is a home remodeling for our veterans. Beyond gas money, the only cost is $10 per person for lunch. You are encouraged to contact j.gordon.schleicher@gmail.com. For more information and to advise how many may participate. This will help in planning the number of homes to work on and to assign worksites. Register and bring a carload of volunteers.

Searching for wisdom on post-pandemic expectations, I watched a webinar that featured Yale professor and social epidemiologist Dr. Nicholas Christakis. Besides predicting general improvement this summer with the possibility of slipping back a bit in the winter as pandemics are known to do, some of his insights are worth noting. Christakis noted history shows that pandemics cause the population to seek what is really important, search for purpose, and bring a rise of religiosity, religious feelings, or devotion. People are fighting loneliness and trying to avoid isolation. Even giving habits will be aimed at purposeful giving, Dr. Christakis suggests. However, he adds that these trends may revert to pre-pandemic behavior two to two and a half years later. The time to reactivate is NOW.

While I am in a reflective and searching spirit, it seems like forever since I heard Fanny Crosby’s hymn, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior. Yet, just recently, I heard reference to the line, “While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” How relevant this line is. By the numbers (2012 estimate), of 113 million American men 15 years of age and older, 69 million, 61%, make no profession of faith in Christ, and 38 million are not involved in any discipleship process. (Patrick Morley, David Delk, & Brett Clemmer, “No Man Left Behind.” © 2006 Moody Publishers, pg. 34.) Morley also points out that as time passes school, college, and beyond, men develop a male friendship deficit where they often do not have one man to confide in men’s issues. (Patrick Morley. “The Man in the Mirror” © 2014 Zondervan, pgs. 162-165.) When stress, fear, and anxiety pile up, no wonder men buckle under the strain of being left behind and are calling out for help.  

Now is the time to get active. Now is the time for discipleship. The District UMM teams are depleted, and we are seeking men with developed and undeveloped skills in leading men’s ministry. Volunteer leadership is needed. We invite involvement from men’s ministry specialists,  district leaders, prayer advocates, hunger coordinators, scouts, website gurus, and project coordinators. If you know someone, are that someone, or want to be that someone, please contact me. I would love to hear from you. Training is available.  I am praying for you. 

In conclusion, I offer the essence of UMM. “I wish we could just get on with telling the Good News,” said Bishop James Swanson, Sr., who serves as president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men. Instead of focusing on what is wrong in the denomination, the bishop suggested we focus on actions in local churches and units of United Methodist Men where “so many good things are going on.”

~ Don Archambeau can be reached at 734-422-2227 or donarchambeau@gmail.com.

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