By Jessica Brodie
This month, men across South Carolina will have their latest opportunity to be a part of an intentional push to get men and their families back in church and closer to God.
On Jan. 10 and Jan. 17, S.C. United Methodist Men will hold two Teaching Churches to help laity and clergy generate fresh ideas about men and ministry. These are the final two of five such events held in the last year.
Then, next month, men’s ministry will head to the next level with the Men N Ministry “Skin in the Game” Spiritual Retreat, set for Feb. 20-22 in Myrtle Beach. The event is expected to draw more than 1,000 men—the largest retreat the men have ever hosted.
Men’s ministry leaders say the retreat and teaching church events are part of a concerted effort to help men get more excited about ministry in their churches and to truly be godly men—not just men in the seats, passively attending church.
Bishop Jonathan Holston is encouraging people to attend, noting the events can strengthen men in their walk of faith.
“When men are empowered in their faith, the lives of their families, churches and communities are changed, as well,” he said.
Teaching Churches: learn from some of the best
Herman Lightsey, president of the S.C. UMM, said the teaching church events are organized by leading pastors in the conference who themselves head churches with active, vital men’s ministries. The Jan. 10 event is led by the Rev. Bob Howell, of Bethany UMC, Summerville, which is the largest UMC in the state, on men’s ministry renewal in a “traditional” church. The Jan. 17 event is led by the Rev. Darren Hook, of Covenant UMC, Greer, a rapidly growing church with an active men’s ministry, on “Stepping Up to God’s Calling: Learn How to Use Your Gifts to Grow God’s Church.” Events are held 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $15 and includes lunch and a T-shirt. Register online at www.ummsc.org.
The previous teaching church events were hosted by other key pastors of thriving churches: the Rev. Jeff Kersey of Mount Horeb UMC in Lexington, the Rev. George Ashford of Journey UMC in Columbia, the Rev. Jody Flowers of Chapin UMC in Chapin, the Rev. Mack McClam of the Canaan-Sand Hill Charge in Ridgeville, and the Marion District’s event in November on the power of prayer.
“These are actual United Methodist churches sharing with others how they’re growing,” said Lightsey, encouraging people to register for one or both of the January teaching times (see box this page).
Lightsey said each one of the teaching church events is “as different as our fingertips,” with the idea that men will go, learn and take home their interpretation for their own church. Anyone across the state can attend—men or women, from within that district or not.
Retreat: Bigger and better
Men are also urged to attend the Men N Ministry “Skin in the Game” Retreat, which is expected to have six times the attendees they had in 2013 and draw from John 1:14 (the word became flesh).
It will be held at Christ United Methodist Church, Myrtle Beach, which accommodates 1,900 with a huge stage and screens, high-end sound system and all the amenities needed to produce a first-rate lineup.
Special guests include an array of dynamic Christian leaders: S.C. UMC Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston; Adrian Despres, head chaplain of the University of South Carolina Gamecock Football Team; Albert Long, the only athlete in the history of the ACC to receive four letters in sports during the same year; Rev. John Ed Mathison, a former basketball player and number-one-ranked tennis player; Greenwood District Superintendent Rev. James Friday; and Christian photographer Michael Belk, of “Journeys with the Messiah” acclaim.
Six workshops are planned, plus three outreach ministry opportunities and a Run for Christ 5K. Men can also serve on the Upper Room Prayer Ministry prayer line, play in a corn hole tournament and take a boat ride down the intercoastal waterway (weather-permitting). Music from Claflin University Choir, Christ UMC’s Contemporary Worship Team and others will round out the weekend.
Early registration for the retreat ends Dec. 31. Fees increase after that.
Group registrations are also available.
For more information or to register: www.ummsc.org.