I know this may be hard for some of you to believe, but I was there and witnessed the worship, praises, singing, crying, laughter, commitments and recommitments, and I saw men leave with hope who arrived with very little hope.
If you are unaware of what I am writing about, it is the “Calling All Men” event sponsored by the Holston Conference United Methodist Men, Aug. 15-16 at Sevierville Convention Center. It was an awesome display of God’s power.
Our goal was to intentionally reach out to men – to Offer Them Christ. Jesus reached people where they were. He loved them as if they were already the persons he knew they could become. We see this in the way Jesus spoke to farmers in their language, to fishermen in their language, to children in their language, and to hurting people in the language they understood and could respond to.
We read of how Jesus met people where they were, loved them, met their needs, and challenged them to establish relationships with God. He then moved them toward maturity in these relationships with God. In planning “Calling All Men,” this is the example we tried to follow as we listened to the Lord speak to us.
In the midst of it all, we were keenly aware that the United Methodist Church in recent years has not done well with reaching – not only men – but all people. I do not believe our denomination’s decline is related to our message. I do believe it is related to a loss of passion and willingness to speak to people in languages they can understand.
Passion is seen as fervor, zeal, and an obsession that can only be satisfied by reaching one’s goal. Our goal, our objective, and yes, our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. When we are filled with passion, we will only be satisfied with being fruitful. People hunger for a relationship with someone greater than themselves, and yet we have not tapped into that hunger. Only Jesus can speak to and satisfy such hunger. The men who gathered at Sevierville Convention Center last month were witnesses to the reality that if we can only speak Christ’s message in a language they can understand, they will respond. The Church must work on how we speak to this generation, so that they may hear.
Our work with Holston men last month may serve as a teaching moment, showing us how we might reach all people. People need to hear and feel a love that goes beyond their faults. This generation of 20- to 40-year olds wants to see our faith and feel it at the deepest level. This is what we attempted to do on Aug. 15 and 16.
And now, pastors and laity in positions of leadership, we ask you to follow up on the professions of faith, recommitments, and newfound energy from Calling All Men. Don’t involve these people in committees, but involve them in ministries. Send my office a note to let me know what you have heard from the people who attended Calling All Men. And I’ll see you there next year.