"This is not a ministry", spoke John Leeder, associate pastor and big chief of the Men of the Rock, to some 180 men at the Men's Retreat. His big fingers tapped the cover of his Bible: "This is not a ministry. We are all men of the rock."
A landmark event for many of these guys, the Men's Retreat took place September 17th-19th, accompanied by keynote speaker James DeMelo, internationally acclaimed body builder and former Mr. Teen America. High voltage fun and food was the name of the game, combined with a series of enriching talks from our champion about the twelve most important men in your life. It would be here that, for the first time, many Rock men would not just answer the question "who's the man?" but, just as significantly, "who are the men?"
No Lone Rangers or Sissies
Men of the Rock listening to the guest speaker, James DeMelo
The Christian church is slowly but surely becoming aware that the independent, lone ranger image of a Christian man isn't a healthy one. The Rock is among those churches nationwide that are striving to communicate the reality that interdependence makes men strong leaders. We're beginning to realize that "working out your own salvation" doesn't imply the words "all by yourself."
This doesn't suggest, by any stretch, however, that it hasn't been a long time coming. I'll be the first to admit fear of being stereotyped as a male Christian nice-guy.
Any time the words "men" and "fellowship" are used in the same sentence I seem to reflexively conjure up images of a gang of sissies pooh-poohing each other's feelings...only adding to the vast number of Christian contexts that it seems I don't belong in. Yet it is that same fear that binds most men today, not only from getting more deeply involved, but from even going to church in the first place, and ultimately, finding the Source of their destiny.
From Men With Needs, To Men Who Are Needed
Christendom today has almost succeeded in changing the Master's commission from "go dominate the world with My message" to, "do whatever you can to not look and feel like the defeated bum you know you are..."
And this is in no way an abnormal phenomenon among churches today. The modern Christian man is mostly unaware of, or unwilling to acknowledge, his need to be in close companionship with other Christian men. We are immersed in a paradox of trying to maintain a thriving relationship with the Son of Man, without first knowing the meaning of being sons, or men.
Gordon Dalbey, prolific author and speaker on the subject of the Christian men's movement, states repeatedly that men avidly avoid spiritual involvement with other men "because it shatters our treasured goal-image of rational self-sufficiency." In following with this concept, the majority of men in attendance at the Rock Church are just that: men AT the rock; hesitating to step into the role God is calling them to as a man OF the Rock.
Men Committed and Accountable to Change
A volleyball game at a men's bar-b-q event
"They won't come," Pastor John goes on to say, "until they are poor in spirit. They must be willing to admit they need to be comforted." John points to the second verse of 2 Timothy 2, emphasizing the words "My Son" over and over saying "this is what fellowship is." This verse and the two surrounding it can be called the theme verses for the Men of the Rock. "Paul was there to address his SON in the faith. He was in his business."
Yet this is exactly the type of accountability that makes most of us independent males cringe. We're too busy covering our weaknesses to realize the desperate need we have for a genuine connection to other Christian men. And there's no argument that without it we'll continue to see the negative trends we've been seeing in marriage and family statistics for decades.
"Men of the Rock exists to make soldiers of Jesus Christ....it's to get them to accept the challenge of REAL growth," John says.
No Lack Of Opportunities
And that growth is happening. Throughout the 18 different men's groups, and counting, a true seeker can find for himself exactly what John and other men are talking about. The men there are finding the real healing and fellowship they aren't afraid to admit they need: the kind that leaves you feeling empty when you miss a week. Beyond this, a bi-monthly breakfast on Saturdays is to be started some time before Christmas, as a way to follow up on the momentous bonds made at the retreat and create opportunities for those who still aren't connected.
So what about you, anonymous male churchgoer? Are you among the Men of the Rock? Yeah, we all know you can survive without it. Enough of us have already proven the Christian life is survivable, but it's not about survival, it's about potential. And to discover your full potential in Christ, and walk in it, is a scary thing I admit. There are scarier things though.
For more information about the Men's Ministry, click here »