Men’s ministry spiritual retreat to help men grow the church and grow in their personal Christian walk
By Jessica Brodie
MYRTLE BEACH—Like the sturdy tree in Psalm 1 firmly planted in fertile soil and producing good fruit for the world, men’s ministry organizers are hoping all who gather for this year’s spiritual retreat will be rooted in God’s word and living strong for Christ.
That’s the idea behind this year’s “Rooted: Grow Deep, Live Strong” Men’s Spiritual Weekend, set for Feb. 17-19 at Christ United Methodist Church, Myrtle Beach.
“The two themes that will come together this year are how do we grow churches, both for clergy and laity, and how do we grow men and get them involves in churches, families and communities—and how we get pastors and laity to work together in all this,” said Herman Lightsey, president of the South Carolina Conference United Methodist Men.
Four keynote speakers will lead this year’s retreat—South Carolina UMC Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston, along with the Rev. Jim Cowart, the Rev. Darren Hook and Romal Tune—who will each expand on the retreat themes and help men take next steps in their walk with Christ.
The 2016 retreat is the next in what has been a string of growing, packed-house men’s ministry events designed to reinvigorate men in the UMC for God, the church and the kind of accountability-based fellowship that can transform hearts, lives and families. Lightsey is hoping the retreat will draw 1,500 attendees, making it the largest to-date of retreats that have been growing steadily over the past several years as men’s ministry has transitioned from a gathering into a full-scale spiritual movement. The 2016 event drew 1,100 men, the 2015 event 850, the 2014 event 500 and the 2013 event 150.
“We’re hoping we will make or exceed 1,500,” Lightsey said. “This thing has progressed over the years, and we’re trying to get men to make a deeper commitment, and part of that is making a partnership between laity and clergy. This year the ones coming, especially Jim Cowart, they are church builders of some type or they are those who mentor or teach men to be part of the local church and make it grow.”
Cowart, who is the leader and founding pastor of Harvest Church in Warner Robbins, Georgia, is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. In 2001, Cowart felt a call to start a new church, one specifically for unchurched. In the past 15 years, he has seen more 2,800 professions of faith. He is the author of “Start This, Stop That,” “Grab, Gather, Grow,” “Live the Five” and “Hand Me Downs.” His speaking emphasis will be “Grow Leadership and Grow the Church.”
Hook, senior pastor of Covenant UMC, Greer, is a visionary leader, preacher, coach and encourager who loves the Lord. He is a recipient of the Denman Evangelist Award and the G. Ross Freeman Award. Under Hook’s leadership, Covenant has grown worship attendance from 350 to more than 1,000 and added more than 1,650 new persons to the membership rolls the past eight years. In 2016, Covenant was recognized as the sixth-fastest growing UMC in America. His speaking emphasis will be “Love the Lord with All Your Heart.”
Tune is a well-known speaker, author and consultant who is also a cultivator of purpose and passion that equips teams to maximize performance allowing God to redeem their stories. He’s a military veteran of the Gulf War and Desert Storm. His speaking emphasis will be “Individual Growth, Leadership, Witness.”
Workshop leaders include Tune along with Tom Albin, Rev. Earl Bradshaw, Nick Cunningham, the Rev. Jason Everson and Robert Noland.
Host hotels are Clarion Hotel (843-236-1000), Staybridge Suites (800-315-1355) and Country Inn & Suites (843-236-4500); ask for group reservations under “Men’s Ministry” or “UMMen.”
Registration is $70/man before Dec. 31 and $90 after. The rate for man and wife is $100 before Dec. 31 and $120 after. Clergy rate is $45, and clergy plus spouse rate is $75. To register: www.ummsc.org.