A look at a transformed men’s ministry at Covenant UMC, Greer
Reprinted courtesy of the Man in the Mirror Team, Maninthemirror.org
Tommy, a men’s leader at Covenant UMC, Greer, shared about the critical, life-changing shift their ministry to men has undergone.
“We are one of the fastest-growing Methodist churches in the country,” he explained, “and our concern is how we can effectively reach all of these new men.”
This mission wasn’t always their focus, however. For years, the men’s ministry was largely event-driven, with the seeming goal of simply raising money for the women’s and children’s ministries.
“Yes, we are called to do good works,” Tommy said. “But we were missing the command to ‘go and make disciples.’ We were a social club, not a men’s ministry. And because we weren’t making disciples, men would get burned out and leave.”
A new model for ministry
Then at the end of 2016, a couple of the leaders recognized they needed a whole new game plan and started researching Maninthemirror.org’s No Man Left Behind Model. The more they read, the more excited they became about the possibilities for their church.
But the linchpin, Tommy told us, was getting connected with Chris Rondeau, their local area director.
“He was very accessible, insightful and encouraging, and he helped get our senior pastor on board with this new approach.”
After they’d gone through the training and began making changes, Man in the Mirror released GO: Jumpstart Your Ministry to Men, a resource designed to help a church leadership team implement No Man Left Behind.
It was the jump-start they needed.
“It was a game changer for us,” Tommy said about GO. “We were able to map everything out, and it provided great clarity of our mission of intentionally sending men forward on their walk with Christ.”
‘GO’ and make disciples
As a result, the last few years were a fruitful season of ministry. In addition to gatherings around meals, small groups and events, they offered retreats, which proved to be a powerful springboard for their men to go deeper in spiritual growth and involvement. From the retreat, leaders then helped connect men to either the GO men’s Bible study or the GO leadership study, based on where they were spiritually and their best next step.
Jeff and Brandon (names changed for privacy) are two men who have been deeply impacted by this strategy.
Jeff found himself at the church after his wife expressed the desire for a safe church home for their young, autistic son. He showed up at church with one hope: that it would require a one-hour-a-week commitment and nothing else.
But the men at Covenant had other hopes for Jeff; they met him at the Welcome Center and invited him to the upcoming men’s event. From there, he got plugged in and began to grow and lead.
Tommy believes that one day, Jeff will be leading the men of the church.
As for Brandon, he met Tommy as a new member, struggling to figure out how to be a good husband and father of two adopted children. He and his wife were believers, but they had never read the Bible. Brandon was invited by other men to attend the men’s retreat and has been in engaged in small groups ever since, including GO.
“We are seeing Brandon’s spiritual growth blossom, and his family is thriving,” Tommy said. “God is good.”
After seeing the impact from their new ministry model, Covenant decided to host a No Man Left Behind training last year for other churches in their community.
Ministry to men in a shutdown
After hosting the training, Tommy and the rest of the leadership team had a 20/20 vision for 2020 and were geared up for the upcoming year, starting with a men’s retreat with the theme of Moving.
Then COVID-19 hit and the world went into shutdown mode, including their church.
“To say we were very disappointed would be an understatement,” he said.
But in line with their theme, they tried to keep moving. They established some regular Zoom calls for men’s Bible studies and small groups. Although it was a great tool to help keep some men connected, others were falling away from their ministry and the church.
They began to brainstorm ideas to reach these men who felt disconnected from each other and ministry.
“We thought about what men like to do in the fall,” Tommy said. “Tailgating was the number one answer.”
With the help of Chris, they chose “The Christian Man” book and study materials and presented the concept of “Tailgate Talks with The Christian Man” to the pastor for approval.
Their plan was that men would gather together in the church parking lot on Sunday evenings, and discuss the study together, all while following the current safety guidelines.
“The first week, we had 22 men sign up—15 of whom had never been engaged in the men’s ministry activities before and three of those from outside the church,” Tommy said. “Each week we set up our camping chairs in a large circle. The time together has been fun and filled with great conversations.”
When Tommy reflects on what the ministry to men used to be compared to what it is now, he is grateful.
“Today, we are more than a cook team or a setup team. We are men doing life together and growing in Christ,” he said.
“While we are still a work in progress, we have great faith that if we continue down this path, our church will be turned upside down with men on fire for the Lord. We are seeing them go deeper in their relationships with Christ, their wives, their families, and other men in our church—our Brotherhood.”