Men embrace faith, not fear in huge one-day spiritual retreat

By Jessica Brodie

LEXINGTON—It might have been scaled down, but for the hundreds of men who gathered last month for the men’s ministry spiritual retreat, the movement of the Holy Spirit was strong.

More than 600 men gathered at Mount Horeb United Methodist Church Feb. 16 for the annual United Methodist Men’s retreat. Normally a weekend held in Myrtle Beach, a late change in venue prompted a switch to the Midlands, which ended up not only shifting the three-day spread to a one-day focused session but also brought a gob of first-timers and younger men.

The men had the chance to hear from Stuart Hall, director of Leadership and Leadership Networking for Orange (ReThink Group) who also leads INFLUNSR, an organization whose mission is to fuel the next generation of leaders worth following. They also got to hear godly wisdom couched in humor from comedian Akintunde, plus learn through workshops on everything from mentoring to small groups to the need for discipline in parenting.

“The church needs men today,” said Marvin Horton, president of South Carolina United Methodist Men, lifting up a nugget from the book “Discipling Men” on how it takes a man to teach a man how to be a man.

Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, applauded the large number of men and boys in attendance, noting that when we give in to God, something mighty happens.

“God is seeking to align men in church,” Holston said. “God has something He will use us to do that we have never dreamed of.”

Get out of the boat

Hall began the morning by showing a wrenching clip from the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” depicting the soldiers’ terror and fight for courage as they prepared to land on Omaha Beach—and face certain death—on the coast of France in World War II.

“There was as much fear in the boat as there was on the beach,” Hall told the crowd.

It’s same thing in our lives today.

“We’ve got a choice to make whether we’re a high school student or a college student or a young professional or a grandparent—we can decide whether to stay in the boat or to ‘go there.’ The fear is the same,” Hall said.

But in churches across country, he said, there are men scared to get out of the metaphorical boat.

“There are reasons to be fearful, but there so much to fight for,” Hall said. “Whether you like it or not, you have an enemy that absolutely wants to capture your mind and heart.

He wants you not to get out of boat! He wants you to sit there.”

And we need to come to grips with that fact, Hall said.

“We have an enemy giving assault to men across the world who sit there scared to death like young teenagers storming the beach in Normandy,” Hall said.

In Matthew 14, the disciples were just as afraid of the storm inside boat as Peter was outside, walking to Jesus. But Peter had the courage to walk.

“Fear and courage are not mutually exclusive,” Hall said. “Most of us feel brave and scared at the same time.

“There’s no such thing as courage unless you decide to wrestle with the thing that wreaks havoc in your heart.”

Prayer and learning

Men spent the late morning praying deeply for each other, laying hands on each other’s shoulders as they lifted their cares, sins and concerns to the Lord.

After lunch, they heard from the comedian Akintunde, plus split into several workshops. Dr. David Olshine led “The Lost Art of Mentoring and Discipleship: Five Ways of Connecting, Learning and Investing in Others.” The Rev. Nick Cunningham led “One: Fully Embracing Our Shared Life in Christ.” The Rev. Trevor Miller led “Men’s Ministry on Purpose: Creating and Sustaining Effective Ministry to Men.” Stephen Scheid led “Making Men and Giving Them a Place,” and Charlie Lyons and Odell Horne Jr. led “Igniting YoungER Men’s Ministry in Your Church, District and Beyond.” Bishop Holston led “District Leadership: Stepping out in Faith.” And Jonathan Bright led “Discipline: Not a Four-Lettered Word.”

Herman Lightsey, past president of the South Carolina UMM, challenged men to bring one or two men with them next year so the event can grow even bigger. They plan to remain with a one-day event and incorporate a golf fellowship event the day prior.

For more on men’s ministry in South Carolina:

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