Sunday, October 7, 2012

"I See Digging!"

My son Gabe recently celebrated his 2nd birthday and got a cool tool belt and tools.

Gabe really enjoys watching tools being used.  Last month, everyday on our way to daycare, we passed by a construction site where some sort of pipe was being laid.  Lots of digging with earth moving vehicles.  On our way in the morning and on our way home in the afternoon he'd say, 'I see digging!'. Yesterday he had a blast watching his Uncle Scott fix our front porch steps  (Thanks Scott!).  You can see Gabe is ready to get into the game, pick up the shovel and to help do some digging.  Now I will be the first to tell you, Gabe surely didn't get his love of tools and watching construction from me.  Even though many of my ancestors were supposedly great furniture makers and my dad and his dad were plumbers, I hardly know which end of screwdriver is which.  But perhaps...he did get it from me after all.

A good friend was explaining this weekend about how attendees at a men's ministry retreat he was attending were expressing their worries about the lack of participation and how many of the more seasoned attendees yearned for 'the way it used to be'.  These type of questions constantly arise at these events.

I had to smile as I thought about this issue in light of the men's event I was part of this past summer.  I do understand the concern and the worry.  It's really nothing new.  There's been a persistent decline in mainline denomination men's ministry participation way before I first became involved some 10 years ago.  I remember the topic that day...'was a men's group a viable ministry for our area'?  We talked about how we'd pool men attending several churches together and have them gather as one united group.  This worked for a time and many connections and good things came from those first gatherings of men, but sadly I must say that group no longer meets and hasn't for about 4 or 5 yrs now.  For any man ever involved in men's ministry reading this, you know what I'm talking about; it's frustrating.  By no means is this something unique to the men's ministry program of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  But this past summer we tried something different.  We tried something completely different.  We dared to do a new thing.

Even though that initial group has not met for a very long time I've seen growth both in numbers and in spirituality!  I've seen promise and optimism.  I've seen men from those small gatherings remain connected through our larger regional yearly events over the years.  I've seen them stay committed and I've seen them reach out to other men and get them involved.  I saw it this summer.

As my friend said in his post, "One of the most important elements of being a disciple is discipling someone else."  I might not have the knack for being a 'Mr. Fix It' kind of guy, but I do pray I can share with my son and with others the importance of discipling someone.

My son's apparent love of tools and observation of construction work being done is a joy to watch.  The excitement in his tiny voice when he 'ooos and awws' is so genuine.

This summer I was able to shout out,"I see digging!"

Yes! I saw it then and continue to see it now as men work hard to make a difference in the lives of others.  It was very apparent during the 'Xtreme Faith-Bold Action' event at Bethany College (West Virginia), that a group of 200+ men...

      -can do effective spiritual ministry with one another 
      -can effectively engage one another in spiritual mission work 
      -can retain and share the lessons and uplift gained through the experience 
      -can set aside all that works to undo and separate us and come together as One in fellowship
      -can remain optimistic; quell the naysayers and negativism directed at daring to do a new thing
       -can reach out to brothers in need, brothers who are hurting, brothers of all ages, backgrounds and faiths with fraternal can be done!

Men must commit themselves to living out the true nature of brotherly discipleship; be willing to pick a shovel and do some spiritual digging.

A chord was struck, a nerve touched this past summer the reverberations of which are still ringing in my ears; Extreme Faith-Bold Action...  We...are...ready!