Courage, Strength, Endurance: Men's Ministries on Unpacking the Bible in All Stages of Life
By Renée Griffith | Posted In Ministry Tools
Bible Engagement Project (BEP) sat down with the national Men’s Ministries team to hear how they develop resources that help to build biblically based men in all of life’s seasons.National Men’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God exists to provide resources for men worldwide as they journey with Christ. To that end, Men’s Ministries focuses on curating biblically based discipleship resources for men in all seasons of life specifically to foster courage, strength, and endurance. Bible Engagement Project sat down with National Director Rick Allen, Director of Discipleship Jimmy White, and Director of Development and Communications Dan Kersten to hear more about these resources and get a closer look at how they unpack the Bible to the men in their own lives.
BEP: Give us an overview of why National Men’s Ministries exists.Rick Allen: We exist to support men in the local church so that they become men of God in their homes, churches, and workplaces. A man of God understands his position within the Kingdom and within his own life—his vertical relationship with God and his horizontal relationships with everyone else. We believe every man has a ministry: this does not necessarily mean a pulpit ministry, but it means that he lives to fulfill the vision of God’s plan for his life.
BEP: Share about the biblically based resources that Men’s Ministries provides.Rick: Everything, from the inception of the National Men’s Ministries Department to everything that comes out of it, is based on principles in the Bible. All of our resources are built with discipleship in mind and are available for free download on our website. We produce small group studies for three seasons of spiritual growth. The first series, Courage, focuses on fostering courage within men who have just taken their first steps in Christ. The next, Strength, exists to foster discipleship in the lives of men who are invested in their local churches and are seeking to live as Christ’s disciples in daily life. The third, Endurance, centers on men serving in leadership assignments and presents points of encouragement and engagement of kingdom principles as they find deeper spiritual purpose in their ministry. Dan Kersten: We describe manhood as having four dimensions: identity, relationship, purpose, and vision. These are derived from Mathew 3 and 4 which describe Jesus’ baptism and temptations. Jesus demonstrates for us these four dimensions, and all were challenged and attacked by the devil when Jesus was tempted. A man of God needs to be aware of these dimensions, to understand them, and to grow in them. All of our lessons—there are more than 225 of them—are organized and structured according to these four dimensions. Everything about the discipleship journey that we have created is centered on Scripture verses and application.
BEP: When you speak to district and ministry network leaders, what are some ways that you encourage them in building Bible engaged men’s ministries?Rick: Always keep discipleship and mission together. We believe every discipled man should have a missional intentionality, and every missional man should have a discipleship intentionality. Discipleship and mission go hand in hand; rather than an either/or, this is a both/and scenario.
Remember that a disciple of Christ is not a casual person. Beyond believing in Christ, there must be behavior that reflects Christ. There has to be intentionality to meet together for fellowship. There has to be intentionality not just to read the Word of God but to understand it. We create our resources with intentionality along the three spiritual growth pathways I mentioned earlier, of Courage, Strength, and Endurance.
BEP: What is your vision for the future of Men’s Ministries?
Rick: Our vision is that every man becomes a priest in his home—that each would become a man of God in his home, church, and marketplace. We believe every man can be a spiritual father regardless of whether he is a biological father. We want to see men who are older in the faith taking on the responsibility that is theirs to disciple those younger in the faith. There is such great value in having someone more mature in the faith sharing their wisdom on walking with Christ.
BEP: How do you communicate biblical truths to your own family?
Dan: My son is quite young, so it’s a bit of a challenge for my wife and me at his age. Teaching him about the Bible is not as simple as having a family devotion or sending him to Sunday School. For me as a father, I have to live it—and while I live it, I explain to him why dad does this and why dad says that. This is what we call the great journey of discipleship. For example, we have lessons in Men’s Ministries on “boiling points”—how men can deal with their strong emotions such as anger and anxiety—and I can’t sit down and teach my son these lessons right now, but what I can do is live my faith in front of him and take advantage of those explanation opportunities. It’s not enough for me to make sure he has a kid’s Bible with colorful pictures and stories; he has to understand how to apply the Bible to his life as he sees me living it out.Jimmy White: I was a pastor for thirty years, and I now have two children in ministry and one who attends Evangel University (Springfield, Missouri). My grown children in their twenties now FaceTime me regularly. Because of the relationship we built as they grew up, they still bring their tough questions to me, such as, “Hey, Dad, our pastor said this today, and we want to know your takeaway.”The authoritative voice I had in their younger years as we discussed the Scriptures is one that has changed in some ways, but has still held. As Rick said, we have to invest in the next generation. It’s not a checklist, where you can say that you discipled your own kids and now you can check that off and are finished. Now you have to reengage. It never stops. I have three grandboys now, and my oldest is four, so I am figuring out to communicate about the Word at his level. Rick: My kids are over forty years old, and our biblical communications now are much like they are at the Men’s Ministries office. Sometimes they’ll ask, “Dad, the things that you taught me, that I’ve learned over the years, can you unpack for me some of the deeper truths here?” At this point, it goes beyond a devotional thought to a deep, targeted study. Here we move beyond scope and sequence to the heart of Christianity. They’re asking me questions about how different aspects of Christianity integrate into a discipleship pattern. When I’m on the phone with them, sometimes I feel like I’m teaching in a college classroom!
BEP: Share any final thoughts on Bible engagement within Men’s Ministries.Rick: What Men’s Ministries is doing is engaging men with the Bible at all different levels of maturity, and we break those down, as we mentioned, in the levels of Courage, Strength, and Endurance. You can see a perfect example of the earliest level in how Dan models Christ for his young son. You can see the Strengthlevel with Jimmy and how he disciples his adult children as they navigate through their purpose. And the Endurancelevel comes through as I narrow in on topics for adults who are mature in their walk with Christ.
Remember that Bible engagement is experiential. It’s not about the knowledge points. Our resources are created on an experiential platform. This type of platform gives you the opportunity not just to learn differently but to behave differently. Many teaching models present knowledge and expect people to adjust their behavior accordingly. A biblically based teaching model, we believe, gives the experience, and then teaches people to know the behavior. You can believe something without your life measuring up to it. But effective discipleship says that belief in Scripture requires behavior that follows belief, regardless of situation. It says that your experiences with God allow your beliefs to be shared and your biblical behaviors to be visible.
Note: Due to COVID-19, Men’s Ministries has launched their MEN’S MINISTRIES app early so that resources are available to people regardless of whether gathering policies are imposed. On Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon, you can now access more than 225 free discipleship resources for personal and small group use. Take advantage of this early release and use the extra time to grow closer to God! When your men’s small group begins meeting again, you’ll be all set to show them this new Bible study resource!