Thursday, March 16, 2006

Promise Keeper panel says churches must change

A panel said that traditional Protestant congregations must change, or they will continue to see men leaving.

Thursday, March 16, 2006
Spero News

A panel said that traditional Protestant congregations must change, or they will continue to see men leaving. "There is a disconnect between men's deepest wants and needs and the churches that need men so badly," said Dr. Thomas S. Fortson, president and CEO of Promise Keepers.

In the face of mounting evidence that men in particular are exercising spirituality away from the traditional Protestant churches, Fortson explained Promise Keepers' position. "We find ourselves in the middle of this question -- inspiring men to go deeper and loving our pastors who shepherd the communities of faith."

James Ryle, of TruthWorks Ministries and a founding PK board member, said that times are changing and that the biggest mistake the church can make is not to change. "The people who are leaving the church aren't leaving God, truth, Scripture, or community - they are just leaving the game." Ryle argues that churches are becoming too institutional in a culture that is starving for what is real, relevant and significant.

Alvin Simpkins of Emmanuel Christian Center, leads a growing congregation in Denver where 40 percent of the membership is men.

Although sympathetic to the difficulties pastors face reaching men, he believes that Christian leaders should demand more from the men in their congregations. "You demand much, and your men respond enthusiastically," he said, noting that he gathers men from his congregation at 5:30 a.m. every Monday morning for prayer and discussion on issues that matter.

"The critical question is going to have to transition from 'how to get men to the church' to 'how to get men to become the church," said Ryle.

Stan Perea, HIS Ministries, agreed, "You must reach men for Christ and then set them free to transform the community - whether they come to church on Sunday or whether they don't."

In his opening remarks, Fortson acknowledged the importance of the church. "Jesus loves his Church, his people, wherever they are," he said. "And we believe that He is drawing them together, but, perhaps, in some new and surprising ways."

Dr. Bob Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and a keynote speaker at all 19 PK events this year, opened media day forum in Denver with a message on what it means to be on mission for God. "God has not changed the strategy of winning the world for Christ," Reccord said. "The strategy is having one man telling another man about the Savior."

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