Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Whatever Happened to Promise Keepers?

Denny at VitalSigns Ministries writes: Promise Keepers certainly isn't making the national splash it once did.

The absence of the outspoken, charismatic Coach Bill McCartney at the helm of Promise Keepers left the movement without its initial fervor and its ability to grab the headlines. The football arenas around the country haven't been filled with attentive worshipers for a long time now and Promise Keepers' hope to create thousands of "accountability groups" among America's Christian men never really materialized.

However, neither of these failures are the fault of Promise Keepers as an organization. The real problems in reaching the organization's goals have come from all the "regular suspects" which have historically limited the Christian man's spirituality in America: apathy, inconsistency, improper passions, desires for comfort and entertainment, and so on. Promise Keepers did an incredible job of shaking things up in the early 90's -- God bless 'em for their vision and dedication to biblical orthodoxy. But keeping things shook up? Well, that required the rest of us to follow through with courage, faith and an aggressive work ethic for the Kingdom. We didn't.

So, is Promise Keepers completely a thing of the past? No, far from it. Their audience events may be smaller, fewer and less publicized but the organization is very much alive with enthusiasm and commitment. And, of particular significance, Promise Keepers hasn't sold out its founding purposes. When the numbers began to decline, there must have been tremendous pressure brought upon Promise Keepers to compromise its values, to soften its doctrinal statement, to pragmatically remove (or at least keep quiet about) some of its more controversial elements, especially its insistence on preaching Christ crucified, its pro-life convictions, its fidelity to biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality, etc. But Promise Keepers kept its own promise to God and therefore deserves our fervent appreciation and respect.

And they deserve our present attention too.

For although the "movement" of Promise Keepers (amazingly influential) has run its course, the ministry of the modern version of Promise Keepers is very much alive. Clicking on the title of this post will take you to the Promise Keepers web site where a visitor can see how true the organization has been to the Lord Jesus and how active they yet are in changing the character of America by bringing redemption, illumination and spiritual power to one man at a time.

So, for those of you who well remember the way God moved you in one of those PK stadium rallies and for those of you whose earnest spiritual adventure began after those halcyon days, today's Promise Keepers is a ministry well worth your prayers, your support and your participation.

(Wednesday, May 31, 2006)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Manly Men

Courtesy: SacredSandwich

Friday, July 07, 2006

Local churches start men's groups

By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, STAFF WRITER: INSIDE BAY AREA.com

It's common for women to gather and share their innermost thoughts and feelings. Ask a group of men to do the same and you may be met with some resistance.

There is, however, a growing movement among churches to honor and recognize men as they have women through a variety of programs that uplift, engage and support, for males only.

"Men's ministry basically focuses on a number of areas," says Barry Zwahlen, a board elder at Community Presbyterian Church in Danville. "The general idea is creating venues where men can get to know each other ... to build relationships."

At CPC, ministers have found creative ways to encourage men to participate in male-oriented groups and events. For example, one fall the church held meetings on Monday nights centered around Monday Night Football, but also included a speaker that offered spiritual enlightenment to the guys. The church also hosts a men's retreat in February and invites national speakers and groups to facilitate. This event is open to non-church members, too.

At Valley Christian Center in Dublin, Eric Lura agrees with Zwahlen that programs should appeal to what men typically enjoy.

"We grow from shared experiences and men seem to connect with shared experiences with other guys," says the director of Men's Ministry at VCC. "We don't naturally come together."

Lura says his church has events like its barbecue tri-tip dinner that features classic cars with an auto tips component. He says a speaker is invited to talk about auto and "spiritual restoration." Power breakfasts, their men's retreat and summit and outreach programs have drawn an average of 50-plus men to the events.

Men's ministries have been a staple of many places of worship for decades, however, have gained popularity in recent years especially with movements like the Promise Keepers says Lura. The Christ-centered organization based in Denver is dedicated to introducing men to Jesus as their Savior and helping them to grow as Christians.

Rev. Chuck Johnstone with Asbury United Methodist Church in Livermore says it's important to have programs that help foster growth in many areas of a man's life.

"I believe there is a need for mutual support, encouragement and sharing of issues relevant to men," says the senior pastor. "Work, parenting, partnering, retirement, health issues, spiritual growth and faithfulness ... these kinds of programs attend to some of those needs."

Zwahlen, who also works with youth at CPC, says although the programs men's ministries offer an opportunity to grow with one's Creator, he believes men need relationships.

"I think men need to be in relationships with other men ... we need to hold each other accountable, pray for each other, be there for one another," says Zwahlen.

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig can be reached at (925) 416-4817 or at mcraig@trivalleyherald.com.