NASHVILLE, Tenn.––As the former clergy contact with UM Men of the Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference, the Rev. Rick Vance already knew men are “resistant” and “carry around lots of junk.”
After serving for six months as the director of men’s ministry for the General Commission on United Methodist Men and experience with men’s organizations across the United States, he is even more convinced of the importance of reaching men,
Why the ministry is important
“There are 119 million men in America over the age of 15,” said Vance. “Ninety-two million of these men do not attend church. And only one out of every eighteen men is involved in some kind of discipleship.”
Vance said, for each ten men in your church:
- Nine will have kids who leave the church
- Eight will not find their jobs satisfying
- Six will pay monthly minimum on credit cards
- Five will have problems with pornography
- Four will get divorced
- Only one will have a biblical worldview
- All ten will be struggling with some life issue
Why the ministry is difficult
Vance is acutely aware that men’s ministry is “hard and messy.”
Growing up in a home with a Jewish mother and a Pentecostal father, Vance attended synagogue on Friday evenings and church on Sunday mornings. “I am religiously bipolar,” he said, “with a rich understanding of the Hebrew scripture and the Holy Spirit.”
Vance understands why men leave the church because he left it as a young man. “I left the church and I left God, but God never walked away from me.” He returned to the church when his aunt took him to church.
There’s a lesson in that, said Vance. “We invite, but we don’t pick up. Eighty-two percent of unchurched people are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to attend church if invited and escorted.”
Personal and social holiness
“Ministry is a verb, not a noun,” said Vance. The words Christ used are “come,” “follow,” “bless,” and “rejoice.”
“If you aim low you’re going to hit it. If you aim high you’re going to have to work for it,” he said.
In offering advice to local units of United Methodist Men, Vance reminds them that Wesley believed in both ‘personal’ and ‘social’ holiness. United Methodist Men need to meet for business and Bible study and accountability.”
Vance invited the annual conference presidents to “take things off the desks of their pastors.”
Noting that few people ask their pastors about their dreams and visions, Vance suggests that United Methodist Men find out what their pastors are passionate about and help them realize their dreams.
He also encouraged them to work with others. “I hate lone rangers,” he said. “When they leave or die there is no one to take their place.”
He also told the conference presidents that they should not confine their leadership group to those who agree with them. “You need some sandpaper or you won’t get smooth,” he said.
Time to get serious
“We need to get serious about this ministry,” he said. “”We need to ask, ‘What and who is God calling us to be?’ and ‘What is God calling us to do?’"
He says his personal challenges are related to the national effort to combat domestic violence and the partnership with the YWCA, and men’s ministry specialists. “We have a bunch of good guys doing good work.”
“We are creating material in order to create disciples for the transformation of the world,” he concluded. “If we don’t have it, we will find it; and if we can’t find it, we will make it.
“God is bigger than any fear we have.”