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What about the mentors that use such talks and literature as a starting point?

John Eldredge writes and lectures for a living. As far as I know, he does not mentor in the sense in which i described unless he mentors people so they can lecture others-- which is possible. But lecturing people is not really mentoring. And this is where "men's ministries" miss the boat.

You missed my point entirely. Wild At Heart has a study guide. The study guide is the jumping off point for mentors and apprentices to working through personal issues and growing in character. If one were to witness Elderedge speak live, most of the time it will end with a plug for his books/study guides, after which it could be used for this very purpose.

If supporting the hard work of one's writing does not appeal to you, but you still would like to use the book, study material, and follow-up questions of the resources to benefit the (non-inclusive) men's group, mentor program, or for your own personal benefit, you can always purchase the material off eBay at reduced rates.

As for painting-with-a-broad brush, I am aware of one men's retreat that uses Elderedge's material (or a variation of it) at the end of a long day, filled with events of strenuous outdoor activities, building a chapel in the forrest, learning to use a rifle, etc. Nice to know that with the many variations that one's men's ministry can take root, using Elderedge or not, (or Morley, Farrar, Fr Larry Richards, Dalbey, etc...).

This is where men's ministry is unique to its own surroundings, and thus _impossible_ to say they have "missed the boat."

ETA: Elderedge's ministry is different from Morley, who is different from Farrar, Mens' Fraternity, "Crossing the Goal", God-Men, PK, Into-the-Wild, and different from the men's groups from charismatic covenant communities. There are as many variants of men's ministry as there are denominations. Okay, maybe not that many, but you see my point.

Edited by Nick Alexander

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You missed my point entirely. Wild At Heart has a study guide. The study guide is the jumping off point for mentors and apprentices to working through personal issues and growing in character.

I know this may be distressing to you, but there are many ways to "grow in character". Studying about growing in character is not one them. I wish it were so, brother.

Edited by Greg P

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I know this may be distressing to you, but there are many ways to "grow in character". Studying about growing in character is not one them.

Really? Not a way? At all?

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I know this may be distressing to you, but there are many ways to "grow in character". Studying about growing in character is not one them.

Really? Not a way? At all?

I'm with you, SDG. I don't know your experiences in this, Greg, but this isn't a strictly academic thing. Introspection, worship, being rivited by stories, activities, building new habits, breaking old ones, Confession, and practicals that will be of great assistance for those milestones that you inferred.

But if it's not your thing, don't knock it.

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I know this may be distressing to you, but there are many ways to "grow in character". Studying about growing in character is not one them.

Really? Not a way? At all?

No.

I'm with you, SDG. I don't know your experiences in this, Greg, but this isn't a strictly academic thing. Introspection, worship, being rivited by stories, activities, building new habits, breaking old ones, Confession, and practicals that will be of great assistance for those milestones that you inferred.

But if it's not your thing, don't knock it.

I'm not knocking it. You can watch a travelogue on South Asia that outlines in detail what the hotels, food and culture are like. Those things can be very accurate and helpful to someone who's anticipating a visit there. But it still is not visiting South Asia. That's what most of this studying about "building character" amounts to in my estimation.

Although, sitting thru an entire Driscoll or Elderedge message would definitely constitute "persevering under suffering" as outlined in James 1 and as such could possibly be considered character building.

Edited by Greg P

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I'm not knocking it. You can watch a travelogue on South Asia that outlines in detail what the hotels, food and culture are like. Those things can be very accurate and helpful to someone who's anticipating a visit there. But it still is not visiting South Asia. That's what most of this studying about "building character" amounts to in my estimation.

I assure you, those who sat through that travelogue would be better prepared to handle the customs, the weather, the familiar phrases, the food, the safety, not to mention know the best places to visit, best hotels, best place to catch a wave... when they inevitably do venture there, far more than those who chose to be unprepared.

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I sympathize with Greg. I'm deeply suspicious of programs and seminars and lectures. I think that what Greg would like to have must necessarily be organic. IOW, someone at church (oops, that's a problem for Gregmenacegrin.gif ) taking a guy or two aside who have touched his heart. From there, maybe roping in a couple of his peers to get other young men involved. I see that for Greg, assuming he had found or stumbled on some guys, a few of whom might be quite senior to him and be spiritually gifted and modest about same. Heck, I'd jump at something like that too! Does the grasshopper hit on the sensei?

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I assure you, those who sat through that travelogue would be better prepared to handle the customs, the weather, the familiar phrases, the food, the safety, not to mention know the best places to visit, best hotels, best place to catch a wave... when they inevitably do venture there, far more than those who chose to be unprepared.

Dude, I'm not trashing the travelogue. I'm disposing of the notion that somehow watching the travelogue, no matter how passionately, amounts to an actual trip. Most people would rather watch a travelogue every day, than actually take a leap into the unknown and go somewhere new themselves. The endless religious seminars and "character" classes coddle this innate weakness in human beings.

I sympathize with Greg. I'm deeply suspicious of programs and seminars and lectures. I think that what Greg would like to have must necessarily be organic. IOW, someone at church (oops, that's a problem for Gregmenacegrin.gif ) taking a guy or two aside who have touched his heart. From there, maybe roping in a couple of his peers to get other young men involved. I see that for Greg, assuming he had found or stumbled on some guys, a few of whom might be quite senior to him and be spiritually gifted and modest about same. Heck, I'd jump at something like that too! Does the grasshopper hit on the sensei?

I'm having a hard time following you here. Edited by Greg P

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Greg, my point is that, for your analogy to take hold, all those who watch the travelogue will _inevitably_ take that trip, no matter what, save for those whose lives are cut drastically short. The option that a young man never faces those milestones where actual maturation takes root is a false one. The purpose of the travelogue is to steer him so that he gets the maximum life he can. That is the ideal.

Some wish to go it alone. Enjoy.

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Greg, what I'm suggesting is that "plug and play" mentoring ministry isn't for you. Or me. By organic I mean some older guy plucking a young guy or two out of the crowd. Later, he might collar a colleague and suggest that he follow suit. For you though, this could be a problem because you don't worship anywhere.

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For you though, this could be a problem because you don't worship anywhere.

Oh man, it's not a problem at all. And I vehemently object to your insistence that "worship" is limited to strict weekly attendance at the local lecture-n-concert club.

Back to mentoring. Protestant churches just don't do it . Which is a crying shame because there are multitudes of retirees, many of them lonely and longing to serve, who would love to impart their experiences and skills into younger men. These programs are win/win.

Edited by Greg P

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Oh man, it's not a problem at all. And I vehemently object to your insistence that "worship" is limited to strict weekly attendance at the local lecture-n-concert club.

Heh, you know that doesn't describe all churches, just the ones that have jaded you and made you bitter about it.

Back to mentoring. Protestant churches just don't do it . Which is a crying shame because there are multitudes of retirees, many of them lonely and longing to serve, who would love to impart their experiences and skills into younger men. These programs are win/win.

Right. We agree. But it is probably a moot point for you and I'm saying that a program probably won't do this effectively. It is best done organically. OTOH, the right retirement community has all of the tools right there without a church....

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Incidentally, for a while now I've been thinking of starting a Dads and kids play group when our church gets its building. Basically Mel has spent much of the last 4 years going to groups with the kids, mainly in church halls, where the kids play whilst the mum's chat. Most of the places don't state they are mothers only but have few, if any dads, and they don't get talked to a great deal, apparently.

So I'd like to start one (primarily) for Dads. I guess Man Playgroup is out, but does anyone have any good ideas for names (or anything else) for this?

Matt

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Dads 'n Lads. Find the Father in the Sandbox. Everybody Plays! Kids v Dads. Onetime Babysitters**

A good title may ony have to imply that fun will be a part of it. The short ministry explanation might be all you need to explain what is going on. Word of mouth might just do the rest for strangers.

** A friend of mine at church started a social service ministry at St. Bartholemew's in NYC called The Onetime Do-gooders as an ironic comment on the ministry and the need. It was successful and a sustained ministry that had dedicated longtime members. I was parodying their name here. Who knows, it might work.

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i don't have a lot to add except that andy's chug-chug-chug communion joke was brilliant, men who won't sing are wusses (what C.S. Lewis would call "men without chests") and I am still at a loss to understand the pervasive insecurity which seems to be at the core of evangelical conceptions of masculinity.

Also, hip-hop church isn't that bad an idea.

Edited by Holy Moly!

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My brother, now a believer, goes to a church where he slips in towards the end of "worship" and stays for the sermon. I don't understand why he would choose a place where he would cut the service in half, but he's happy there.

A practice I've felt forced to engage in for, oh, the last 5 years or so (in two different cities, in two different churches with good preaching). I can't worship God in a regular evangelical worship service. I can't use bad music to worship God. I can't use horribly sub-par lyrics to worship God. I can't, obviously, worship God singing about how I want to kiss his face, lay in his arms, rest my head upon his breast, reach out and touch him, feel him inside me, etc. ad infinitum. And I can't worship God with a "worship leader" who is obviously trying (time-tested, successful tecniques to be sure) to manipulate how I feel emotionally about God at that particular moment (or for that particular 60 minutes of singing. This all coming from a guy who actually does love singing, for which reason I spent 2 years singing in a church choir back 10 years ago, and 2 more years singing in a undergraduate college choir. I simply can't use learned ability to sing in your average church service. Oh, and finally, I do feel like I can worship God almost anyplace else, any day or hour of the week.

So I've been finding this discussion to be interesting. I believe these sorts of discussions are precisely the sorts of discussions more Christians ought to be having ... even though it looks as if "Man Church" is just a badly marketed men's group at Cornerstone Church, which also has a women's equivalent (they just call it "Expresso" instead of "Women's Church," I'm not sure which is worse) that advertises itself as follows -

eXpresso is an evening for women of all ages to come and hear a panel of four to five women share their personal life stories of how God brought them to where they are today. It is a comfortable family room setting, where gals share a conversation as if they we sitting on their couch at home with their closest friends. You get to "look in" as an audience and "listen in" as their personal stories are shared. If you have never been to an eXpresso, it is a night filled with amazing God stories, emotion and once you come, you’ll be sure to mark every eXpresso date on your calendar! Looking so forward to seeing you at eXpresso! Bring your girlfriends, your mom, your sisters, your neighbors, your co-workers and all of the special women in your life and come listen to other women share their heart-warming personal stories! Complimentary refreshments such as coffee, tea and lemonade arise served.

I don't see the harm in offering a mens' or womens' church service, whether evening or morning, as long as it is not all that church does, and it's pretty obvious that this isn't all Cornerstone Church does. As far as bad marketing is concerned, well, that's never been most churches' strong point.

The biggest problem, thinking how most of my nonbelieving friends would think of this, is that if the American Christian church as a whole has been effeminized (up for debate on this art forum at least, while perhaps not in your average blue collar working environment), then that is precisely the sort of thing you would expect them to do. Example: Think of any differences between men and women you like (besides physical). List those differences. Then look at which set the church models, speaks to, advertises to, reaches out to, copies, etc. If a particular church has a problem with losing men (because it's so focused on emotions, feelings, relationships, nurturing, etc.), that church probably tries to reach people by making them feel a particular way. So if we're reaching less men because we've created an environment that makes women feel good, then why not try and create an environment that makes men feel good? The assumption being that men choose whether to go to a particular church because of how that church makes them "feel." An assumption made by the Man Church advertisement. An assumption an effeminized church would make. And an assumption Christ didn't make when telling men on the street to drop everything and follow Him.

Edited by Persiflage

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Yes, we know. You think feelings are for sissies.

That's harsh. I can't decide these days if feelings are a cliche', or cant for emotive sophistry. When conversation or argument (not the fighting kind) wends its way to an appeal to feelings, it seems the tactic is used for effect, emotional effect. OTOH, it is good to appraise how one feels about things. Like uninterpreted tongues in a service though, nothing is gained by anyone else from the sharing of feelings.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Persiflage wrote:

: So if we're reaching less men because we've created an environment that makes women feel good, then why not try and create an environment that makes men feel good? The assumption being that men choose whether to go to a particular church because of how that church makes them "feel." An assumption made by the Man Church advertisement. An assumption an effeminized church would make. And an assumption Christ didn't make when telling men on the street to drop everything and follow Him.

This is brilliant.

Rich Kennedy wrote:

: Like uninterpreted tongues in a service though, nothing is gained by anyone else from the sharing of feelings.

So is this.

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I can't worship God in a regular evangelical worship service. I can't use bad music to worship God. I can't use horribly sub-par lyrics to worship God. I can't, obviously, worship God singing about how I want to kiss his face, lay in his arms, rest my head upon his breast, reach out and touch him, feel him inside me, etc. ad infinitum. And I can't worship God with a "worship leader" who is obviously trying (time-tested, successful tecniques to be sure) to manipulate how I feel emotionally about God at that particular moment (or for that particular 60 minutes of singing.

But it's not the deliberate emotional appeals that are troublesome. You can never divorce emotions from true religion. And anytime emotions are involved in a public setting there's a risk of manipulation.

It is the type of emotions they (mostly evangelicals) target that give me the willies. I find the liberties taken with the lovey-dovey, "personal relationship" chat in congregational music to be not only awkward, but sacrilegious. Frankly, the emotions are vaguely sensual. And I love sex and sensuality, just not in worship... unless it's in private. The very public experience of a praise band trotting out "Goo-Goo Eyed for God" and everyone grooving and swooning right along, has a distinct strip club aroma that I find gross.

Other affections are entirely appropriate-- and I would say, unavoidable-- in the context of contemplating the attributes of God: fear, bewilderment, utter helplessness, wonder, sorrow, joy, tranquility and contentment.

Edited by Greg P

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But to say that emotions have no place is - as Greg P has just said - making me think that church (and life) would be bleak and sterile indeed. We've all got emotions; God gave them to us.

I'm afraid I can't help it, but I've got to ask who precisely is saying that emotions have no place in church?

If anyone anywhere has actually said this, I'm quite interested in who that is because he or she would have a whole number of fascinating things to say about topics I'm particularly interested in at the moment.

And if no one has actually said this, why bother arguing against the proposition in the first place?

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bingo.

(which is not to say i find the peculiar tenor of feeling-sharing happening in churches these days to be particularly productive, but that's a a function of suburban market capitalism manifesting itself as anti-intellectualism blended with lack of patience for ambiguity and mystery blended with an addiction to tv-style narrative arcs amounting to emotional pornography. It takes some real jujitsu to double back and blame "effeminized culture" when it seems especially rampant in churches where women remain excluded from the highest levels of leadership)

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If a particular church has a problem with losing men (because it's so focused on emotions, feelings, relationships, nurturing, etc.), that church probably tries to reach people by making them feel a particular way. So if we're reaching less men because we've created an environment that makes women feel good, then why not try and create an environment that makes men feel good? The assumption being that men choose whether to go to a particular church because of how that church makes them "feel." An assumption made by the Man Church advertisement.
That assumption is actually true. And that pretty much goes for anything in life. It's a reality of human nature. We gravitate towards things-- people, relationships, careers, art-- that make us feel a certain way. People who claim they would attend a certain church no matter how it made them feel-- the 'ol "i'm attending strictly out of obedience to God" schtick-- are most likely lying.

Edit: Your example of Jesus commanding his disciples to harsh, matter-of-fact obedience is a slight distortion. He always appealed to the emotions of his followers. He tweaked their emotions to get at the conscience and prompt a response. The difference was, emotional appeals were a means to an end as opposed to much of the evangelical church where emotions are the end.

Edited by Greg P

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Edit: Your example of Jesus commanding his disciples to harsh, matter-of-fact obedience is a slight distortion. He always appealed to the emotions of his followers. He tweaked their emotions to get at the conscience and prompt a response. The difference was, emotional appeals were a means to an end as opposed to much of the evangelical church where emotions are the end.

Is not worship the end at a church?

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Edit: Your example of Jesus commanding his disciples to harsh, matter-of-fact obedience is a slight distortion. He always appealed to the emotions of his followers. He tweaked their emotions to get at the conscience and prompt a response. The difference was, emotional appeals were a means to an end as opposed to much of the evangelical church where emotions are the end.

Is not worship the end at a church?

I guess in a broad sense "worship" is the end of all life; that is if you define NT worship as the devotion and sacrifice of your life to Christ in the daily routines of life. But I assume by "worship" you meant specifically the song service on Sunday gatherings and the flow of emotions that may or may not accompany that? To which I would say no, it is not the end. In fact, I think human interaction/fellowship/support is far more important as a weekly discipline than singing or sermons. So in my mind, the end of NT church gathering is edification through fellowship, not "worship".

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