After much prayer and thought about the Apostle James’ admonition to “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” in James 1:22 (KJV), the leadership of the United Methodist Men of the North Georgia Conference has made a strategic decision to significantly increase their Kingdom ministry over the next several years. This Strategic Ministry Plan, entitled DOING THE WORD, documents the planned efforts to accomplish this goal. In all the ministries defined in this plan, the UM Men will work closely with and in support to the many existing and planned ministries, parachurch organizations, and local churches within the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church in being doers of the word and not hearers only.
Ministry Lead: Director of Evangelism
The objective of this area of ministry is, specifically, to bring men to know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. The purpose of this area of ministry is to support the church in its mission to accomplish this objective. The overall method to be followed is to engage individual churches to determine if there are any ways in which the United Methodist Men of the North Georgia Conference could assist the local church in this area of ministry. Some examples might be:
- provide speakers when the pastor needs to be absent (or not) who can bring a message of salvation to the church (Certified Lay Speakers);
- bring a Lay Witness Mission to the church;
- teach a specialized course on the meaning of salvation and its biblical basis;
- offer the church a spiritual retreat focused on salvation.
Since measurement of success in this area of ministry would, of course, be the number of souls saved in a given SY, we can only expect to obtain an approximation of this number through the use of the NGC data of the number, across the conference, of new professions of faith. While not completely accurate, of course, this number is stably measured each year and would give us access to a common measurement by which we (and the NGC) could gauge the effectiveness of our efforts in this area of ministry.
Ministry Lead: Director of Spiritual Development
Even though Ministry Area 1, Evangelism, is a subset of this ministry area, achieving its objective requires different tasks to be implemented. When a man has accepted Christ, it is extremely important for that man to be immersed in good biblical teaching about Christian life basics, such as spiritual disciplines which are needed in spiritual warfare. Once again, the purpose of this ministry area is to support the church in its mission to accomplish this objective. As in Evangelism, the overall method to be followed is to engage individual churches to determine if there are any ways in which the United Methodist Men of the North Georgia Conference could assist the local church in this area of ministry. Some examples might be:
- teaching specialized courses on spiritual gifts, spiritual warfare, fruit of the spirit, G. Ross Freeman’s A Spiritual Journey for Men or A Transforming Journey for Men;
- offering Certified Lay Speakers to speak when the pastor will be absent (or not) specifically on the topic of spiritual growth;
- offer the church a spiritual retreat focused on spiritual growth.
Measurement of success in this ministry area does not come easily. One approach is to ask the pastor of each church engaged to rate on some scale (say 1 to 100) the spiritual maturity of his/her men on average, based on their intentional engagement in the church’s ministry. Get that rating before the church is engaged by us and some time (say 6 months) after our engagement. Our measure would then be the shift in the average of the ratings obtained within a given SY. Using some type of shift measurement like this one, our goals could be as follows. (Note that on this scale the goal would be to get to a point where most men in the congregation exhibited a significant spiritual growth in their lives, so a steady state goal would be a shift only due to new Christian men added to the congregation in the last year or so. For the purpose of the chart, that number is assumed to be 10 %.)
Ministry Lead: Prayer Advocate
A major component of spiritual growth for anyone is to learn how to pray to Almighty God. The spiritual discipline of prayer does not come naturally. It needs to be taught, either by way of example (best) or by formal teaching (next best). A mature prayer life will come most quickly and thoroughly when a man has the advantage of both. One of the greatest needs in our churches today is a vibrant prayer life, particularly among men. Women seem to accept this need in their lives easier than men do. Prayer changes things. In particular, a vibrant prayer life can completely transform a man from a weak and fruitless Christian to one who is exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit on a constant basis and becomes an evangelist just by the way he lives. Again, the purpose of this ministry area is to support our local churches by bringing a vibrant prayer life to the men in the church. As in the other ministries, the overall method to be followed is to engage individual churches to determine if there are any ways in which the United Methodist Men of the North Georgia Conference could assist the local church in this area of ministry. Some examples might be:
- teaching specialized courses on prayer;
- offering Certified Lay Speakers to speak when the pastor will be absent (or not) specifically on the topic of prayer; or
- offer the church a spiritual retreat focused on prayer.
Measurement of success in this ministry area does not come easily. One approach is to ask the pastor of each church engaged to rate on some scale (say 1 to 100) the vibrancy of the prayer life of his/her men on average, based on their demonstrated participation in the prayer ministry of the church – praying in Sunday School, praying in the congregation, attending or (better yet) leading studies on prayer, or simply being known as a man of prayer in the community. Get that rating before the church is engaged by us and some time (say 6 months) after our engagement. Our measure would then be the shift in the average of the ratings obtained within a given SY.
Ministry Lead: Hunger Advocate
Few things strengthen the spiritual walk of a man more than learning how to reach out to his neighbor with a helping hand. Of the many ways a man can reach out, feeding a hungry neighbor probably does the most, since this is a basic requirement of life, more so even than clothing or shelter. There are many excuses not to feed the hungry – “they are lazy and need to work to feed themselves”; “I’ve got my own to feed”; “aren’t there agencies to do that sort of thing?”; and, most insidious, “I support bringing people to know Christ, but I will not support a social gospel!”. As Christians, particularly in the Wesleyan tradition, we reject all these excuses. Hunger is as basic a need as a person can have. Christ, of course, wants all men to be spiritually fed, but as the Apostle James said under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “If a brother or sister be naked or destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? (James 2:15-16, KJV). In this area, our approach is somewhat different in support of our churches, although the support is still there. The approach is to contact the churches across our Conference to find out where the greatest needs are and to focus our efforts there first, then spread out across the Conference, the US, and internationally, particularly to our nearest neighboring states and countries. The goal is nothing less than to end hunger everywhere in our lifetime. Our approach is to partner with churches, parachurch organizations such as food banks and food coops in our Conference, the Society of St. Andrew, and Stop Hunger Now to find and to feed the hungry. A measure of the results of our efforts locally will come primarily from the food banks and food coops as they assess for us the impact of our efforts in terms of the decreased % of the number of people who come there for help. Our goals by SY might be as follows, again, showing progress over time and ending with a steady state number that might be expected.
Ministry Lead: Director of Missions
Following the “Jerusalem, Judea, and to the uttermost parts of the world” model Jesus used in a portion of the Great Commission; our “Jerusalem” for Missions is the North Georgia Conference. Our “utter most parts of the world” is exactly that. Even in this land that considered by most of the world as inhabited by the “haves”, as opposed to the “have nots”, there is plenteous need for mission work right here in North Georgia, as well as internationally. If we think of the teaching that undergirds spiritual growth as the “talk”, missions is the “walk”. The gospel will not spread without both of these components. The goal of the Missions ministry area is simple: meet the mission needs within the North Georgia Conference and internationally. Our mission outreach to other conferences in the nation is usually in response to disaster striking, and that need is met in Ministry Area 6, Disaster Response. Here in North Georgia, however, we are it. Any need is great for the person who needs it, however small it looks to those on the outside. Mission projects as small as clearing out an elderly persons yard to projects as big as building a cottage for the United Methodist Children’s Home are within the purview of Missions. Many churches in the Conference are mission minded and do a great job of seeing to mission needs they know about in the local area around the individual churches. However, many more churches are not mission-minded, leaving large areas within our Conference where people don’t have a place to turn. Also, some mission efforts are just too big to be achieved within the resources of even a big church. The job of Missions ministry area is to organize our churches to work together to meet ALL the mission needs in the Conference and as many internationally as possible. Missions ministry success can be measured clearly by the number of needs met on time within an SY.
Ministry Lead: Director of Disaster Response
The occurrence of natural disasters within the US is a yearly phenomenon, often multiple phenomena in a given SY. As one of the more mission minded Conferences in the US, it falls to us to lend a helping hand everywhere we can. Our general goal is to be able to actively respond to every US disaster response need we receive. Our strategy will be to develop a trained and properly equipped team that can work closely with the Disaster Relief Agencies within our Conference and around the US, as well as UMVIM & UMCOR, to determine where our abilities at any given time can be best utilized. These projects typically will be medium-to-large in nature and consist of efforts like immediate needs assessments, further loss prevention, clearing debris from and rebuilding homes damaged by storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters; working together with the Hunger Advocacy Program, arranging for food to be distributed to disaster areas; and working together with the Evangelism and Spiritual Growth ministry areas, arranging for individuals and materials to be sent to an area for spiritual guidance and support for those facing significant loss in disaster stricken areas. Measurement of success in this ministry area should be measured by the number of disaster response needs identified and responded to in a given year.
Ministry Lead: Director Prison Ministry
An area of great need in any area of the country and certainly no less in North Georgia is the ministry to men in prison. There are already several fine prison ministries in our geophysical area of our Conference, and they have good coverage between them of the prisons there. What is not covered nearly as well is the area of prison aftercare. The data show that men, even men who receive significant spiritual training in prison, when they get out, are much more likely to return to prison if they cannot find a strong and consistent program of aftercare. The AA organizations serve this function for alcoholics. The NA organizations serve this function for drug abusers. There is no comparable parachurch organization for aftercare for former inmates in North Georgia, although there are a few independent ministries which provide temporary housing and spiritual training and job training for a year or so, there are not many of these, and, due to the cost, the few that are there cannot provide for very many men. The general goal of this ministry area is to significantly improve that situation within our Conference. At present, the United Methodist North GA Conference has no program performing these services. We intend to be that program. The Church of God in North GA does have a well-organized prison ministry, but not an aftercare ministry. We could join them, sharing information, etc. and bring the power of a true ecumenical effort to bear on the problem. The percentage of men who return to prison after their first term in prison is called the rate of recidivism. A measure of success for our program could be the difference between recidivism for individuals which, we, working with other organizations in North Georgia, are able to help and those we are not able to reach due to lack of resources. Goals for this type measure could be shown as follows.
Ministry Lead: Scouting Coordinator
Men are boys before they become men. This obvious statement is nonetheless profound when one considers that we have the opportunity truly a life time to impact a boy’s transformation to manhood under the tutelage of men who understand the importance of developing life skills early in the physical, emotional, and spiritual growth from boys into manhood. The Boy Scouts of America has a strong proponent in North Georgia already, with competent leadership and an active program in many places, often sponsored by United Methodist Churches. However, many churches do not have an active scouting program and the large majority of the boys growing up in North GA do not have the benefits that an active scouting program can bring. The eventual goal of this ministry area is to see that every boy in North GA at least has the opportunity to belong to a scouting organization. The approach will be two pronged – educating churches in North GA on the benefits to the local church of sponsoring a scouting program of some kind – cubs, Webelos, Boy Scouts, or Explorers. Connecting desires for scouting programs in given areas with the resources to get programs started. The measure of success of this program is the number of new scouting programs begun as a result of our efforts. Using this measure, our goals for each SY might be as follows.
Ministry Lead: Director of Leadership Development
The men of United Methodism have, to a large extent, abdicated the church leadership roles to the women of our church. That is not to say there are some outstanding exceptions, but they are exceptions nonetheless. In this plan, detailed UM Men officer training will be accomplished at the District level. Conference-level training will be reserved for District Trainers and District Officers. The eventual goal of this ministry area would be to have all local ministry UM Men officers trained in how to do the jobs of President, Vice President(s), Secretary, and Treasurer. . The measure of success for this area of ministry could be simply the percentage of all registered fellowships whose officers had gone through training for their positions
Ministry Lead: Director of Communications
Possibly the most urgent of all ministry areas for the North GA Conference United Methodist Men is the area of communications. It is a ministry area in the truest sense in that it is the connective tissue without which other areas of ministry are so hobbled that they will not be able to function at the level of efficiency and effectiveness necessary to sustain the ministry.
Six basic needs for communications across the Conference:
Intra-local ministry; Local ministry to/from District; Local ministry to/from Conference; Between Districts; District to/from Conference; Intra-Conference
The issue of proper balance of inexpensive electronic communications versus expensive US mail must be addressed explicitly and a plan formed to communicate with all men, regardless of their current access to email or the web, particularly in the next few years. None of the other 10 areas of ministry can function without communications. It is the heartbeat of the infrastructure of any organization, including ours. A comprehensive plan must be developed and promulgated to the men of the Conference, including some regular feedback loop to insure that critical messages are received by those for which they were intended. A network of District Directors of Communications and Support is envisaged whose principal job functions are:
Updating of the Conference web-based database for the data on the men of their District, through the local men’s ministry unit,
Monthly interaction with the Conference Director of Communications for guidance and help.
Measurement of success in this ministry area could be simply the percentage of the men in registered local ministries whose data has been checked and updated during the current SY by the first day of the new SY
- Chartering / Recertifying Local Men’s Ministry
Additionally, the Chartering / Recertifying of your local Men’s Ministry program enable a church’s local men’s ministry to charter with the General Commission for $115 per year. The chartering process helps the ministry in several ways. First, it essentially pays for the updating of the national database of local men’s ministries leaders to enable communications to each one through the men’s quarterly newsletter of happenings across the country and internationally. This enables a local men’s ministry to see successful implementations of different ministries across the nation and the world and not have to reinvent the wheel in their locally. Of this $115, $30 stays with the UM Men of the North GA Conference because we handle the chartering process in our conference for the General Commission, including the distribution of the chartering packet to the local men’s ministries in our Conference. The packet we send out requests additional information beyond that put out in chartering packets for other conferences and allows us to gather names, addresses, and (if available) email addresses and telephone numbers of individual men in the local ministries. This level of detail is vital to an active ministry in which the contact information of individual men in the conference can be used to communicate with these individuals with respect to current District positions that are open and need men with passion to fill them in different areas of ministry, as well as to ask individual men for inputs to specific programs throughout the year. Finally, chartering helps to fund the Infrastructure Support of ministries in our Conference outlined in this plan.
The leadership of the UM Men of the North Georgia Conference encourage every local men’s ministry to charter and benefit not only from news around the nation and world, but detailed information on activities and events specific to the North GA Conference.
- EMS and Legacy Builders
You can become an Evangelism, Missions, and Spiritual Development (EMS) member of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, the global governing body, with an annual donation of just $45. These funds support many existing ministries both nationally and internationally. These ministries are listed on the General Commission’s website, www.gcumm.org, and include resources that help grow men spiritually; ministries that help men be better fathers and husbands; leader recruitment and training; communications with men, pastors, and leaders; mentoring and youth programs; hunger relief; prayer ministries; support of UM leaders; and web-based communications. From each individual contribution of $45 annually, the UM Men of the North GA Conference and your District UM Men each receive $3.5 annually for each EMS member. In addition to the EMS program which funds existing ministries, the Legacy Builder program exists to offer sponsorships at the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels ($10, $25, $50, and $100/ month, respectively) to enable the development of new ministries at national and international levels. The bronze and higher Legacy Builder contributors are automatically EMS members.
The leadership of the UM Men of the North Georgia Conference strongly urges every Methodist man in our Conference to become at least an EMS member or, if possible, a Bronze or higher Legacy Builder