Manspeak


Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone! by bigplew
February 9, 2007, 12:48 pm
Filed under: Culture, News

by Mike Plewniak

That was the opening line from a conference called “Godmen”. The LA Times recently did an article about this group and their observation that “traditional church worship is emasculating”.

This conference begins like this: “The strobe lights pulse and the air vibrates to a killer rock beat. Giant screens show mayhem and gross-out pranks: a car wreck, a sucker punch, a flabby (and naked) rear end, sealed with duct tape.”

I think these men are right that we have a problem. But, the problem I have is that they don’t have the right solution. To express our testosterone by cussing, fighting, and practical jokes is not the solution to the feminization of Christianity. The saddest part of the article in one guy who after the conference decides to go on camping trip. His wife is home with a newborn baby and asks if he can stay to help out. His reply is that he is the leader of his family and so he’s going camping. That’s not the solution. I think the solution is, in Christ, to be men who lead. Men who lead in prayer, in worship, in pursuing God and delighting in God, and in laying down our lives for our friends and wives. This Godmen conference wants men to see Christ throwing over the tables in the temple and cussing at Herod. I want men to see Christ passionate about God’s holiness, laying down his life on the cross for our sins, and being resurrected and reigning victoriously over sin and death! Godmen, right problem, wrong solution.

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8 Comments so far
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great thoughts Mike, thanks!

JO

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

I see myself as no more than a comedian who happens to have been follower of Jesus since the age of nine and happens to have grown up in the church. Many of the men I met during my time with Promise Keepers were amazing; they both encouraged me and told me how beneficial my act was in challenging men on their spiritual journey. Because of their encouragement as well as that from fellow Christian speakers, I analyzed exactly what I was saying or doing that garnered such response. I have been a comic for many years so I knew the response wasn’t just because I was funny; there are thousands of funny comics in the country.

The epiphany that came to me was that men seemed to like my show because I treated them….LIKE MEN. I am NOT a clergyman, I am a layman. As a comic I used sarcasm and unorthodox communication styles. I think the men saw a regular, real, flawed man and RELATED to that.

For some reason God sent numerous high profile mainstream media reporters to do feature articles and interviews on me. It was then that I began to see with much clarity what anti-Christian bigotry looks like. Due to the ability of media to pick and choose one element from an interview, one line from a show, one paragraph from a book and place it out of context, I have watched my faith and my character maligned, slandered, ridiculed and scorned – even by my brethren. Just once I would have treasured an inquiry from a reader or viewer stating their desire for clarity in some areas or giving us the benefit of the doubt.

I once sat at lunch with a good-looking, young, ex-football star who told me he had was addicted to sex and had planned on divorcing his wife. He wanted us to meet us with him and his father (who happened to be a pastor) to tell us personally how GodMen’s first conference changed his life. Not only is he in counseling for his addiction, but is reconciled with his wife and is ready to serve God with a passion he never had before. Meanwhile, one only has to check blogs to see “enlightened” Christians explain how evil and heretical this same event was. It reminds me of the man with the withered hand that Jesus healed. As this man rejoiced that God could love him so much as to heal him, the religious were watching ONLY to see if Jesus would break their rules about work on the Sabbath.

The Biblical mandate is clear that we always come to our brother first to discuss differences in love, but my experience is that many Christians are too cowardly for this. Our organization’s goal is to train men of faith how to be courageous, eye to eye, face to face MEN. Anything less is an insult to the power residing inside us through the Holy Spirit. We are not interested in the naysayers as we have seen first hand how lives have been changed.

We believe that men come in many shapes and sizes. Some are “chest beaters,” some are noble and subdued. Some are brash and reckless, some are reserved and meek. All are welcome in our tribe. We believe men who love Jesus also sometimes hunt and fish. They sometimes play chess or rugby. They go to operas and mixed martial arts fights. They struggle with temptation and yet are still loved by God. They are strong and weak, courageous and cowardly, but they have the commonality of being men who desperately want to serve Jesus right.

We are currently preparing for our next event. We are changing some things from the first conference that we learned were unnecessary. We are adding things we think were missing as well as clarifying concepts that may have been misconstrued. But we apologize for nothing. We are in a race, but it’s not a sprint – it’s a marathon. We are diligently seeking fellow travelers to assist us as we cannot do this alone….any takers?

Comment by Brad Stine

Another misconception that can be traced back to the LA Times article about GodMen is that this event is anti-woman. We trace this accusation back to the release of the LA Times article because we had not received this accusation before the article broke. This accusation originates not from what was said at GodMen, but what an attendee said to an LA Times reporter, an attendee who did not understand one of GodMen’s core messages: husbands should demonstrate their love for their family in more assertive and demonstrative ways.

According to the LA Times, the 26-year-old construction worker said he was going on a camping trip, leaving his wife to care for their new born child alone. This misguided young man said the he’s going anyway because he’s the “leader” of his family. GodMen denounces his definition of leadership, which is really an excuse for selfish and naive behavior. We recommend that this misguided young man watch our DVD series and pay attention to what was really said GodMen presenters

Comment by paul coughlin

Paul,

Thanks for the clarification. That guy’s response was concerning.

As I said, I think you guys have identified a real problem. Brad, you said in your video, “#1 concern in America that no church seems to be addressing is how men relate to men” (something like that).

Again, I believe the solution is the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21). I can’t seem to find this in your mission, on your blog, or in your promotion. Please correct me if I’m wrong, b/c I would have a hard time promoting this to others if the solution is “A chance to celebrate the masculine spirit” or “reveal a commonality of unique male struggles shared with their own tribe, a band of brothers who promise to walk this journey with them to the end.”

Comment by bigplew

Go to our web site, http://www.godmen.com, and click on “About” then “Statement of Faith”. We believe that the solution to everything is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is preached at GodMen events. It is the connerstone of everything we do and believe.

We have made it clear that we are open to criticism and correction. If we are missing something we will correct it. What we have a problem with is people jumping to conclusions about our objectives who have no real understanding of who we really are. I recommend attending an event and seeing first hand what we are all about.

None of the principals in GodMen have the time to go on every blog to explain ourselves and to try to correct misperceptions so we do the best we can. It would be encouraging to have some of our brothers join our ministry by helping with correction and support not unfair criticism.

Comment by mike smith

GodMen:

Is there anyway you could articulate the theology behind the conference for those of us who would not be in attendance?

JO

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

First of all articulating a theology that somehow covers all the questions and misconceptions regarding Godmen is impossible and not even good theological discourse. What we need is s theology of Christian discourse. By that I mean we need a posture that engages discussions more as conversations and dialogues rather than apologetic articulations that can be said once and for all to cover all bases. It is obvious that anyone who was not there lacks the abiity to interprete the gathering with clarity. With that being said, I do beleive that the men who are at the core of Godmen do want character, a sanctifiend posture and a Christlike demeanor to be the place out of which a conversation takes place. Therefore we are striving to do a number of things.

1) Believe that there is a large place at the table for men which means even those who might disagree with us. Are you kidding. We disagree with us. In other words, it is in the relationship that real clarity of spirit is manifest and that transcends what is said to how it is said and why it is said. We are attemtping to avoid controversy for controversies sake but also let people offer us the prophetic side of their callings which means they may offer us some “hard saying.” With that being said we can then expext hard sayings back. We are all culturally embedded in our own story thus the Godmen story is one into which our new friends are entering. We wnat to be welcoming and generous is our posture to all who woudl like to enter the conversation. That means we woudl desire that men not try and side swipe each other before they attempt to understand which means asking a lot of questions and then listening. This is indeed a theological position and it offers up the manner is which we disucss is as important as the content. For Godmen content and how we engage are all one and the same.
Regarding the young men who may have gone home and applied a certain action to what he percieved he heard from Godmen…This is always a challenge with movements. Real accountability takes time and is ultimatly local. Therefore it is always going to be a challenge to men to take what they may have percieved they learned from a Godmen weekend and take it home. This is not to say we don’t understand that will take place but attempting to endorse or not endorse how men act when they get home is always going to be a challenge. This is why are local expressions and how they are originated and maintained and sustained is on our prayer lists and in or discussions. We get that influence can go either way. I for one am part of a group called Samson and find that fulfilling. However, ultimatly the Church is the organism out of which we are fomed and held accountable. We are supporter of the local body big time. With that being said, there is a passionate renewal taking place amongst the laity who are demanding that their giftings and callings be acknowledged and empowered. Therefore we see Godmen as an equipping arm of the Church universal and see out words as words that will ultimately uplift and edify the body.
We are also aware that men are deeply in need of a place where they can disclose and allow a real authentic transparency to be allowed and fostered. This may be why Godmen meetings will by their very nature be a bit messy. Sharing and being real means things get said that in retrospect may have been a git intense or the one talking wishes what we call at my churhc a “do over.” Godmen is a palce where do overs are ok. We get that talking openly with integrity takes practice and I mean practice. Our faith is a behavior and it looks like something. This means we will need an environment of real openess to people learning how to walk in integrity with one another. That is a key theological trusim here. Real authenticity means contiually reengaigng and not checking out jsut becasue we get bruised or hurt. To be a man is to constantly reenage with one another even when it is costly and quite frankly a pain. This is real courage. I am excited to be a part of an emerging group that is open to setting the table pretty wide and deep. This is going to be a conversation that brings many a diverse idea to the table. That is what the world needs to see and hear. To the beggar’s banquet that we are setting……!!!!!!!

Comment by fromthebunker

From the Bunker:

It sounds to me that your theology may be generous indeed in taking liberties not granted by the Sovereign One. The conversation on many matters is officially closed; God is not asking our opinion on biblical masculinity my friend! Our responsibility as men created in God’s image is to find out from Scripture what God says about being men to His glory and then, by His grace, we want to apply His word by believing it and obeying it. I’m not sure you’ve thought through the implications of saying that we need “dialogue” versus “articulations that can be said once and for all to cover all bases.” So is Scripture clear or isn’t it? Is it up to me and you to decide on what biblical masculinity is, or is that something God informs us of “once and for all to cover all bases”? Is faith in the finished work of Christ the only way for salvation, or is that up for discussion, too? Scripture is very clear, accurate, trustworthy, and to be taken more seriously. If we give ourselves to the study of God’s Word regarding men’s and women’s roles, we will find that His revealed will has much to say on this subject that is clear and relevant and meant to be obeyed. I would challenge you to have an articulate theology rooted in the finished work of Jesus Christ, a theology that is clear, responsible to Scripture’s authority, a biblically-saturated theology behind why you do what you do. It’s a mark of mature manhood to be able to lead others in a clearly defined direction.

JO

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre




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