The 2018 Northern Illinois Conference United Methodist Men’s (NIC UMM) Spiritual Congress in Williams Bay, Wisconsin was truly a weekend filled with beautiful weather and fellowship with brothers from around the conference. We are currently planning for our 2019 retreat, Friday thru Sunday, September 13 – 15, 2019, and we hope you can attend. Below is a summary of what the 2018 Spiritual Congress was all about.
“Cast Your Net Widely” was the message we heard from those presenting the message of “Teach a Man to Fish.” Participants were inspired by words from Reverend Drew Oakley of the YoungER Men’s Ministry Think Tank of the Southeast Jurisdiction (Kentucky). Reverend Oakley asked us to go to where the men are, to stretch our boundaries and to become mentors to younger men. Reverend Oakley asked us to help younger men to understand the struggles we may have weathered and how we learned to trust in Christ.
The Reverend Drew Oakley moderated four different sessions on reinvigorating United Methodist Men’s groups by actively engaging younger men.
* Small groups are the building blocks for expansion. The idea is to create an environment where group members can become engaged in meaningful conversation about spiritual growth and making disciples.
* Recreation and social ministries offer an additional way to create a welcoming environment. According to Reverend Oakley, people feel valuable and motivated when they are having fun and achieve a sense of belonging.
* Strong missions build strong members. Reverend Oakley pointed out the value of someone using their heart and hands, not just their head, to make an impact on their surroundings. Something done at a local level to address hunger, poverty, domestic violence, of racial and social injustice, can help pave the way for supporting projects with more global outreach.
* Committed spiritual leaders become intentional disciple makers. Leadership development is vital, said Reverend Oakley, or else a group will drift along the path of least resistance and lose its focus which should be promoting love of God and neighbor and reaching out to make new disciples.
Reverend Oakley’s closing call to action was to “shake up the brand known as United Methodist Men.” Attendees were challenged to overcome a lack of youthfulness that translates into a lack of usefulness. Discipleship making, according to Reverend Oakley, involves engaging people of all ages in a life-long process.
Doctor Reverend Rick Vance of the General Commission of United Methodist Men; Steve Nailor, National President of United Methodist Men shared with us an initiative, “Amend Together,” that addresses the problem of violence against women. The United Methodist Men are implementing the program to” cultivate healthy masculinity, and change the future for women and girls.” Dr. Vance provided and overview of the training program that will be available to men to assist in addressing and reversing this abuse.
Bishop Sally Dyck in her message to us pointed out the important role fishermen played as disciples of Jesus Christ. While “shepherds tending their flock” is a key pillar of Christian teaching, it is the fishermen, she said, who are prepared to bring in the “new catch” of souls to hear Jesus’ message. Whether group sessions, personal testimonies, worship services, or multi-media events, the audience was informed and inspired to reach out and make new disciples for Jesus Christ.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2019 Spiritual Congress September 13-15.
Craig McGregor, Vice President