Evaluations Welcome

 

 

MMR 2017 is in the books.

If you were present this year I would like to invite you to give a word or two of evaluation.  You can do so by sending me an email (fbcftmojaveaz@ctaz.com) or by leaving a comment down below.

When you so do you can comment on the normal evaluation type questions such as

Rate the event on a scale of 1 to 10.

What was your favorite part of the event?

What was your least favorite part of the event?

Or you can approach some specific questions I have on my mind.

Did your group participate in the Emmaus Walk and did they find it useful?

Would you be okay with a shorter Sunday Schedule aimed at getting you out quicker, or do you prefer to stay for as long as possible?

Would you rather I skip the offering for Speaker/Music and just budget these parts or keep the offering and supplement from budget as possible?

Or if you felt the event changed your life in some way, such as you made an eternal decision or change, you could leave a brief testimony.

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Creating the Best Retreat Experience

Today let me give you some advice on how to help your guys have the best experience.

Setting the Best Goal for Your Experience

I believe the goal you should set for the retreat is team building, creating a solid, functioning group.

It is true that some of your men might make initial commitments for Christ. If this happens, hallelujah!, but it is not realistically possible to plan when another person will get saved. It is also true that individual men may grow personally. But don’t plan who will grow in what ways because each individual does best when taking responsibility for their own spiritual growth. (In fact, most men will shut down fast if they get the impression you have a design for their spiritual development.)

But what you can do, is create an environment to allow God to do His work in both of these areas and many others you would never have dreamed of.  For men this often means the trusted camaraderie of other men.  This is best created by unforced time together, especially if this time proves to be accomplishing something. (Building a bridge, reaching a destination, supporting a cause, learning a strategy, almost any kind of accomplishment will work.) This is team building, and where team building takes place individual men are also built up.

Having brought the men of my church to retreats like this one for over a decade now, I notice that many times they come believing the best part will be the food, the recreation, the time away, or the discipleship.  But after the event they always list the cabin time as the best part. Cabin time when well done is where the most team building takes place. Under the forms tab, there is a guideline for cabin time leaders you may want to look at.

Suggestions for Teambuilding

You know your group better than I do, so remember these are suggestions and not directives.  But here are six ways that the experience could be improved for most men.

  • Carpool and loosely caravan to and from the event

By carpooling you will make the trip more economical and will save some stress parking. The camp has limited spaces. But more importantly you will also begin the camaraderie in the car. To make this possible consider your drivers carefully. Pick men who are friendly, conversant, and also try to pick those with big roomy vehicles. Then don’t pack the cars full. Several hours shoulder to shoulder is not relaxing. A long drive, with the room to spread out and the attitude that it’s okay to have snacks, is much more relaxing and conducive to fellowship.

You are likely to have somebody who refuses to go, unless they can take their own car. Let them go in their own vehicle if they wish. Just be sure you communicate with them thoroughly as to the plan, where you plan to meet and when. If they have to arrive later, let them, but be sure to have the group welcome them when they do arrive.

On the way home, we eat lunch together, sometimes in Williams, other times in Seligman. This meal is often fast food instead of sit down. At this point we are still in carpools, but we loosen up on the caravan idea. Some of the men will be anxious to get home and less interested in stopping.

  • Schedule a relaxing afternoon around Williams

This time in the pines is how we intentionally get out of ‘valley mode’ and get into ‘mountain mode’. For our retreats we generally leave about 9:00 am. We stop at a truck stop in Kingman and stock up on coffee, donuts, and stretch. This means arriving in Williams right around noon. We frequently go to Pine Country Inn for lunch because they are famous for their wide variety of pies. Then we go to a local lake for several hours, generally picking the one most recently trout stocked. Only a few of the men will fish, the remaining ones will walk, talk, nap, and generally unwind.

Registration opens at 4:00 pm. We pick our bunks and put the luggage in the rooms before going back to Williams for dinner. Generally back to the same restaurant and everyone that skipped pie earlier gets a piece now. Then back to camp by 6:00 pm for the first session. Remember there is a snack at 10:00 that night, but if you want dinner you have to eat it before first session.

  • Intentionally sit together at meal times and in worship

We laugh about the way that Baptists eat, but the truth is that sharing meals together creates a bond, that is why potlucks are so valuable to a church. The same is true of worshiping together. If you bring a group to the retreat and they don’t do these two most basic unity building activities together, you are missing your greatest potential for team building moments. The fact that both are open seating means you will have to intentionally make it work out. Generally your best bet is if the group is already growing in unity and therefore walk to these events together.

  • Consider adding something just for your group

At every retreat we did something that was just us. With my guys, it is often food related like a Dairy Queen run on Saturday night. For other groups it might be a morning devotional under the pines, or a rock skipping contest on the lake. That time to do something with just your guys is valuable, it will allow the men to feel like your church had a customized experience.

  • Make ‘cabin time’ sacred

Cabin time is a planned part of the retreat when the men gather in small groups to digest and discuss what they are learning and experiencing. I notice some of the churches rush through cabin time, or skip it all together, perhaps because men can be very uncomfortable with communication. But when it is well done, it is the chance for the men to get honest, make decisions and grow.

Also depending on your group, you might want to cheat a little. If your group is not too large make it a time for all the guys for your church to be together. Perhaps that will mean gathering together your guys in one room although they filled two. Or it might mean stepping outside with a smaller group so that your conversation will be with just your men. If you have a larger group, divide up.  But plan who will lead each cabin in their cabin time carefully; and don’t let the individual groups be more than about twenty men.

  • Plan a reporting time after the event

My church has an evening service and is small enough that we can be very informal. Because of these factors we have a pattern that on Sunday night immediately after returning from camp, the men who are available, each take turns talking about their experiences. This helps solidify them as a group, helps them to digest the lessons learned, and it helps the entire church body be more excited about the camp experience. In fact it is a great tool to make more men want to go the next year. Doing this reporting as soon as possible makes it more effective because the excitement and memories are still strong. Generally we will download the camp video and show it to the church during that session.

 

Teambuilding at the Retreat

One of the best parts of attending a men’s retreat is the teambuilding that can be accomplished as a result of the event. So let me encourage you to get the most out of the event, by giving you seven hints for teambuilding as you attend the retreat.

 

  • Bring the right people

The truth is, there are wrong people to bring. Anyone who will isolate themselves or skip the sessions is the wrong person to bring. Someone whose health cannot take the elevation of Williams, is the wrong person to bring. Bringing kids who will not participate with the men is also a bad idea. It’s not so much about their age as their attitude. In general, a kid who goes intending to be close to his father will be fine, but a kid who thinks being with adult men is lame and refuses to participate will hinder everyone else. Even worse a child that spends the weekend crying for momma, will rob the whole cabin of their camp experience.

A good guideline to use when bringing people, kids or adults, is this. If they will hold the attitude that they are going as a man, participating with men, and can tolerate men’s topics then they will be fine.

  • Carpool and loosely caravan to and from the event

By carpooling you will make the trip more economical and will save some stress parking. The camp has limited spaces. But more importantly you will also begin the camaraderie in the car. To make this possible consider your drivers carefully. Pick men who are friendly, conversant, and also try to pick those with big roomy vehicles. Then don’t pack the cars full. Several hours shoulder to shoulder is not relaxing. A long drive, with the room to spread out and the attitude that it’s okay to have snacks, is much more relaxing and conducive to fellowship.

You are likely to have somebody who refuse to go, unless they can take their own car. As long as they fit the description in the first point above, let them go in their own vehicle if they wish. If their timing allows, have them meet you in Williams. If they have to arrive later, let them, but be sure to have the group welcome them when they do arrive.

  • Schedule a relaxing afternoon around Williams

This time in the pines is how we intentionally get out of ‘valley mode’ and to get into ‘mountain mode’. For our retreats we generally leave about 9:00 am. We stop at a truck stop in Kingman and stock up on coffee, donuts, and stretch. This means arriving in Williams right around noon. We always go to Pine Country Inn for lunch because they are famous for their wide variety of pies. Then we go to a local lake for several hours, generally picking the one most recently trout stocked. Only a few of the men will fish, the remaining ones will walk, talk, nap, and generally unwind.

Registration opens at 4:00 pm. We pick our bunks and put the luggage in the room before going back to Williams for dinner. Generally back to the same restaurant and everyone that skipped pie earlier gets a piece now. Then back to camp by 7:00 pm for the first session. Remember there is a snack at 10:00 that night, but if you want dinner you have to eat it before first session.

On the way home, we eat lunch together, sometimes in Williams, other times in Seligman. At this point we are still in carpools, but we loosen up on the caravan idea. Some of the men will be anxious to get home and less interested in stopping.

  • Intentionally sit together at meal times and in worship

We laugh about the way that Baptists eat, but the truth is that sharing meals together creates a bond, that is why potlucks are so valuable to a church. The same is true of worshipping together. If you bring a group to the retreat and they don’t do these two most basic unity building activities together, you are missing your greatest potential for teambuilding moments. The fact that both are open seating means you will have to strategize some to make it work out. Generally your best bet is if the group is already growing in unity and therefore walk to these events together.

  • Consider adding something just for your group

At every retreat we did something that was just us. With my guys, it is often food related like a Dairy Queen run on Saturday night. For other groups it might be a morning devotional under the pines, or a rock skipping contest on the lake. That time to do something with just your guys is valuable, it will allow the men to feel like your church had a customized experience.

  • Make ‘cabin time’ sacred

Cabin time is a planned part of the retreat when the men gather in small groups to digest and discuss what they are learning and experiencing. Every year, every man that went with us, lists cabin time as their favorite part of the event. They talk about it more than the zip line, the hot tub, the speakers, and the fancy coffee. I notice some of the churches rush through cabin time, or skip it all together, perhaps because men can be very uncomfortable with this communication. But when it is well done, it is the chance for the men to get honest, make decisions and grow. Cabin time is so important that the next video I hope to produce will be about how to make the most of cabin time.

Also depending on your group, you might want to cheat a little. If your group is not too large make it a time for all the guys for your church to be together. Perhaps that will mean gathering together your guys in one room although they filled two. Or it might mean stepping outside with a smaller group so that your conversation will be with just your men. If you have a larger group, plan who will lead each cabin in their cabin time and don’t let the individual groups be more than about twenty men.

  • Plan a reporting time after the event

My church has an evening service and is small enough that we can be somewhat informal. Because of these factors we have a pattern that on Sunday night after returning from camp the men who are available each take turns talking about their experiences. This helps solidify them as a group, helps them to digest the lessons learned, and it helps the entire church body be more excited about the camp experience. In fact it is a great tool to make more men want to go the next year. Doing this reporting as soon as possible makes it more effective because the excitement and memories are still strong.

Of Bungees and Biceps

This past week a small group of people from my church went to help a church start in another town. They were bridge-building in the community by volunteering at a school event. After a very long day watching kids ride a bungee/trampoline amusement ride, I wanted to try it. I was surprised how easy it was, so I was encouraged to do more. A back flip went over relatively easy, but when I came down the bungee twisted my left arm around and something inside popped.

It was painful, but only for a few seconds. In addition the arm still had a full range of motion. These two facts convinced me that nothing was seriously wrong. But when it came time for clean up, I couldn’t do anything with that arm. The real clincher was when wife pointed out that my arm had a brand new shape. There was a ball up by the shoulder and a visible hollow down by the elbow.

My wife did a little research. This shape is descriptive of a broken tendon on the elbow end of the bicep. This injury is relatively painless. The bicep has other muscles that compensate when it is missing, explaining why I have full movement. Unfortunately this injury also leaves the person with only nominal strength. Until the bicep is surgically reattached the arm will not be right. Because of this, when testing myself, I can do everything I try. But when I attempt real life work, I can’t.

Why would I tell you all of this on a website discussing men’s ministry? Well, I’m glad you asked.

My arm with the bicep detached reminds me of churches where men are absent or inactive. They can do all the things that other churches do. The women of the church will step up and do the planning, leading and working when the men do not. But the activities and events will be missing something. At the very least they will be missing men; both working the events, and responding to the events. The rest of what they are missing will be intangible. The people may feel at a deep level something is wrong, or at least not all it could be, but it would be difficult to say why. These congregations are missing the strengths men bring to a leadership team.

I believe God has designed men to be leaders. This begins by men being the leaders in their own households, but should continue under the leadership of God in the church. This isn’t to say that women cannot take on leadership in the church, because God will call whomever He chooses. Yet when a vast majority of a church’s lay workers are female, it is more likely because of the absence of men than the choices of God’s call.

I have watched God change my church. We have more men in attendance than we have had in years. The men’s fellowship generally has more present than the ladies. And although we still have a majority of women leading ministry teams, the scales are slowly moving. We even have deacons serving again. I will admit that the changes are scary. Leading men is different than leading women. Conflict arises from the men rising up to work who previously remained in the shadows. Furthermore these men seem more likely to hold me accountable as pastor, than the women had been inclined to do. But through it all I trust God, and His design. Through it all we have been richly blessed.

If you want to see similar sorts of changes take place in your church then please consider bringing a group of guys to the men’s retreat. Invest your time as pastor directly into these men. The church will survive without you for that week. The church will survive without them for that week. When you all return, you will have started building the camaraderie that is the foundation for men’s fellowship. That fellowship will empower some of them to seek discipleship. Then that discipleship will turn some of them into leaders. It is a long road, but the best response to a long road is to start as soon as possible.

Today I had imaging done on my arm. Tomorrow I will see an orthopedic surgeon, whom I expect will confirm my suspicions, and I hope will schedule a surgery to fix it. You can pray for me in this process. I will pray for you too. I will pray that you see how important men are to God’s kingdom and why men’s ministry requires the pastor’s special attention.