Ministry to men has been an overlooked area of need for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia, according to the Church’s Family Ministries directors who met in Brisbane recently to develop a strategic plan for the future.
In August 2016, Family Ministries directors from around Australia voted to strategically focus on several high-need areas over the next five years: boys/men and the gender gap in our churches; those who identify as LGBTIQ (and their families); singles between the ages of 28-35; families with young children; and retirees.
The directors have been praying about a way forward in these specific ministry areas, and recently met in Brisbane to commence making plans to develop a men’s ministries framework for the Adventist Church in Australia. The team addressed topics such as man as husband, father, grandfather and leader; generational differences; men at church and worship; the role and importance of having accountability partners and mentors; and the real impact on children when absent from the family. Research continues to highlight the important role fathers play in their children’s spirituality, both at church and at home. There is also strong evidence in the social sciences that rites of passage for men, especially for our teens, play an important role in building a solid sense of what it is to be a man of strength and character.
Shannon Rose, the only conference appointed Men’s Ministries director in the Australian Union Conference (WA Conference), shared ideas about what men’s ministries could look like in Australia. Douw Venter, Family Ministries director for WA Conference, who supports Rose in his men’s ministries programs, shared how special it is when there is an event just for men. “I would love for every man to experience what happens at a men’s event. It would be transformational for each one present,” he said. [pullquote]
Founder of Centre For Men Australia, Rob Jones, presented on the life cycle of a man and the importance of each life-stage. On Sunday evening, the team watched Absent: a documentary on fatherlessness and on Monday evening men’s ministries leaders from Brisbane Adventist Churches were invited to be part of the Advisory.
Wayne Born, a church member from the Caboolture Church (Sth Qld Conference), who actively runs a Men’s Shed program, stated how much he appreciated the information he gained into men’s ministries at the Advisory. “It raised my awareness and built on my curiosity on how to be more dynamic in men’s ministries. I’m excited to take it further and can go forward in greater confidence with father/son weekends and men’s retreats. I’m eager to provide support for fathers and sons as they make a pathway into manhood,” he said.
The Advisory made 15 recommendations including organising a national men’s conference every five years; running a “How to Start a Men’s Ministries” workshop at next year’s Australia-wide Empower Ministers Convention; creating resources for important life stages; and writing more men-focused articles for Adventist Record and other Adventist publications.
Shannon Rose reflects, “A highlight for me was seeing the way we view our earthly father and how it impacts how we see our Heavenly father. There is something that feels very substantial in our spiritual journey when we see God as our Heavenly Father; something that connects grace and our ability to know that He is there for us. A lot of points showed that this is a model for God’s image for our lives. It is essential for men to truly see that.”