Men's Stories - What Men's Small Groups Mean to Me
|Glyn Carpenter||I belong to a Men’s Group which started 9 years ago...
|Gordon Richards||We have an open men’s group meeting in my home...
|Paul Subritzky||At Promise Keepers we are passionate about Men's Small Groups because... Read more>>
|Men's Small Group
|Share Your Story - Your experience in a Men's Small Group could benefit and encourage others. Click here for guidelines that will make it easier for you to share your story.|
We have an open men’s group meeting in my home Friday mornings 6.20am till 7.45am. We number between 5 and 13 men coming from 8 different churches. Our group has the spiritual covering of Hillsborough Baptist. Presently, we are a European group although we have had 3 Pacific Islanders in our group for a short period, and an Indian pastor for a longer period.
The group started as a result of a large group expanding. It was formed nine years ago with three of the original four still in the group today. We occasionally have breakfasts together, and social events with our wives.
Friendships built in our group have sometimes been founded on men having come through deep waters and rising up in trying circumstances. A particular situation arose when a brother new to the group arrived noticeably upset. He told us his wife had just had an MRI scan and there was a growth on her brain. This news resulted in that meeting being entirely focused on praying and supporting our brother. We were able to praise God within a week when the tumor was found to be benign.
Our group has committed to financially support Tear Fund’s Micro Enterprise project in Indonesia. We are also involved in writing to MP’s re social / moral issues etc.
We have introduced worship (singing) into our men’s group in the last twelve months. About 4 months ago during our time of worship God touched one of the men, to the extent he is a changed man. Another brother who has moved to the Gold Coast in Australia remains on our email list and has regular contact with us. He has so dearly missed the group that he has recently founded a PK men’s group over there. He is also involved in re-establishing PK in Australia and served in the choir at their last event. We need to pray for our aussie bros too!
Having been involved in the group from the beginning one could take things for granted. However I am in a better place because the regular meeting of the group keeps me consistent and disciplined in my walk with the Lord. Holiness, integrity and honesty are issues that all the men and I need to keep. The regularity of meeting and keeping each other accountable mixed with prayer and God’s faithfulness all help to make me a better Christian.
The relationships built up in the group and the individual growth of the guys have personally been a blessing to me.
- Open group, cross denominational
- Established for 9 years
- Man who moved to Aussie missed it so much he started a similar group
- Has helped men survive deep water and difficult situations
- God has moved powerfully and transformed men
- Outward focus with Tear Fund and social action
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At Promise Keepers we are passionate about Men's Small Groups because we believe a Men’s Small group moves men from acquaintances to friends to brothers, and ultimately to mission.
A small group can give wisdom (out of a multitude of counsellors comes wisdom) as we go through choices we make in life and in times of trial can give support, encouragement and direction. This is precisely what I've found as a result of being involved in a small group (currently involved in 2 small groups) for over 10 years.
|A small group has broadened my understanding of what other men have gone through and suffered and has been an opportunity to support and encourage men as they face trials. It has been an inspiration to receive prayer from these men during times of spiritual battle for Promise Keepers' work throughout NZ.
I have met, become friends with and moved from acquaintance, to friends, to brothers with men I would not otherwise have had this opportunity to do so. One man for example taught me more about prayer and the need to pray without ceasing than probably any other single man.
This is a man I would normally not have associated with in church. He was a man who had come from a most unfortunate background, he was an orphan, lived in appalling conditions, hardship under foster parents and had had to endure ill health and a failed marriage prior to him becoming a Christian. This man was severely challenged financially, to say the least.
Basically he lived in faith, he spent many hours a day in prayer and was a joy to be with as he was a walking miracle with the background he had. The hand of God was clearly on him and he was an inspiration to all of us.
I have used this man as just one example of the men in the group; the growth to spiritual maturity of the men has been awesome to behold. Even when some men left the group to travel to other areas, contact has been maintained and they often return to the group when they return to Auckland.
This particular group is an open group, in other words, men can join at any stage. There is a consistent core of faithful men who turn up every week and then others who turn up infrequently, particularly when they are in need.
HOW WE STARTED
When we started 10 years ago we invited all the men in the church to attend who weren’t already in Men’s Small Groups. These were men who were not likely to get into small groups as they found them threatening or did not fully understand the benefits of them.
So we asked them if they were prepared to commit for a period of 4 weeks to attend a meeting at 6.15am Friday morning until 7.30am. From 6.15am to 6.30am was a time of fellowship, from 6.30am to 7.30am contained three elements: prayer, care and share. In other words, praying for one another, listening to one another’s needs and sharing from the Word of God.
At the end of 4 weeks we had all agreed we would review the experiences and commitments to see if it would continue and for what time. It was reviewed for a further 2 months and then was subsequently reviewed for a further 6 months. This group has continued now for 10 years.
Initially as an additional inducement we would provide muffins at 6.15am to 6.30am but stopped doing this when it was no longer necessary to do so, as the group became firmly committed to one another.
THE TYPE OF MEN WHO ATTEND
We have a range of ages and a range of Christian commitment with this group, but each man in it has benefited substantially, grown in his Christian walk and found a safe place to express potentially difficult questions relating to work, marriage, children and occasionally the state of the nation.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO ATTEND?
90% of the men attending that group would not miss a week if they are in Auckland. I know I certainly don’t.
RESOURCES THAT WE HAVE USED
We started off using ‘Applying the 7 Promises’ (a Promise Keepers study guide); ‘PK at Work’; and ‘Character Under Construction’. All of these studies were for over 40 weeks and lasted over a year. We have also done a series of other studies over the years including 'The 7 Promises of a Promise Keeper'; a book on mentoring; another book on daily disciplines; and various other topics.
AS MEN HAVE GROWN
As men have moved to spiritual maturity in the group often they have shared the responsibility to bring what God has been showing them in recent times. This has proved extremely helpful to all men in the group but particularly to the men bringing the Word, as often this is the only forum that they are able to do this and it has caused substantial spiritual growth in their walk with God.
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MEN’S SMALL GROUP SURVEY
These are some of the responses we received in February ’07 to a survey about involvement in Men’s Small Groups. The answers reflect the benefits that men are getting from meeting regularly together. It is worth pursuing.
1. How long have you been in the group? - 3 years.
2. Do you have goals and are they being met? – No we have not set any goals as a group or individuals.
3. How has the group impacted your life? – It has given me some close male friends I can call at a moment’s notice, people who care and pray for me and my family.
4. What is the format you follow? (social/study/prayer) – At the moment a study guide, but this year we are adding some social activities with families as well as other things (men’s fishing trips).
5. How has Promise Keepers influenced, encouraged or helped your group? – We get encouraged by the ideas that Promise Keepers gives us.
6. What does your group do that is outward focus to help others? - We have had one men’s breakfast late last year. This year we plan to have about 4, inviting other churches as well.
Yes, I am in a small group, Started 3 years ago after a PK event. Our goals are to encourage and support each other through the ups and downs of life and to be accountable if one of the men has issues/needs. We meet socially, share from the Word and pray. We have only 3 members, and sometimes only 2 meet especially as a salesman is out of town. We have done the reviews from [PK] Events and the Bible study "Army" booklet. The group’s main benefit is that you come to realise again and again that you are not alone in the struggles at work etc. To have your brothers pray for you and support you through times of looking for work, having kids with prayer requests and the many changes in life, new babies etc, is supportive. It helps me put flesh on the God I serve to be with my close mates. They take a genuine interest in my life and the decisions I make.
I have been a member of the group for about 6 months. Yes, I have goals and they’re kind of being met. The group has helped me form a network of other men (as I was new to the area) a lot quicker. We have breakfast once a week with a short Bible study and then prayer. We also do some social activities and we help assist people who have a need when the need arises. PK has influenced the group in the format and encouraging other men to take opportunities to lead it.
Yes, I am in a small group. I have been in it about 15 months. Participating in the group has encouraged me to become more confident in sharing and praying with other people. It has helped my Christian development enormously. Our format is generally a discussion on the Sunday sermon, comments, discussion of the scriptures and lessons learned, followed by an in-depth study of whatever book we are reading. At the moment it is 1st John, using Discovering Genuine Christianity. This is then followed by a time of considering prayer needs - covering world issues, local issues, individuals needs, church needs or anything else and then praying together. Sometimes it involves the laying on of hands for individuals with particular needs. Promise Keepers has influenced us as most of the group have actually attended, many more than once. As a direct result of Promise Keepers we formed a Men’s Prayer Group to pray every Sunday on a rostered basis 30 minutes before the service, with the worship team and the pastor or speaker and [for] anything else as the Holy Spirit leads. There is another Men's Group in our fellowship and there are several home groups as well.
PS - We often pray for Promise Keepers as an organisation and for its outreach.
1. How long have you been in the group? About 6 ½ to 7 years
2. Do you have goals and are they being met? Primary goal is fellowship, encouragement, assisting each other with life’s problems, prayer for work place and family and occasionally close friends’ needs. We are very open with each other and we speak straight [about] what we see God is saying to us.
3. How has the group impacted your life? This time with my friends is my best appointment each week and leaves me most blessed. We really give to each other and have good history of answered prayer and sharing wisdom, good counsel.
4. What is the format you follow? (social/study/prayer) See above but starts with brekky and the discussion begins as we cook it, [then] eat – about an hour. This covers feedback on previous/current issues in the area of focus above. Probably 10 mins sharing prayer needs and up to half an hour praying etc.
5. How has Promise Keepers influenced, encouraged or helped your group? We’ve each been to PK, some of us many times, but not all like the big weekend. As much as anything I’d say PK had publicised the need [for] men to gather and support each other, the style then has to be worked out for each group of guys. The group I’m with are very educated and technical guys and the conversation there leaves other visitors disinterested so we remain about four (3 of us from the start, others come and go. We now have a fourth committed man who joined our church last year).
6. What does your group do that is outward focused to help others? Primarily in offering prayer and wisdom for the issues we face in our work and families. When it comes to praying for close friends it usually involves serious prayer for them and salvation is often an issue, healing and marriage concerns. We pray very seriously for our workplaces and the people involved, usually by name and tasks they face. All the companies have prospered and pay rises etc! Only my workplace remains about same size and ebbs and flows in number!!! We take ours and others’ children on outdoor activities and we will form the nucleus of a new ICONZ Boys’ Brigade unit starting at our church soon. We will kick it off with a big trolley derby to get publicity and enlist other men in our district (mostly not-yet-believers I am building friendships with). For me, these guys have helped me get seriously focused on men and their children. We will soon introduce wooden kayak/canoe building as a father/son activity that anyone can participate in too, and that has caused some real interest.
The biggest issue I’ve noticed about forming and keeping a group is like interest. My group is all outdoor men (tramping, kayak, riding, fishing etc plus we each have other outdoor interests). Our conversation level leaves other men out, but that’s who we are and where we function. Our interest/work with IT for instance leaves others cold, while we get lit up about it. We are able to discuss likes and dislikes about church and services and all of them have been ‘out-of-church’ for some period of months/years before joining our church. We are passionate about topics like “Why men hate going to church” and are always seeking how to bring men to a place of connecting with God.