WHY HOST ACT LIKE MEN?
by Garrison Greene. Garrison is a deacon and Community Group leader at Veritas and also works on staff as Pastor Nick’s Ministry Assistant.
To register for Act Like Men, go to actlikemencolumbus.com
This year, I have the wonderful privilege to plan and organize our annual men’s conference—Act Like Men. Act Like Men is a regional conference that exists to challenge men to fight for gospel transformation in their personal lives. This is not a typical “put on your cup” kind of men’s conference. Simply telling guys to “man-up” may seem biblical but will more likely produce manly moralists that do well, but don’t worship well. We are not interested in creating and facilitating that kind of culture. We, as men, were not given our role as an end in itself, but to reflect the Triune nature of our God and to tangibly demonstrate the gospel narrative. We want to proclaim that narrative to men in a way that convicts and encourages them to make Jesus look beautiful to those around them.
You might be wondering why we would host a men’s conference like this. What about the valuable and brilliant women in our congregations? Is Veritas a chauvinistic church that caters to men while ignoring the women in the congregation? Well, no. Let me clarify why having a men’s conference is important and how we care for the women in our congregations.
What about the women?
Veritas has a fantastic Women’s Ministry. Courtney Snyder has done such an incredible job with Veritas Women in organizing Women in the Word, a quarterly meeting for women where they dig into the Scriptures and apply the gospel in the cracks and crevices of every day life; and an annual women’s conference. We care deeply about God’s daughters and desire to create a culture to see them flourish in all of life. We hope to do this through the women’s ministry and through means that transcend gender, like Community Groups and Veritas School of Theology. So while we do host Act Like Men, we don’t give the women in our congregations the cold shoulder.
Is Veritas Chauvinistic?
We do have a theology that believes men are uniquely wired in their families and God’s family. But the roles given to men specifically are for the sake of serving and not superiority. Thus, Act Like Men exists, not to create moralistic, domineering monsters, but to encourage men to be humble, sacrificial, feet-washing leaders in their homes and in the church. All women are affected by men in one way or another—by their fathers, their brothers, their husbands, their pastors, their sons, their male-friends; the list could go on and on. We would be doing a severe disservice to the women of Veritas by not contextualizing the gospel specifically to manhood. We want to create the kind of culture where men are men, meaning they love, serve, and empower the women around them.
Do We Really Need Another Men’s Conference?
Men, something has gone horribly wrong. In record numbers, men are socially, academically, and occupationally failing. It’s no secret that many men, inside and outside the church, are wiping out. All too often, the narratives of films like Knocked Up and Failure to Launch are a reality of the men surrounding us. One word can sum up what I think men are succumbing to in mass: Sloth. By sloth, I don’t mean that men are merely lazy, play too many video games, and take too many naps (although that may be true). What I do mean is that many men simply just don’t care about anything. They lack conviction and imagination. Dorothy Sayers defined sloth as “the sin which believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for.” This definition of sloth perfectly describes too many young men I know. While we don’t believe that Act Like Men is the solution to this problem, it is a soap box on which we stand to proclaim the solution to this problem.
So what’s the solution? Do pathetic men need a swift kick in the pants and be told to “do better”? We absolutely do not think that’s the answer. That won’t change anything. Instead, we look to Jesus. The gospel is our only hope. We’ve been made in the image of the imaginative, brilliant, Creator-God. We were made to mirror him to the world surrounding us and have dominion over it. But instead we’d rather imitate and worship the created things around us. We’re broken mirrors; damaged but not beyond the hope of repair. Jesus, the God-man perfectly incarnated masculinity to us when he came to restore, redeem, and perfect our damaged lives. We don’t need to be told to try harder, we need the good news that our sloth is paid for and we are now empowered to image our Creator through Christ and him alone. Act Like Men was created to proclaim that hopeful message to a generation of hopeless men.