Episode 4: Men's Retreats

Preface: If there's a demand/desire for prior episode show-notes I will certainly go back and oblige. I just started realizing that I should deliver on that promise with the recent recordings, so here we are.

So, what makes a church men's retreat great? Is it the activities, the fun stuff? The teaching & the serious stuff? The man-to-man candid conversations and male bonding? Well, all of it! And good music, good food, and a good God who brings us all together.


In this episode, we reflect on our own recent men's retreat weekend. Although it was short -- merely a day and a half of camping -- we agree that it went well. In large part because the men came together as a team, a unit almost, to pitch in and help wherever needed, to support the two leaders and organizers, who were in fact our very own Rex & Chuck!


The fact that his grill caught fire during the dinner prep process was perhaps a little frustrating for Chuck, but we all laughed it off and other men stepped in to help and finish the cooking with little trouble. Earlier that day, we took a hike up the hills nearby, where to some people's surprise, Nate made it "to the top" -- to a cross that was planted nearby, but off the official trail, specifically -- before the others who had elected to try.


It was interesting that we had two women sort of saunter in on our mid-day session during the music. Music does bring people in and bring people together, and Rex is of course a very talented musician, so that doesn't hurt. Chuck gave them the reading material and we voted that they could stay and hang out if they wanted to, but they respectfully moved on after the musical portion was over. And we appreciated that respect, as well -- we recognize that it took some guts to come sit with us in the first place, and that they recognized our group's purpose for gathering and gave us our space appropriately. Hopefully they did get something spiritually enriching from the music and the lesson material.


It's also worth noting that the material itself was not uniquely masculine. The teaching could have been just as applicable to a mixed audience or a female audience. So we delve into a discussion of what makes a men's retreat uniquely masculine; or, put another way, why is it important to BE a "Men's Retreat"? The answers center around leadership and stewardship, male bonding and open sharing, and active ministry participation and guidance.


Then there was a whole tangent on Rex's shopping experience with Chuck. You'll have to listen to it; I can't do it justice here. Suffice to say, it sounds entertaining and awkward. Awkwardly entertaining.


Finally, Rex and Chuck reflect on what they might do differently next time, or add to the mix of men's ministry event planning. We touch on mega-church-driven large outings like the "Desert Rat Experience", or organizing around a shooting range or a hunting trip or a bowling night. The teaching material was, again, very solid, even though Chuck hopes to branch out from the "standard, derivative" military-theme that so many church men's ministries seem to adopt.


The most important takeaway, in my mind, is that any great men's retreat involves three key elements: "The fun stuff" - the activity or environment around which you're centered, in which you're participating together. "The serious stuff" - the teaching, spiritual lessons and discussions. And "The man stuff" - that masculine flavor of frank and honest talk with your fellow men about what you struggle with, where you find joy and inspiration, and why that game of sportsball was so epic you can't stop talking about it.


In today's episode, we apologize for offending the following:


Mega-churches, Magic the Gathering players, desert rats, women in jogging outfits, women in the armed forces, our wives, grocery store clerks and baggers, event planners, bananas, trap shooters, trap music, the senator from the movie Shooter, the movie Gladiator, the Army, and Chuck's barbecue grill. But mostly to women. =)


-Nate


PS: Happy Veteran's Day folks! Especially to our very own Taliban-hunter Chuck! <3

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