Today I find myself sitting in a coffee shop thinking about some of the events of this last week. Three mass shootings. At least two of the perpetrators were tied to extremist ideologies.
First, I call each of us to pray for the victims and families of these tragedies. Also be in prayers for the emergency and healthcare personnel who responded and cared for the victims.
Most of the discussion about these shooting has been around gun laws. My question and focus centers on the question of why people kill other people.
The negative rhetoric, that is so pervasive in all of society, has begun to pit neighbor against neighbor. Language is powerful. Proverbs 18:21a says; “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Think back to times in your life when words affected your actions. We must change the way we speak about each other. Disagreeing with another person does not make him or her an adversary. It does not give one permission to harm, punish or malign another.
In my work with domestic violence prevention, we speak about the “violence iceberg.” The tip of the iceberg is violence. The discrimination, prejudiced acts, and attitudes, however, are the largest part of the iceberg and ultimately lead to violence.
While there may be other contributing factors to the violence we have seen, the villainization, referring to others as an animal or simply as the enemy has fueled the anger that leads to these types of mass tragedies.
Men’s ministry in the church is more than an event that excites a man for a couple of days and then sends him back into the world. It is also more than just gathering for a meal, a prayer, and a service project. The role of men’s ministry is to offer men space where they can be mentored in the principles of Godly masculinity. It is to be a safe space for men to find encouragement and forgiveness when they have messed up. Men’s ministry should help all men in and beyond the church have an on-growing relationship with Jesus. Men’s ministry is about changing the rhetoric, in and outside of the church, that leads to community.
Only 15% of United Methodist churches have a vital ministry to men. Vitality is not just growth. Ministry is vital when it reaches into a community and changes the life and discipleship of others.
The Center for Men’s Ministries at the General Commission on United Methodist Men offer a wide variety of resources for local churches to be involved in vital ministry. We also can connect you to men’s leadership in your area.
As men in ministry, we need to speak out against the violence that is occurring in our community and reach out to men who are looking for a place to belong. If you need resources, please contact GCUMM at 615-620-7277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.