Ryan McPhetridge remembers what it felt like to be an outsider when at age 28 he began testing the waters of church involvement. A free Astros ticket handed out at a local congregation landed him in the same row with two guys who invited him to their singles Bible Study class. The invitation set the foundation for his participation in lay- and vocational ministry in the following years. Now a family man in his early 40s and an eight-year member of Houston’s First, Ryan has been both an attendee and has helped to plan events that connect men in the church. He points to the Houston’s First ‘guys only’ getaway, Man Up!, as a non-threatening entry point for men as well as an event for someone who has experience to share.
"There’s something magical about getting out of the normal day-to-day setting," said Ryan. "At work, many of us go to offsite planning meetings to get away from distractions. And guys generally do ‘shoulder-toshoulder’ before they get ‘face-to-face.’ Sometimes, we just need a reason to talk to someone."
Man Up! is being held at Trinity Pines Conference Center in the Piney Woods about an hour-and-a-half drive north of Houston. In addition to sports activities — football, soccer, disc golf, fishing, clay shooting, paintball, archery and more — the keynote speaker is Ben Stuart, director of Breakaway Ministries at Texas A&M. Pastor Gregg, and various ministers at Houston’s First will lead breakout sessions throughout the weekend.
Taking advantage of activities, like the men’s retreat, to get connected with others in the church not only has a satisfying social component, but also acts as a bridge that leads to spiritual growth and the development of leadership skills. "There are a lot of guys who have served a long time in church who make themselves available to share what they know," said Kevin Ha, who attends the Cypress Campus. "I still do lunch with a guy I met at a retreat 10 years ago. He’s become a lifelong friend."
Kevin and Ryan view the needs of men and women as being somewhat different when it comes to being drawn to the church. "Women are typically more relational than men," says Kevin. "While some women might naturally be drawn to worship or studies, many men like to do things like digging up roots at a widow’s house or being active in some way."
One case in point is member Lyndle Jackson, who began coming to church as a young married guy with no children. "He didn’t say a whole lot," Kevin recalled. "He builds houses. He went from not being plugged in to leading Men: Serve at the Cypress Campus this year. He is coordinating the group that serves widows, fixing things around their homes and encouraging them."
A group of men committed to the Lord and to his Church changes the direction of their families as well as the local church. "Jesus knew a truth we’ve forgotten," said David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church, "if you transform men, you transform the family, the community and the society. Draw a man to church, and you often get the family in the bargain."
Oct 23-24 — Trinity Pines Conference Center
Men ages 18 and above from every campus will gather for the biennial churchwide men's retreat with guest speaker Ben Stuart, worship leader Ryan Langford, and various breakout leaders. Visit the event page to find the schedule, a list of activities, and accommodation information, then register online to be a part of this great weekend.