For several years now, I have been part of a team that provides feedback to a large nonprofit organization on various products and initiatives. The organization is known worldwide and has books, podcasts, radio programs, blogs, and video content all aimed at one purpose: to help families thrive. They asked us about our ideal men’s conference. You know, like the events that organizations like Promise Keepers used to be famous for. So I answered, and I thought I’d also share my response as a blog post here.
Q: For the guys… What speakers, activities, topics, format, etc. (if any) could the organization incorporate into a men’s conference, that would make you want to attend?
A: I realize that the usual topics like marriage, parenting, accountability, and resisting temptation are an automatic part of men’s conferences. But I would also enjoy teaching on how to be a better student of the Word and develop more of a hunger for it… How to better defend my faith… That type of thing.
I would want speakers who challenge me both intellectually and spiritually, not just the latest popular Christian football coach or comedian. I would really get a lot out of hearing from people like N.T. Wright, Francis Chan, David Platt, Brian Welch, and Eric Metaxas, among others.
As for format, I’ll start with music. I would bring in musical artists who are different than the usual cookie-cutter worship bands. I would schedule artists with more lyrical depth. They’re not easy to find since they don’t get radio airplay. It might take some work, but they’re out there.
My vision for the format of a men’s conference would go beyond the Promise Keepers and Authentic Manhood concept. It would be an environment that would empower men to love. But it would define love not as a squishy feeling generally experienced by women and children, but as an action verb, and as one of the most challenging things a man must do.
In recent decades, men have been emasculated in our culture. The media portrays us as either weak idiots or muscle-bound buffoons. We’re now the only demographic for whom open ridicule and prejudice is widely allowed. But we don’t have to be the idiots they think we are. We are capable and intelligent.
We write books and songs and chop wood.
We dance and we fix cars.
We change diapers and engage enemies in combat.
As the historically dominant gender, we have a unique opportunity to lead the world in love. We have too long used that dominance against the other gender. What if we turned it around and used our historic position in the world to exude the love of Christ?
There’s a reason men aren’t attending church as much as before. We aren’t learning to take charge in our roles as spiritual heads of our households. We’re passive. We have the strange idea that getting to know the all-powerful Creator of the universe is just for women. We have believed the lie that Christianity is for wimps, when in fact, using Christ as the model for our behavior is the epitome of manhood. He sacrificed everything for those He loved.
In fact, when we use that last sentence to describe military service members, it’s in the context of heroism. Jesus is the ultimate Hero. Men need to be reminded just how heroic it is to serve our families by assuming our roles as spiritual leaders in our homes.