When men gather under the word and sound preaching, good things happen. They change and grow, their hearts are stirred, and they emerge as better men. None of this is surprising in the sense that this is God’s word working itself out.
But picture all of this happening last month (January 19-20) at a Regional Men’s Conference with a surprisingly unlikely name – “Christianity for guys who aren’t good at Christianity.” The event was held at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, about 27 miles west of Philadelphia. Ray Ortlund, Lead Pastor at Immanuel Church in Nashville, TN was the speaker. Attendees learned that Christianity is not only meant for guys who aren’t good at it; it’s meant especially for them.
“What kind of Christianity do broken men actually want to be a part of?” he asked at the outset. His answer: Christianity as it’s spoken of and demonstrated in the lives of broken men in the Bible and in the lives of everyday men all around us. “Could there be,” he asked, “a real Christianity that isn’t watered down, isn’t compromised, isn’t corrupted but works for men who never quite measure up? That’s what this is about.” Choosing his texts from Romans, Colossians and 2 Corinthians, he reminded men that the brokenness of all men is inevitable. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that if he were to boast of anything, he would boast only of his own weakness and Christ’s strength. In fact, men are most likely to get into trouble when they rely on themselves and not on Christ. One of the greatest barriers to men living out their lives in Christ, Ortlund said, is “our own strengths, our own giftedness.”
The outside world and non-believers, said Ortlund, need to see Christian men not as those who can surmount any obstacle by virtue of their own cunning, strength or endurance. The world needs to see men who “cling to Christ and find Christ in the worst of life’s situations.”
Men from Sovereign Grace were among those in attendance, including our pastoral staff and seasoned believers such as Mark DiMarcangelo and Kwangwon Lee. They came away refreshed and inspired. “There is an intangible power that occurs when like-minded and Christ-centered men gather to receive instruction from the Lord through the preaching of His word,” said Mark a few days after the event. “The Lord has been utterly kind in His generous gift of the Gospel in our lives,” he reflected. “One important attribute of His kindness is how He places godly men in our lives for encouragement, friendship and accountability.”
Is there something in today’s society that makes the need for men to gather more urgent? When I posed that question to Kwangwon, he replied, “Yes. It is urgent. It’s rare to see a sanctuary full of men seeking earnestly on how to live a godly life. Today’s media provide many ungodly messages of what makes a man successful, such as money, fame and power. But what we need are more teachings on the biblical view of what makes a man successful.”
And as the Bible defines it, that’s humility, patience, and a heart that seeks sincerely after the Father. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a man who does Christianity perfectly to be successful in those terms.