A review of the Men’s Day, eh. Well, I am imagining that most of my readership are curious women wondering what on earth goes on when the smellier species spend five hours together on a wet Saturday in November...
Hopefully this brief report will inform you if you are a lady and will persuade you that you should have pulled out the stops to be there if you are a man.
After some hot-warm caffeinated wake-up juice, men in droves ascended the stairs to find Stuart Townend and band halfway through a sound check. As a chorus of Grace was bashed out, a confused half of the congregation clambered to their feet to join in, much to the bemusement of Townend who told the over-enthusiastic testosterone-pumped congregation to sit down and bide their time.
After worship, guest-speaker John Groves got to his feet. The leader of Winchester Family Church got a mixed response as he revealed his fandom of Tottenham Hotspurs, but his preaching on Biblical manhood seemed to receive a more universal approval. He used Irish psychiatrist Anthony Clare’s book, Men: Masculinity in Crisis to highlight the current confusion over the place of men in modern society: “The whole issue of men – the point of them, their purpose, their value, their justification – is a matter of pubic debate”. John claimed that the essence of being a man has been eroded in society with distinctions between the sexes seen by some as offensive. Yet, the Bible teaches that men and women are equal, but different and that those differences are beautiful and wonderful things that we should celebrate. Men and women complement each other.
Leadership falls within a man’s remit John claimed and whilst this is a controversial concept in modern society, it is clearly biblical. John was vulnerable about his own leadership, talking about times he has questioned his ability to lead others, harking back to feelings of rejection he encountered when he was overlooked as prefect potential as a sixth former. His honesty provoked many to bring their own vulnerabilities to God in a prayer as session one drew to a close.
Session two got down to the practicalities of being Godly and manly. The order of those adjectives is vitally important as Larry Crabb points out: “The only way to be manly is to first be Godly”. We are fed confusing and conflicting messages of what it is to be a man: should we be Rambo? Narcissus? Churchill? Who is the ideal man? Well, we have the perfect model of a man in Jesus Christ and being like Him is the only way to live up to the biological truth. Strength, obedience, courage are all things that Jesus excelled at, but He was real – never aspiring to be like someone else. John claimed that masculine qualities need to come from a natural expression of who we are. This wisdom was such an important moment in the day. There is such a danger that we paint a stereotype of a Godly man and leave the day inspired, but with unrealistic and unhelpful visions of the Rambo-Christian that we are now going to be. This unsustainable challenge is quickly shown up for what it is and John did well to put Godly, manly courage within everyone’s grasp – a difficult fistful perhaps, but one worth grasping.
Another quick break in which many men took advantage of the female-free environment by visiting the ladies’ loos took place before a concluding Q&A session. A panel of Bill Bigwood, Colin Bonner, James Foreman, Paul Williams and our visiting speaker answered questions that had been texted in. It was great to hear wisdom from a Godly men on range of tricky issues. Before the concluding tasty lunch, the action of the day ended with the question on everyone’s lips: Is it okay for men to wear guyliner? James Foreman delivered the final curt word: “No”.
Watch this space for information on the upcoming Men’s Weekend Away from the 21st to the 23rd of May 2010