“Why don’t they open the stupid Bible once in a while?”
Okay, so calling the Bible “stupid” was probably not the best choice of words, but I understood my daughter’s frustration. Seriously, didn’t she have a point? Who goes to Youth Group and expects not to at least hear a little something from the Word of God?
Got an answer for you. Apparently, a lot of people.
No, seriously. Week after week, my daughter went to this youth group, and week after week, she’d ask to have something from the Bible. Nope. Sweet little homilies about loving Jesus–sure. Actual Scripture? Not so much.
It won’t surprise you to learn that she quit going there after a while. She can hang out with friends anytime. She wanted… well, more.
I wish I could say that I was shocked by her discovery. I’d noticed for years that most Women’s “Bible Studies” were more “Read this book that someone wrote about what she learned in her study of the Bible and answer its questions” than a dig into the Word itself. It was partly why I’d removed myself from those.
Men’s Ministries? We’d never been a part of a church that had them. My husband always considered his ministry to be us–his family. And he served us well.
Still, when I was given the chance to read a book about men’s ministries and pastors, I thought it could offer interesting insight into something I would like to understand. After all, I have strong opinions on youth groups, obviously, but…
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Furthermore, I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, and that no way influenced what I have to say about it.
Do I Have Strong Opinions on Men’s Ministries?
The simple answer is no.
See, I’ve seen strong ministries in action in the past couple of years, so I don’t want to denigrate what I know to be a beautiful thing when done well. I began reading Are You in the Game or in the Way? and hoped for clarity and insight on how the church and, its leadership, in particular, could improve its ministry to the men who so often are neglected in our discipleship programs.
I went into this book with expectations. Perhaps they weren’t kind. I don’t know. I do think, however, they were reasonable. I expected a book written to pastors about shepherding the men of their churches in a ministry designed to address the particular needs of men to… oh, I don’t know. USE THE BIBLE to do it?
That looks harsh there. I almost removed the all-caps.
I couldn’t. See, there’s a problem, I think.
If all our eating, drinking, and everything else we do is to be done to God’s glory, wouldn’t that include our men’s ministries? And if a man was teaching others about the importance of men’s ministries and doing it without using the Bible to back up what he was saying, would you really believe that he believed it to be a Biblical call?
Am I saying Are You in the Game or in the Way? doesn’t have any Bible in it?
Nope. I’m not. there were three or four verses sprinkled across a couple of pages.
Instead of being a book to encourage church leadership in how to minister to the men, this book is more of one man’s experience in making that particular ministry more important in his life and in the lives of his congregation. Rather than a call to Biblical action, it’s more of an anecdotal and experiential story–a hyper-focused memoir of sorts. You could subtitle it, “How I got out of my own way and made the men of the church a priority.”
Something like that might have clued me in to what was coming. Instead, the subtitle of “a question for pastors and men’s ministry leaders” hints that it’s about something deeper than it really is.
Does that mean I hated the book? Nope.
It was okay. I found a few places some folks might struggle with it. A phrase or two, etc. Aside from that and the lack of Biblical support for the understated call to make men’s ministries a priority in modern churches, it was a moderately interesting story about one man’s journey from antagonistic to the idea to obviously passionate about it.
Recommended for people who enjoy topical memoirs, and pastors who need an encouraging reminder to invest in the men of their churches.
Are You in the Game is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Author: Ross Holtz
Genre: RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Pastoral Resources
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Are You in the Game or in the Way?
A men’s ministry reality check: What is standing in the way of a vital men’s ministry in your church?
The guy who should be at the forefront is often in the way of the program getting off the ground.
· Are you, as pastor, the main obstacle to the growth of a vital men’s ministry?
· Are you the guy who wants to start a men’s ministry in your church but don’t know how?
· Is fear or a sense of inadequacy keeping you from starting such a ministry?
Pastor Ross Holtz tells his personal story of how he became a catalyst for growth, instead of an impediment will inspire pastors and men’s ministry leaders.
What works, what doesn’t, and what is required in forming a vital men’s ministry. Practical and honest teaching filled with relevant and tested examples from recognizing the problem to finding the fix.
Pastor Ross Holtz is a man who has earned the right to speak on ministering to and through men . . . One man’s journey from being a sceptic to a fully-engaged pastor who sees the power of a clear ministry to and through men . . . Pastor Ross bares his heart, and is, at times, brutally honest in a way that will resonate.
—Chuck Stecker, president, A Chosen Generation
About the Author
Geoffrey Ross Holtz, DD, is founding and senior pastor of The Summit (ECFA) in Enumclaw. He was awarded “Pastor of the Year” in 2014 by the National Coalition of Ministries for Men. Ross and his wife, Athena, the founder and publisher of Redemption Press, have a blended family of eight adult children and seventeen grandchildren and enjoy time spent sailing.
More from Ross
I’ve been asked to tell something about myself or tell a personal story. I’m not averse to talking about myself, but I’d rather tell you a very personal story.
There was a show on television, maybe still is I guess, called Overhaulin’. The plot of the show was that each week they would sneak a person’s car away from them, with family help, and overhaul it to make it really cool. It was every car-guy’s dream; to have someone restore a vehicle for you, that was special to you. And to restore it at their expense; Wow, doesn’t get cooler than that.
I never was on that show, but I have a story that I want to tell you. It was late summer in 2014. I had just remarried after having lost my wife of 49 years awhile before. The church that I pastor was having a car show as a community outreach on this particular Sunday. The day had started out rather weird. Several people seemed to be inordinately interested in my movements and where I was going to be as we set up the show.
“Oh, Ross, you need to go into the church, someone is looking for you.” Or, “Hey Ross, would you run get this for us across town?” Yeah, weird things. But I obliged and made myself scarce for the time leading up to the church service before the car show officially started.
So, we do the obligatory service; it ends, and my new wife and I start walking through the grassy field looking at the custom and restored vehicles that had come to the show. I, as is my style, was meandering along the cars talking to people I knew and folks with their fancy cars. Athena, my wife, seemed to be hurrying me along which was not like her at all. And, which was like me, I was just strolling along enjoying the cars.
Then, down the row a few cars, I spot the open hood of a 1961 Chev pickup.
That year had a very distinct hood which was used only one year. “Oh, look at that. I had a truck like that years ago. Wow, and look at that, it’s yellow. Isn’t that gorgeous.” Funny, I failed to see the horde of people and cameras set up in front of that vehicle, all looking towards me.
Anyway, I hurriedly moved towards it and recognized it as a limited edition of that year’s Chevy truck. I said, “Hey look at that. It’s the same model that I had. That’s not your normal ’61.” I wondered if someone had restored my old truck.
I must give a bit of back story on my old truck.
It had been purchased new in Los Gatos, California by my dad. He had needed someone to drive it home so he pulled me out of school to do that. I was 14. My father was not a stickler for legal technicalities. So I was the first to drive his new truck. It was new, but it was ugly. It was painted an ugly shade of puce. I mean it was really an awful color. My mother called it “Rosebud” because it reminded her of some kind of flower.
In 1975 my dad gave me the truck because he had no further use for it. So I drove it until about 1988 when it was totally worn out. So I sold Rosebud to a friend named Randy who had plans to restore it eventually. I sold it with the understanding that if he should he ever sell it, I’d get first right of refusal.
Fast forward twenty-five years. A bunch of guys were sitting around a campfire talking and Randy announces that he’s moving to another state and getting rid of everything he owns.
“What about my truck? Are you taking it with you?” “Oh,” he said, “I gave that truck away a while back.” Those who were there said I looked disappointed, or something. I don’t remember feeling that, but it was said.
Now, back to the story. I was looking at this beautiful truck, wondering if it was the same truck, when I saw Randy on the other side of it. “Randy, you son of a gun, you restored my truck.” He said, “It’s your truck.” “Yes, I can see that. You’ve done a beautiful job with her. But why didn’t you tell me?” He said once more with strong emphasis, “It is your truck.” “Are we playing games?” I wondered out loud. And, to make it more cruel, someone had entered the truck in the show under my name. That wasn’t nice.
I was not very situationally aware at that moment.
I didn’t see all the cameras and people that were focused on me. People were laughing and cheering. I didn’t notice. I was focused on the pickup that had been my dad’s. It took them four or five times to finally get across to me that this beautiful bright yellow, completely restored truck was a gift from the men of the church to me. Randy had given it to the men’s ministry of The Summit with the request that they make it new for me as a gift for nearly 30 years of ministry to the church. Dozens of men had spent 18 months completely disassembling and rebuilding it from the ground up. It now had a fresh corvette motor, disc brakes, power steering, and a custom paint job. I had been Overhauled. Not by Chip Fouse, but by a group of men, and boys, who cared enough for me to invest months of blood sweat and tears. Not to mention the thousands of dollars it took. I wept. I still weep when I think about it.
One final part of the story that needs telling.
I remarried after Cathy died, as her instructions (another story). I guess I didn’t wait long enough for some people or something. People, about 100 people, abandoned me and left the church. They might not call it abandonment, but I do. I asked some of the more prominent people, “Is there a sin issue here?” “No,” They said, “We just don’t think it’s good for the church for you to remarry.” As you might imagine, it was an extremely painful time for this 67-year-old guy. I had found another person to finish off my life with, which I didn’t think possible, and some people considered it wrong for me to do. They didn’t consider my feelings, and needs, only thinking of theirs. Or so it seemed.
But all the while this tragedy was taking place, a whole bunch of good and committed friends were investing their time and efforts, in secret, to rebuild my dad’s old Chevy truck. All the time I was in such pain, these good men were giving up evenings and weekends to do this wonderful thing for me. Isn’t that like God? Sometimes while we are in the dregs of misery, He is working, unseen, to bless us, to encourage us, and to show His love for us.
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 11
Vicky Sluiter, November 12
Artistic Nobody, November 13 (Author Interview)
Just the Write Escape, November 14
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 15
A Baker’s Perspective, November 16 (Author Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, November 17
janicesbookreviews, November 18
Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 19 (Author Interview)
A Reader’s Brain, November 20
Inklings and notions, November 21
My Devotional Thoughts, November 22 (Author Interview)
Simple Harvest Reads, November 23 (Guest Review from James Barela)
Lukewarm Tea, November 24 (Author Interview)
To celebrate his tour, Ross if giving away a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of his book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.