Russ Wagner and Dave Bunnow are part of a long-time morning Bible study group at Bethany, Appleton, Wis. Once, after attending a nondenominational men’s con-ference, they came away thinking, We could really use something like this. “After a little research, we realized that there was no WELS ministry we could find that was focused specifically on men, so we decided to give it a shot,” says Wagner.
They, along with fellow members of their small group, started Men of His Word with the vision to gather Christian men together around God’s Word to consider the blessings, challenges, and opportunities in their lives and to empower and equip them to carry out their God-given mission in their homes, churches, communities, and the world. The seventh annual conference, “Stand Firm,” was held this past February in Oshkosh, Wis. The eight-hour day includes opening and closing devotions around a key-note address and breakout sessions on 20 different topics.
“It has been our experience that bringing men together to study and discuss their issues in the light of God’s Word has a tremendous impact on their faith life,” says Wagner. “We try to offer a wide variety of topics to reach men at all stages of life. We are willing to address head-on thorny issues such as pornography; addiction; depression; forgiveness; loss; homosexuality; post-traumatic stress disorder; and men’s roles in family, church, and society.”
The first Men of His Word conference had 220 participants. This year 550 men attended. Most are from across Wisconsin, while some are from as far away as Arizona.
Derek Campbell took a group connected with a Bible study for dads that he leads at St. John, Wauwatosa, Wis. “There are so many different takes by so many different men on ways to live a God-pleasing life as a Christian father,” he says. “I come back with this whole refreshed approach to my time in God’s Word and things I can do for the dad’s group and board of outreach. These guys have such strong conviction of faith that it’s just invigorating.”
Mark Groth of Loving Shepherd, Milwaukee, Wis., says, “You’re not alone. You’re in this together. You’re here to support each other. God wants us to support each other. That’s why I go. It really rejuvenates you.”
Another group of six came from Christ, Pewaukee, Wis. Tom Engelbrecht, pastor of assimilation, attended for the first time. He said, “Probably the biggest blessing was just seeing so many men gathered in one place to grow in their faith. That’s not something you see every day. That alone was very encouraging.”
The conference itself is just the start. “Keeping the momentum going after the conference has always been a concern,” says Wagner. For this reason, the conference planners record sessions and post them to their website with study guides. They also encourage attendees to remain in the Word personally and to start or join local Bible studies (one of the topics for the breakout sessions is how to start a Bible study group). Men have done this locally as well as regionally by working with Men of His Word to organize additional men’s conferences in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. “Over the last year we have had at least three more locations with men interested in developing men’s ministry events,” says Wagner.
Through the sharing of the gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit, God is blessing these efforts. This year’s Men of His Word conference was another success. “On the car ride back, everyone is like, ‘What did you see? What did you cover and learn about?’” says Campbell. “It’s just awesome. It’s so much fun.”
Learn more about Men of His Word at www.menofhisword.org.
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Author: Adam Goede
Volume 103, Number 04
Issue: April 2016
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