Being Stewards of Men and Their Gifts

I have noticed a subtle change in the life of Allegheny Synod congregations recently … there are fewer men serving in leadership capacities.  Of course, that change is a natural one for a Church that has sought to intentionally have its leadership reflect its gender constituency of men and women.  In other words, it is a positive change.  However, it is my perception, that we are losing some gifts of men who previously were involved in congregation committees, councils, projects, and ministries.

Now I have my theories for why this is.  Just several decades ago, men were expected to be involved in decision-making groups within the church, such as the council, the finance committee, and the property committee.  Meanwhile women served on the “other” committees, more often were the teachers in Sunday Church School and Vacation Bible School and had their own gender specific decision-making group, known in different eras as the Ladies Aid Society, Lutheran Church Women, and today, Women of the ELCA.

What I have begun to witness is more women being elected and/or appointed to positions on the council, finance committee, and property committee filling those positions traditionally held by men.  The unfortunate result is that the Church is losing some of the valuable gifts and talents of men, as some of them, but certainly not all men, have stepped back from their involvement within the church because they perceive there are no longer those normal places where they have served so effectively before.

Now we can wring our hands and bemoan the situation or we can resign ourselves to “that is just the way it is” or (of course my preference) we can take steps to be better stewards of the gifts and talents of men in our congregations and synod by creating new and different ways for men to be connected to congregations … and to the synod, and therefore to Christ’s Church.

Men … there is always a place at the Lord’s Table for you.  Let us model discipleship for children and youth by making worship and Christian education important components of our lives.  Additionally rather than withdrawing from greater involvement as a disciple of Jesus, what are some other ways we can be engaged in the life of our congregations?  What about a Men’s Bible Study Group and/or Prayer Breakfast?  What about work groups to care for property within the life of the congregation or in the local community or at Sequanota as the Lutheran Men’s League has done for decades?  What about offering to count the offering each week or assisting with administrative needs in the congregation or the synod?  What about becoming a part of the movement within the Allegheny Synod in establishing a Lutheran Men in Mission group?  Leroy Huddleson, Dwight Keafer, and Dean Naugle, well into their eighth decade of life, have been faithfully working in our midst, but they are no longer able to carry the LMM message alone.  What about Mission Trips, forming a Men’s Group to work with Habitat for Humanity, team teaching a brand new Bible Study on Tuesday mornings at the coffee shop?  The opportunities abound!

Leaders of congregations, men and women alike, do not let men “off the hook”.  Be intentional.  Nudge us, encourage us, prod us, even push us to use our gifts.  There is so much ministry to be done in the name of our Lord and never enough people.  But together we can make a difference.

In Dean Naugle’s letter informing me that the triumvirate mentioned above was stepping back from their LMM involvement, he included one of his many poems.  It is entitled Miracle.  I think it speaks to many circumstances – including the one in this article.

When they ran out of wine at Cana,

causing a crisis at the wedding feast

Mary the mother of Jesus urged action.

Jesus revealing his reluctance to act,

said:  “My time has not yet come”.

With much more urging by the mother,

the son acted and a miracle was begun,

not by the son alone but by the father also,

who was waiting for the son to make a move

thereby showing faith and trust in his father.

Could we, in our weakness, like our Savior

be afraid to make the first move,

afraid to take that leap of faith?

A leap that would release a miracle.