The Gathering Orlando State of the Union
On July 12th, Brett Kreider gave a Gathering Orlando State of the Union address which gave an update on where our ministry is currently and four new initiatives that will improve our ministry and abililty to reach men for Christ Jesus. Below are those four points:
The Gathering's demographics are aging. One of our primary focuses is bringing in that next generation of men. And our next generation of men (Millennials) is a target rich environment. Some of the characteristics of this rising generation are:
- 1. 1 in 3 are not religious
- 2. They are leery of institutions
- 3. They are socially collaborative but not with other generations.
We all have tried to invite younger men to the Gathering lunches with varying results this past year but one thing has become apparent. They are way more comfortable with their own generation, they want to make a difference but more than any generation they need a relationship with Christ.
Starting in the fall we will be hosting a once a month (to start) Gathering Next meeting for young men only. This will be an after hours event with a slightly different format then the lunch but will provide a lot of these young men that we have partnered with a ministry opportunity that they can bring their friends to. This will be downtown and not on a church campus but at a neutral site. In talking to these key partners we have found that it is a lot easier to invite a friend to this type of event then to a church or study group. So we will be using this opportunity as that first ministry step to introduce this next generation to what this Christian life has to offer.
The second ministry opportunity that we have already started cultivating is mentoring to men and children. We are going to implement two new mentoring opportunities. First is for men through the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. We had Freddy Clayton speak about this at our lunch but this is the chance for men to mentor other men at that center as they actively seek to improve their lives and the men of the Gathering can provide an invaluable resource in helping these men. Secondly is the mentoring of children and we will be partnering with Youth for Christ as we will once a month have a chance to mentor the youth in the Orange County Juvenile Detention Center. These are kids that have made bad choices but are crying out for a positive male influence in their lives.
In 2002 The Gathering created a license plate in Florida called Parents Make a Difference, which is available today. The Gathering receives money from the purchase and renewal of each plate to be used toward parenting and youth initiatives. Recently we have been using these funds to partner with inner city churches to put on an event called Saturday Night Live for children of that community. The churches, life Experience Church, have run the program like a Campus Life or Young Life program and the Gathering has used our license plate funds to not only purchase food for dinner but also cook for the event. This event is a wonderful safe environment for those kids to laugh, play and yet also hear the gospel message in a way that makes them want to come back for more.
This was the first step in partnering with some of our friends in inner city churches. We have now gone to some of these key leaders and asked how we can help them in ministry knowing that we have experience in men's ministry and I'm happy to report that the response has been terrific and in fact we are partnering with Pastor William Andrews at the Heart of Mercy Church to create the first Gathering of Men affiliate in their church. This men's gathering will probably look differently than this one in that it won't be a lunch. We have to meet them at a time that's convenient for those men and will be launching that in the fall.
They aren't the only church that we are talking to but we are encouraged that we can replicate this in other congregations. One byproduct of this partnership is that next year our Gathering lunch series will not start in January but in February and it will be to recognize Black History Month and all the speakers will be pastors from these inner city churches and catered by their favorite restaurants as well.
How does that tie in with our License Plate? The funds that we generate from those sales will fund these initiatives and keep the money right here in the community so you have three opportunities to help.
- 1. You can purchase a plate for your car and make a donation that way
- 2. You can join us on August 13th at NW Community Center for our next SNL event
- 3. You can be a part of the teams that join us in these Gatherings at the various inner city churches that we are partnering with
Gathering of Men
The lunch series is our HQ. It is our foundation that feeds us and also as you can see provide us with other ministry opportunities in this community. So now more than ever is the time to engage with this lunch series in a meaningful way for you but also those other men that you are investing in, or mentoring. We will be establishing what we call Lunch captains, and that will mean a couple of things.
- 1. We will provide you with as many of the postcards for the series to distribute in your work, church and community. We will also have the digital format as well to email. I heard from a guy (who has since moved out of town) that he didn't come to the lunches because nobody invited him. So if we are actively inviting I think the impact could be tremendous.
- 2. Secondly, you would act as a table host at the lunch to actively engage the men at your table. I cannot possibly meet and talk to all men at our lunches but if we have enough captains then we can assure that men are engaged and feel welcome.
- 3. Third and this is for all of us. We have to think of the Gathering as our ministry and not my ministry. If we are to do what the Lord commanded us then it is incumbent upon us all to be actively engaged in bringing men to Christ and we have tried to create the safest environment possible for that to occur.
- 4. Finally, we have numerous study groups available now but can also launch with our materials we have produced. I read a stat that men who had meaningful friendships with other men lived 22% longer so the Gathering is healthy and life-giving as well.
As you know we cannot do this without support from each of you. The bottom line…we are currently running at a deficit each month and need to build that back up. The good news is that we have a large network of men involved in the Gathering and with your help we can make up that difference rather quickly. But we have pledged not to stay put but to expand our call and reach and that is why I am asking for each of you to consider if not already doing so to partner with us financially as we take The Gathering into this new season of being a proud champion for Christ in this community and city.
I want us all to be part of a group that is known in this city for their unwavering love for the Lord, for their compassion, their boldness, their leadership. We feed you in here so that you can go out there and feed others. That is our mission "To engage men to become fully alive!"
As Mark 16:15 says "And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone."
Please click the button below to partner with us and sustain the Gathering. Thank you and God Bless!