The following excellent presentation was given by Brother Bob Elliott of St. Anne’s Desoto at our quarterly Assembly meeting held at St. Anne’s. A PowerPoint presentation of his talk is available here. This entire presentation is also available at our Resource section.
When I was asked to give this talk, I was told to talk on Prayer, Study and Service. And I will cover those topics this morning. After all that is what the Brotherhood is all about. It is our three legged stool if you will. Prayer. Study. Service. You can’t talk about the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew without addressing those subjects. I’m also going to talk a lot about the Chapter we have here at Saint Anne. Since I knew I was going to be talking about our chapter, I thought it would be good if I filmed one of our meetings. This was the meeting back in November, where we elected new officers. So I will show that now.
I showed that for more reasons than just to entertain and to get a laugh. Last time I spoke to this group I mentioned that we refer to our group informally as the He Man Woman Haters club. Obviously I don’t think we hate women, as most of us are happily married men. My wife told me to say that. Though we don’t hate women, we recognize the fact that we truly are a men’s group. This is a place where we men can be men. That is exactly why the Church, your church, my church needs the Brotherhood. We are an organization that can attract men and keep men coming to church. Each one of us in the Brotherhood is an exemplar for other men.
A while back I picked up a book that came out about ten years ago entitled “Why Men Hate Going to Church”.
It points out that
- Less than 40% of adults in church are men-and that number is trending even lower.
- 25% of women attend church without their husband
The author raises several interesting points as to why this is so. The main point being is what he calls the “feminization” of the church. For many decades women have run the church. Men may be on the vestry, but for the most part women head every other committee. A few weeks back I went to a ministry meeting at this church and I was the only man there. I don’t know what that says about me, let’s not exam that. I’m just using that as an example. The author claims that the church is driving away men because of this womanly image the church has. But what the author says the church needs to do to attract men is exactly what the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew is already doing. We didn’t need any book to tell us what to do. Now the two main reasons, according to this book, men give for not going to church are:
- CHURCH IS FOR WIMPS
- THERE ARE TOO MANY HYPOCRITES THERE
Now I don’t know everyone in this room, but I do know several. And I really know the men in my chapter. Please stand up. I can tell you they are not wimps, I’ve played softball with them, drank beer with them, though I don’t smoke cigars with them, but I know they are not wimps. I also know that they are not hypocrites. They don’t come to church for show, or belong to the Brotherhood just because. The life they live in church is the life they live out in the world. I look around this room and I really don’t think there are any hypocrites or wimps. I see a group of men who love Christ and are not afraid to express that love. I see a bunch of men with high values. I see men committed to serve. And I definitely see men who don’t check their masculinity at the front door of the church. I see men who are proud members of the He Man woman Haters Club. And therefore I see a group that the church desperately needs. Maybe now more than ever. I see a group that may be the most important group in the church.
So now, I want to explore this idea of men in the church. Once again according to the book Why Men Hate Going to Church, the author states that are “hot buttons” or traits, or characteristics or whatever you want to call them that are attractive to men. These are:
- Result oriented
- A desire for greatness
So let us look at how are we already doing what celebrates the He Man in all of us and how do these traits fit into or are expressed in our life of Prayer, Study and Service.
At Saint Anne Our prayer life is good. I’m sure we could improve it but we still pray. And I think we pray differently than when we are amongst ourselves than at other times. As it is said: Guys will never open up and be themselves with women in the room. As a group when we meet we pray our way in to the meeting and pray our way out. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer and when we do intercessory prayer we do something that might not seem manly, but it does have great affect on us. We hold hands. And we can do this because we are amongst men and men only. We do it because we want to, not because our wives would think it would be nice. When we do this we feel solidarity, a connection with the other men, an understanding of their needs or their concerns. A great portion of our prayers are for other men, for our fellow brothers who may be suffering. There is a bond that we share in Christ through the Brotherhood. I want to mention that lately in our meetings we have started to incorporate the prayers for youth as we now have teenagers attending our meetings. I’m sure that all of the chapters that are represented here also are involved heavily with prayer. And when we pray as men we pray Efficiently. We get to point of what we want to pray for, in simple, not flowery language. We can pray what we feel. We even have one member that when he prays at our meetings he gives thanks to God for the Brotherhood, a place in the church were where men can truly behave like men. The church needs the Brotherhood, a place where man can pray as men.
The first thought I had when considering this subject was that of the last meeting this group had when we were at Redeemer in Irving. Father J.D., a Marine, we have a Marine in our chapter so I’ve learned not to say former Marine, gave a talk on Great Battles of the Bible. I think if that topic would have been promoted more, attendance at that meeting would have been tremendous. What man could refuse Great Battles of the Bible. Talking about the power and skills of great warriors like Joshua and King David and their ultimate success in reaching their goals. Did I mention men are attracted by power, skills, results and success. That’s the kind of study that attracts men and that’s the kind of study that can be done in the Brotherhood. I can’t picture the ECW putting that study on.
In the past at our chapter here at Saint Anne we’ve study about Holy Men and Holy Women, many of them who were martyrs. Now it is sort of an inside joke here, but we’ve done three separate studies on the Martyrs of New Guinea, the 8 missionary men and two natives killed by the Japanese in World War Two. This is the kind of study we do – not a study like the women of our church did – the flowers of the Bible. The Brotherhood must appeal to men and we do. Now most of the study we do is from the Bible and usually from the New Testament. When you study about Jesus and his disciples you are studying about men, men who were brave enough to give their lives for their beliefs. Men who used their skills and achieved their goals, to evangelize the world, to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Talk about power, success and achieving greatness. I don’t know what your chapters are studying, but I bet it is not flowers of the Bible. Once again, in the area of study, the Church needs the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew.
Now for Service.
If there is one long leg of that three legged stool it is service. This is where the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew shines. This is the area where we are at our best. Men are doers and the Brotherhood excels at doing. When we are doing, not only are we obviously doing good, but we are attracting other men. We are showing other men that real men do go to church. The Brotherhood shows others that the church is not a place for wimps. Look at the good hard work that was done for Habitat for Humanity within our diocese. You men were exemplars. This was service that attracted men. There were several men in our church that wanted to help and did help but were not members of the Brotherhood. What we were doing was attractive to them. This continues in the Diocese Chapter today with Hearts and Hammers. These are ministries where men can use their skills and see results.
Many men here today are former military, I am not so I may be speaking incorrectly, but I believe this is one of the main reasons we as a group support Patriot Paws. An organization that trains and provides service dogs at no cost to disabled American veterans. Men, who know what it is like to serve helping other men.
The Brotherhood at Saint Anne is committed to service. I dare say that we do more for the life of Saint Anne than any other group in our church. Many of our ideas I must admit we stole from other Chapters. One of these is our Oktoberfest, which we have held for the last few years. It attracts more men, we do it just for men, than any other event the church has. The attraction of sausage, sauerkraut, beer, and more sausage, plus our own resident German expert is just too much to resist. It is a great evening and a though we haven’t swelled the ranks of our brotherhood, a few more men have attended church and they know someone when they show up. They know that the church is not filled with wimps and hypocrites. Yes the church needs the Brotherhood.
I mentioned earlier that men like competition. I know one of the chapters has a beer brewing competition. Well, we had our fifth annual Chili Cook Off , where we raise funds for our church youth programs, (our commitment to youth). It is a lot of fun and we do compete for the world’s ugliest trophy. Only men can enter, though a few of us misguided members did want to allow women to compete, forgetting we are The He Man Women Haters club. Temporary insanity I guess. The only advice I can give, if you want true competition, is don’t let your Rector enter. Everyone votes for him. Just an aside, I was the champion the year before.
We also do a variety of other services, put on pancake breakfasts, conduct a summer Sunday School, arrange a Lenten devotional, visit an adult day care, and so on and so forth. All these done in a Christian manner and in a manly way; whatever that means. So let me give you an example if I may. On Father’s Day, the Brotherhood started the tradition of the men singing the offertory hymn during the Sunday Services. So guess what Hymn we sing. The answer is Hymn 608. The hymn referred to as the Navy Hymn.
Eternal Father, Strong to Save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave
Who bidd’st the might ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
Oh hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea
The Brotherood of Saint Andrew, whether here or at your church, is viewed as a group of real men doing real things in the real world to serve the church. We as brothers are aspiring greatness just as Christ calls us to aspire to greatness. That is to be a servant. From the Gospel of Mark, in chapter ten, when Jesus is addressing his disciples:
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark Chapter 10
Yes indeed, as members of the Brotherhood, we do aspire greatness. The greatness that comes with being a servant. The greatness that comes with being an example to other men. The greatness that comes in being needed by the Church. I know there are no wimps or hypocrites in this room this morning. There are only great men. Men who are efficiently using their skills, and their power to gain results and achieve success for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom. Men who love women, but at the same time know that it is greatness to belong to the He Man Woman Haters Club. Men who are great enough to belong to The Brotherhood of Saint Andrew. Men who know the love of Christ and want to share it.
May God bless you all and may God bless the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew.