Remodeling the Man Cave
Men's retreats connected with the Florida Conference have been held for 69 years in Leesburg. But attendance has declined, said John Delaney of North Port, a member of Edgewater United Methodist Church in Port Charlotte and president of Florida Conference United Methodist Men.
The old retreat model resulted in attendees hearing some of the same speakers year after year for decades. Spiritual growth is a challenge when “there is no change,” Delaney said.
Sensing the decline in interest, retreat organizers knew they needed to take a different approach to connect with male church members of all ages. The result was the Man Cave Renovation Retreat held Oct. 13-14 at the Life Enrichment Center near the Warren Willis Camp in Fruitland Park.
The new approach worked. Attendance was up 26 percent over last year, from 120 to 152. Men came from as far away as Miami. Some 70 percent of participants were attending a church-sponsored, weekend retreat for the first time.
“Not only did we have an increase, but we had a huge increase of men that had never been to a weekend getaway,” Delaney said. “The model that they used to run with was kind of stuffy. They did the same thing for years and years. What we wanted to do was get back to the basics of having men be disciples for Christ and also to hear the Word with other men.
“It was an empowering weekend built on having men take a look at their lives, where they currently are, and challenging them to live into the influencing life God is calling them to as followers of Jesus,” Jim Boesch, Florida UMM Coordinator, said.
The lead speaker was the Rev. Michael T. Hudson of Christ United Methodist Church in Venice. One theme was the caves of Elijah, David and Jesus.
“We talked about a renovation of our man caves,” Delaney said, adding that we live in a society where having a cool bass boat or an awesome man cave is prioritized.
“What are we going to do to renovate the caves in our lives that allow us to glorify God more?” Delaney said. One of the organizers' primary goals was to reach young male attendees. “If we don't reach younger men, the church is going to die,” Delaney said, “and the ministry is going to die.”
To reach younger men, they did some things for the first time, such as incorporating upbeat music and messages. Breakout sessions focused on how to grow men's ministry in local churches. Delaney led a session on how the internet is affecting young men through pornography.
Go to this link, to read more about how the organizers are planning to return the annual retreats to relevance.