This year’s Men’s Advance was, by far, our largest conference ever! By God’s grace we hosted 150 men and boys at the Advance with over 250 attendees for the free family concert on Saturday evening.
This year our emphasis was on “Intentional Discipleship” and Pastor Kevin Swanson and Dr. Marcus Serven brought forth five carefully-crafted messages on that topic. Plus, we enjoyed hearing from a panel of four fathers and sons who shared their successes and failures on the topic of family discipleship. Our specific goal was to help prepare Christian men to stand firm during times of cultural decline. We believe that “Intentional Discipleship” is the method that God endorses to help parents pass on their faith to their children (cf. Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:7-9; Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 6:40; 2 Tim. 2:2). Therefore, we examined a large number of biblical texts on that theme and focused on providing many practical applications for fathers to utilize with their own families.
Cold and snowy weather proved to be a challenge throughout entire the week leading up to the Men’s Advance, but everyone persevered through it all and shook it off with a hearty laugh. Overall, we accumulated five to six inches of fresh snow with temperatures hovering in the mid-twenties. We thank God for helping all of those who traveled from far away to get here, and then to get back home safely. Several individuals succumbed to the cold and flu symptoms as the week wore on, but once again our Lord helped each one to fulfill all of their special responsibilities so that in the end everything that needed to get done actually got done. We praise God for his faithfulness in honoring our prayers for a significant and successful conference.
Conference Talks & Discussion Groups:
At our first meeting on Friday night, the enthusiasm of the men was quite palpable and that zeal carried over throughout the entire weekend. Dr. Marcus Serven brought forth two foundational talks—“Jesus and his Men” and “Discipleship at Home.” Whereas, Pastor Kevin Swanson in his flamboyant style delivered three stirring presentations for the men to consider—“The New Dark Age”, “Discipleship at Church”, and “Raising Future Disciple-Makers.” After each session we met in discussion groups to further consider and apply all that was said. This effort was made so that we could avoid the “sit and soak” phenomenon that happens at many conferences where there is one talk right after another with no time for reflection. If you would like to listen in, all five of the conference talks, plus Pastor Kevin Swanson’s Sunday sermon, are now posted online at www.sermonaudio.com. Go to the “Covenant Family Church” page. Feel free to listen to them online or download them onto your favorite listening device.
Family Concert & Women’s Activity:
Many men brought their wife and children with them this year. Saturday night’s family concert featured Nathan Clark George and his brother, Benjamin. The two of them gave a rousing concert that highlighted Nathan’s new arrangements for the Psalms and many well-loved traditional hymns. As stated before, approximately 250 people attended this free family concert. In addition, we arranged to have Mrs. Stacy McDonald come and speak to the women and girls on Saturday afternoon on a parallel theme—discipleship in the home (cf. Titus 2:1-10). This presentation was well-received by approximately 80 women and children who wedged themselves into the Serven’s downstairs family room. There was some wonderful teaching from Stacy, plus lots of good fellowship for all.
The meals throughout were superb and many of the men and boys commented on the large portions and the frequent opportunities for going back to get second-helpings! The younger boys thought that Saturday’s lunch menu of tacos piled high with cheese, lettuce, and salsa, with a root bear float to cap it all off, was the best meal. On the other hand, the adult men favored Friday night’s dinner—which consisted of a chicken breast wrapped in bacon, placed on a bed of steamed wild rice, with mixed green salad on the side, plus a good-sized banana split to finish off the meal. Which was the absolute BEST meal? You’ll just have to come next year and decide for yourself. Many young women helped in this huge project. But, special thanks must go to Renee Degroot and Sarah Serven who did most of the cooking, organizing, planning, recruiting, and shopping. They and their many helpers–the “lightning team” and the “miracle team” (you know who you are)–you are the best!
The Big Picture:
There is much more that could be said about the Men’s Advance (2013). We enjoyed hosting five different book tables this year—and quite a few solid volumes of Reformed theology, stirring Christian biographies, CD’s, and practical family resources went home with the men and boys who attended. The church interns—Cody Winton and Joel Stanton—get credit for a wonderful job on the publicity and they led some really fun games to help burn off excess energy. Plus, Jeff Hamann (Registrar), Marc Houghton (Treasurer), Mike Wolf (Set-up), Tim Heger (Take-down), and Cheryl Serven (Strategic Organizer) kept the actual conference on track and from falling into confusion and disarray. There were many others who helped in one way or another—I can only say “Thank you so very much!” for making the Men’s Advance (2013) such a striking success. And ultimately, may God have the glory for answering our prayers and showing his favor over all of our efforts.
–Pastor Marcus J. Serven