Report on the Men’s Advance (2015)

Posted by on Apr 4, 2015 in Men's Advance

Marcus-J.-Serven-252x183Attendance and Theme: 

This was a wonderful year for the Men’s Advance (Feb. 27-28), with very good dynamics between the two speakers—Dr. Derek Carlsen and Dr. Marcus Serven—and an attentive group of participants! In terms of the overall attendance, this was a smaller year with just 82 men and boys registering for the Advance, and due to snowy weather only 75 people at the closing concert. The record attendance occurred in 2013—with 150 men and boys at the Men’s Advance and 250 at the concert. Nevertheless, God blessed our efforts this year and we were happy with the turnout. The theme—on the “Kingdom of God”—was a bit more theological in its nature than previous year’s themes which were much more practical. Derek Carlsen took us into the depths of this important subject by focusing on what it meant to be a subject of the King (i.e. a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ); by teaching us about the initiation of Jesus’ kingdom here on earth; and by expounding on the growth and expansion of Christ’s kingdom throughout the ages. Marcus Serven introduced us to the King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and how he currently rests, rules, and reigns during this time between his resurrection and his return (Ps. 110:1-7). Pastor Serven also gave a detailed discussion on the consummation of the kingdom (i.e. an optimistic amillennial eschatology); and he made a defense of the visible and invisible nature of Christ’s kingdom here on earth. The practical benefit of focusing on this theme—the “Kingdom of God”—is that it builds personal resolve and strength for Christians in the midst of life’s many hardships. In short, by grace we are members of “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28), and it is good to know that Christ’s kingdom cannot be diverted, thwarted, or undone (Matt. 16:18). This gives us confidence.

The Weather: 

Throughout the weeks leading up to the Advance, the winter weather in Troy, Missouri was rather mild. Yet, all of this changed on the Saturday afternoon of the Advance with dropping temperatures, a steady frozen rain, and then a heavy snow fall overnight. We woke-up the next morning with three to four inches of fresh snow on the ground! Despite the snow, we were able to hold our worship service at the normal time on Sunday afternoon (1:15-3:00 PM) and concluded with a fantastic fellowship meal and lots of great conversation. In reflection upon the miserable weather conditions that oftentimes accompany the Men’s Advance, we are thankful to God that we were warm and dry inside and not outside in the elements. And secondly, we have considered the possibility of moving the Men’s Advance in future years to the warmer weather of April or May! We’ll let you know how that plan develops…

Discussion Groups & Conference Talks:

After each session we met in discussion groups to further consider and apply all that was said. This effort is made so we can avoid the “sit and soak” phenomenon that happens at so many conferences where there is one talk right after another with little time for reflection. Let me give thanks to Peter Bringe, Jamie Haguewood, Marc Houghton, Gary Huffman, Andrew Perrie, and Joe Saffa for contributing to the Advance by leading these discussion groups. If you would like to listen in to the talks, all six of them, plus Derek Carlsen’s Sunday sermon, they are now posted online at Feel free to listen to them online or download them onto your favorite listening device.

Family Concert & Book Tables: 

Our musicians throughout the weekend were Randy, Cody, and Jesse Winton. They kept us thoroughly entertained with lively music, but also with a great number of very funny jokes! Even though the numbers for our concert were smaller than expected, this was no fault of the Wintons who put on a superb concert of foot-stomping bluegrass music, gospel classics, and Christian hymns. Both Sprinkle Publications and the Genevan Foundation provided book tables this year with a wide variety of biblical, theological, historical, and devotional literature. What is a Men’s Advance without a great supply of top-flight Christian books? We were not disappointed this year. Thanks go to Gary Huffman and family, and Cheryl Serven for making this happen.

The Food: 

Sarah Winton coordinated the menus, shopping, and food preparation this year. It has become a tradition over the years that the quality of our food is gourmet, and the quantity provided by our meals is prodigious (with plenty of second-helpings). This was certainly true once again this year—there was a lot of healthy good-tasting food! No one went hungry, and that’s for sure! Thanks go to our kitchen and serving crew—Sarah Winton (lead), Melody Bringe, Taralyn Carlsen, Bethany Dorin, Allison Houghton, Gracelynne & Darby Hamann, Rebekah Kozlowski, Karise Price, and Isabella & Gracie Lee Saffa. These gals are definitely the “Varsity team” when it comes to food preparation!

Overall Picture: 

This was the ninth year for the Men’s Advance. We thankful to God for the many blessings that came forth from the conference talks, the opportunity for our own church members to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ, and for the many new friendships that were kindled at the Men’s Advance. The Lord has blessed us, protected us, and taught us through this effort over the past nine years. It will be our tenth anniversary for the Men’s Advance next year—look for something special in 2016! Lastly, let me give thanks to Jeff Hamann (Registrar), Marc Houghton (Sound & Security), Mike Wolf and Tim Heger (Set-up and Clean-up), Peter Bringe (Publicity), and the many other unnamed helpers who made this year a success.

—Pastor Marcus J. Serven