Men’s Fellowship Retreats and Grows into Leadership (3/11/16)

Posted by on Mar 17, 2016 in EventReport, Friends & Fellowship, men, UMM | 1 comment

Sometimes it’s really helpful to shift your focus from the daily routine, and get away to spend some time with friends around a time of learning, worship, and fellowship.  And that’s exactly what a retreat is!  For the 15th year in a row, our Men’s Fellowship group took a weekend apart and traveled to the Black Rock Retreat Center in Quaryville, PA.  It’s a familiar place for us, but each weekend has its own character and its own take-aways of growth and learning.

UMM16- ChrisYount _Toms

Rev. Chris Yount

This year’s speaker was the Rev. Chris Yount, pastor of the New Life United Methodist Church in New Fairfield, CT.   and a long time friend of our own Pastor Jim Bolton (from their days together at Drew… back in the ’90s…)

During the weekend, Pastor Chris challenged us to re-evaluate our goals.  What is important in life?  What’s the MOST important thing in life?

The answer lies in the fact that contentment can only be found in the pursuit of God.  Jesus asks us this question:

Am I enough for you???

What else could there be?!?  What else could we possibly need?

During the weekend, Pastor Chris gave us practical ways in which we can make this pursuit of God in our lives.

The goal of a basketball game is to shoot the ball through a hoop, and success is measured by how many times we do that. But the scoreboard in Black Rock’s gym reminds us of a more important goal…

UMM16- Black Rock Score _IMG_3113 600x200

“To Know Christ and to Make Him Known”   To KNOW Christ… is that how we measure our own success?

Growing Together

Our retreat consisted of a session on Friday night, two sessions on Saturday, and a closing session and worship on Sunday.  Open the Drop Down boxes below to get a taste of Pastor Chris’ message to us…

Friday PM

Sycamore Tree in Jericho

Sycamore Tree in Jericho

The backdrop for Friday’s session was the account of Zacchaeus, as found in Luke 19.   Zacchaeus, who was despised by the people because of his tax-collecting-excesses, really wanted to see Jesus.  He heard Jesus was coming and he made it a goal to see Jesus.  So he pulled up his robe and climbed a sycamore tree so he could catch a glimpse.

Striving to see Jesus requires humility.  We have to realize that, indeed, Jesus is Enough for Us.”  There’s nothing in our power that we can do to add to that.  Jesus is all we need.

Our job is to “Love people into the arms of Jesus”, but all too often our pride gets in the way and we confuse our job with the notion that we need to increase numbers, or to have a bigger church than the others.

“Lord Make this church the size you want it to be…”

Pride puts us on the Hamster wheel of success.

Instead, we need to “tie up our robes” and climb whatever “tree” we need to climb.  We need to trust in the words of Philippians 4:13…

 for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.

Is God enough for you?

We ended this session by writing a letter to God, confessing the things that drive us away from fully trusting in him.

Saturday AM

This morning’s session looked at the Parable of the Sower, as told in Luke 8:4-15.   Are we “fertile soil?”  We need to constantly ensure that we’re open to God’s leading.

This parable isn’t just about salvation.  It’s not a one and done thing.  We can be different types of soil at any time.  We need to constantly work in the following four areas:

We need to rid ourselves of the “rocks” that litter the soil and get in the way of the nourishment that our roots need.  This involves discovering the things that we’re doing that make us run away from God, and then to turn around and run TOWARDS God.

One of the things we need in order to keep our “field plowed” is accountability.  Build relationships with people who can ask you “How goes it with your soul?” and then demand an honest answer from you.

We won’t receive any seed unless we spend time with God.

  • Read-  The Bible (mainly), and other books / devotionals
  • Pray-  Develop habits leading you to “constant prayer”
  • Journal-  Write down your experiences every day.  Keep track of prayers and their answers.
  • Beware of the bad “rocks” that can fill you mind (TV and other media).
Sow God’s Word into the situations of our lives.

The Bible isn’t just head-knowledge.  We need to be able to recall God’s Word in every situation in order to apply it.  It should become part of our regular speech.  Don’t just simply quote scripture (that sounds pushy and “preachy”), but speak it in your own words as it guides your thoughts and interactions with others.

The “weeds” always want to return.  If you don’t keep weeding, they will return and overrun your “garden.”  Weeding isn’t easy; it hurts!  Recognizing the “rocks” and sins in our lives and repenting of them isn’t easy either.  But we must constantly open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit (and our accountibility small group) to keep the “weeds” out of our lives.

We also need to be careful that we don’t unknowingly plant weeds along with the seed.  Sin can be a slippery slope; take care that you don’t get too close to things that can tempt you into going the wrong way. Use an accountability group to build a “fence” that keeps your “garden” free of the things that can limit your growth.

Saturday PM

We began Saturday’s session by helping to build a “wall of protection” around our pastor, by praying for Pastor Jim.  We then looked at “Seven Essential Practices of Godly Leaders.”…

Proverbs 27:17 tells us-  “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Men connecting with other men makes us better.  We need to develop relationships that help us “sharpen each other.”  Here are some thoughts:

  • Enter into a relationship where your a MENTOR.
  • Enter into a relationship where your are being MENTORED.
  • Start a small group.
  • Identify:  Who are you accountable to?


In Mark 1:35-37, we learn something about Jesus’ habits: Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him,  and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

The world was always pressing in on Him, but even Jesus needed a “retreat”; a time away.  In this passage He dedicated the early morning as His “quiet time.”

  • Q-  How did you get to know your future wife before you were married? A-  You spent time with her!
  • When’s the last time you told her that you adored her? When’s the last time you told God how wonderful He is?

In order to “court God” we need to regularly spend time with Him.  We need to carve out a special time during each day where we can study the Bible and pray.  For most people, the morning is the best option.  Get up a bit earlier.  Get into the Word before the World gets into you.

Bible Reading Plan Devotionals


Romans 12:1 tells us,   “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” Our bodies are pretty important!  We can’t offer ourselves in worship if we’re not taking care of ourselves.

We may not think of concerns such as food, sleep, and exercise as concerns that can affect our ability to be Godly Leaders, but if we don’t take the time to care for our bodies we won’t be able to be of use to God.


2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that “study is our buddy”… “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

It takes effort to be able to “handle the word of truth.”  What are you studying?  What are you reading?  What are you watching on TV???  Do these investments of “brain power” and time help you to become a better “workman”?

A Bible Study has been referred to as “cramming for the finals.” But beyond that, keeping our minds in shape with Godly Thoughts and knowledge helps us lead an effective and contented life in Christ.


Exodus 20:8 commands us to, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”

God made the world in 6 days, then He rested.  As for us, we spend 6 days in the rat race- going to work, traveling, driving the kids to school, shopping, caring for the house… we need that one day (Sunday or otherwise) that’s dedicated to being different (“holy”).

Godly leaders need a “stop day.”  We need a day where we spend time with our family; the family at home and the family at church.

Is your Sunday your best day, or is it just like the other days?


Galatians 6:9-10 says,  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Godly leaders find a place where they can give without expecting to get back.  Service goes beyond committee meetings.  Godly service- things like serving in a soup kitchen, or food pantry, or visiting shutins- is when you are actively “loving people into the arms of Jesus.”


If you do a self-assessment and compare your life to these practices, you’ll probably find that you’re fairly good at a few of them but lacking in others.  These practices aren’t meant to be taken as “specialties.”  All  of us need to practice all of them in order to grow as Godly leaders.

Sunday AM

On Sunday, we turned our attention to Caleb, one of the two spies (in addition to Joshua) whose faith allowed him to encourage the Israelites to take the land that God had promised to them.  Caleb held on to God’s promise and pursued it until the end of his life.  His name means “dog”… we can think of Caleb as a Junk Yard Dog who is focused on sticking close to God and receiving His promises.

The story of Caleb is found in Numbers 13.  Moses (because of the people’s lack of faith- see Deuteronomy 1:22) sent 12 spies to check out the promised land, and here’s what happened when they returned (Numbers 13:26-30)…

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.  They gave Moses this account:

“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.  The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Caleb said:  We should go up… for we can certainly do it.”  Caleb believed God’s promise.  He remembered how God had just freed them from from Egyptian captivity, and how He destroyed the greatest army on earth by drowning them in the Red Sea. But somehow, the other spies and the Israelites forgot.

Are we practicing habits that help us to remember?  Does the way we live allow us to answer, “YES!  God is enough for me!“???

Many years later, when Caleb was in his 80s; when they were about to take Jericho (the city he had spied out so many years earlier), he could hear the people tell Joshua

They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”     Joshua 2:24

Caleb’s faith and “junk yard dog” focus were confirmed.  Paul and Caleb both had a mindset that was focused on the prize of a relationship with God:

…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.     Philippians 3:12-14

Are we “pressing on” or are we just getting by?  Like Caleb, we need the focus that is provided by good goals.  Without goals (goals that are consistent with God’s will!), we are not living life to the fullest.  Someone has suggested the “Six in Six Rule”: Set Six goals which can be attained in Six weeks.  Starting off with a list of things that you can easily accomplish is a good way to start.

But beyond that, we also need longer range goals.  Here are a few challenges.  Developing habits like these can open us up the the Holy Spirit’s leading and bring us to a fruitful life:

  • Read the Bible every day for __ minutes…
  • Pray every day for __ minutes…
  • Journal 4-6 times a week…
  • Decide to read an inspirational book- and read it!…
  • Join a small group …
  • Go to church every Sunday (even when traveling) …
  • Spend time with your wife- carve out some time.

Be a “Junk Yard Dog!”  Protect your relationship with God and chase after anything that can draw you closer to Him.


Getting Away

UMM Retreat15 Lodge _IMG_1649

In addition to the sessions of learning and worship, a Men’s retreat is a chance to get away and enjoy a “different routine” for a couple of days.  The Black Rock Retreat Center has excellent accommodations; cabins, hotel style rooms, hiking trails, the Maranatha Lodge with its huge fireplaces, and- of course- the Dining Room!

Buffets of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner filled our bellies, just as the worship and study sessions filled our hearts and minds.

In between, we were able to just enjoy the outdoors, to talk, and to enjoy eachother’s company.

UMM16- group _image2




Hanging Out with Eachother

The weekend was a time of worship, music, food, hiking, more food, and well…  of hanging out together and resting up.  Here’s a taste of what we did (or didn’t do…)


We have even more pictures! 

Click this button for more viewing pleasure:   More Pictures





Click the following dropdown to view the post that announced the retreat…


Our Men’s fellowship group is planning to retreat… or Advance…   Our annual “retreat” will be held at the Black Rock Retreat  Center during the weekend of March 11-13, 2016.

UMM Men’s Advance (Men Don’t Retreat)


We have hit a milestone:  This is our 15th annual Men’s Advance!  March 11, 12 and 13th will be be a great opportunity to Advance; to grow closer together and to move forward in our relationship with Christ.  Here are the details:

When:  March 11, 12, and 13

Where:  Our “usual” location- the Black Rock Retreat Center in Quarryville, Pa.  Our accommodations will be the same as last year (see below for details).

Who:  Any man 16 and older is invited.

Whom:  Our speaker will be Pastor Chris Yount. Here’s his biography…

Chris has been in pastoral ministry since 1990, serving four different churches as well as helping to revive two others Chris Yount(one which had closed and another ready to close). Chris has been married to Elizabeth for 32 years, raising 4 kids and loving their role as grandparents to Gracelynn (4) and her brother to be born in February of 2016. One of the passions of Chris’ ministry is to encourage and equip people so that not only will they be successful but also content in their lives.

Chris writes…

“God has been confronting me with the concept of contentment over the past several years. For too many us, fulfillment is equated with success, material wealth, trophy children, climbing the vocational ladder and other goals. I have found that most folks are pursuing things that don’t necessarily lead to contentment. For the believer, contentment is found in the pursuit of God. Nothing else even comes close!”

Chris enjoys music, (playing the guitar, bass guitar, trombone and singing), spending time outside (hiking, fishing, backpacking, gardening, and swimming), keeping fit (goes to the gym 3-5 times a week), reading voraciously and loves spending time with his family.

Chris’s messages, blog and videos can be found at

What:  The theme is entitled, “Equipped to Lead”  Click below to learn more…


“Equipped to Lead”

This is NOT your wife’s retreat!!!!!   Come join us on the Mountaintop!

Are you satisfied with your relationship with God or do you want more?  Are you content and fulfilled in your life? How’s it going as a man, husband, father, son, leader? Is your job satisfying? Do you feel like there should be more to life?   These are some questions that, we as men ask. Come join us as we explore these questions and more. Topics that are relevant to you as follower of Christ will equip and encourage you to become the man that God knows you can be.


How Much:  Here are the details on the accommodations…

  • Maranatha Retreat Center (main Lodge)  $234   (6 Spots)
  • Whip-Poor Will Lodge (A-Frame Building) $215 (8 Spots)
  • Cabin $135 (10 Spots)

We can get more lodging if needed.  Early sign-up is encouraged.  Money not due until the week before the Advance.

What’s a Men’s Retreat… or Advance?

The youth aren’t the only ones in our church who have a BLAST!  Take a look at last year’s retreat: (click on the picture to open the article)

Men Retreat, and then Grow in Prayer (3/13-15 2015)

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For more information about our Men’s Fellowship group, click this button:   Men’s Fellowship







One Comment

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  1. Rev. Chris Yount

    I had a great time with guys from Pitman UMC!
    Gods Blessings!
    Chris Yount

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