After 20 years of meeting, men’s small group is thriving.
It has been 20 years since our Friday morning men's group began meeting at Hillside United Methodist Church in Towne Lake. It has been a fascinating, unpredictable, blessed journey with a group of men I have come to love and respect more as brothers than friends.
When Mac Enfinger and I first discussed starting a men’s small group in 1997, we never would have dreamed it still would be going strong after two decades. Over these 20 years, there have been enough real-life plot twists and turns in the lives of these men to inspire a novel or two, or perhaps, more appropriately, a low-budget sitcom.
When we first began meeting, Mac was owner of a successful chemical company and I was a senior editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Twenty years later, Mac is pastor of Milledgeville FUMC and I serve as pastor of Ebenezer UMC in Roswell.
But you still can find me at Hillside UMC at 7:30 a.m. every Friday morning, along with Mark Crumpton, Jimmy Messerly, Tim Phipps, Dave Hassan, Trent Donley, Tony Perry and, on occasion, Larry Singleton and Gregg Schieffelbein.
Some of the 40 or so men who have been part of the group over the past 20 years occasionally return for a visit. Our door always is open.
Through the years, in addition to the biblical questions we discuss and the Scriptures we read, there have been many shared celebrations: weddings, graduations, births, successful political campaigns and the launch of thriving businesses, among others.
And there have been various life-altering challenges as well: family crises, business failures, personal struggles, life-threatening health issues and the loss of loved ones.
Through it all, we gather each week to share our lives in honest, candid terms, to laugh loudly, disagree passionately, and to pray earnestly. The conversation is fueled by coffee and chicken biscuits and often centers around a family issue, work issue or a question that might have arisen from a recent sermon.
But, beyond the Friday morning discussions, there have been numerous instances of men in our group coming to the aid of one another, from helping to move furniture or providing a loaner car, to offering business help or providing airfare during a family crisis.
I am not sure what Mac and I were expecting when we began this group so many years ago. I know we wanted to support strong marriages and families. I know we wanted to help men to grow in their faith and to experience the freedom, love and joy that is central to the Gospel. I think, in some way, I believed we would be doing something to serve other men.
I had no idea that I would be the one who was the most blessed.
By Glenn Hannigan, contributing writer