Why Men Need God And What Men Need At Church!... Meet Jonathan Sherwin of CVM!
"Meeting Jesus changes everything. Every part of life is affected. There's unlimited grace and unlimited hope - that's exciting!" Meet Jonathan Sherwin - the now part time Head of Communications for Christian Vision For Men (CVM)! He tells us why he's passionate in working for a men's ministry, why CVM wants to see men come to know Jesus, have their lives transformed and affect the world through redeemed relationships, employment and hobbies!
(PICTURES: TOP JONATHAN SHERWIN, ARTISTIC INTERPRETATION OF JESUS, CARL BEECH, A CURRY, DRIVETIME)
"Men aren't engaging with church and we wanted to do something about that. There are ministries for just about all areas of life ... but one that has historically been undernourished in the UK is men's ministry - encouraging Christian men and reaching out to unbelievers.
"Men get Jesus. When presented with the truth of who Jesus is and what He did the power of the gospel can grab a man and fully engage him. The truth is Jesus is powerful to save - both men and women.
"We believe that when men meet Jesus and stand in the company of their brothers not only will they be engaged, but they will be agents of transformation to their societies as they themselves have been transformed." says Jonathan who has recently transitioned from his role in a full time capacity to part time.
CVM is the inspirational movement pioneered by Carl Beech, its General Director, which cites quotes by Bill Hybels such as; 'The local church is the hope of the nation', as its motivation to help churches engage men in their community.
Jonathan who is responsible for 'what we say and how we say it' through print, email, web, social media channels, as well as CVM events points to a Tearfund poll of church attendance in the UK in 2006 to illustrate the lack of connection with men.
"Male attendance stood at around 35% across the board, and that's the beginning. Younger men (under 30) are dropping out of the church at an alarming rate, and not coming back. The remaining men are feel increasingly uncomfortable being there. (see research from Christian Research, 2010)."Take for example an experience I had. I was at a large church in Yorkshire as a first time visitor. No one knew who I was. I walked in on my own and stayed on my own throughout the service as a frenzied buzz of excitement happened around me.
"At some point during the service the minister tells us to turn to the person next to you (cringe) and tell them, 'You're gorgeous'. Telling the old lady next to me was awkward but no harm ... The good looking girl on the other side (how did I end up there anyway?) harder. The bloke in front of me? Game over. Even me who is steeped in Christian culture, had a rough time of it. What about 'Dave' who's never stepped foot in a church before?" He says.
Removing emotion from 'church' is not simply the approach Jonathan and CVM want to take, but thinking through how a man feels in the church environment.
"Men need Jesus - and some good mates, a curry and a beer or two doesn't hurt either! Seriously, there is no such thing as a 'typical man'. So when we think of 'church for men' we're not thinking of moose heads on walls and real ale for communion, necessarily.
"What we are saying is let's create an environment where men can succeed with the giftings they've been given. Let's not pigeon hole men to the sound desk. Let's get behind them to be who God's created to be." says Jonathan.
With specialist roles, the CVM team has freedom to 'pitch in' wherever they are inspired, whether that is adding to the Blog site, attending men's meetings, exploring new links or brain-storming practical issues like ending violence against women. The CVM site has a 'Hotline' phone number for men needing to a listening ear right now; 01246 271713, podcasts (including 'Beechy and Willmott's Drivetime Show on itunes) and hundreds of connections with churches nationally. They also run annual regional conferences and national event, 'The Gathering' each year.
Resources for churches, men's groups, hard-hitting films, books, study guides and much more are accessible from the site.
"We're aiming to see 1,000,000 men come to know Jesus and we believe we can see that through the ever growing network that CVM is becoming. We share together, build relationships, model ideas, worship God, pray and strategise for how to go about this great task we've all been given at The Gathering." says Jonathan.
"My prayer is that we as CVM can remain faithful to the calling God's given us, to run with all our might, to remain humble and pursue our God-given goal of a 1,000,000 men in the UK with real passion.