Creating Men's Communities
Prepared by Tony Bushman Chair of PCD UU Men's council
Largely Taken from Men's Path to Fulfillment by Tony Bushman © F. Anthony Bushman, July 21, 1994, Revised 10/26/98
The PCD Men's Council wishes "To provide the resources to facilitate the creation, development, and sustainability of men's groups and men's communities."
The Council is willing to visit / advise / coach congregations and help groups get started and become self-sustaining.
This venture has the following components:
- Discover how to identify and recruit interested men in the community
- Assess the situations and discover the needs, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and obstacles
- Layout alternative alternative sustainable approaches on how to create men's communities / groups
- Continuing relationships with the local groups to facilitate their monitoring in their unfolding.
Identifying who might be interested in establishing a men's community or joining a men's group:
- Start by asking your minister "Which men do you know might be interested in getting together to explore what kind of men's community would be feasible at this church?"
The natural response would be to ask what men's community means. At that time you could respond by saying that is an open possibility to be defined by the interested men. But some possibilities are: breakfast discussion group; men's social group; men's support group, men's activity group, Passages / Initiation into adulthood group, Father's and Son's activity group; a camping or hiking group, etc.
- Put an announcement in the church Sunday bulletin and he monthly newsletter saying "Any men interested interested in forming a men's community for mutual fellowship and fun and growth please call me at my home at . . ." You could also consider including neighboring churches in the outreach for interested men.
- Post a flyer on a number of church bulletin boards announcing your interest in creating a sense of community at your church. Encourage men to call you.
- Make an announcement in curch in church that you are interested in exploring the possibility with other men about how a sense of men's community could be formed, what it might look like, and what it might do.
- If the number of men is four or more, start meeting regularly and ask who they know who would be interested in joining the activity.
- If the number of men is too small,e.g., two or three, you could invite men from outside your church to join you by doing the above in other churches or you could place an announcement in a local paper stating that a new men's group is forming and welcomes any who are interested.
- Invite a mens group leader from another church to get your group off and running.
Men's communities have arisen out of the need of men to feel more fulfilled. Benefits which men experience are:
- friendship: have fun playing together, grieving together, being together
- companionship: discover the joys of being a man and being with men.
- intimacy: learn how to get over our barriers to intimacy and deepen our relationaships
- self-esteem: honor our maleness and value its importance.
- empowerment: being present to our feelings in a deeper way; taking responsibility for reacting to our feelings of being used, devalued, and abused as well as for dominating, using, devaluing, and abusing others.
- growth: learn how to move forward on the path to finding our soul and feeling whole.
- maturity: celebrate our ability to be in the world in more fulfilling ways that many of us have yearned for but have had difficulty maintaining.
- practical daily living: be confident about about selected practical life issues such as, sex, anger, conflict, partnershipping, etc.
- planning: for handling difficult events such as death and sickness, the future: E.g., drafting a will, and grieving losses.
The exercises are designed to:
- get us in touch with our feelings,
- name our demons of inadequacy and angels of wholeness,
- heal the wounds we all have received,
- value the gifts we have, and
- recognize the presence of God within us.
Varieties of Men's Groups: Descriptions, Strengths, and Weaknesses
Men's groups are typically comprised of those who commit to share some aspect of their lives in a mutually trusting atmosphere. There are many types of men's groups. Each type serves a different need. There is no one best type that will handle each and every need. Therefore you must determine what kind of group you want to create. While I have described five basic pure types of groups below, there are many variations or hybrids of these. The most powerful group you can create is the growth group. The simplest group is the social group.
Men's Social Group
These are leaderless but usually have a convener. The groups are not focused on men's issues but rather are focused on having fun and companionship. The group is usually open to new members. This group structure promotes non-threatening companionship and facilitates men being buddies and having fun. This type of group does not lead to much personal growth or attitude change and it has a short life.
Men's Ritual Group