Men for Christ Ministry in Central Kentucky Bouncing Back after COVID Lull
by Christian Standard | 28 February, 2023 | 1 comment
By Chris Moon
Men for Christ, a 71-year-old men’s ministry in central Kentucky, is discovering new life after the COVID-19 storm.
The group is comprised mostly of lay members from Independent Christian Churches across the region. It meets monthly at local churches for fellowship, worship, and a message.
The long-standing mission of the group has been to support new church plants. And the group has a multimillion endowment fund that supports churches with building improvement and maintenance needs.
But the pandemic years were tough on Men for Christ, which has a significant number of older men in its ranks—a group particularly susceptible to COVID-19 complications.
A typical pre-pandemic meeting would have had well more than 100 men present. After COVID-19’s arrival, the group stopped meeting altogether for a year. When meetings resumed, fewer than 50 men were present.
“It had gotten drastically lower,” said Adam Hale, the group’s chairman and the senior minister of Glendale (Ky.) Christian Church. “Personally, I thought [the pandemic] might be the thing that ends Men for Christ.”
But in 2023, things have begun to turn around. More than 100 men attended the January meeting—the first time attendance has reached that threshold in nearly three years.
“I was thrilled to see that many men show up,” Hale said.
FELLOWSHIP AND SONG
Men for Christ was founded in January 1952 as a voluntary association of men from Christian churches in central Kentucky. Its mission is to “promote Christian fellowship and the strengthening and establishment of churches after the New Testament pattern.”
Hale said 23 churches support Men for Christ with their missions funds each month. The group also takes up an offering at its monthly meeting.
Those meetings are “one of the great things about Men for Christ,” said Hale, who has been active with the group for about 15 years.
The group’s monthly meetings include a meal prepared by the host church. That’s followed by a time of worship and then a message by a man selected by the Men for Christ program committee.
“The fellowship is tremendous,” said Russell Lunsford, a past chairman of the group and a member of Columbia (Ky.) Christian Church.
The worship services try to specialize in old gospel songs.
“You got a bunch of old men out there,” Lunsford said. “It’s really thrilling to stand out there with those men and sing those songs.”
Each Men for Christ gathering concludes with a business meeting led by the group’s executive committee.
Today, the group is looking to do more church planting, which has been a core part of the Men for Christ mission over the years.
In its earliest days, Men for Christ was instrumental in the founding of Magnolia Street Christian Church in Harrodsburg, Ky., in 1952 and Owensboro (Ky.) Christian Church in 1953.
Longtime member Allan Courtwright, who attends Campbellsville (Ky.) Christian Church, said his loyalty to Men for Christ grew when he was among the founding members of a new church Lebanon, Ky. The group supported the new church for several years.
“That really got me going in it,” Courtwright said. “I saw what they had done for us, and I saw what they were doing for other churches.”
In recent years, Men for Christ also has financially supported the planting of Elevate Christian Church in Lexington and Church of the Crossroads in Mt. Washington. Those were joint efforts with other organizations.
Hale, the Men for Christ chairman, said the group’s executive committee is hopeful that by the end of 2023, it will have a location for a new church plant and be moving toward getting a congregation off the ground.
Taking the lead in planting new churches is something longtime member Charles Young, who attends First Christian Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., is hopeful the group can resume doing on a regular basis.
“The challenge is the ability to actually start from scratch a new congregation,” he said.
‘A LOT OF GOOD’
Men for Christ also has a substantial fund to help existing churches with building improvement needs.
About 20 years ago, the late Curtis Votaw, a local businessman, left Men for Christ more than $2 million to assist with such projects. The group makes low interest loans to help churches with things like new roofs and building additions.
Seven churches currently have loans from Men for Christ. The current interest rate is 2 percent.
Lunsford, the past chairman, said Men for Christ is hoping to loan money to three churches this year for the building of new sanctuaries. Those churches had put their projects on hold when construction prices spiked with the pandemic.
“We’re really excited about the next couple of years,” he said.
Men for Christ also supports struggling congregations, such as those that do not have ministers in place or that are struggling to pay their bills.
“Over the years, we have done a lot of good for a lot of different independent congregations,” Hale said. “We’re still a group looking to do whatever we can for the kingdom.”
He said he thinks there’s a “restlessness” within Men for Christ to do even more.
“I am hopeful that we are starting to build a positive movement just for kingdom work in general,” Hale said.
Learn more about Men for Christ at www.kymenforchrist.org.
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colo.