Think of the movies we like to watch. We want the fight. We want our lives to matter. We want to lay it down. We love Saving Private Ryan, everybody getting shot up on the beach. We want to run up on that beach with them. It’s in us.
Brothers, you’ve been called to this. Anything less than this is outside of design and purpose.
–Pastor Matt Chandler
One of the defining characteristics of the man up/step up program is an over the top cartoonish appeal to the virtues of courage and valor. This comes across as cringeworthy not only because it is so childish and over the top, but because the point of the program is to avoid doing what is difficult and terrifying. It is false bravado used to mask paralyzing fear.
As the creators of the program know, most of the men in attendance are there either because their wife gave them permission or their wife ordered them to attend. When the creators of the program are speaking to the wives, they are beseeching the head of the household to send their husband in so they can “fix” him the way she wants. The men for their part know the drill, as they’ve experienced it countless times before. Each man knows the leaders in the program are going to tear him down to nothing, and then build him back up into a real man, a knight fit to serve his lady.
But it isn’t just the participants who are encouraged to see themselves as knights in a LARPing chivalrous army. Pastors are encouraged to see the events as providing them with their own private army, as Dennis Rainey and Kenny Luck explain:
Kenny: Well, I think of the local pastor, first of all—especially, most churches are under 300 people. I got a note just the other day from a local pastor. He has a congregation of 175 people. Nine men, because they had adopted the Sleeping Giant process and pathway, were baptized this last Sunday. It’s almost like he was crying through the email. Here he has help on the way. “The Calvary is coming!” He has a process to get them healthy. He has a strategy to move them into leadership. In most churches that are that small, the pastor needs men forming ranks around him, with his DNA—
Dennis: Yes, he does. Yes, he does.
Kenny: —and so, when they don’t have that, then, we end up hiring disciples versus making disciples and adding staff, which is, for many, prohibitive. So, when the local church—local churches that I see, early adopters to the Sleeping Giant model, the pastors are writing me and going, “I never knew this could be. I didn’t know that I could be the main beneficiary of a solid outreach to men, where we not only develop the man but we develop the leader;” and they form ranks around that—that senior pastor. That’s really where I feel there is going to be a large Kingdom advance of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, locally, worldwide.
Bob: I’m imagining the pastor who is thinking, “You know, I’d love to see guys energized and mobilized as long as they’re energized and mobilized for what I think they ought to be doing. I’m concerned they’re going to get energized and mobilized and go head in their own direction and have their own agenda…