PROFILE: Growing Stonger Families

by Christina Quick

The men’s ministry at Bethany Assembly of God in Agawam, Mass., is popular among a surprising segment of the congregation: the women.

“The wives are very supportive of it,” says Tim Reed, executive pastor and men’s leader at the church. “We encourage them to make sure their husbands come — and their sons, too. We definitely get the blessing of the women because they recognize this is having a positive impact on the whole family.”

The church, led by senior pastor Richard Adams, has seen marriages restored, families made whole, and lives dramatically transformed as men lead one another to an encounter with God.

“It’s those relationships they build with men that allow them to share their hearts, be vulnerable with other men, and really have a support network,” Reed says. “We have an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and reality, where men can say, ‘Here’s the real me.’ That’s brought a vibrancy to the men of this church to be real and not hide behind that facade that most men hide behind — acting one way in church and another way out in the world.”

Small groups are the heart of the ministry. The groups meet weekly, biweekly, or monthly, offering basic discipleship for new believers and in-depth Bible study for seasoned Christians. One group is composed mostly of motorcycle riders.

Bethany also hosts a monthly men’s breakfast and organizes service projects for men.

Reed says the focus of the church’s ministry to men is helping each man become a godly influence in his family, church, and community. He says that begins with a willingness to receive guys and care about them just as they are.

“They can open up about who they are and what they’re going through, as rough and sinful as it may be,” Reed says. “Of course, we’re not here just patting each other on the back for sins. We’re helping one another overcome sins in an encouraging, relational setting. We let them know they can find the victory over these things that have plagued them throughout their lives.”

Reed says the approach is creating ripple effects felt throughout the congregation.

“The guys are not just sitting in the pew and doing the Sunday morning thing any more,” Reed says. “They’re growing spiritually. People are talking about it in the hallways and in our fellowship times. These relationships are building accountability and making a real difference in the church, in the community, in families, and in the body of Christ.”

Christina Quick, freelance writer, Springfield, Missouri