From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New study program aims for men's hearts

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 26 Jun 2002 14:08:29 -0500

June 26, 2002 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert7(615)742-54707Nashville,
Tenn.   10-71BP{270}

NOTE: Photographs are available with this report.

By the Rev. J. Richard Peck*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) -- TQuest is exploring the final frontier - the
hearts of Christian men.

The churchwide Commission on United Methodist Men is launching TQuest for
Men this fall. TQuest - short for "transformation quest" - is a weekly
session for four to six men who seek a deeper relationship with one another,
others and God. The meetings include prayers, devotionals, updates about
"the condition of their hearts," responses to an "inventory and challenge,"
and prayer in groups of two.

"In our view, what needs to happen in Christian men today simply cannot
happen anywhere except in their hearts," says Larry Malone, director of
men's ministry for the international commission, based in Nashville.

The challenge is getting men to open up, Malone agrees. "It is the nature of
men to avoid their hearts. The church is not lacking good men who know the
Bible or men who do good works. The church is short on men whose heart beats
as one with the Spirit that resides there."

During 2001, with the assistance of Bishop William Morris and the Tennessee
Annual Conference, TQuest was tested and evaluated by more than 50 men. The
program was slightly revised, and an updated version of TQuest was
introduced at the United Methodist Men's Congress at Purdue University in
July 2001.

Tim Harvey was one of three people from Wausau, Wis., who attended the
Purdue event. On their way home, the men agreed they wanted to continue
their spiritual journeys with one another. They recruited a fourth member.
"We let the TQuest series open our hearts, and in came the Holy Spirit,"
Harvey says. "Wow!"

The four men invited 12 others to join them; six accepted the invitation.
"Now there were two groups, and the experience was the same," reports
Harvey. "Our hearts were strengthened, and spirits were refreshed."  

"There is nothing that brings men closer than praying with them and for
them," says Walt Folberg of the Wausau group. "Men will share if there is
trust, need and want."

"Too many United Methodist men attend meetings where they leave as burdened
as when they walked in," Malone says. "TQuest enables men to leave
gatherings with a lighter load and a sense of forgiveness." Malone describes
the program as a "spiritually rich experience that leads to healing and

Three years of TQuest curriculum is in development. Representatives from the
Commission on United Methodist Men have visited every district in the
church's five U.S. jurisdictions to promote the program. All 7,500 United
Methodist Men charter units have also been asked to promote it. Each
district and charter group has been asked to find five churches or pastors
to launch the program.

A sample session retells the story of how Adam and Eve tried to hide from
God. Men are then asked how they hide out from God and others. "TQuest
always asks questions you can't answer from your head and must answer from
the heart," observes Malone.

Don Price, a United Methodist who experienced TQuest in the Louisiana
Conference, describes the program as one that "opened my heart to fellow
brothers in Christ. ... It also told me that it is all right for a man to
express pain and to love another man as a brother in Christ." Participating
in the same experience, Charlie Barnett describes it as "one of the most
moving experiences I've had in my life."

TQuest was developed by Sage Hill Resources, a division of Providence
Publishing Corp. in Franklin, Tenn. Participants' kits include 10 32-page
study booklets designed for four sessions each. Also included is The Voice
of the Heart: A Call to Full Living, a book by David "Chip" Dodd, written to
help men understand they are emotional and spiritual creatures made in the
image of God. 

Dodd's "Spiritual Root System" consists of the five roots of feelings,
needs, desires, longings and hope, but the book's emphasis is on feelings.
"We cannot live in fullness without knowing these feelings," Dodd says. "The
paradox is that if we choose fullness with our feelings, we also choose to
experience pain." The feelings Dodd identifies are hurt, loneliness,
sadness, anger, fear, shame, guilt and gladness. 

Dodd is the executive director and co-founder of the Center for Professional
Excellence in Nashville, a multidisciplinary treatment center for licensed
professionals with addiction, depression, burnout, anxiety and other
behavioral problems. Previously, he was the clinical director of Bent Tree
Counseling Center in Dallas, a service he co-founded in 1989. Dodd has a
doctorate in counseling from the University of North Texas and a master's
degree in English from the University of Mississippi. 
"Picture your heart and its growth as a system of spiritual and emotional
roots that needs spiritual and emotional nourishment," Dodd explains. "Out
of sustenance and growth of the root system, you are made aware of and able
to pursue abundant living." 

The TQuest series was written by a team that includes Malone; Dodd; Stephen
James, director of trade publishing at Providence Publishing; Jerry H. Mayo,
pastor of First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Scotty
Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tenn., and author of
several books.

"Having participated in one of the pilot groups, I have personally
experienced the power of TQuest for Men," says Andrew B. Miller, president
of Providence Publishing. "TQuest for Men is an invitation for men to
rediscover that which has been lost and to reawaken that which is asleep. It
is a tool that will help men knock down the walls around their hearts."

Says Malone: "TQuest is a God-sized experience for this time, this place and
these men." 

More information is available at online.

# # #

*Peck is communications consultant for the churchwide Commission on United
Methodist Men.

United Methodist News Service
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