MARTIN — Traditionally, Baptist Collegiate Ministry directors have found it easier to get women together for Bible studies than men.
But at the University of Tennessee-Martin, the male students are responding to the challenge to “Man Up.”
Morgan Owen, BCM director at UT-Martin, picked up a tip from a colleague in Michigan who shared that she found it easier to get men together in a conference setting rather than small groups which women respond well to.
Owen took the idea to heart and the BCM ministry at UT-Martin developed “Man Up.”
Man Up is held on Thursday nights, the same day a “Noonday” event is held by the BCM. Leftovers from the noon meal are consumed by the Man Up crowd.
A volunteer then leads the men in a song and that is followed by a 25-30 minute lesson, led by Owen or Nate Elliott, a BCM missionary at UT-Martin.
After the large group session, the students break off into small groups, Owen noted. Each group has a committed pair of leaders who facilitate discussion questions given to them by BCM staff, he added.
“These groups are also encouraged to be evangelistically focused. We are using these groups to utilize the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s 1-5-1 Harvest Plants strategy to reach the lost on campus,” Owen continued.
Harvest Plants are geared toward off-campus efforts aimed specifically at non-Christians for the purpose of sharing the gospel.
Each session is closed with a “huddle prayer,” Owen related.
Ben Reeves, men’s discipleship coordinator for the BCM, noted that “it has been awesome to see an entire room full of guys every Thursday night amid tests, homework, and other things just come together seeking to grow closer to God.”
He noted the large group sessions provide a time for learning while the small groups (called life groups) “are a unique chance for guys to get intentional with each other and really dissect what we’re being taught each week.”
Reeves also observed that the meetings each week provide an opportunity for students “to open up to one another and simply grow closer as brothers in Christ.”
Reeves added that students are enthusiastic about Man Up. “I hear several times during the week, ‘I can’t wait for Man Up this week.’
“The guys are responding and that is an answer to prayer,” Reeves said.
He noted “attendance has exceeded expectations and the bonds being formed among these guys are deeper than just friendship.”
Owen noted that during the fall, 74 male students attended Man Up with an average attendance of 65 each Thursday night.
So far this semester, 81 have attended with an average attendance of 67, he added.