Building Brothers - Helping Church Leaders Build a Spiritual Home for Men

Pastor Ricci's Story

I first heard Dan Schaffer speak in 2002 at a men’s rally within my denomination. I remember going up to him and saying, “You’ve just described my life! I’ve dealt with a huge father vacuum. I reconciled with my dad before he died and received his blessing, so this issue of the father’s blessing is the journey I’ve personally been traveling.”

I attended the Building Brothers Leadership Training in August of 2003, along with about twenty other pastors and leaders from around the country. I arrived with high expectations-and frankly, the experience exceeded them! I found the interaction of the men to be tremendous. There is just something awesome about men sharing from their hearts, with all the laughter and tears that comes with it. That is from God! I grew tremendously from this depth of interaction.

I learned so much from Dan and the Building Brothers team, especially in the way the training was handled. First of all, the questions were open-ended. Dan would pause and look at us silently, allowing us time to process; and then we were asked to respond. That was incredible-it made the material our own! Second, Dan’s vulnerability at various points was wonderful. He never had the attitude, “Look at all I know. I have arrived; follow me.” It was great to learn more about the process other men had personally experienced and lived out.

I quickly realized that I couldn’t handle the entire process of transforming men in my church alone, so I turned to a brother in my church. It was apparent that he had an appetite for service and growth in his spiritual maturity and a desire to get more deeply involved in the lives of others. I started the process of pouring my life into his life on a weekly basis. There was incredible transformation as we “did life together” and started dialoguing through the Building Brothers materials. I built into him and he took over the leadership of the Building Brothers process.

I discovered that Building Brothers is a process of discipleship in which you get in touch with the wounds of your past so you can be a disciple of Christ in the present with other men of like mind. To carry out this discovering at a heart level we needed to get our men away from the normal stresses and distractions of life. So the decision was made to facilitate the Building Brothers process by using the videos as the guide for a weekend retreat. Our Phase I retreat drew a significant number of men. I remember a poignant moment when Dan, via the video, asked this question: “Have you ever had a time when your earthly father said, ‘I love you’?” Seventy-five percent said this had never happened. These wounds are the elephant in the living room that everybody in the church is ignoring. I continue to hear the question, “Why don’t men get more involved?” I believe it’s because we as leaders within the church are not specifically addressing these wounds.

Amazingly, almost every man that attended this retreat has chosen to either be involved with Building Brothers or serve the church in some other form. This was a pivotal weekend in the life of our church!

I have personally experienced that most pastors don’t realize that discipleship is the key. As pastors, we tend to focus more on “Bible studies” than on “intentional discipleship”-which is about forming us to become more like Christ, using the Bible as the guide. It’s important that we know God’s Word, but so often in typical Bible studies we tend to lose the character development and healing in the midst of the study. That’s the power of the Building Brothers process: it assists in putting the pieces in place to allow men to go deeper into relationship with Christ first, and with other men secondly.

I see my role as more of a grandfather to this process within my church. I am to be a spark plug in coming up with an intentional plan to reach the men in our church. Also, I am to be like a bulldog with my leaders, continually asking them the question, “What are we doing to help the people in our small groups become more like Christ?” I’m realizing just how countercultural this is in the life of the modern church; people look at me as if I’m from outer space when I use this language.

Building Brothers has become a part of the fabric of my personal ministry with men and within our church. I thank them for being willing vessels to serve me and the men of my church!

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