One church’s passion to awaken a movement of greatness in the hearts of men is bringing both awareness and funding to Refuge for Women.
Five years ago, the staff at Gateway Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, birthed the outside-of-the-box ministry “Every Man A Leader,” with a vision to be more than a routine church program. “It’s more than a pancake breakfast,” says Brad Larson, Sr. Executive Pastor. “Our heart is to disrupt the way people see men’s ministries. What we’ve found is that men need to connect, they need validation, they need to learn how to express their emotions.”
They also need help to dispel the myth playing on repeat in their brains: “I’m all alone, and I have to do it all on my own.”
The church’s unique approach applies a variety of activities and events to stir men to embrace God’s call upon their lives. At the beginning of the year, an intentional experience called Men’s Night offers an immersive, interactive evening of brotherhood and connection. Forty-day Fight Club sessions come next with weekly meetups designed to challenge the men to fight for their culture, their relationships, and their callings as men. The year of intentional ministry closes with a four-day Boot Camp. “When you take a man away to the wilderness and lock his phone down for four days, he starts to hear the voice of God.”
It’s an unfortunate truth that our addiction culture urges men toward unhealthy coping mechanisms such as affairs, addiction, and pornography—behaviors that have impacted a high percentage of men’s lives, leaving chaos in their wake. “The church’s response has been to say that the problem is lust so stop it. But that hasn’t helped anyone,” notes Larson.
“Every Man a Leader” seeks to address the underlying issues that are often centered around the loss of connection and validation. The framework of Gateway’s wholistic approach focuses on bringing together the physical, emotional, relational, financial, professional, and spiritual pillars that make up each of our lives.
As each Fight Club session comes to a close, the men are challenged to sow a seed of $100, to take a decisive step to move toward empowerment over the chaos. Some give more, others less but more important than the amount given, is that it’s a sacrifice. The men receive a Ninja star to remind them the difference their sacrificial gift can make. Every dollar that comes in goes to Refuge for Women.
Why funnel this money to the Refuge?
For the ministry’s leadership, it was an easy choice to support the Refuge with this seed money. “They have a complete, very wholistic process of how they are helping to come alongside women leaving the adult entertainment industry or who have been trafficked,” shares Larson. “The Refuge is providing all the things that are necessary to bring wholeness and health to someone who has been in chaos. They aren’t just bringing education but also the care, the counseling, and all the other elements. That’s what we were looking for.”
The Gateway staff appreciates the chance to come alongside Refuge for Women and to experience the stories of the women impacted. They relish the opportunity to forge a strategic partnership with an organization striving to minister to the whole person.
Refuge Founder and President, Ked Frank, shares those sentiments. “I love the way Gateway Church is challenging their men to higher standards of integrity and partnering with organizations like Refuge for Women to see practically how women’s lives have been affected and are being changed. Men play an important role in the fight against exploitation of women. Partnerships like these are powerful for both the men’s groups of churches and for non-profits like Refuge for Women.”
Has this movement to awaken greatness in the hearts of men been effective? Larson nods in the affirmative as he shares, “We are seeing massive fruit.”
The framework of their mission revolves around a simple equation. “We give men grace, truth, and time—in that order.” It’s all about helping the men to connect to the one true source of validation. Every person on the planet has the need for the same four things: identity, acceptance, security, purpose. Helping men answer the questions that swirl around these universal needs is at the heart of “Every Man a Leader.”
Both Refuge for Women and Gateway Church’s “Every Man a Leader” are impacting lives, meeting women and men where they are regardless of where that might be, by offering the resources to journey toward wholeness.