Men gather to step up and be courageous in God

Close to 20 men gather together every Monday night in John Brown University’s Bynum Theater to encourage each other in the process of bidding their boyhood farewell.

The group just finished their third week of Stepping Up—a study that calls men to glorify God with their manhood by taking responsibility for their lives.

“What it’s really about is studying what it means for a man to be the fully equipped man of God that he’s supposed to be, … but it also talks about what it means to be just a man,” Isaac Elmore, Stepping Up director, said.

Elmore said that a male student’s college years are particularly critical in his life.

“This is a very defining time in a man’s life, and if you’re not defining it with God, you’re defining it with something pointless,” Elmore said.

Elmore said that western culture so warped the definition of manhood that many of today’s men have no idea of how God intends them to live.

“A lot of the guys in our culture are confused about how to become men,” Elmore said. “Society’s image just pictures men as successful, good with the ladies, athletic or even tough and calloused.”

Sophomore Sean Billups said the 10-week study challenges this image of manhood.

“The goal of Stepping Up and the importance of it lies in fighting against the complacency of man in our culture today,” Billups said.

Dennis Rainey, president of the nonprofit ministry FamilyLife and founder of Stepping Up, said true manhood requires an individual to actively take ownership of his life.

“A real man rejects passivity, leads courageously, accepts responsibility, and accepts God’s greater reward,” Rainey said in his book “A Call to Courageous Manhood.”

Guiding participants in how to become this kind of man, Stepping Up’s meetings revolve around weekly discussions of a video series in which prominent Christian speakers such as Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll and Tony Dungy share about living courageously in today’s society.

“It’s not so much a Bible study as it is a gathering of men trying to understand what it is God’s calling us to do and then building each other up,” Elmore said.

The University is not the only institution involved in Stepping Up. Groups of men met all across the globe on Feb. 2 to take part in Stepping Up conferences.

“Literally tens of thousands of men gathered in over 1,200 locations…churches, homes, basements, college campuses, retreat centers, restaurants, prisons and military bases,” Rainey said in a recent blog post. They met in each of the 50 United States as well as in Budapest, Hungary; Mexico City and the Cayman Islands.

Elmore encouraged more University students to try the program that has impacted men around the world.

“The image of God is the most pure image of strength that we can know, and that’s what we’re finding out,” Elmore said.