The NCS chapter in Bergen County really began at the NCS retreat in 2005.
Best friends, Tom Lane & Woody Woodfin, went to the retreat and had a powerful and convicting experience. On the drive back to New Jersey, they decided that they had to start an NCS group in their area so that others could share their experience.
During the spring of 2005, they gathered 6-8 men several times to have exploratory discussions about the concept of starting a men’s group in NJ. They named the group the Bergen County Society (BCS), since most of the guys that attended lived in Bergen County, NJ. In the fall of 2005, they started meeting at Tom’s house twice a month on Friday mornings. During the start-up period, the guys got a lot of coaching from the Connecticut NCS group and visited the CT meetings to see how things were done. At the suggestion of the CT group, Tom & Woody kept the initial group small and focused on building a strong core. BJ Weber was asked to speak at a special dinner at Tom’s house just before Thanksgiving. Each of the guys invited a friend or two to join them. They found a musician to join the group and asked him to lead worship.
The group began to grow from that point forward. They continued to meet at Tom’s house throughout the first year and attendance averaged about 20-30 men. BCS experienced a breakout meeting the following fall (2006) when Ron Hutchcraft came to speak. Knowing that Ron would draw a large crowd, they secured space at a local golf club where they served a hot breakfast buffet and brought in a quality sound system. The worship leader recruited additional musicians and put together a worship band for the morning. Over 90 men came for that meeting!
The BCS leadership team quickly realized that the days of meeting at Tom’s house were over! From that meeting forward, they continued to use the golf club for their meetings. After the Hutchcraft meeting, the regular attendees jumped from 20-30 to 50-60 men, and by the end of the season, the group had grown to 70-90 guys. The golf club could only hold 100 people, so the BCS leadership began to search for a larger location. They secured a swim and tennis club to kick off their third season (fall of 2007).
BCS now averages 130-150 guys at each meeting. A second NJ group started in the fall of 2008, and a third NJ group may be launched in the near future. The real power behind the BCS group is the anticipation the men feel about Friday mornings. They get a chance to connect with one another and to spend quality time together. For most of the guys, the Friday meetings are the highlight of any week. What the group has discovered is that the chapter functions best when the meetings are non-churchy, a bit edgy, and entirely optional. No attendance is taken and guys are encouraged to only come if they really want to attend.
What seems most compelling to guys who visit is the energy level, the excellent speakers, and the deep friendships they see among the leaders and the core attendees. The BCS core group consists of seven leaders. They consider each other best friends and spend a lot of time together apart from the NCS chapter meetings. They are all committed to this adventure. They believe and have witnessed that NCS/BCS plays a crucial role in the lives of each of the men that are regular attendees by giving them a stronger and deeper foundation, not just in their spiritual lives, but also in every area of their lives – at home, at work and with other friends. A reoccurring theme that is stressed is the desire to be better husbands, fathers, and also to be better friends. The foundation of BCS is the deep friendships with other men; friendships that have enormous spiritual benefits and blessings for every area life.