The Middle Tennessee NCS Chapter, which meets in Franklin for breakfast twice monthly, is now in our seventh year. We’ve been blessed with a guy-friendly restaurant location in the heart of historic downtown, and our host, Andy Marshall, provides an astounding full southern breakfast buffet including two kinds of eggs, two meats, grits, biscuits, fruit and coffee for a measly 5 bucks. Oh, the power of Jesus and Food!
Our morning format begins with breakfast at 7 AM – although many guys show up at 6:30 just to hang out — conversation for the first 30 minutes followed by a speaker, sometimes music, for about 25 minutes, ending at 8 AM sharp. The place is packed each time we meet, and the comments from the brothers who attend is they cannot believe such an event exists for them.
As our NCS tribe knows, most men don’t have friends and don’t know how to find them. No example of this is more vivid to me than a 74-year-old brother who has followed Jesus all his life, knows just about everyone in the entertainment business in Nashville, was a well-recognized radio show host for years, faithful father, church goer, and more. He came to my office a few weeks ago and at the end of the conversation said, “I know thousands of people in our community, but I don’t have any close friends.” Tears ran down his face.
At the heart of our gatherings is our desire to participate in the fresh new work of the Holy Spirit, here and around the world. We ask our speakers not to promote their own ministries, though we want to know about their work. We ask them never to try to raise funds, rather, to tell us how Jesus has changed them at the very core of their manhood and why friendship with Jesus and following Him matters to them right now.
Most men inside a traditional religious structure waste an enormous amount of time confessing their sins…sometimes weeks, more likely months or years, or never. Our local NCS approach to this is, “Why don’t we confess our sins in the first two minutes, get it all on the table, and see if we have anything else to talk about?” If a brother isn’t willing to do that, we offer to do it for him by confessing our own sins, which provide a fairly accurate confession for every man in the room. In other words, if you know yourself, you actually know every other man in the room. It’s the best cure I know for getting awkwardness out of relationships, out of our gatherings of men, and it opens the door for honesty and healing.
And caring for each other. Caring cannot come without spending time together and getting to know each other. One brother said our NCS breakfast was the first time his accountant gave him a hug and said, “I love you.”
I think we have all learned, or are learning, why Spiritual Friendship matters. That’s why a resolute purpose of NCS leaders is Spiritual Formation in our own lives. None of us need waste our time teaching what we know but have not learned, unless we prefer the hollow sound of our own voices.
Our NCS meetings are not a formula, but the beauty of relationships with other guys who are finding their way in grace and truth. It works! The process of our own awakening is slow. Spiritual Formation is slow and change in a man’s character is profoundly slow most times, but it’s real. Together, we can recover the dignity of our humanity and a healthy manhood that works on the street, in the marketplace, wherever we go.