It seems we are all a bit at sea in the stormy waters of the pandemic, economic meltdown and cultural fracture. “There is an unprecedented need for a healthy male spirituality focused on Jesus,” said Rev. Alex Ruth, associate director of Disciples Men.
The Jesus Way curriculum is an answer to that need. “Greg (Alexander, lead author) chose the metaphor of a sailboat for this study,” Ruth said. “That image goes a long way since we are not always in control of the winds – the ruach – around us, and we must adapt.”
The Jesus Way is based on the concept of cultivating the individual’s identity as a follower of Christ, but also the impact of having a cohort of companions on the journey to a mature faith. Alexander, director of Disciples Men, has had the notion of just such a curriculum for years, even predating his decades as regional minister in Kentucky. The curriculum available includes several podcasts as well as a 24-lesson series.
“There are cultural pressures on young men built into the culture. Competition is the overarching be-all and end-all that is presented,” Ruth said. “Sometimes males get stuck with immature ways of dealing with this competitive environment.”
Ruth said spiritual maturity can move men from the need to rescue the damsel in distress by having all the answers to a more nurturing approach modeled by Christ in the way he listened and comforted.
“We targeted this curriculum to men, not to dismiss the ministry for, with, and to women, but to address the unique masculine experience in an era of toxic masculinity,” Ruth said.
Alexander was the main writer for the initial Jesus Way materials, but Ruth and others will be writing subsequent studies on the book of James, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The ultimate goal is multifaceted and includes seeing the impact these studies can have on individuals, but also the impact it can have on the culture as a whole, breaking down models of patriarchy that have impeded progress.
“We want to bring some wholeness,” Ruth said, referring to the Disciples’ identity statement. “It is important that this study be done together at the congregational expression.”
To that end, Alexander and Ruth have been working on setting up regional workshops and webinars to help resource men in congregations who want to build up their cohort of companions locally. If you are interested in piloting the program in your own context, contact Ruth or Alexander to arrange for training.
Additional curriculum projects in the works will be intentionally inclusive. “I only know my own cisgender white male perspective,” Ruth said, “and I recognize that there is a whole spectrum of gender identities and cultural influences that we want to be cognizant of as we continue.” For Alexander and Ruth, this is a first step in a much more comprehensive journey. The Jesus Way materials are a catalyst which will empower Disciples Men groups at the congregational level to develop life-giving relationship with God, and with one another thereby strengthening the witness of the wholeChurch.
 Ruah or ruach is a Hebrew word meaning ‘breath, spirit’
 We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one Body of Christ we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.