In the fall of 2002, Rich Gerberding decided to host a Promise Keepers webcast and invite men from throughout the area. God opened doors throughout the planning and all went as expected – until the night of the event when the attendance was about 90% lower than planned. The night was a major disappointment, but God used that weekend to refocus how Rich looks at ministry. You can learn more about this experience here.
In February of 2003, as planning was underway for Promise Keepers’ event in Peoria, Bethany Baptist Church hosted a weekend consisting of events for both men and couples.
The speaker, Phil Downer of Discipleship Network of America, was outstanding. Rich looked around the room and wondered why so few men came from outside the host church. After the event, Phil shared the numbers were typical, and that if he came back the following several weeks to other churches in the area the host:visitor ratio would be similar.
As Rich asked men about the event the nearly universal response was that they did not know about it.
In the fall of 2003, after struggling and praying about the lack of awareness, Rich decided he could send a quick email out each month for the sole purpose of letting men know of upcoming events. He expected 20, maybe 30 guys to be interested.
Within a week, the list was up to over 80 men, many of whom Rich didn’t even know. Over the years, the list has continued to grow and new friendships have formed as a result, both within the local area and across the region and nation.
In 2005 Man in the Mirror invited Rich to attend their inaugural Men’s Ministry Leadership Summit. It was an incredible experience, although as Rich looked around the room at best selling authors and well known names in men’s ministry, he kept waiting for someone to tap him on the shoulder and say he didn’t belong.
Rich left the weekend with a new vision and passion for men’s ministry, though God kept him waiting a few years before allowing the various pieces to start falling together.
In 2008, Rich was asked by Promise Keepers to serve as the Assistant Event Director for Promise Keepers’ return to Peoria. The leadership team God brought together for that weekend gelled, though for a time they did not stay connected as they had discussed leading up to the conference. A reunion meeting is now scheduled that we believe and pray will result in reconnecting and forging ongoing friendships and Kingdom impact.
Now, in 2010, it appears God is ready to say “GO” to some of those ideas planted at the 2005 Leadership Summit. A number of men have agreed to come on board in ministry. You can read about each of them here (once they send their bio information that is!)
In March 2010, Men of A.I.M. became a 501 (c) 3 ministry of Faith in the Family International. In November 2010, the ministries and impact of Men of A.I.M. was recognized as Rich was named to the year’s class of “40 Leaders Under 40″.
That’s the history, only God knows the future, but we can’t wait to find out!
Yours in the Battle for Men’s Souls!
Men of A.I.M. is a program of Faith in the Family International.