Commitment and men - not a great track record! Yet commitment is a virtue that transforms us from boys into men.
Commitment to God. Commitment to our wives and families. Commitment to our duties, to the promises we make and to the things we have to do but don't want to. Commitment builds up resilience and forms us into men of honour and integrity.
Commitment has additional payoffs: it deepens learning and wisdom, improves skills, strengthens relationships and anchors community. More importantly, commitment holds something in existence that wouldn't otherwise 'be'. Think of any context where people aren't committed to an idea, an organisation or a community, and it soon ceases to exist.
Lack of commitment disappoints people and destroys hope. Commitment, on the other hand, makes people feel they belong, that they are valued, that they are important enough in the eyes of others to warrant their investment of time and resources.
Commitment lies in the expectation of something good. People rarely commit to something in order to see it fail. Commitment signals a belief in an endgame, in fruition, in culmination. The ultimate consequence of commitment is hope. If you commit to something, you commit to the fulfilment of hope.
Commitment to your men's group is one of CMUK's recommended points for success.
On a practical level, commitment means making the group something that men want to commit to. This is done through providing regular events that you know men will want to attend. Trust there is a thirst out there for faith, fraternity and authentic masculinity and base your activities around these themes.
Start small with a monthly social event preferably involving beer! Friendship and beer are good for the soul. In our experience, many men welcome the monthly excuse to catch up over a quiet pint. Constant contact eventually paves the way for closer relationships and a natural desire to carry out more activities together.
Take time to consider appropriate and engaging spiritual content or activities. These may naturally manifest themselves according to a clear interest among the group. There may be characters in the group who cheerfully encourage others to pray together or to study the Bible; on the other hand, many men don't - or can't - easily express their inner selves and may be cautious about public displays of spirituality. Nonetheless, knowledge and practice of the faith is important and a video course like Bishop Baron's Catholicism is a good introduction to a more profound sharing of the faith.
Calendared events should fall on the same day each month as this helps the brain cope more easily with the commitment! If men don't have to think too hard about which night is Adoration & Ales, they're more likely to keep it free to attend.
Organise annual leisure activities such as canoeing, hill-walking or other outdoor pursuits. There is a lot to be said for rugged, masculine activities even if your general fitness isn't always up for it! The great outdoors, walking as a group, a small challenge, physical exertion and a decent pub at the end all help release tension, stimulate a good mood and strengthen fraternal bonds. The feel-good factor will commit men to these activities every year!
A whatsapp group or other email or social media group should be set up by a committed administrator to remind the men of the events and to keep in touch with attendees. There's nothing wrong in asking why someone couldn't attend; it makes them feel their presence is missed.
That being said, no one should feel coerced. We should exemplify God the Father by inviting everyone to the Feast - always - but we must compassionately leave their response entirely in the realm of their own free will.
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