Church for Men 10: Rick Caldwell (Men’s Fraternity & Authentic Manhood) Interview

Have you heard of Men’s Fraternity? It’s the world’s most popular men’s discipleship curriculum. Thousands of churches around the globe have used this much-loved video series to challenge their men.

Men’s Fraternity began in the early 1990s. Pastor Robert Lewis of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock saw his men returning from Promise Keepers rallies excited about their faith. But there were few resources to disciple them.

So one Sunday Lewis announced that he was going to offer an early morning weekly talk on men’s issues. He rented an old gymnasium and expected maybe 50 guys to show up. To his amazement more than 300 men packed the gym that first morning. By the end of the first year, a thousand men were attending his weekly talks.

Men’s Fraternity was born.

Lewis eventually videotaped his sessions and began distributing them on VHS, and later on DVD. The videos been viewed by millions of men around the world.

A few years ago, Lewis and his creative team began to brainstorm: How can we make Men’s Fraternity more relevant to today’s busy young man?

They came up with a concept called “33 – The Series” The number 33 refers to Authentic Manhood as Modeled by Jesus in his 33 years on earth.

33 – The Series offers many of the same teachings as the original Men’s Fraternity – but in a package that’s more relevant to today’s man:

  • Thirty-three is shorter. Men’s Fraternity consisted of 24-week sessions at 55 minutes each. Thirty-three is built around a series of six-week modules at 35 minutes each. Shorter sessions leave more time for men to discuss the lesson afteward.
  • Thirty-three is filmed in a man-cave. Men’s Fraternity featured Robert Lewis speaking from a church podium. Thirty-three is filmed in a studio with lots of guy-oriented stuff in view.
  • Instead of one teacher, 33 features three pastors of different ages and races.
  • Thirty-three includes strong visual content. Each video includes interviews, documentaries, testimonies, round-table discussions and dramatic vignettes.
  • Interviewees include rappers, athletes, pastors, counselors, and many others.
  • Thirty-three is available on multiple platforms including DVD, computer and mobile. It can be purchased in a kit or episode by episode.

Rick Caldwell is executive director of Authentic Manhood, distributor of Men’s Fraternity and 33 – The Series. Caldwell says that 33 has expanded the reach of this teaching. It’s finding a home in different kinds of churches, in military installations, and even in jails. “We just got a note from a guy in Trinidad, who’s using it in the correctional system,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell’s son recently returned from Afghanistan, where troops were watching the 33 videos on their smartphones and iPads. Thirty-three is available on military bases around the world.

“We’re also seeing huge success in the African-American community, because one of our presenters on the 33 team is a prominent African-American pastor,” Caldwell said.

Each year, Authentic Manhood donates all the proceeds from DVD and online sales to an organization that plants five new churches. The first thing these church planters do is offer 33 – The Series in their communities and advertise for men to join. These men are the foundation upon which these churches are planted.

Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 of 33 are now available online and on DVD. Each volume is six sessions. During the next year the final two volumes will be produced. After that, “we’ll explore what men need to be doing,” Caldwell said.

For more engaging and encouraging podcasts and videos, visit the E-Squared Media Network at www.e2medianetwork.com

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