A night at the movies became the launching pad for a growing ministry in Bossier City. All it took was some faith and courage.
In the spring of 2011, Mark Rodie was the men’s pastor at First Baptist Church of Bossier City. He and some of the volunteers who were helping lead the ministry were invited to Tyler, Texas, for a sneak peek of the film “Courageous.” That night proved to be both motivational and inspirational for Roadie.
“In that final scene — it’s a three minute and 16 second scene — he’s calling out to the guys after they had gone through this resolution,” Rodie said. “He’s calling out the men to be the spiritual leaders that God has called us to be. One of the things he says is ‘Where are you, men of courage?’ That really resonated with me. So as a new men’s minister of this huge ministry, the Lord put on my heart that’s what you call the ministry.”
That’s how the Men of Courage ministry got its name. But there is more to the story of this monthly men’s gathering and the man who leads it.
“Joshua 1:9 is the scripture that underlines that,” Rodie said. “’Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. I’ll be with you wherever you go.’ When we started meeting monthly, we started calling our meeting the monthly Men of Courage meeting. Shortly after, some guys from First Baptist Haughton started coming to our Friday morning meeting. Within a few months, they started saying ‘We ought to do this.’”
Before long, several churches in the area had launched a Men of Courage meeting. Last June, Rodie left the staff of First Baptist Bossier and dedicated his efforts to uniting the Men of Courage fellowships under one umbrella.
“God had trained me and prepared me (at First Baptist),” Rodie said. “Just the experience I had with Men at the Cross with different denominations and going across those lines, the Lord said “I know that’s really where your heart is, but time out. I’ve got about seven years of training that we’re going to do. He was ready to expand the ministry, so I left there in June.”
Rodie established Men of Courage as a nonprofit organization last August. Since then, pastors form across the state have reached out to him for help. He said that is a big part of his role in the ministry.
“We want to be a resource,” he said. “Not just for men, but for the local pastors. Most churches aren’t the size of First Bossier, Cypress, Broadmoor, Simple Church. Most are 50 to 75 members. What we found with these smaller ministries, it’s everything they can do to find someone to lead worship on Sunday. When it gets to the men, the pastor’s like “Well, we’ll just figure it out.’
Men of Courage kicked off as a standalone, interdenominational men’s meeting in September with Dr. Fred Lowery as the guest speaker. The group meets every month for fellowship, and meal and a message, all geared toward me. Rodie said men have responded. He said more than 500 have been in attendance at some meetings.
“It’s been awesome how the Lord is moving and drawing,” he said.
As the ministry grew, state Sen. Ryan Gatti offered a building on his property for Men of Courage to hold its meetings. Soon after, The Stable was born.
“It’s been a blessing to have a venue we don’t have to pay for,” Rodie said. “In the transition leaving First Bossier to start this ministry, talking to Ryan, he said “Mark, have you considered using my barn for Man Church.’ I was like ‘I really have been praying about it. If we’re going to do it out here, we gotta name it ‘the’ something. We’re not going to say Man Church at the Gatti shop.’”
Rodie said he was reminded about a sermon series he heard about three years ago called “Stabilized.” The Christmastime sermon series discusses Joseph and Mary and how Jeses was born in a stable.
“The very one that wants to make your life stable is the stabilizer himself, Jesus Christ, who was born in a stable. I reminded Ryan of that and said, “What do you think if we call your shop The Stable?’ He said, ‘I like that.’”
Rodie said he is amazed by the support Men of Courage has received since launching on its own in September. He said people and churches have donated chairs, TV stands and even the stage.
“It’s been cool to see how the community has come together just to encourage local pastors and men to be the spiritual leaders first in their home, and then to be the spiritual leaders in their local church and their workplace and all throughout the community.”
Men of Courage meets the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at The Stable, 2195 Swan Lake Rd.
By Scott Anderson