After a number of years of decline, the evangelical men's ministry, Promise Keepers (PK), is revamping its efforts to bring change to America's homes and churches by being more inclusive of women and messianic believers, among other things. According to New Man Magazine, Bill McCartney, the former Colorado University football coach and founder of PK, is once again leading the organization.
After hitting its peak in the mid-90's when hundreds of thousands of men gathered in large stadiums across the country for weekend rallies, this year saw only one PK event take place. "A Time to Honor" was held at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado with approximately 10,000 in attendance.
I attended a Promise Keepers conference back in 1995 when the ministry was in its heyday. I joined with close to 70,000 other men at the Pontiac Silverdome and overall it was a positive experience. However, as a college student years away from having a wife or children, the focus on marriage and parenthood didn't fully hit home for me since I wasn't at that stage of life yet. I do remember, though, being powerfully impacted by messages from Pastor Tony Evans and Bruce Wilkinson (of Prayer of Jabez fame).
Even though PK has received a lot of criticism over the years as a sexist organization, I don't think that assessment is fair. At its heart PK has been about calling men to a deeper relationship with God, their wife, children and neighbors. In addition, Bill McCartney and Promise Keepers probably played a greater role than anyone in lighting the fire that sparked discussion on topics like racism and racial reconciliation in white evangelical churches over the last two decades.
As more and more men abdicate their responsibilities as husbands and fathers, I'm grateful for ministries like Promise Keepers (and others like them) that challenge men to be the kind of godly servants to their families, churches and communities that God expects us to be. The challenge that PK faces now, as it did 15 years ago, is to take the momentum gained at big stadium rallies and translate that to everyday life. After the conference "high" wears off, individual men need to continue to live out the commitments that they made in that PK environment. Hopefully we'll see positive changes continue to take place as PK relaunches.