What does it mean to be a godly man? Pastor Eric Mason has a lot to say on the topic in his new book Manhood Restored. Dr. Mason leads Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia and disciples men in an urban environment. He is also a husband (Yvette) and a father (Immanuel and Nehemiah). We had the chance to talk to him about his new book and how it speaks to the African American community and those who live and serve in the urban context.
In what ways does your book address the crisis of masculine identity in the African American community?
First off, the book was written with African Americans in mind. And so I wanted to start with the theological and not just the pragmatic. While there is some practicality in there, I didn’t want to start there. So many times this issue gets framed as a family root problem vs. a separation from God problem. It’s not that the separation from God problem is not practical. We consider it to be theological and practical and an issue that needs to be dealt with.
It’s not that theology is missing in the African-American community. I just think there is a lack of contextual connection with theology or a biblical worldview. Responding to the theology is a deep need for African Americans. So I wanted to give the church a tool that can help do that. So the book was written with the goal that once a guy read it, he would want to make disciples.
How have you seen Christian masculinity lived out in your own church?
Well, in our church people meet Jesus, meet each other, get married, and have babies. With that in mind, we are big on men being caught up in what God wants them to be in relation to Colossians 1:28.
We’ve seen guys from all walks of life get caught up in what God wants them to be and grow in authentic manhood. Men from prison and street lifestyles. Men suffering from pride and greed. We’ve also seen this happen with those who are involved in homosexual lifestyles or effeminate.
What was your inspiration behind writing this book?
It was less of an inspiration and more of a challenge. “Manhood Restored” comes out of what I already do. It’s my manual on manhood training. I didn’t just want to write on something but to connect it to what I was actually doing. It was something that just flowed out of me doing theology in relation to what was going on in my soul. In fact there is a brother who read it and said, “This is what I learned from you in the last three years.” Now he’s taking 25 to 30 men through the book in Camden, NJ.
What can pastors do to lead men into authentic Christian masculinity?
I think it starts with recognizing that 1 Timothy 3 inferentially states that pastors must be exemplary men and not just disciple exemplary men. So it starts with being vulnerable about our deep need for Jesus Christ and pressing on like Paul says in Philippians 3 to be more like Him since He is our template for authentic manhood.
Next, pastors need to invite men on the journey to be like Jesus Christ. And then lastly they would need to make the development of men an intentional part of the church. Most of Islam, including the cult forms, pride themselves on men’s leadership and discipleship. This shouldn’t be since Christ is the originator. We are letting them get all the benefits!
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