Astonished ManWalking on water. Turning water into wine. Feeding 5000 out of a single lunch pail.

Jesus constantly astonished his men.  They never knew what to expect. Christ went out of his way to keep people guessing.

Why would he do this? To show off? To draw attention to himself? No, maybe Christ was showing us that the key to engaging men is to astonish them.

When a man knows what’s going on and is in control of his situation, spiritual growth is nearly impossible. But when he is confused and off balance, he must look beyond his own power and understanding.

I’m preparing to lead a new kind of men’s retreat this May. Interspersed into the usual men’s retreat script (singing – speaker – recreation), I am hoping to build in a bit of astonishment. Strange stuff is going to happen. I’ll take the men to unpredictable places. My hope is that as men struggle together they’ll open up and share from the heart.

The challenge for me: how can a retreat speaker create astonishment? I can’t exactly raise someone from the dead. Will my human efforts to surprise men work? Or will they seem contrived?

So what about you? What would you think of a little astonishment at your next men’s retreat? When’s the last time you were astonished at church or in a Bible Study? Comments are open.

(By the way, the word astonish appears just twice in the NIV Old Testament, but twenty times in the New Testament.)