We have found that Noblemen fits very well into the Spring (January – May). It is helpful to determine two months before you plan to implement a Noblemen Course so you can begin recruiting. Here’s a basic timeline:
- Put Dates on the Calendar
- Determine your start date
- It is best to determine your ceremony date and work backwards 12 weeks, keeping in mind calendar interruptions like Spring Break, Easter, and Midterms. Typically, you are going to need to start the first or second week of classes in January.
- LAUNCH Trip date
- Your LAUNCH Trip is best placed the weekend of your first week’s meeting. So if you meet on a Tuesday, they will then leave that Friday night for Launch Trip. The first week’s meeting is a “Taste & See” session. Then, they have until the weekend to decide if they are going to be a part of the course. If so, they are expected to go on the Launch Trip. This is important to tell them before Christmas break so they can plan accordingly and aren’t hearing about the trip just a few days before.
- BOOST Trip Date
- This is best placed about six weeks into the course as a 24 hour bonding retreat.
- FORT week and Ceremony Dates
- As the pinnacle of the course, you want to ensure these dates are free of any potential calendar issues.
- Determine your start date
- Cast Vision to your Ministry Team
- Explain to your staff team or leadership team what Noblemen is and why you are implementing this in your ministry. Get these men on board and excited. Show them the promo video. If they are excited, they will recruit passionately to the course.
- Build a Leadership Team
- Appoint a staff member or man you respect from church to be your co-leader for Noblemen. (In your second year of Noblemen, you will invite a team of 4-10 men who went through the course to come back and help lead the next year.) They will keep track of all recruiting lists, ensuring that by December every man on your recruiting list has had a personal invitation and been personally followed up.
- Build a Recruitment List
- Create a list of every man remotely connected to your ministry.
- First Promo Video
- The second week
- Second Promo Video
- The third week
- Noblemen Interest Meeting – leaders refer to the Recruiting tab for more info
- The fourth week or first week of next month
- Continue Recruiting.
- Every man connected to the ministry should have heard about Noblemen, watched a promo video, received a personal invitation, and been followed up with.
- Publicize your start Date and Launch trip dates.
- Since these are required if you want to participate make sure these are well publicized.
- Determine location for Noblemen meetings.
- Determine a location for LAUNCH Trip
- Build your budget.
- Examine the example budget and scale for your ministry. Decide how much you can offer in subsidies and break down the specific needs.
- Begin reviewing the teaching material
- Have your team reconnect with every recruit.
- Begin Noblemen Course
- Print binders for the guys
- Go on Launch Trip
- Give LAUNCH Trip Evaluation
- Start planning Boost Trip
- Determine location/activities
- Go on Boost Trip
- Give BOOST Trip evaluation
- Begin planning FORT Week
- Determine location for housing
- Preferably all Noblemen will move in together for the week
- Plan the Sunday night start as well as the Thursday night cross carry
- Purchase the materials for the daily challenges
- Determine location for housing
- Begin planning the Ceremony
- Confirm location
- Begin planning the stages and acquiring the necessary materials
- Host FORT Week
- Hold Ceremony
- Give Full Course Evaluation
- Plan post course Bible studies/sexual wholeness studies and next steps
- Week 1
- Session 1 The problem with men
- LAUNCH Trip
- Session 2 The Question that haunts every man
- Session 3 Why she does what she does
- Week 2
- Session 4 How to become Noble
- Week 3
- Session 5 Noble stages of manhood
- Week 4
- Session 6 Noble sexuality
- Week 5
- Session 7 Noble sexuality part 2
- Week 6
- Session 8 Noble friendships
- BOOST Trip
- Week 7
- Session 9 Noble patriarchs
- Week 8
- Session 10 Noble dating and marriage
- Week 9
- Session 11 Noble Leadership
- Week 10
- Session 12 Noble Leadership part 2
- Week 11
- Session 13 Prepare to launch
- Week 12
- FORT Week
Noblemen will help you reach men in your community. Many men are confused, lost, broken, lonely and addicted. You will find that Noblemen is not only very easy to recruit to, but that you will be able to recruit men who may not otherwise interact with your ministry. Accordingly, we want to encourage you to recruit widely, tenaciously, and competently.
Noblemen requires a lot of work. It will have a large impact on your men and your ministry so you will want as many men as possible to be a part. We’ve never had a Noblemen class that was too big.
Similar to other events that you recruit for, you’ll want to employ both an “aerial assault” and a “ground game.” Just like in war, one without the other is often insufficient for successful recruiting. It has been said that just when you feel like you are being redundant, your people are starting to catch on to what you’re saying. Your aerial assault is accomplished by things like the promo videos, announcements at your large group meetings, and emails. The ground game is accomplished by you and your team sharing more specifically in Bible Studies, small groups, and one on one meetings. Both recruiting focuses will be addressed with important details to consider as you get started.
- Promo Videos
There are videos that we encourage you to show at your large group meetings a couple of months before you plan to start. Don’t bother prefacing the video, just launch it. Have an emcee or staff member follow up the video with an announcement. Something like this…
“Hey guys, we are excited to announce a new course that we are going to be offering to all of our men next semester. It is a discipleship course on Biblical Manhood called Noblemen. If you’re even remotely interested, we are passing around a sign up sheet, and some Noblemen promo cards. This is your invite to the interest meeting on ___date at time___. This is going to be an informational meeting with incredible man-food and you’ll get to hear more about Noblemen.”
- Interest Sign-up Sheets
You will want to print off at least a few of these and hand them out after you show the promo video. Let the guys know that this is not a commitment to the course. Rather, we are wanting to get a feel for who is interested. Encourage them to put their name down if they are even remotely interested. Make sure to collect these sheets. We have found that when a man puts his name down on the sign-up sheet, he’s more likely to consider doing the course.
- Create a Recruitment List
Take your sign up sheets and create a Noblemen wide-net recruiting list In addition to these names, go through with your leadership team and brainstorm any other men who are remotely connected to your ministry through Bible Studies, relationships etc.
Consider dusting off all of those contacts from previous initiatives or people who have visited your ministry in the last 6 months. Again, you’d be surprised how many men are interested in doing Noblemen when they hear about it and are personally invited. Continue to pray through and update this list over the next weeks.
- Salty Cards
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, so they claim. If however, you give the horse salt he will drink freely. In the same way the questions on these cards are designed to generate a perceived sense of need. Simply read through it with students you are recruiting, share which questions speak to you and ask them which questions speak to them.
We provide these cards as examples. Feel free to change the back of these to accurately represent your meetings. We encourage you to make 2 versions. The first Salty Card is for your Interest Meeting and has an invitation to your Noblemen Interest Meeting. The second is just a basic salty card for recruiting Salty Card. You will want to have enough of these printed for each man in your ministry. Print at least 5 for each man who is with you in your ministry and encourage him to personally invite friends to the Interest Meeting and/or first Taste and See Session when the course begins. You can edit these in Photoshop or most equivalent software
- Interest Meeting BBQ
Plan your BBQ to be within a week of your initial announcement about Noblemen.
It works well to have the Meeting be after your large group. (If you are doing a New Eve course for the women, they can also do an Interest meeting somewhere at the same time as your after large group activity. Otherwise, don’t forget to plan in something special for the ladies to do!)
You very well might choose to have a lot of meat at this BBQ! Consider looking into a nearby farm or somewhere you can have a big bonfire. Bring a grill or two and bar-b-q a lot of meat. Often times whoever hosts your event would be happy to help do all of the meat for you. Keep in mind that grilling often takes much longer than anticipated. You’ll want whoever is in charge of grilling to have all of the meat ready to eat as soon as the guys arrive.
If this is the first time that you have offered a Noblemen course in your ministry you obviously won’t have anyone available to share about how Noblemen has impacted them and why it’s worth it. Next year, you will have a large group of men who will be able to come share about that. For now, your main focus will be sharing about why you have decided to do this course and why you feel like it is worth it.
Goals: Give men a better picture of what Noblemen is, why you’ve decided to offer the course and why you would like each of them to be a part of it.
- Eat and hangout around the fire for 30 minutes or so.
- Give each guy the Recruiting brochure if you can’t afford to print that give them a Where Men Are Graphic Pick some select statistics from this trifold ahead of time and share about how the world is in need of strong, humble men who have the heart, vision, character and skills to rise up and lead in our generation.
- Print off and give the guys each a copy of the interest meeting handout. Read through the creed out loud. Ask, “Can you imagine the impact that even just a small group of men would have on the world if they really decided to live out this creed for the next 50 years of their lives?!” Ask, “Which things stand out to you that you like about the Creed? Give time for several men to answer.
Share the following: (feel free to just read or paraphrase)
Over a thousand men have completed the Noblemen course and are living out the creed around the world. Paul told his young protégé Timothy to train himself to be godly. Noblemen is designed to aid you as you train yourself to be godly.
Like anything that is worthwhile, Noblemen is costly. It will take effort and it will surely stretch you. Noblemen is a 5 hour per week commitment. There are 12 weeks and all assignments and sessions are mandatory for participating students. But, you probably have more time available to you than you think. Just take a look at a breakdown of a students discretionary time.
Noblemen will hit on the many areas we have already been focusing on in our ministry, but will do so with an intense focus and effort that will fortify you as a man in significant ways.
Expect to really fortify the following areas of your life:
- Identity in and intimacy with Christ
- Deeper friendships
- Sexual Purity
- Work ethic and faithfulness
- Relating to women well
- Evangelism and Discipleship skill
- A passion for spiritual generations
- Consistency in the Scriptures
- Prep to be a godly husband and father
- Leadership skills
Have them get into small groups and discuss which each of them would say is a strength and which is a struggle. This is really helpful at them feeling like they got a chance to process and contribute. In some ways it gives them a taste of what Noblemen will be like. This part keeps the night from just feeling like they got information.
- Have them take the Manhood Inventory if they haven’t already. If you have already administered the Manhood Inventory, take some time to share with them some of the results of your ministry’s Manhood Inventory. Highlight areas of strength you’re proud of and areas of concern that you look forward to growing in.
- You can charge however much you’d like. We encourage you to charge $175 per man with a $50 scholarship if they need it. This will allow you to stay in the black. It’s not a bad idea to subsidize the first year and charge $100-$150 for the course. Know that in future years, Noblemen usually brings in revenue whereby you will be able to recoup the money you subsidized the first year. For most men, $175 will not be a problem. Let them know that if they need more than a $50 scholarship that they can request that. We encourage you to not fully scholarship any of the men. It’s good for them to pay at least $25-$50. Because they will be hearing about the course a month in advance it should be possible for most to come up with the money.
- Tell them when your first session will be as well as when your LAUNCH trip will be. Explain that the first session is a Taste & See meeting. That is, they can come and see what they think without having to commit to the rest of the course. You want to strongly encourage every man to at least consider coming to this first meeting.
- Print out and pass around your Noblemen wide-net recruiting list and encourage them to sign up. It’s okay if you’ve passed this around before. Tell them to each look through and make sure their name is on the list if they plan on at least coming to the first Taste and See meeting.
- Remind them of what night you are meeting, when and where the first meeting will be and to plan on doing the Launch trip and the date for that.
- Close in prayer
- Make sure to follow up with every guy who came to the Interest Meeting before they leave for Christmas Break.
To buy/bring: Food (buy at least ⅓ to ½ pound of meat per man) Plates, napkins, plastic utensils, drinks, ice and cooler for drinks, trash-bags, flyers, wide-net recruiting list, pens
- Bible Studies & Small Groups
Every Bible Study or small group has some men who don’t come to your large group. When these men hear about the opportunity to do Noblemen in a more personal setting, they will seriously consider joining. Appoint a staff or leader to go to each Bible Study and small group to share about Noblemen. Pass around a Noblemen Interest Sign-up sheet that you have printed off and given them. Make sure to get these back right away and add them to your wide-net recruiting list as they often get misplaced.
- Personal Invitation
Take your Noblemen wide-net recruiting list and divide this up between your staff and/or leaders. For all of those who are undecided, set up a one on one appointment to tell them more about Noblemen, answer any questions, and give a clear, personal invitation asking them to join. You will want to make sure that each man on your list who is still undecided has been met with before January.
Inevitably, we find that there are numerous men who have heard about Noblemen multiple times but need a personal invitation before they join. For those whom money is an issue, many will not have realized there are scholarships available. Let them know that you want them to do the course and they can pay what they are able.
During this meeting, we want to encourage these men to be a part of Noblemen. But, like any other thing we are recruiting for, we want to do so without undue pressure. if they say no, honor that and let them know if they change their mind you’d still love to have them join.
- The Leader’s Guide contains the content for leaders, including resources and handouts. It’s formatted to print front and back.
- The Student Binder contains handouts and content for participants, including reading guides and handouts for all sessions. It’s formatted to print front and back, and we suggest you print a copy for each guy in your group and give it to them on the Launch trip. You can give them the PDF too, but the printed version is helpful for taking notes.
- The optional budget calculator is for those who’d like to get more detailed with their budget. Download and follow the internal instructions to break down your costs more precisely.
- Salty Cards are used during recruiting. The first file is a non-editable PDF and the second is an editable Illustrator file.
- Links to promo videos for recruiting.
- Spreadsheet to help leaders keep track of contact info for those interested in Noblemen.
- Handout for the Interest Meeting as a way of encouraging guys to sign up.
- Handout for the Interest Meeting to give them some basic info about the course.
- Handout for the interest meeting to help guys realize they have more discretionary time than they think.
- Handout explaining the points system on the website. It’s also found in Session 1.
- Brochure for recruiting. We recommend having it professionally printed and folded.
- Booklet for Noblemen Challenge groups. This can be printed professionally or you can order it in the Noblemen Store..
- Booklet form of the Creed study. Participants have access to this in their student binder, as well as in the Session contents. This can be printed professionally or you can order it in the Noblemen Store.
Q: Where does the term Noblemen come from?
A: Isaiah 32:8 “But the noble man makes noble plans and by noble deeds he stands.
Q: What are the desired outcomes of the program?
- Vision and equipping for walking intimately with God and making disciples
- Greater love for the Word and more consistent time in it
- Greater dependency on the Lord
- Renouncing secret and shameful ways
- Growth in sexual purity and freedom
- Deeper relationships with other men
- Wisdom and godliness in relating to women
- Stronger work ethic
- Greater teachability
- More engagement in evangelism
- Increased confidence in leading courageously, skillfully, humbly
- Deeper relationship with parents
- Greater integrity and strengthened convictions
- Growth in servant-hearted leadership
- Greater ownership and engagement with ministry
Q: Who should I target for this?
A: All the men connected in any way with your ministry. Begin with those most connected and move to those who are more on the fringe. The course is appropriate for Believers and seekers.
Q: How do I get them to commit?
A: Explain to them ahead of time what they will get and what it will cost them (see desired outcomes). Help them understand their personal need for growth in the topics discussed in Noblemen.
Q: What is an ideal size for a class?
A: The bigger the better, because they’ll learn from each other, too.
Q: What material resources, classroom and training spaces, and personnel support will I need?
A: Reserve a meeting space. If you’re a campus ministry, ideally on campus or at least within walking distance. For the first weekend of the course (Launch Trip) you’ll want a location (church, house, camp, etc.) where you can get away from campus. For the last week of the course (Fort week) you’ll want a church or house where you can all sleep from Sun pm through Fri am. Church classrooms work well.
Q: Where do I get the lesson plans and training content?
A: There is a teaching video available at Noblemenministries.com . The lesson plans will also be posted on the website if you desire to teach the material yourself.
Q: What does a typical meeting look like?
A: 1.5 hours total
15-20 minutes intro (review verses and creed, announcements, discuss previous assignment.)
40 minutes teaching
5 minutes wrap up and announcements/assignments for next week
25-30 minutes small group discussion
Q: How does Noblemen fit into my current ministry structure (leadership development, discipleship, bible studies, etc.)?
A: Noblemen can run concurrent with leadership team training and Bible Studies or can replace them. After a year or two of incorporating Noblemen into your ministry, most of your men will have gone through it, so it will become primarily for freshmen and transfers. If your Ministry is in its early stages, it may be better to do Noblemen in place of current Bible Studies and leadership teams. Don’t be afraid to cut components from your ministry. The men will get most of the same content but to a much greater degree in Noblemen. And here’s an important consideration: it’s better to do one thing very well than burn yourself out doing 4 or 5 things poorly. Don’t worry about losing some men from the ministry who decide not to do Noblemen. Why hinder those who want to grow by shaping your ministry around those who’ve already demonstrated a low commitment to grow? Do Noblemen and the men who do the course will often reach out to those who didn’t.
- Additional Questions:
Q: How much should I charge guys for the course?
A: We set up the course to be a simple base version of Noblemen. You’d be safe to charge $100-$200 per man to cover your costs for the bare bones version. (For some perspective, guys in fraternities pay $500-$1000 per semester and get far less for it.)
We also offer scholarships and tell them not to let money be a reason to miss the course. It works best to have the guys pay by the 3rd week at the latest. If guys want a scholarship, I ask them how much they feel they can pay and then we cover the rest. Rarely do more than a few guys end up taking the scholarship.
Q: Can outsiders visit Noblemen sessions?
A: I would advise you not to have people visit. Inevitably, a pastor, alumni, supporter or someone is going to hear about your Noblemen course and want to come sit in one night. I politely explain to them that one of our goals is to create a very intimate setting where men feel the freedom to share who they really are and their struggles, and so we don’t open the sessions to visitors (the exception of course is if I have a guest speaker for one of the sessions, but even then, I have them take off after they speak so that the sharing time is private.)
Q: I love the idea of the point system. How do you guard against complaints that it’s legalistic?
A: It is something to watch for. I’ve had a staff person come from another ministry who has not done Noblemen get caught up in “keeping points for my relationship with God”. A few things have stood out to me over the years. Usually these are staff who have a very low bar for themselves and their people and use grace as an excuse for being lazy and not walking in holiness. It’s often couched as a theological problem when it’s really a lack-of-commitment problem.
My ministry is intense, and my expectations are high, but our whole ministry and especially Noblemen strongly emphasizes the need for the Gospel of grace to drive everything we do. Folks who’ve been in our ministry would probably describe it as intense, but far from legalistic. Legalism says, “If you do this, you’ll gain my favor but, if you don’t, I’ll withhold love and acceptance.” There is nothing in Noblemen or our greater ministry that communicates that, so the points idea doesn’t come across as legalistic. The idea is simply that you’re going to have to put in the effort if you want to finish.
In a generation that significantly confuses grace and effort, having a system of points helps them understand this in their own walk with God. As has been said, “God is opposed to earning, but He’s not opposed to effort.” You don’t grow in any area of life or any relationship without effort. It wouldn’t cross a student’s mind to think that they should get an A in a course if they hadn’t put in the effort to complete the course.
I also like to communicate it in a positive way and say something like, “We say that you can take a guy who has finished Noblemen and plant him anywhere and come back a year later and there will be more like him. We want that to be true of every guy who finishes Noblemen. When a guy really gives himself fully to what Noblemen requires, he simply looks, leads, and ministers differently. We don’t want to lower the bar, but instead to help guys see the high calling and privilege we bear as men that God will use to change the course of history.”
Think of it another way. If you were going to war, you’d want to go with men who had developed the necessary mindset, done the training, and put in the effort required to finish boot camp before they joined you in combat. You would care very little about offending a man by expecting him to go through boot camp before joining your team in the field.
A significant problem that many young men face today is that they confuse God’s
grace with a license to sin and avoid effort. They interpret love without condition from God as meaning I can put in whatever level of effort I want, and He should have no expectations of me. God’s love is without condition, but not without the expectation that we’ll grow into maturity. One theme in Noblemen is Gospel Identity: because of who I am in Christ by position, I obey him, but my obedience does not affect my security or identity in Christ. We put in the effort, not to earn God’s favor, but because we already have His favor and desire to please Him by growing in maturity. We want our experience of holiness to match our position of holiness.
When we’ve tried Noblemen without points, or without really enforcing them, it has yielded dramatically different results. Planting the seed of low commitment yields the fruit of low commitment. As Leroy Eims used to say, “if you play a boy’s game, boys are all you get. If you play a man’s game, men show up to play.”
Part of this is also simply ensuring that you don’t enforce the point system in a legalistic, authoritarian manner. That’s unlikely to be a problem for staff, but sometimes your older students (especially year two of NM who went through it the year before as a participant) will get on an ego trip and start belittling the guys and barking out orders and becoming legalistic with the points. You counter that by speaking to it and modeling grace. The points are also on the honor system, and good things come out of that. Nobody is checking up in a weird, legalistic way. If they abuse the system, that’s on them.
Q: How much time should they expect to put in outside of the actual meeting each week?
A: On average, in addition to the weekly 1.5-2 hour meeting, they should expect 1-2 hours of additional work per week. This includes daily readings of a chapter of proverbs, calling their wingman, and doing their weekly assignments. When they begin to lead their Noblemen Challenge groups, that adds an additional 30 minutes, and then FORT week is pretty time consuming with meetings every night, Sun evening through Friday morning. It’s helpful to show this sheet I put together of the Average College Student’s Available Discretionary Timeto students considering Noblemen. The 3-5 hours per week is costly but they probably have the time and it’s worth it!
Q: If we cancel our men’s Bible studies, what should we do with those men who don’t want to be part of Noblemen?
A: It’s important to remember that you’re not cancelling your studies, they’re just happening within Noblemen. When they break into small groups for the second half of each meeting, they’ll be in their Bible Study group (maybe with a few new guys who joined Noblemen but weren’t already in Bible Studies).
You might consider having a men’s group meet once a week for all the guys who don’t do Noblemen. An emphasis of Noblemen is the need for them to take responsibility for the men around them, so the hope is that they’ll start reaching out to those men who aren’t doing NM. At week 8, the guys will be recruiting and leading their own Noblemen Challenge groups. They can and should invite these other men into those groups. Basically, just encourage the guys doing NM to reach out and make sure the other guys still feel included.
Q: What do we communicate about this to the women, especially if we don’t have staff to be able to offer them something similar?
A: Often, the women in your ministry will be happy that you’re doing something for their guy friends and boyfriends. Let them know that you’re incorporating a new component into the ministry to get the men going well and that your hope is that we will can offer them a women’s version next. History has shown that we do best by establishing one course at a time.
Q: When we talked about this with our men on leadership and proposed folding Bible studies into Noblemen, the main concern was that it might drive away those freshmen who are somewhat on the fence about Navs.
A: Keep in mind that guys are on the fringe of your ministry for different reasons. Often, it’s because they aren’t very hungry to grow. If you don’t give those who are hungry and eager the food they want to avoid having some feel left out who aren’t that hungry, then you’ve just significantly crippled your ministry. Sometimes guys on the fringe will want to join in when they see the other guys growing significantly. Also, the guys who do Noblemen will start reaching out more intentionally to invest in those on the fringe if they become hungry to grow.
This is also why it’s important for your Bible Study leaders to recruit to Noblemen well. I want them to meet with every freshman guy who has ever come to their Bible Study and explain to them what they’ll get out of Noblemen and why they want them in it. You’d be surprised how many of them will choose to join if someone sits down to personally challenge and invite them. I encourage them to at least come to the first session, which we call a “Taste and See” session. Anyone can come and just see if they want to be part of Noblemen. Every year at FORT week I have guys say that they came to that first session 90% sure they wouldn’t do it but then thought, “I can’t afford not to do this.”
Will you retain every man on the fringe? No. Do everything you can to try to involve them, but don’t miss a chance to change the lives of the men in your ministry to avoid the risk of driving away a few guys who likely aren’t with you anyway.
A suggestion my wife made was helpful. When I visited our men’s Bible studies, I talked about Noblemen but didn’t present it as an option for them to choose or not. I simply explained it as what we were doing for Bible studies next semester, and that we’d even be inviting men not already in our Bible studies to join us. I talked about the first meeting being a “taste and see” and about the high level of commitment it would require. This subtle shift of mindset from “I need to convince them to do this” to “I’m going to cast the vision and tell them this is what we’re all doing” took a lot of pressure off me. And every Bible study guy signed up to come to the first meeting. Some of the senior guys confessed to me that as a freshman, they might not have done it without some healthy peer pressure, so we didn’t complicate it for the freshmen by giving them an option. We’ll let them make the decision after the first meeting and they’ve seen all their friends committed to doing it. – Nick Peterson (South Dakota State)
Q: How many guys who come to the first meeting commit to doing the course?
A: It’s different from campus to campus, but I’d say that about 90% will continue if they come to the first meeting. Our retention rate has risen after the first year because the course picks up momentum when guys start hearing about it their first day on campus from the guys who’ve gone through it. They then anticipate all first semester getting to be a part of it.
Q: Is there an ideal size for the small groups after the teaching time each week? Our Bible studies vary in size. One has 13 guys in it. Should we consider splitting the group?
A: Yes, you want to end up with 4-6 in each group, which is probably ideal for everyone to have time to talk. Depending on the dynamics of the small group, you may consider having them number off each week within that group of 13 so they aren’t just getting close with half of their group but get to engage with different men from within their group of 13 at NM small group each week.
Q: Can you explain the FORT week? I’ve had some leaders ask me whether it’s necessary to set aside a block of evenings. Would a final weekend retreat work instead?
A: FORT week is the crowning glory of the course. Over the years we’ve had a couple of guys be unable to make it or drop out right before FORT week for various reasons. For each of them I remember thinking that, although they were only missing one week out of twelve, in terms of what’s accomplished during FORT week, they might as well have missed half the course. It really is that significant.
Noblemen is much more than a course where men are just given information and then a ceremony recognizing they went to all the classes. The strength of it is that it’s an experience, driven by the Scriptures, that both costs them and changes them if they really give themselves to it.
We added FORT week about the 5th year after starting Noblemen and it significantly enhanced the impact of the course. The idea was to have one week that was dedicated to bonding, fortifying what they’ve already learned and the relationships that have been emerging (hence the name FORT, short for fortify) and to prepare them for the commitments they would make at ceremony.
In almost every culture throughout the world, there exists some type of rite of passage for men. One reason we’ve found young men in America so drawn to Noblemen is that there are virtually no rites of passage in our culture. Noblemen not only offers a picture of Biblical manhood and a path of how to get there, it also gives them a rite of passage that they must undertake. The rite of passage doesn’t make a guy a man, of course, but it honors his desire to feel like he’s driven a stake in the ground regarding his manhood. The closest thing in our culture might be the military or perhaps a fraternity. Bootcamp or pledging is a rite of passage and the final ceremony is usually a meaningful time for the men that they look back on as something that marked their psyche and made them feel like they truly became a man.
Over the years, I’ve been surprised by just how much FORT week and the ceremony means to the guys who go through Noblemen. Part of that is because they’ve really worked for it. They’ve had a compelling and noble picture clearly painted of what they want to be, given a path to work toward it, and felt glory in finishing the course.
It used to be that we made the ceremony difficult. Anyone can endure something for one night and not feel like it was a very big deal. Over time however, we wanted the ceremony to feel more like a celebration and a holy culmination rather than something to merely endure. When we added FORT week, we were able to put the challenging and bonding components primarily in FORT week and then let the ceremony be more of a celebration.
FORT week can be done in a variety of ways. I will describe what we have done in the past and you can decide what you’d like it to look like with your men. .
Q: What is ceremony like?
A: Ceremony starts at sundown and ends at sunrise. The men start the time with 2-3 hours alone with God, preparing for the rest of the ceremony. Then, in the same small groups they were in during the course, they spend about an hour at each of the remaining 6 stations working through Scriptures related to the topic and pounding their nails into their wooden blocks.
In the morning, the men summit the mountain, or hill or wherever you have chosen for the final ceremony spot. In future years, many of your Noblemen alumni will come back and be at the top of the mountain awaiting them. The guys all kneel, you present them with their crest and a Noblemen t-shirt and then they head to the fire at the top of the summit for the breakfast feast.
Q: if I am using the course with students can I include non-students in the group?
A: Yes, particularly if they are of student age. Every man would benefit from going through Noblemen, but not every man would be an asset to your group. A good question to ask when considering whether to invite men outside your immediate ministry is, “Will this person be a distraction or a liability to the group bonding?”
I wouldn’t invite non-students the first year or two unless you know they’d be a real asset. In our 8th year of Noblemen at Arizona, I had a guy who had just gotten out of prison who was eager to grow, and I felt like Noblemen would be a huge help for him. I encouraged him to invite a few friends, and I invited a few other guys in their 20’s and 30’s from church and together they formed what we called, “The Old Guy Group.” When we broke off into small groups, they stuck together. They were a great addition to our group and the course helped them tremendously.
In our first year of Noblemen at UC Davis, I invited a friend of mine because I knew the course would help his faith. He’s a world-renowned doctor in his field and a very likeable guy so I knew the college students would respect and bond with him. He told me later that it was the most impactful thing he’s ever done. He spent 4 years very involved in his fraternity as a non-believer in college and said that he felt closer to the young men in Noblemen at the end of 12 weeks than he did to any of the men in his fraternity. Part of the reason he was such a blessing was his humility. Though he speaks to thousands of doctors at a time around the world, he was humble enough to see himself there as a participant who had as much to learn as the college students. If you have older non-students, let them know that you don’t want them there to act like know-it-alls, telling the young guys how hard life is and giving them pointers left and right. I’ve had that with a guy I invited to join once, and it wasn’t helpful. The students didn’t really respect or connect with him.
Q: What’s the difference between Noblemen and The Noblemen Challenge?
A: Noblemen is the 12-week course that you lead your men through over the semester. The Noblemen Challenge is a mini version of Noblemen that each of the men in your course will recruit and lead with their friends from class, work, dorms etc. One of their assignments every week is to share something they learned in the weekly sessions with men outside of Noblemen. Then at week 8 of the course, the men begin leading their own Noblemen Challenge group with guys they’ve been sharing with and praying for throughout the course. These Challenge groups last for 30 minutes per day for 10 days (M-F, M-F.) They are essentially an IBD (Investigative Bible Discussion) based on Biblical manhood.
Q: What is the structure of LAUNCH trip?
A: LAUNCH trip is usually the first or second weekend of the course. For more info click the launch tab under the course.
Q: So how does the point system work?
A: It is important at the first session to explain to the students that the point system isn’t about earning or losing favor with you or with God. It’s simply a way for us to make sure that we all put in the necessary effort to complete the course, ensuring that our desired outcome of being men who change the world will happen.
As I mentioned in answering a previous question on points, I would HIGHLY suggest incorporating the points for the students. Otherwise, the students just don’t end up doing the work. When guys start getting busy with school and don’t have the motivation and commitment to complete the assignments. Then, a tendency to stop putting in the effort to complete the coursework sets in. Worse still, it becomes contagious: the whole group’s excitement about the course and its impact on their lives is diminished considerably.
Bill Tell has a good illustration about how God deals with us on two tracks that may be helpful for you to share with the guys. One track is regarding our position–our identity, our sonship and our adoption as children. Our behavior has nothing to do with and cannot affect this track. The second track is focused on our experience–our behavior, choices, obedience or lack thereof. This track does not affect our security and position as children of God, but it certainly does impact the quality of our relationship with Him.
Think of it this way: When Susan and I got married, we entered a lifelong covenant; that’s our position. If I don’t spend time with Susan in experience, we are still just as married in position. However, even though the one track (our position as married people) is secure, the second track (our experience as married people) can still impact the quality of our marriage. Even if I was unfaithful to Susan in experience, we are just as married in position. But to say that my experience didn’t impact our marriage would be ridiculous. Not only do I not cheat on her, but I put effort into spending time with and pursuing her, not to firm up or keep our position but because of my position.
Similarly, the point system in Noblemen should be a separate track to your position/security in your relationship with God. It doesn’t have any bearing on your security, but it does affect the quality of your relationship, your maturity, and your ability to be a blessing to other people as a man of God.
- Everyone starts with 100 points.
- You must have at least 75 to enter FORT week.
- All points are on your honor.
- Keep track of your points on the Noblemen Website
- Point Deductions are as follows:
- D = Daily
- W = Weekly
- D – Miss a daily reading (-1 point)
- D – Miss Wingman call (-1 point)
- W – Miss memorizing verse by meeting (-1 point)
- W – Miss doing weekly Bible Study (-1 point)
- W – Can’t quote Creed portions by meeting (-2 points)
- W – Missing or imperfect weekly assignment (-10 points)
- W – Miss a session (-20 points)
- Extra Credit opportunities are as follows:
- Read Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot and write a 1 page paper about what you learned (+15pts)
- Read Silence of Adam by Larry Crabb and write 1 page paper about what you learned (+15pts)
- Listen to Love Songs by Tommy Nelson (the full sermon series) and write 1 page paper about how you will apply this to your life (+10pts)
- Pre-approved community volunteering opportunities (+5pts)
- Make up one missed session and write 100 word paper summarizing what you learned (+3 points)
Q: Where did you get the 400 lb. cross described in the Ceremony? Any suggestions on how we might acquire one?
A: The 400 lb. cross is an add on, and not essential, but it does add a neat, challenging aspect to FORT week. We got two railroad ties at Lowes. They are a couple hundred pounds each. We borrowed a chainsaw, cut out a notch in the middle of each of them half way down and then put the crossbar on the main piece and drilled two holes in the middle about 4 inches apart and put a long bolt through each hole with a big washer on each side and a wingnut. This allows you to disassemble the cross at the top and take it back down the mountain more easily. Part of the difficulty of carrying it is not just the weight, but the awkwardness of an 8-foot cross with an 8-foot crossbar. Obviously, put the notch on the centerpiece toward the top third so your cross looks like a cross and not a plus sign!
Q: Would we have access to the graphic designer you have used to design the family crests?
A: We are working to make a graphic designer available through our website. This is also true of ceremony blocks and other Noblemen specific needs
Q: Additional Cost Question: Does the $100-200 cover the cost of launch weekend, fort week and the ceremony? I want to just come up with an upfront cost for the guys that will cover these other events as well.
A: Yes, that covers every expense they will have for the whole course. I usually give the drivers to Launch, Boost and Ceremony some gas money from the money collected as well.
Q: Where and how do you factor in content that would have been like Joshua Team or other leadership training courses (like Scripture Memory, learning to share the Gospel, and initiative evangelism)?
A: Everyone’s Joshua team content is different, so it depends on what you typically employ. We don’t use a Joshua Team at OU, but a Freshman Leadership Team that starts first semester where we teach the Bridge and do initiative evangelism every week. They will memorize one verse per week throughout the course, and the Noblemen Challenge is intended to help them reach out to men outside of our ministry (assuming many of these will be non-believers). There’s also one assignment to do heaven/hell surveys on campus.
Q: One of the things that most excited me about Noblemen was the challenge it issues to the men to reach out and start their own evangelistic studies. Can you tell me more about those?
A: Keep in Mind that Noblemen is not going to replace all your other efforts on campus to do evangelism/discipleship. You can certainly have other IBD’s going throughout the year in addition to Noblemen and don’t need to wait for the Noblemen Challenge. Noblemen Challenge groups typically start around week 8, partly because the men are sharing what they’re learning with guys outside of Noblemen every week as part of their weekly assignments. In week 2 they begin praying for those guys by name and sharing with them what they’re learning in Noblemen, in hopes that they’ll join their NM Challenge group. When they do invite these men to their Challenge group, they’ve already been hearing about it for 7 weeks.
Q: Joshua Team has been the main on-ramp for our leadership team in years past. After our 6 weeks of J-Team, we invite them to consider applying for leadership for the coming year. Since our men won’t be going through J-Team this year, and there isn’t a natural break in Noblemen until after Week 12, when do you think it might be best to talk with the men about considering leadership for next year, or how you might incorporate that invitation into the Noblemen material?
A: I’d say go with what best fits your ministry and system, but I would invite the men in the middle of the course to apply for your Leadership Team. You’ll likely find that the NM course will give you a much higher number of men who end up on your leadership team than before you had NM. It really helps the men step up and get serious about their walk with God and taking ownership of your ministry.
Keep in mind that at the end of Noblemen, you’re also going to want to invite a small group of the men who went through Noblemen to be a part of what we call The Fellowship of Lesser Brethren, or Lesser for short. You can employ this any way you want (or not at all) but it’s been a significant part of our ministry success of Noblemen. I typically choose these men a couple of weeks after Noblemen ends. Especially after a year or two of the course getting momentum, the men pick up that it’s a big honor to get to be a part of Lesser. (In a healthy ministry you should not have to beg men to be on leadership. Instead, it should become something they aspire to because there is such respect and admiration for those in leadership.) The men on Lesser at our campus make a yearlong commitment and help lead the whole ministry, not just Noblemen.
Q: Do you have a design from previous year Noblemen T-shirts that we could use if don’t have someone who can design one for us?
A: Yes, look in the website store
Q: What is the Noblemen Mantra?”
A: The Noblemen Mantra particularly comes into play during FORT week.
The Noblemen Mantra
Boys Take – Noblemen Give
Boys Consume – Noblemen Sacrifice
Boys say yes to perversion – Noblemen say yes to righteousness
Boys feed their flesh – Noblemen feed their soul
Boys fear men – Noblemen fear God
Boys say no to discomfort – Noblemen say no to compromise
Boys are passive – Noblemen assume responsibility
Boys say ‘by my strength’– Noblemen say ‘by God’s grace’
Boys are paralyzed by fear – Noblemen do it scared
Boys dream selfish dreams – Noblemen change the world
Boys give up quickly – Noblemen refuse to quit
Boys say no, send another – Noblemen say Yes Lord, send me
Q: When writing a letter to Dad, how would you advise someone whose Dad basically abandoned him? Or who feels like there really wasn’t much positive there?
A: In this assignment, the men write their father a letter addressing two topics:
1) Here’s what I’m thankful for about you, Dad.
2) Here’s how I look forward to deepening our relationship.
For the men whose Fathers are not living or not involved in their lives they still write a letter, but they don’t send it to their Dads; it’s for their sake. These men are addressing
1) Here’s what you missed in my life.
2) Here’s how I’ve been affected by you not being in my life.
Every year we’ve had at least one guy in this category and the exercise has proven very helpful in processing how their Dad’s absence has impacted them.
Q: I’m curious to know how much you tell guys at this first meeting. My sense is that I ought to tell them quite a bit to help get them excited. Yet because it’s still a bit mysterious, it’s difficult to get the freshmen excited about it, and even some of our leaders are still a bit skeptical (since they haven’t seen the final schedule yet). Will we tell them about things like the family crest and some of the ceremony things? I’m mainly curious how to “sell” Noblemen at that first meeting, because we’ve had quite a few guys who seem on the fence but have agreed to at least come to the first meeting.
A: The salty cards are one of the biggest tools in recruiting your men. The details of what you will be doing aren’t as important as the vision of where you are going and why. Especially helpful is the NMAT diagnostic tool your men can take that is both revealing and convicting. Done anonymously and shown to your male leaders as a group, this can be a powerful tool for identifying the groups weaknesses and pointing towards the goals found in Noblemen.
Q: What have you used to quickly communicate with all the men in Noblemen, either to remind them of assignments or if you need to change locations for some reason?
A: Now we have a website which we highly encourage you to use to its full potential. Group Me and if your group isn’t too big then sometimes just a group text.
Creating a private Facebook group is also extremely effective
Q: Could you post a picture of one of the crests from the past, so I could send an example to the graphic designer I am in contact with?
A: Yep, It’s in the course Session 5 handouts and available online