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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to coach a winning college football team? Create colorful, popular cartoons and illustrations? Continue to run a business after experiencing many losses? Men who attend Elmhurst (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church’s Journeymen ministry know these things and how God has guided and cared for the men who do them.

Since September 2019, the monthly gathering has invited men of many different occupations and stages of life to share their testimonies, “letting their lives speak to us and letting God speak through their stories,” said Pastor Jeff Klein.

Speakers have included Mike Swider, the winningest football coach of Wheaton College; Jim Engel, a cartoonist, illustrator, and designer who has worked on some of the world's best-known characters and franchises; and most recently Ron Tazelaar, a deacon at Elmhurst CRC and part of the Journeymen leadership team who has been sustained by God through many losses of close family members.

Klein said the goal is to hear real, unfinished stories of believing men who are living their lives in Christ: the ups and downs, the twists and turns, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not another sermon or Bible study but a glimpse into the lives of other Christ followers, “helping guys to see God is at work in the mundane things in our lives,” Klein said.

Klein initiated the ministry soon after joining Elmhurst CRC as outreach pastor in 2019. He said he wanted a way to pull together men from a number of different men’s discipleship groups that were already meeting in the large church of about 900 members (according to yearbook data).

It’s an entry point, Klein said, a way to “give other guys a chance to hop on board,” where it might be difficult to attend an established group for the first time. Klein leads a men’s Bible study group at the same time as Journeymen, 6:30 a.m., on the other three Thursdays of the month.

The Journeymen leadership team, made up of men invited from each of the established men’s groups, keeps a running list of speakers who are scheduled from September to May. They alternate between an outside speaker and an Elmhurst “insider” every other month. Klein said it’s interesting how men within one church might not know the stories of the people they sit beside in the pew.

Attendance varies, Klein said, with as many as 80 guys attending the first Journeymen talk with Swider, to a typical attendance of 30-40 men.

Klein has a speaker orientation page that he shares with the men who are slated to speak, but he said it’s not that complicated—“just telling your story.”

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