The Christian men's movement was never as big as some imagined, nor is it now as small as some may think. In the 1990s, Promise Keepers (PK) stumbled across the idea of the century by bringing men together in environments where they already felt comfortable: football stadiums. It has since become the most visible representative of the men's movement in America, drawing millions of men for weekends of bonding, worship, and spiritual teaching.
In 1996 the group marked its highest cumulative attendance of about 1 million at 22 events. In October 1997, nearly 1 million men gathered on the Washington Mall for the historic "Stand in the Gap" prayer meeting. This year about 13,000 men attended the group's 100th conference at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena on June 23–24—a far cry from the scads of sweaty guys that packed stadiums during PK's heyday in the '90s.
Today's PK rallies have largely moved from stadiums to arenas. PK has cut staff members from its apex of about 400 nationwide to about 90 this year; annual budgets of around $100 million are now trimmed to about $30 million. This is exactly what PK leaders themselves predicted would happen. It is part of a natural and needed evolution in the nature of the men's movement.
Perhaps more telling of PK's evolution, and that of the larger men's movement, is the recent change in PK's vision statement. PK leaders say that more is needed than stadium gatherings: men need regular one-on-one contact that only the local church can render. The revised vision statement reads: "Impacting churches to transform their cities by equipping leaders to disciple men in the masculine context." PK is recognizing what God already is doing. "We've left the stadiums and we're going to the churches," says Chuck ...