After two years of reorganization and staff consolidation, Promise Keepers (PK) is setting ambitious goals for this year: holding 17 conferences in the United States, cosponsoring two overseas events, launching a new radio program for PK leader Bill McCartney, and reinstating registration fees for its meetings.The Denver-based men's ministry begun by McCartney, a former University of Colorado football coach, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. Overall, the group claims to have reached more than 3.5 million men through 98 stadium and arena conferences."It's been very encouraging to get the level of support we got and still be around for folks to throw stones at," says Steve Chavis, PK's director of public affairs.PK's high point may have been the 1997 Stand in the Gap rally in Washington, D.C., which attracted close to 1 million men, as well as sharp criticism about the group's stance on gender equality.Now, Chavis says, concerns about groups of men invading communities and demanding submission from their wives are largely passé. "There isn't as much opposition as there was in the past," he says.After the Stand in the Gap rally, PK went through a series of crucial events involving lack of financial support. In January, the group closed its eight regional offices. PK went from a staff of 180 in 1998 to 160, although some positions are being added seasonally for work on the rallies.PK rallies offered free admission during the past two years, but the effort fizzled when it did not draw additional attendance or higher donations."Men say to us, 'Just tell us what you want. Don't require me to have to pray about it to decide, just tell me what you want,'" Chavis says. "We wanted guys to bring friends when we removed fees. But those percentages didn't go up any during those years."Registration fees—$69 for adults, $49 for youths under 18—are expected to make up 60 percent of the group's revenues this year. The organization continues to publish and sell books, as well as tapes and other items. PK is preparing to launch, a family-friendly Internet service provider that will offer online access plans starting at $7 per month.The group also has a film project under way, though Chavis would not disclose details. Earlier this year, PK launched a daily three-minute radio commentary, 4th and Goal, which the group says is on 224 stations.Also this year, PK will hold meetings in secondary market cities such as Lynchburg, Virginia; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Milwaukee, alongside traditional centers such as Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Los Angeles.Chavis says the move is designed both to respond to a call—the group holds its rallies in cities where clergy request PK's presence—and to broaden the availability of the PK message. Even after ten years, it is a message some say men still want to hear."We see it in our local church: Guys are just crying out for that kind of activity and accountability to help each other along in our Christian life," says Ken Abraham, author of Who Are the Promise Keepers? Understanding the Christian Men's Movement (Doubleday, 1997)."That's where I see the most long-term effect of PK, the guys who link arms and say they're going to walk down the Christian life together.

Related Elsewhere

The Promise Keepers Web site offers more information about the organization, the radio program 4th and Goal, and its upcoming ISP, Christianity Today articles about Promise Keepers include:State Capitol Rallies Scrubbed (April 5, 1999) More PK Downsizing | McCartney admits staff morale problem (Oct. 5, 1998) McCartney on the Rebound | How a workaholic jock and insensitive husband became the nation's leading Promise Keeper. (May 18, 1998) Up from the Ashes? | With $4 million in donations, Promise Keepers recalls its staff—for now. (May 18, 1998) Promise Keepers Staff Lose Jobs (Apr. 6, 1998) Will the Walls Fall Down? | Promise Keepers draws a bead on the 'giants' of racism, family breakdown, and church disunity. (Nov. 17, 1997) Seedbed for Revival? | Stand in the Gap in Washington, D.C., aims to spark national spiritual awakening (Sept. 1, 1997) Promise Keepers Goes Global (June 16, 1997) Candor, Repentance, Mark PK Latino Summit (June 16, 1997) Promise Keepers Gather Black Leaders (April 28, 1997) Women's Movement: Promise Keeper Counterparts Burgeon (March 3, 1997) Racial Reconciliation Emphasis Intensified (Jan. 6, 1997)