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The Barn

By: David Lyda (From: Volume 2 - Issue 3)
(All photos courtesy of Ken Howell.)

“I [am] the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10)

The Barn is a simple yet unique men’s ministry. It is said that “food is the way to a man’s heart”, and The Barn takes that phrase serious. They offer a free steak dinner each and every month to any man that will join them. God uses these meals to reach right into the hearts of men. Laid bare, it is not unusual to see men crying out to Jesus Christ and giving their hearts to Him at The Barn. This is sadly a stark contrast to the many “dead” churches all around our country. What is the difference?

Take a look at two different types of people in the church. First, there are men and women that have become so comfortable in church that their hearts are no longer stirred. Second, there are people who feel so uncomfortable in church that they don’t see how anybody could ever relate to them. Church has become so structured and sometimes misguided in their purpose. Are we helping our brothers and sisters? Are we being open about the need for healing, or are we simply standing by with a condemning eye? Jesus said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matthew 9:11). Church has become such a closed and restrictive door for so many souls. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Barn and many ministries like it bring a transparency to their events. Men feel welcomed and trusting of others. Relationships naturally develop. Preconceived notions with man’s rules and regulations are left at the door; leaving room for the Holy Spirit. This is not church, and they are not trying to replace church. The Barn is simply attempting to be a spring board for revival in men and a platform to build other men’s ministries in the church. Satan has had his hand on the family for so long, and society’s moral decay is a direct result. God intends for men to be bold and unapologetic in their faith. The aim of all men’s ministries should be to make better disciples, husbands, fathers, and leaders. The Barn wants to see all the barriers of sin and lack of self worth destroyed.

Around 1997, the first Barn ministry was developed in Northwestern Florida. After a Promise Keepers meeting, Staats Howell was energized and wanted to keep that feeling alive. He wondered if it was even possible for the excitement to continue back home. How could these men move forward; keeping themselves accountable and on fire for the Lord? The decision was made to start a men’s meeting at Staats’s house each month. In addition to the gathering, Staats shared his talent as a cook by offering free steak dinners. This group of men quickly outgrew their location, and they were led to a barn out in the middle of nowhere. This was the beginning of the ministry known as The Barn. Similar Barn meetings began to develop in other parts of Florida, and many men were blessed because of it.

Staats’s nephew Ken Howell always found the meetings inspiring and enjoyed attending the gatherings with his father. The time riding back with his dad was also a wonderful time of fellowship and growth. At Ken’s home church, Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville, a discussion began about the disconnect between the younger and older generations of men. Ken shared about his experience in The Barn ministry, and the other men of his church became excited about it. They were ready to bring The Barn to South Carolina! The timing seemed terrible to Ken though. There was sin in his life that he had not yet dealt with, and he just didn’t think God could use him at that moment. One of the members of his church pulled him aside and just asked that he pray about the ministry.

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