December 2016 /January 2017 - Vol. 89

 Servants of the Word
                  brothers in Michigan
The Servants of the Word Celebrate 45th Anniversary
a report by Martin Steinbereithner

Forty-five years ago the Servants of the Word began when a few men made their first commitment to live single for the Lord. Covenant community had just begun among university students in Michigan and elsewhere, and while some community members got married, others felt strongly called to live a celibate life for God and his people. Since those beginnings the brotherhood has grown to 130 men (including affiliates) living in 13 houses around the world - in the Philippines, England and Northern Ireland, the US.A., Costa Rica and Mexico.

At the beginning of September we had a celebration at our brotherhood center in Michigan to mark our 45th anniversary. Some 300 friends joined us for an evening of prayer, reminiscing, sharing, and thanksgiving.

The following articles from the recent Servants of the Word Newsletter feature some highlights and presentations from Servants of the Word brothers and guests.

The Servants of the Word Newsletter is issued three times a year. If you would like to subscribe to the free Newsletter, signup online here.

45th anniversary

Giving Thanks for Many Blessings Over Past 45 Years
by Ken Noecker, presiding elder of Servants of the Word

Dear Friends,

Filipinos have a saying which could roughly be translated as "He who does not know how to look to where he has come from will never arrive at where he is going." The idea is that in order to achieve our aims we must never cut ourselves off from our origins. Or, to put it another way, a tree cannot survive, let alone prosper, if it is cut from its roots.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Servants of the Word. As we celebrate this occasion, we look back and reflect on our beginnings, our early years. We remember the people and environments that formed us into what we are today and thus gain a vision of what God is calling us to be in the years to come. We reflect on and give thanks for the Charismatic Renewal that touched the mainline churches in the 1960s; its spiritual vitality provided the impetus for our birth.

We call to mind the beginnings of covenant communities and especially of The Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan into which we were born and where we grew. We give thanks for the Sword of the Spirit, the world-wide community movement which provides the current context for our life and our mission. We give thanks for Steve Clark, our founder, and for people like Bruce Yocum, Don Schwager, and Dick LaCroix who were among the first men to make a lifelong commitment to our rule of life.

As we look ahead to our future we are filled with gratitude for the young men the Lord is adding to our life–those who are taking into their hearts and onto their backs the life and mission of the Servants of the Word. This year we witnessed four men from four different nations making lifelong commitments to the brotherhood. This addition of men from new nations points to where the Lord is leading us – to the ends of the world for the sake of the proclamation of the Gospel to all peoples and languages. We came to birth 45 years ago as a local brotherhood with membership coming primarily from Michigan. We find ourselves now with brothers from at least 18 nations, with houses in six countries and with mission that covers dozens more.

Many countries have a Thanksgiving Day or its equivalent. We in The Servants of the Word offer our thanks to the Lord for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us this year and over past forty-five.

Kenneth Noecker

                                                          NoeckerKen Noecker is a lifelong committed brother in The Servants of the Word, currently serving as the Presiding Elder. He spent 25 years (1986 to 2011) as a member of the Asian Region of The Servants of the Word based in Manila, Philippines. Ken was born and raised in Nebraska. He completed his university studies in Minnesota and his graduate studies in the Philippines. In addition to his role in The Servants of the Word, Ken is also involved extensively in community building efforts in Asia as a missionary coordinator of The Sword of the Spirit.

Chris Larson
What Blessed Inefficiency

by Chris Larson

Chris Larson is a former affiliate, now living in Cleveland with his wife and three children.

I am standing here as a representative of the ongoing and prolific failure of the Servants of the Word as an organization. I was at one point, like many men in this room, an “affiliate,” a novice, if you will, someone who fell into the orbit of the brothers for a time. I lived with them, considered their life, yet ultimately made a different choice in life.

Please bear with me as I highlight the inefficiency with which this brotherhood attracts and retains men. All my numbers are just estimates, but they still make my point. In North America alone around 200 men were once affiliates like myself, but are no longer. On average one in seven of them makes a lifelong commitment—that is a 15% conversion rate. Over four years of formation, they spend approximately 1800 hours of training, which costs about $23,000 per brother per year. So over the past 45 years the cost of training has exceeded $5.2 million, and with an attrition rate of 85% this means that you wasted $4.4 million of unrecoverable cost. From any meaningful human capital metric the world would use, you guys are a disaster, a spectacularly wasteful failure.

And yet, lest you think I am here to bad-mouth my brothers, the metrics of the creator of the universe are others, he measures success differently than our world does. Or to quote another famously inefficient saint, Theresa of Calcutta, “We are called not to be successful, but to be faithful.”

I had the great privilege of living, over the course of seven years, with men in Belfast, London, East Lansing and Ann Arbor: men like Dan Keating, Andy Pettman and Jamie Treadwell formed me, became lifelong friends, and through them I even met my wife (that’s a story for another time). Each house I lived in was a hub for young people: the brothers were the center of activity, rooted in prayer, in a common life and in faithfulness to their calling. Like a thousand electrons swirling around a nucleus, these young people found community, joy and solace from a crazy and confusing world, simply because of the acts of love, humility and death to self of our brothers.

It is precisely your blessed inefficiency, your wasteful generosity, your limitless selflessness, your profligate service to others with no regard for reciprocity that have impacted not just hundreds of men, but thousands of lives. The people you have touched now try to live the very faithfulness and obedience which you model, in their families, jobs, churches and communities across the world. The standard you have set in following the Lord has inspired many of us to do the same, in our own vocations.

Thank God for your wastefulness, thank you for your inefficiency. From all of our hearts, thank you for all you are and do. We love and thank God for you!


servants of the word
Malaquias Garcia, Miguel Vargas, Rodrigo Sett, and Tadhg Lunch

Four Brothers Make Lifelong Commitments

On 1st September of this year, four brothers made their lifelong commitments to the Servants of the Word. For the occasion, all the brothers from the U.S.A. gathered in Detroit, Michigan together with family and a few other guests.

The four men are Tadhg Lynch from Ireland, Rodrigo Sett from Guatemala, Malaquias Garcia from Mexico, and Miguel Vargas from Costa Rica. Each of these four men spent four years in formation before making their first full commitment. After living for at least three years as committed brothers they were invited to make a solemn, lifelong commitment.

Miguel serves in San Jose, Costa Rica as a teacher and youth worker. Rodrigo lives in the same house and works in university evangelism. Malaquias does the same thing, but is based from our house in Monterrey, Mexico; Tadhg lives in Belfast and works with university-age people both locally and for the European and Middle East.

For the last three years we have invited the fathers and brothers to join us for the commitments of their family members. This time all the dads were able to come as well as Miguel’s brother and Tadhg’s two younger brothers. We are very conscious of the fact that if a man makes a radical decision to follow the Lord, a foundation of character has been laid by their parents. The formal commitment ceremony was followed by fellowship, a festive meal and the yearly entertainment by Stu Ferguson, one of our brothers.

Please join us in praying for these men as they begin their lifelong membership in the Servants of the Word. And please pray for God’s ongoing work in calling men to our life.

See Next 45th Anniversary Article > Testimonies from David Dolsen and Don DeSmith


Dr. Martin Steinbereithner is a lifelong brother
of the Servants of the Word. He is the director of Communications and Development for the Servants of the Word. Previously he worked for twenty years in campus ministry in North America, Lebanon and England and for over the last ten years with Christian communities in the Middle East, Poland, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Austria, France, the UK and Africa.

The Servants of the Word Newsletter is issued three times a year. If you would like to subscribe to the free Newsletter, signup online here.

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