Bethany Church’s weekly businessmen’s luncheon seeks to unify local business leaders
through fellowship and a focus on biblical business principles
by Susan Brown
“Life is a hurdles race. You run, hurdle, run, hurdle…you’ve got to get over every day – there are going to be trials.” But meeting together strengthens and recharges men to face the stress, the temptations and the cultural onslaught they face daily, according to Bethany Church Associate Pastor Hank Henagan. The church draws up to 150 men each Wednesday at noon for a businessmen’s luncheon at the South Baton Rouge campus off Siegen Lane and I-10. And it’s growing.
“Ninety percent of the men who come to this do not go to Bethany,” explains Henagan. “They’re from all denominations. It’s the men around the table, the relationships that they have bonded with over the years.” Bethany pastors teach a business lesson based on biblical principles. Discussion follows around each table with a chance for men to work on practical applications to their own situations.
A key principle is ordering priorities according to biblical standards: “God, Christ, you, your family and your vocation,” says Henagan. “If you aren’t right, nothing below you is going to be right. Your family isn’t going to be right, your vocation isn’t going to be right. And the world flips it. My vocation, my vocation, my vocation.”
Instead, Henagan says, spiritual commitment should guide a man’s life and work. He encourages men to be faithful in their churches and to be light to their communities and workplaces. He has a special interest in mentoring those without fathers in the home. Henagan believes that keeping families intact and in church is part of rebuilding the spiritual strength of America in the same way that God prompted Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. A spiritually strong family and nation needs fathers who are strong in faith and lead with God’s Word rather than the opinions of the prevailing culture.
Henagan encourages men to be open to what God is doing in their lives even when it is not what they expected. As part of his ministry at Bethany, he helps young people decide what they want to do in life by identifying the things they most enjoy. He encourages men to take their interests and skills seriously instead of suffering through a vocation for which they have no enthusiasm. Sometimes, that can mean a career change. “Put God first and follow your heart. What He’s put on your heart to do, go do. Follow your passion, not your pension.”
As part of his mentoring ministry, Henagan wants to pass along what he’s learned to those exploring their career options. After earning a degree in marketing he went to work for a bank – and hated it. “I said there’s got to be more to life than this.” At a downtown bookstore, he came across a self-help book, The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz (1959). “Other than the Bible, that book changed my life,” he says.
The book teaches that those who have great expectations and a positive attitude tend to accomplish more by visualizing things not as they currently are – but as they could become. Henagan went on to start and sell three businesses, run political campaigns and work for Mayor Tom Ed McHugh. Now, he uses those life lessons to invest holistically in the work and lives of young men and businessmen, following a prompting he received from God as a teenager to serve in the ministry.
Sitting in the back of a church in Singapore in 1993 with Pastor Larry Stockstill and others, he first heard about the concept of cell groups – small groups that foster Christian community through discussion and accountability. He sensed God’s direction to start a cell group in his home. The group was multiplied eight times. By April 1995, he was on staff at Bethany where he helps men write business plans, engage in addiction recovery and train to mentor others through Bethany College.
The midweek break provides a time to replenish and refresh men in Christian community, Henagan says. “Food, fun, fellowship. Teach a lesson.” And they learn to help each other. “The world beats you down but they can come in and just be an encourager. That’s anybody.”