2017 Culture Shapers: The Fun Guy, James Lee

By Leigh Harper, October 5, 2017

James Lee works in Dallas as a pastor in men’s ministry. As a 2017 Culture Shaper, he discusses his passion for the events industry.

Gateway Church’s Pastor in Men’s Ministry James Lee has worked in ministry since he graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 2004. He cut his teeth working for faith-based organizations Women of Faith, Thomas Nelson publishers, RightNow Media and several churches.

In his role on the men’s ministry team of the Dallas church, Lee is instrumental in planning Gateway’s annual Men’s Summit, a gathering held each spring that draws approximately 5,000 attendees from Gateway and beyond who are seeking encouragement and to grow their faith. Thanks to the ingenuity of Lee and his ministry partners, the conference incorporates more than just sessions in an auditorium; though speakers like Dr. Eric Mason and Pastor Bryan Loritts certainly make those worthwhile.

Lee has incorporated activities like Knockerball and Archery Tag into the conference agenda, providing opportunities for attendees to have good, clean fun together. These creative additions defy expectations for a traditional conference and enable the all-male participants to engage in friendly competition and recreation.

“Sixty percent of our conference—the main sessions and breakouts—is great applicable content [attendees can apply to] better themselves as men, fathers or husbands,” Lee says. He explains that the remaining 40 percent of the conference schedule provides opportunities for the men to bond through activities, instead of sitting and absorbing content. “This is one of the best ways to get guys to connect, build community and engage in next steps at our church or their church they attend,” he explains.

Since Lee and his staff adopted this model in 2011, the response has been encouraging. He says attendance has risen from about 1,000 to 5,700. In addition to the Men’s Summit, Lee plans more intimate gatherings regularly for the men of Gateway. He and his team also coordinate service opportunities throughout the year, such as completing handyman projects for single mothers and widows.

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