Wingmen, Super Bowl-Winning Coach Help Boys Become Men
Porn is popular among Americans. No one can argue that. It is condemned across Christian denominations and many other religions. It is under fire by the state of Utah and has major repercussions for married couples.
Wingman Nation is one group turning boys and men away from porn. The group was founded by Church at the Mall (CATM), a First Baptist Church in Lakeland, Florida. Spokesman Matthew Nipper said the group helps boys and men come closer to Christ.
“The Wingman Men’s Ministry is based around the Air Force concept of a ‘Wingman,’” Nipper told The Stream. “It uses the fighter jet theme and parallels of the duties of a ‘Wingman’ in the Air Force.” Nipper said those duties include “commitment to his pilot and flight team, related to the men of your church and their commitment to God in their life, their families, and their Christian brothers.”
Helping Each Man ‘Be the Man God Created Them To Be’
Wingman Nation co-founder Randy Ferreira told The Stream, the “Wingman” program was founded to overcome staid Bible studies at CATM. Wingman groups create “a fun uplifting environment” that “gives men a feeling of being part of a specific group with an identity.” It also “helps men be there for other men, creates a support system for each other,” using video, fellowship, meals and other methods.
Wingman Nation was founded locally at CATM. But they recently took it national.
Wingman Nation focuses heavily on porn as part of their ministry. “Stats show that 80 percent of Christian males struggle with pornography at some level,” Nipper explained. “[When] an individual is viewing these images, he is completely disconnecting from God. It is our mission … to help men ‘Be the man God created them to be.’”
Nipper defined pornography as “any image that you would feel guilty about with your wife or Jesus standing next to you.”
“All men’s topics are covered” by Wingman participants, such as abstinence, chastity, divorce and abuse. “The program discusses the negative effects of pornography, and the impact it can have on your life and family. Open discussion takes place in a safe environment where people can be real and honest.”
Asked by The Stream about “the three greatest challenges” facing boys, Nipper said student ministry pastors at CATM described “the access and availability of pornography, absence of male role models and broken homes, and a lack of social skills.”
“Youth are so focused on technology and social media that they struggle to have normal conversations in person,” said Nipper. To become good men, “Boys need to have a good definition of what a man should be. The Bible clearly identifies the roles of a man, but today’s culture has gone away from many of those traits. It is important to teach our boys to respect women, and not treat them as objects.”
The effort has gotten some help from a Hall of Fame coach.
Working With a Super Bowl Coach
Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl in 2007. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Since retiring from the NFL, he has coached boys on becoming men, including in his 2012 book.
Nipper said Dungy joined a missionary team from The North American Mission Board as well as the Vermont Fellowship of Christian Athletes in September in Burlington. Dungy spoke to coaches, teams and high school students in a series of events.
“In 2016, Barna Research listed Burlington as the 2nd most churchless city in America,” said Nipper. “The North American Mission Board has sent a few missionary teams to this area to spread the Gospel. One of those missionary teams is from Lakeland, and our church has supported them since their move to Burlington. This missionary team has family who are close friends with Tony Dungy and, after hearing about their work, Tony agreed to visit Burlington for outreach purposes.”
“Tony’s role was to attract people to these events and share the Gospel. Our group from Lakeland was there to support in any way needed i.e. set up and tear down for the events, gather information from those attending, pass out fliers, invite people, etc.”
A local news outlet described controversy surrounding one of Dungy’s September 22 speeches due to his traditional views on marriage and sexuality. One organizer of the speech told The Stream that Dungy received applause “before, during, and after” his speech. The organizer also said that out of about 1,000 people, mostly students, in attendance, perhaps four walked out. “I don’t know why they walked out, perhaps they had to go to the bathroom?”
Nipper said that his group was not at the high school speech, as “the school preferred our team not attend.”
“We did spend a lot of time with Tony, and everyone we came in contact with in Burlington greatly appreciated him visiting. He didn’t turn anyone away when asked for an autograph or picture. Friday night, I had a gentleman say to me that he isn’t a Christian, but he fully respected how Tony handled himself and how he shared his faith. Tony wasn’t in-your-face with it, like some people can be. He was totally respectful of everyone, but also bold enough to share the Gospel.”