Abba’s Way (Abba is Aramaic for “Father “) is a grassroots organization founded by three men with a desire to be better fathers themselves and to teach their sons and daughters to become all God made them to be. Abba’s Way seeks to encourage, educate and equip fathers to engage with their children and to provide masculine leadership in order to strengthen families. The primary way we accomplish these goals is through Father’s Heart weekends, but we also hope to develop resources (books, music, electronic resources) in the future.
We desire to see fathers become involved, responsible, and committed for the benefit of their children and families as well as for future generations. We also desire to:
1. Educate and encourage fathers—by providing resources, books, music and media which promote responsible and committed fatherhood and family life;
2. Equip fathers through the development of curricula, training of practical skills, and the modeling of healthy interpersonal interaction;
3. Serve under-privileged families by providing financial assistance to attend Abba’s Way events; and
4. Engage religious, social and non-profit organizations through strategic alliances and partnerships.
The first Father’s Heart Weekend occurred in 2008 with 60 fathers and sons from five states participating. In 2009, we doubled attendance with 120 fathers and sons from seven different states. In 2010, 108 attended camp Widjiwagan in Nashville, TN. In 2011, we to hosted two events in Nashville, TN and Ridgecrest, NC with over 150 participants. On June 2, 2012 we held our first Father’s Delight with 52 dads and daughters and in August of 2012 we are planning two more great weekends at Camp Widjiwagan and Camp Ridgecrest. Glory to God! (code word..G2G)
We currently maintain a blog and small website to disseminate event information and encourage father’s, but we hope to expand this site in the future. We hope to expand future events to include father/daughter weekends, family camping, and mountain climbs for men and adolescents.
Additionally, we desire to create resources (books, CDs, curricula, electronic media) that men can take home from the weekend to help them grow in their roles as fathers at home. We’d also like to expand our blog/website to provide more resources for fathers and the family.
We recognize our need for assistance with organizational development, to discover our strengths and weaknesses, and to help us create a strategic plan and working budget. Organizational development would allow us to better assess our current weaknesses and strengths so we could better plan for the future. We do not currently have a fully formed strategic plan, but know this is a vital element for our continued expansion. We have been working on a “cash in/cash out” basis to date. We need assistance to create a budget that reflects not only our current fiscal situation but also our future goals.
Guidance in community engagement is also critical to our future growth. We need to discover how to include a wider diversity (racial, socio-economic) in our weekends, and we would like to make a larger group of men aware of the opportunities we offer. We have begun to network with a handful of other organizations, but we see that there is room for a vast improvement in this area. Specifically, we hope for assistance helping us accomplish these goals:
• Build a website in order to provide ongoing education and inspiration for fathers
• Design a new logo for Abba’s Way that could be used in marketing events and resources
• Create new relationships with event site providers outside Middle Tennessee
• Create curricula for fathers to use after the weekend events
• Create a music CD for fathers/boys
• Increase our capacity for community engagement and partnerships
During the next several years, we expect individuals, organizations and event fees to continue to supply a substantial portion of our financial support. We have received official 501(C)3 non-profit status so that donors can enjoy the tax benefit of giving to a recognized charity. We also are applying for grants that can support expansion efforts that will not be supported by donations and fees alone. Additionally, we hope to increase the base of volunteers who will help with events and organizational tasks. The addition of music, curricula, and other educational and inspirational resources will provide an additional stream of revenue to make the organization self-sustaining.
The challenges we face are varied. We have very limited funding yet we need to keep our weekend events affordable; not a simple task. We require a great number of volunteers to execute each Father’s Heart Weekend and while we have a solid base of volunteers in Middle Tennessee, opportunities in other locales are opening up–requiring an entirely new base of volunteers. For example, an organization has requested to sponsor a Father’s Heart Weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We have a challenge of finding the resources and experienced facilitators to accommodate the first of what we expect to be a growing need. An additional opportunity we are pursuing is initial talks with a large publisher to create a “retreat in a box” curriculum that would provide all the tools needed for other organizations to offer a Father’s Heart Weekend. Again, we are challenged to pursue this in a robust fashion because of a lack of strategic planning, full assessment of strengths and weaknesses, etc. As the organization grows, we expect to transition at least one person to a paid, full-time position in support of the mission of Abba’s Way but would need assistance to plan for long-term sustainability and growth.
Father’s Heart Weekends were created for fathers from all walks of life and we continually seek opportunities to bring ethnic diversity to our events. By offering scholarships, we make events accessible for men of all economic backgrounds. Attendees are generally Christian, representing a wide variety of denominations (Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.), but men of any (or no) religious background are welcome. Statistically, the majority of attendees are married but since two of the founding members are single fathers, special attention is made to reach out to fathers outside of the traditional, nuclear family and provide them with skills, inspiration, and opportunities to affirm and connect with their children in new and profound ways. Since our weekends are for fathers of sons ages 6 – 12, the ages of the fathers range widely, but generally fall within the range of early 20s to around age 50.
Abba’s Way promotes to participants via word of mouth, email marketing, some radio, and local partnerships with churches, counseling offices, and retreat centers. We are in the initial stages of a strategic partnership with a local non-profit, “Blue Skies”,that serves fatherless boys. Through this partnership, we will be in a position to allow a man to step into a fatherless boy’s life and serve as a surrogate father by joining him on a Father’s Heart Weekend. We are looking for resources that will enable us to increase our community networking and web presence in order to better market our services to a wider range of fathers. We are developing relationships with Daystar Counseling, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Deer Run Retreat and the YMCA. We are currently in sponsorship relationships with Lowe’s Home Improvement, Dicks Sporting Goods, REI, LifeWay Christian Resources, B&H Publishers and Brand Waves, LLC.
1. Abba’s Way supports responsible fatherhood by teaching men to value their roles as fathers, equipping them to become more actively involved fathers, and helping them discover and appreciate the unique talents and attributes of their children. We also encourage men who are not yet fathers to volunteer and support father/child relationships for others in the community. The philosophy is based on an understanding that rearing children is the work of a community and that initiation and rites of passage do not come exclusively from the father, but are achieved through a close fellowship of men speaking into a boy’s life. For this reason the volunteers/facilitators of the Father’s Heart Weekends are part of a collective community of men committed to the support and enrichment of fathers throughout Middle Tennessee. A core value of Abba’s Way is to facilitate and provide a community where men can live authentically among other men. Research has shown that an “uninitiated” man is often one that is isolated and lives as a loner, which fuels addictive behaviors and prevents men from being responsible fathers, committed husbands, and stable providers. An additional goal of ours is to create and provide a variety of ongoing resources further promoting responsible/active fatherhood, including books, music, curricula, and electronic media.
2. Abba’s Way supports marriages by encouraging men to be fully engaged in their homes, both as father and husbands. We urge men to be fully present in family life, as opposed to the societal norm of men who are disengaged from the hearts and minds of their families. We seek to inspire men to take a servant/leader role in their family and to initiate intentional times of connection with their children and their wives. We educate men that the role of a father is to actively and sacrificially love each member of the family by serving them. This principle of servant leadership is a core value and emphasis is placed on educating both the men and their sons that masculine strength is meant to be used to serve others rather than for their own personal comfort. One way we model this in the Father’s Heart Weekends is by providing volunteer roles for boys who have attended a previous weekend to serve those boys who are attending for the first time.
3. Abba’s Way encourages men to embrace their roles as providers for their families, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We invite those who have already attended a Father’s Heart Weekend to donate to support scholarships for fathers/sons who would like to attend but have financial limitations.