By Rick Kratz
The founder and leader of the Men Mapping group was a man by the name of Steve Phinney. The objective of the group was to teach men their biblical roles as leaders of their family, church, and community. I had been a regular church, bible study, and men’s retreat attender for many years, but I had never heard anything like what Steve was teaching. The message struck a chord in me and Steve’s teaching style was perfect – no sugar coating, just the straight-on truth in a way that was clear and understandable. And in God’s perfect timing, this message was reaching me when I was best prepared to receive it.
I became a regular attendee at the Men Mapping meetings and began to grow toward becoming the man God had intended me to be. I was so enthusiastic about the ministry that I wanted to help it develop in some way. The only thing I felt I had to offer at that time was my skill as a CPA, so I offered to serve the ministry in that way. As I began to work closely with Steve Phinney, I learned that Men Mapping was part of a larger ministry named IOM America. Through IOM, Steve not only led Men Mapping, but also provided intense and unusual Christian counseling to individuals, couples, and families. He also taught bible studies on a wide and unusual array of subjects.
Through his bible studies, my wife was also introduced to Steve, as well as his wife Jane and their three daughters. My wife and I became fervent supporters of IOM America and we both grew in extraordinary ways due to Steve’s ability to communicate God’s word. We were continually amazed by his insights, and even more amazed by his humility. He always attributed those insights to God and not to himself. In fact, Steve regularly warned that if people tried to put him on a pedestal he would eventually fall off, just as all humans do. But we should put God on that pedestal because He would never disappoint us.
Eventually, Steve would serve as counselor to my family, as my wife and I struggled through the teen years with our two children. Steve was always gentle and considerate, but he was also very direct and honest. I must admit that his directness often caught us off guard and he touched on some issues that were quite painful, but the result was always great healing and growth.
As the years passed, and I continued to work closely with Steve as my friend and mentor, we established a very successful Men Mapping group at my church, as well as a monthly breakfast fellowship and teaching events for men in my church. It was during this time that Steve launched his writing career with his first book Men & Warfare. Following that book were many other successful books, as well as numerous CDs containing his teaching on a wide variety of subjects.
Steve’s books and CDs were received in very much the same way as his live teachings. Many loved them because they clearly spoke the truth, were based strictly on the bible, and touched on many subjects that were not taught elsewhere. A few have been “put off” by Steve’s teaching for exactly the same reasons as it has been embraced by many. In fact, I introduced Steve to a group of men by warning them that some people like to have their ears tickled by the words of their teachers (2 Timothy 3-4), but there would be no tickling of ears by Steve Phinney.
The move to Kansas for Steve, his family, and his ministry have left a large hole in my life and heart. But those holes are being healed as I continue to be ministered to by IOM through Steve’s e-mail writings. My wife and I are particularly enthusiastic about his teachings on the subject of The Emergent Church and the New Apostolic Reformation movements. The timing of these insights from God could not be more timely or important.
While Steve and his family are greatly missed in Phoenix, we are all excited about the new ministry opportunities God has provided in Kansas and beyond. Anyone who is touched by Steve and IOM will be much better for the experience.