Stand in the GAP 2007
By Chris Glazier
History will repeat itself on October 6. Stand in the Gap returns to Washington,
D.C., for the 10th anniversary of the original event, which attracted 1 million men.
On October 4, 1997, Frank Helmes found himself in a blue car with three Christians heading to
Washington, D.C., for an event called Stand in the Gap, one of those Promise Keepers things for men.
Helmes didn't entirely know why he was in the car. He didn't even like Christians. Since an ugly divorce,
his life had been going down "like a plane in a tailspin," as he says. But he knew there was something in
his life that was missing, and the stuff he was doing wasn't filling it. So he gave in to his friend Steve's
pestering and joined the trip without a clue as to what was about to happen.
On the half-hour car ride into D.C., he found out that two of the guys had similar jobs to his, and all of
them had problems. As he listened to them chat about girlfriends, challenges and temptations—"guy
stuff"—he realized these men were the same as him.
When Helmes and his new friends arrived in Washington that morning, the scene blew them away, as it
did everyone else that day. Close to 1 million men of every age, background and ethnicity packed into the
National Mall to join one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
As the event started, the leaders asked the crowd for a time of silence as they blew a shofar, a traditional
Jewish horn. At the sound, a wave of almost supernatural silence swept across the crowd. Everyone who
remembers it was impacted, but probably no one more than Frank Helmes.
At the end of it, Helmes turned to his group and told them, "God is here, and I can feel Him."
That was Stand in the Gap 1997. This year, it's happening again.
Ten Years Later
The original Stand in the Gap surprised even its organizers in its size and impact on all who attended. It
was, in many ways, a peak moment for the Promise Keepers-dominated men's movement of the '90s—a
time of prayer, worship and repentance on the national stage and far and away the largest gathering of
Christian men in the country's history.
In June 2003, a small group of men from the Washington Area Coalition of Men's Ministries realized that
the 10th anniversary of Stand in the Gap was coming up and after much prayer, decided the event should
continue every 10 years.
With the endorsement of the National Coalition of Men's Ministries, the event took off. This time Promise
Keepers is not involved due to the changing nature of their outreach.
Stand in the Gap 2007 will take place on the lawn of the Washington Monument on October 6. Due to
new space restrictions, organizers are planning the event for 250,000 men, which is a relatively small
number compared to the original, but would be the largest gathering of Christians this year.
"Men today tend to be isolated," says Rick Kingham, president of the National Coalition of Men's
Ministries and co-chair of the event. "If you can get them together to stand for God, it's a grand success."
Stand in the Gap takes its name from Ezekiel 22:30, which says, "'I sought for a man among them who
would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I
found no one'" (NKJV).
The verse speaks of Israel's abandonment of God, and the men of the first event used it as a rallying cry
for accountability, forgiveness and humility.
Similar themes will be present this year, and there will be an added emphasis on passing this legacy on
to new generations because of the once-a-decade nature of the new event.
"When I went to the first one, I brought my son," says Marty Granger, the president of Faith in the Family
and chairman of Stand in the Gap 2007. "He is coming back, but now he is married and has a son. I hope
this cycle continues throughout my life."
A Call to Assembly
Granger and Kingham both want Stand in the Gap 2007 to be an engaging, participatory experience
rather than simply an event that features a lineup of worship leaders and speakers.
It will be divided into five segments of one hour each. The beginning will be a "celebration of return," says
Granger, who is the lead organizer of the event. They will celebrate what happened 10 years ago and
listen to voices from the past. He wants the men in Washington to understand what happened before and
to stand on the shoulders of those who have come before them.
The voices will be from all the generations of men represented there, from the Vietnam generation to the
September 11 generation, as well as from those who have passed away. This idea comes from Psalm
145:4, which says, "One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty
"Each age group has a certain pain and a certain promise," Granger says. "What does a 70-year-old have
to say to a teenager, and what does a teenager have to say to a 70-year-old?"
After the first hour, Granger is planning a "grand audible call to worship" of 1,000 trumpets blasting at the
same time. The following four hours will roll out to the themes of "return, remember, renew and rebuild."
During each segment, there will be a variety of worship, short messages from speakers and experiential
At press time, plans were still in the works, but the confirmed speakers include Joseph Garlington, Rick
Kingham, David Jeremiah, Paul Sheppard, Dan Chun, Dale Schlafer and Bruce Fong, with more to be
added. Garlington and Kingham will be the emcees. Steve Newby will lead the worship band and Wintley
Phipps will perform as a soloist.
The "return" portion will highlight the returning to a place where God moved powerfully a decade earlier
and returning to our first love. The "remember" portion will ask men to remember what God has done for
them and to remember what they have, or haven't, done for Him. The "renew" portion will call men to
renew their resolve to stand with Christ.
Stand in the Gap will end with a send-off based on the "rebuild" theme. The leaders will challenge each
man to ask God what needs to be rebuilt in his life, whether that is his relationships, his parenting, his job,
his family or his civic involvement.
But Granger and Kingham expect more than just what's on the program. Both of them said one of the
most powerful moments of the original Stand in the Gap was when a speaker asked men to pull out
pictures or write down the names of people they had harmed and then pray for God's forgiveness.
"That was not a programmed moment," Granger says. "That was a God moment."
Getting the Word Out
The new Stand in the Gap is different from the original in many ways, but none more than in the way it is
being marketed. The event has been grass roots, or virally driven since the beginning. It has relied mainly
on the Internet and word-of-mouth. They're relying much more on the average guy to get the word out
than they did 10 years ago.
Stand in the Gap's comprehensive Web site, standinthegap2007.org, offers more ways to contribute, help
spread the word and help guys get to Washington.
Frank Helmes is doing everything he can and telling everyone he knows—or meets—to come. After
feeling God's presence so powerfully during that moment of silence at the first event, Helmes later broke
down and surrendered his life to Christ. He still breaks down when he talks about it.
Today, Helmes, 61, is actively involved in his church. He met his wife, Linda, there in 1999 and continues
to be involved with the men's ministry and enjoys discipling other guys.
"The way I felt that day was [as if] they designed the entire event for me," he says. "And I know thousands
of others felt the same way."
Let's hope the same will be true for this year's Stand in the Gap.
Chris Glazier is an assistant editor for New Man magazine. He is a recent graduate of the University of