Previous career fields: Food service, janitorial supplies, technology.
Education: Bachelor's degree in business management and English, University of Alabama.
Family: Wife Clarissa, four teenage children.
His small carpet-cleaning business, Xtrax Dry Xtraxion Carpet Cleaning, in which two of his sons work with him.
Chris Ackerson walked into the office of Men's Ministry Network one day in 2010 and told then-president and executive director Bernie Ritterbush he was coming to work with him.
On July 1, the Signal Mountain man took over as executive director of the ministry, which began in 1996.
"I think Bernie was shocked when I showed up," Ackerson said. "I knew he was looking for somebody."
Ritterbush, who founded the ministry, will now become president emeritus and director of special projects and will continue to advise the ministry as it transitions to new leadership.
His current project is The Jesus Trek, in which he is developing "a logical, coherent pathway to spiritual maturity for men," according to the new executive director.
Ackerson, who before worked primarily in the hospitality and technology industries, said he met Ritterbush when he helped Ackerson's church, Signal Mountain Presbyterian, with the Men's Fraternity series.
Out of that, he said, "I ended up in a one-on-one discipling relationship with my church's youth pastor, of all people. As our schedules changed where we couldn't meet, I reconnected with Bernie. And Bernie became the guy that was discipling me."
It was many months, he said, before Ackerson walked into Ritterbush's office -- despite no job posting -- and said he was ready to work.
"That's exactly what happened, much to the ... amazement of my wife," he said.
Q: What is the focus of Men's Ministry Network?
A: The stated mission of the ministry is to help the local church by mobilizing Christian men to become spiritually mature, intentional disciple makers in their families, in their churches and in their workplaces.
Q: Why is it important to have a specific ministry to men?
A: When we look at some of the issues we deal with in society, pretty much everything can be tracked back to a man, a father [or] a husband who didn't really understand his role. In the church, it's the same thing. And we believe Scripture points us to men having a leadership role, and we need help developing that skill.
Q: What's the most significant thing happening within Men's Ministry Network?
A: Over the last two years, we've been developing something we call the Disciple Making Network, where we're taking teams of men, five at a time, through an equipping process to help them understand what it actually takes and looks and feels like to engage another man one-on-one to help them through this spiritual growth that Scripture calls us to. We've grown to over 60 men that are involved in that ministry to date and are continuing to add more now.
Q: How has your recently expanded board of directors helped grow the ministry?
A: In order to grow the ministry from what it's been historically, as basically a single man (Ritterbush) serving the church, into this larger network of disciple makers, we've got to grow the infrastructure of the ministry. And one of the most important ways to do that is to bring more men into the leadership. And we've done that by growing our board from three men into 11 men who are very active in the ministry, not only in connecting with other men but also in growing the ministry financially and administratively.
Q: Does an expanded board mean more networking opportunities?
A: By bringing more men in the community in, we benefit from their experience, whether that be professionally or their experience in the church, and all that comes to bear on the ministry to help it grow.
Q: What's the best way for men to connect with Men's Ministry Network?
A: That would really be through the quarterly dinners that we hold. They're called Advancing the Battle Men's Dinner Conferences. We do those at the Brainerd Crossroads. We've got one coming up on July 19 and then another one on Oct. 18. And we use those as a place to gather men together to let them see the picture of what it is we're trying to accomplish in the city as well as a place to celebrate the men that have already engaged in the ministry.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...
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