Chris Bruno, a therapist in Colorado and Executive Director of Restoration Project, has released a book, Man Maker Project: Boys are Born, Men are Made, with a foreword by Dr. Dan Allender. Bruno received his MA in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School in 2010. His new book, an exploration of godly masculinity, contains stories and practical challenges to help fathers raise men of strength and character. We’re excited to share this interview with Bruno about the book, and in coming weeks stay tuned to The Seattle School’s blog as we feature a series of posts from him on topics including fathering, rites of passage, and the importance of story.
What’s Man Maker Project all about?
There’s an African proverb that says, “If we do not initiate our sons, they will burn down the village to feel the heat.”
We live in a generation of men who have woken up to the reality of the masculine mess that surrounds us—the mess that resulted from decades of father-absence, father-violence, and father-vacancy. We ache. We are men who boldly name our own father-desires and father-wounds, and we have an inkling of hope that we may turn the tide for our children. Yet we have lost our way to the headwaters of godly masculinity, and we need a guide to show us the way back.
Man Maker Project offers a practical roadmap that equips fathers to intentionally usher their sons into a manhood worth living through a modern-day initiation experience. Fathers are called to answer their son’s core question: Am I a man? Every boy needs to feel the heat of his father’s clear “YES!” in response. Boys who wander into adulthood alone remain lost and unfinished, and seek out their own ways to feel the heat.
What are you hoping to see happen through this project?
I hope to spark a movement of men who will turn their hearts towards themselves, their wives, their children, and their world. I long for a community of men who honestly and hopefully dive into relationships with others, reject the temptation to comply with empty dreams, and risk being the men God intended. This is a gargantuan dream, I know.
Yet I am thrilled every time I see one man shift his gaze. You can see it in his eyes—a combination of strength and tenderness—when he starts to see differently. I know the Man Maker Project is a success every time I see a man choose to father, whether or not he has children. It is the highest calling of God on men. And it changes everything.
But ultimately, the Man Maker Project is about me and my own son. I have been restored through this process, and I pray that my efforts to be his intentional father have in some small way laid the foundation for his hope-filled restoration.
What about your organization, Restoration Project? What’s that about?
We restore the world by restoring men.
As a Christian man, there are few places more hopeless, empty, and anemic than the world of “men’s ministry” today. One of the saddest blemishes on the face of the Church is in the lack of vision, hope-inspired resources, or honest engagement among men. I believe that men are vital to the Kingdom of God in the world—but we have lost our way. It is my calling to reawaken a hope mixed with truth, a strength combined with tenderness, and an honesty saturated by deep relationship.
We envision a world where men are men as God intended—where fatherlessness ceases to exist, and the hearts of men are fully restored to God, family, and community. We imagine a world where the inner wounds of men are healed, where men know God deeply and wildly, and where men move from an inner core of strength to kindly restore God’s Kingdom to the world.
“We imagine a world where the inner wounds of men are healed, where men know God deeply and wildly.”
Restoration Project’s core elements include healing our wounds, knowing our God, and restoring our world. We are experience and resource architects who weave together past, present, and future as we remember our stories, hope for a better future, and kindly act today.
How has The Seattle School influenced who you are and the work you do now?
On every level possible.
When I first came to The Seattle School as a graduate student, I was terrified. Honestly, I would have run had it not been for the magnetism of hope that kept drawing me back. I engaged a new type of person within that red brick building. I learned about the deep hope of the gospel, where I was boldly yet kindly called to become more than I had ever dreamed. I learned to listen, to see, to wait, to expect, to read, and to believe. I experienced a God who is more good than I could imagine, and whose love is more dreadful and beautiful than I could bear.
As a result of my time at The Seattle School, I became a hope addict. Yes, I was trained as a professional counselor. But more than this, I received a soul-education that burst from the classroom into the halls, into the streets, into the city, and into the deepest stories ever lived. Where once there was no hope, I began to see, hear, and taste it, and I developed an insatiable hunger to awaken hope in myself and others.
“As a result of my time at The Seattle School, I became a hope addict.”
The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and The Allender Center have more radically shaped the work I do now than any other earthly influence in my life. I am honored to have my friend and mentor, Dan Allender, offer his words of affirmation and blessing in the foreword of the book. His work, words, and wonder fill my thoughts daily.
What’s next for you?
If there are two primary places where men struggle most, it is in the areas of intentional fathering and intentional masculine friendships. Men need buffering, sharpening, and encouragement from a brotherhood of other men. We were never designed to live in isolation, and yet our American man-culture seeks to keep us distant and disengaged. Man-friendship has come to be synonymous with around-the-grill conversations and boring pre-dawn prayer breakfasts.
In addition to Man Maker Project, I have already finished a 10-week men’s guide called the Brotherhood Project. This resource leads a small group of men who long for connection and brotherhood into the murky waters of masculine friendship. Rather than focus on content, the text of the group is the life and stories of the men involved. Guys learn how to tell their stories, listen to the stories of others, and bless one another in the process. They learn how to see one another for more than their pretenses. They are invited to honor the mess and brokenness that make up each of our lives, while still holding onto hope for restoration. It is in this context that men become true men.
More information about the Brotherhood Project can be found on our website, restorationproject.net. It is my hope to bring this resource to national publication as well in order to make it more widely available.
Man Maker Project: Boys are Born, Men are Made is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. Stay tuned to The Seattle School’s blog over the next three weeks as we feature a series of posts from Chris on topics including fathering, rites of passage, and the importance of story.