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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Edwin Louis Cole: Still Maximizing Men

By Joann Cole Webster
Aug. 19, 2012

"Sometimes you meet a man who forever impacts the way you think and, most importantly, the way you live,” says actor and political activist Chuck Norris. “Ed Cole was such a man. He influenced me to increase my trust in God, to be a faithful husband and father, and, even though I was a ‘TV tough guy,’ Ed Cole challenged me to be a real man.”

Ed Cole was an Assemblies of God pastor, evangelist, missionary and men’s leader. In 1963, he became the first full-time men’s director for the Northern California-Nevada District of the Assemblies of God.

In the 1970s, there was a pervasive culture of sexual immorality, drug use and militant feminism, while men in the media were depicted as weak or chauvinistic.

Ed Cole said that men should accept none of this. Anywhere he found an audience, Cole declared that only Scripture, not culture, could define a real man. He distilled his message into five crisp words: “Manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous.”

In his classic book Maximized Manhood, Cole pointed out the roles and responsibilities of men in relationship to God, their wives, families, careers and involvement in ministry. In it he stressed the need for men to re-engage in their homes and accept responsibility rather than simply attempting to grab authority. In putting his philosophy on paper, he rewrote modern manhood.

Cole’s next books — including Power of Potential, Courage and Communication, and Sex and Money — were also influential.

In April 1984, at a stadium event on the University of Houston campus, 7,800 men accepted the challenge of Christlike manhood, and the modern men’s movement took off. 

Dr. George O. Wood, who, like Cole, pastored in the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God during the 1970s, notes that “more than 10 million men were impacted and instructed through the ministry of Edwin Louis Cole over 30 years.”

In the 1990s, Coach Bill McCartney, who had won a national football championship as head coach at the University of Colorado in Boulder, determined that he also would call men to accountability, to become men of their word — Promise Keepers.

For many years, Cole was the only Pentecostal minister on the Promise Keepers platform. Once he spoke to 78,000 men at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Growing Into Ministry

In the late 1920s, Cole’s parents had relocated from West Texas to Los Angeles, where he was raised attending the famed Angelus Temple. He often was featured in Aimee Semple McPherson’s illustrated sermons. But when his unsaved father, in a drunken rage, pulled him out of the service one Sunday evening, young Ed determined never to return. It wasn’t until after World War II, and his marriage to Nancy, that Cole rededicated his life to Christ.

While still witnessing to his wife, Cole wasted no time in taking the gospel message to the streets, where he found hundreds of GIs just back from the war.

Nancy was numbered among Cole’s earliest converts, and two years later they were called to pastor a small Assemblies of God church in the Mother Lode area of California. After that, the Coles entered home missions work, then another pastorate, interspersed with times on the evangelistic field and in Brazil with his friend Bernhard Johnson.

It wasn’t until age 58 that Cole launched out to “major in men in ministry,” starting a new ministry entirely by faith. He had only a typewriter and a group of friends he’d made over the years. The ministry he started was renamed Christian Men’s Network in 1986, and spanned 210 nations by the year 2001.

Cole made his points with a firm grasp of Scripture, an understanding of human nature, and a gift for speaking the language of men that penetrated the hardest hearts. His meetings were marked by altar calls at the very start of the meeting that drew scores of first-time salvations, followed by altar calls at the end where men repented of sexual sin, ungodly habits and even spousal abuse.

He challenged a generation of men to accept responsibility and love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Through powerful scriptural applications, often reduced to one-line “Coleisms,” he led men into a firm grasp of the biblical model of true manhood.

The results were felt around the world, most acutely in the United States, Eastern Europe, and on the continents of Africa and Asia.

Cole’s bestselling books were made into a curriculum called Majoring in Men, which is now the most widely used men’s mentoring tool in the world. Tens of thousands of men across the United States have completed the discipleship course, to be commissioned as ministers to men and reaching them for Christ.

Undying Legacy

Today Cole’s books are included among the AG National Men’s Ministries leadership resources and are part of its discipleship initiatives.

Pastor Tommy Barnett of First Assembly of God in Phoenix has featured Majoring in Men in his church for two decades. He says, “Christian Men’s Network articulates Christlike attributes of manhood that enable men to stand for right and fight against wrong.”

It could be said that the world lost a champion of the gospel when Ed Cole went to his eternal home on Aug. 27, 2002, except that he had reproduced the ministry in a bumper crop of men who are still championing the principles he taught. His son, Paul, is at the helm of the ministry.

“My dad had one biological son,” Paul says, “but he gave me thousands of brothers.”

The ministry of the Christian Men’s Network still reaches around the world and continues to disciple men in churches, under the auspices of local church pastors. The 10-year goal is to reach 100 million men exactly the way that Ed Cole did, by reproducing disciples. The ministry’s 35-year anniversary will be held this month in Newport Beach, Calif.

As Chuck Norris has said, “It is a privilege to be mentored by a man like Ed Cole through his down-to-earth, practical wisdom. This privilege can still be enjoyed by every man on earth through Dr. Cole’s words that came from the heart of God and will live on forever.”

As Ed Cole’s daughter, it was a privilege to have a dad who showed me how a Christlike man loves his wife, leads his children, and leaves a legacy that lasts.

JOANN COLE WEBSTER is a writer and publisher and vice president of Christian Men’s Network ( She also serves as co-chair/Global Operations for the Billion Soul Network (

An interview with Joann Cole Webster and Paul Cole

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