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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Getting Men to Come to Church

Bathrobe from Knight-Ridder Newspapers; by Helen T. Gray

Question: How do you get men to church?

Answer: In handcuffs!

It's not quite that bad, but in his book, "Why Men Hate Going to Church," author David Murrow says the one place you won't find the majority of Christian men on Sunday morning is church.

"Women comprise more than 60 percent of the typical adult congregation on any given Sunday," he says. "At least one-fifth of married women regularly attend worship without their husbands."

The problem is even more acute in black churches. The Rev. R.L. Baynham, president of the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Kansas, said the average attendance in the typical black congregation is 25 percent men.

Among Murrow's conclusions:

Many men see the church as "a ladies club."

Sermons, volunteer opportunities and ministries are geared more toward women. Many churches operate on a feminine model, such as nurturing, verbal expression and gentleness, which is a lot harder for most men to achieve

Churches are not challenging men to live out their faith .

Churches need to recover the masculinity of Jesus, who was bold and aggressive, "but we have turned him into a wimp, and men don't follow wimps. They follow leaders."

Even in area churches with active men's ministries, male attendance at Sunday services is only 40 percent to 45 percent. An even smaller percentage is involved in other church activities.

But some area men's leaders believe their churches have found solutions that address the problem.

They say that presented with the right opportunities, men don't see the church as an emasculating ladies club following a wimpy Jesus. They agree, however, that understanding the male psyche is important.

For example, the Men in Ministry group at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission offers both spiritual and action-oriented pursuits. Spiritually the men gather in a retreat each year at Conception Abbey, where they get to know one other, hear a speaker and then talk about their spiritual journeys.

Men don't share very well, so it's important to ask the right questions that focus on putting into action the things they have heard, said Deacon Monte Giddings, head of St. Michael's men's ministry. Then there are activities like a river trip that includes camping, being out in nature, a male-oriented way to create a band of brothers. Men also volunteer to take food and clothing to the homeless .

"Some churches are not challenging men to live out their faith boldly," Giddings said. "Men need that call to action; that appeals to men. Most of us are not called to be contemplatives."

If men believe Christianity is too submissive, he said, that's because no one has explained it to them .

"Men may hear, `Turn the other cheek,'" he said. "But we also have to be able to stand up to the things that happen in our lives."

Chuck Wolfe spent 10 years trying to find a church that fit. Three years ago, he and his wife, Paula, accepted Jesus Christ and joined Sheffield Family Life Center. Today he coordinates the Watchmen on the Wall ministry. This involves security, crowd control, assisting the elderly and mothers with their children, helping people unload items from their vehicles at church, and providing information to church goers.

Wolfe, who owns a martial arts studio and is a law-enforcement training instructor, said this type of ministry appeals to men.

Some men may have a misconception of what a Christian man is supposed to be, he said. "They think, `If I come to church on a regular basis, I'm more apt to be more passive and less aggressive in what I do. I'm going to sit in church and behave and be a good boy.'"

The idea of surrender, a requirement in Christianity, is a problem for some men, he said. "We are taught not to be submissive as men, but we need to be submissive to the Lord."

Willie Murillo, associate pastor at Sheffield who oversees men's and women's ministries, agrees with Murrow that churches need a balance in allowing some of the masculine traits in ministry.

"But I don't feel that I need to compete with my brother or be aggressive," he said. "Those traits bring a sense of trying to rule over, and that will not sit well with people in general.

"At Sheffield we are bringing men together consistently, monthly and weekly, to deal with men's issues, struggles, battles, their goals. We're trying to mentor men and give them insights if they haven't been brought up with other role models on how valuable they are to the church, the community, their families and the generations to come."

One such study and discussion series covered the topic "Power, Money and Sex" and attracted from 100 to 150 men. Another dealt with sexual integrity. Murillo said men also want to be empowered to do something, such as teaching, working in the multi media ministry, going on mission trips, evangelizing and working in the prison ministry and the street ministry.

"A lot of it boils down to what is required of you and recognizing what the Lord requires of you and whether men find church a priority in their personal lives," he said.

For two years Rob Johns, a dentist, resisted the Men's Fraternity group at Olathe Bible Church. But through his wife's prompting, he finally took the plunge.

The Men's Fraternity is a national program that equips men to live lives of authentic manhood as modeled by Jesus Christ. It encourages men not to be passive but to take an active role in their families and their churches, Johns said.

"Guys respond well to disciplined approaches," he said. "Guys tend to be goal-oriented. It had a time frame that appeared manageable and that was appealing to me. You don't get overloaded with everything like in a weekend retreat."

An annual golf tournament is one approach the church takes to reach men, Johns said.

"This is an outreach," he said. "Last year 35 to 40 percent of the men were not members of the church. Lots of men love to play golf. It's a great non threatening way to spend time. You build up the friendship and fellowship part first, then go into the need for Christ and the church."

In Catholic churches, attendance often is about equal men to women, said Stuart Holland, director of Christian formation at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, Kan.

"Part of this may be the nature of the Catholic Church," he said. "It is still considered a serious sin to intentionally miss Mass. The obligation is equal for men and women. In some places this is taught stronger than in other places.

"But although attendance may be equal among men and women, the more participating sex is the women. In the Catholic Mass all are supposed to participate, be engaged in the service. The women are more engaged in the service while many more men are just warming the pews."

Male and female participation are roughly equal in Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Murrow writes.

"In the Islamic world men are publicly and unashamedly religious - often more so than women," he says. "Of the world's great religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners."

In Islam, both men and women have the obligation for prayer, said Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City.

"Men are encouraged to do prayer in congregation, which would mean going to the mosque for Friday prayer; women have the option to go or not to go," he said.

In Muslim countries, Friday prayer is overwhelmingly attended by men, he said. But in the U.S. attendance at those services is almost equally divided between men and women. The women in the United States feel more of a need to be in contact with other Muslim women that they would see at the mosque, he said.

In Orthodox Judaism more men attend prayer services "because in our understanding of Jewish law, only men have the obligation for public prayer and are counted in the minyan (quorum) for prayer," said Rabbi David Fine of Congregation Beth Israel Abraham & Voliner in Overland Park, Kan.

As an important step in solving the problem of missing men in Christian congregations, Murrow urges churches to recognize and welcome the masculine spirit in their congregations.

"I believe millions of men are ready to walk with their maker," he said, "if only we'll put aside our doubts and welcome the masculine spirit back to our churches.

"What have we got to lose?"

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Our district men's retreat and our Men's ministry leadership have been very agressive with the concepts of this book... "Why Men Hate ..." ON the way home (late one night) my Senior pastor and I had this discussion...

"What do men think when they walk into OUR church?"

As a result, we are adapting some things... Like
1. THE PASTORS do not wear a suit every Sunday! (gasp) this meant investing in "nice" but more ... dare I say it... 'relevant' clothing. (I DID wear my pastor suit last week!)
2. ADULT Sunday School options are led by men. (except the "women only" class)
3. MEN's MINISTRY is broadening our approach to what we consider "ministry." It is possible that we will get together for a weekend fishing trip (invite a bunch of non-Christians and NOT do any 'group' devotional or Bible study...) Please send all emails regarding this heresy to RW@relevant-complaints.org
4. Men love to acomplish things... work trips and community projects are great energy builders and "CONNECTING POINTS" for less commited men to rub shoulders with the "real men" of the church.

Just my thoughts.... other than that, Perry, that is an UGLY Toe... understanding that this is not a picture of Perry's toe, nor is it appropriate to post that comment on this post.... I am feeling rebelious!

Posted by: Jeff | Mar 30, 2006 12:25:50 PM

"Churches need to recover the masculinity of Jesus, who was bold and aggressive, "but we have turned him into a wimp, and men don't follow wimps. They follow leaders."

How true. I took a ski trip a couple of years ago at the lake with my brother. We visited a local church on Sunday, and the Pastor was very appreciative to see a couple of men taking time out of their vacation to come to church. He said that they kept losing their pre-teen and teenage boys, because the men wouldn't come to church, so the boys viewed church as uncool.

This is sad, the World has indeed painted a picture of Jesus being a milk toast wimp, which we know is just the opposite of what is true. Yet much of the Christian example of today has not helped the image. "Don't rock the boat", Don't "stand for Truth", "Don't speak out on right or wrong, heaven fobid, we might offend someone".

Posted by: Kent | Mar 30, 2006 1:10:01 PM

"This is an outreach," he said. "Last year 35 to 40 percent of the men were not members of the church. Lots of men love to play golf. It's a great non threatening way to spend time. You build up the friendship and fellowship part first, then go into the need for Christ and the church."

I know several individuals who actually have "golf ministries"... here in our own town and in California as well. Cannot tell you how many people have come to know Christ over the years. Come to know Christ then could not stay away from the church because of how their lives were changed.

"Masculine" is one word that you will definitely get different responses to when asked to define. My hubby may have appeared to look masculine behind the wheel of his 68(?) Mustang back when we were young(er). Frankly he is truly more masculine when he and our oldest son get in his 94 Ford Escort heading off to discipleship class that our son attends each Sunday night that his daddy leads because of his love for HIS FATHER!

Todd? If you're still reading this.. Some great stuff today. Thanks! :)

Posted by: Camey | Mar 30, 2006 2:14:16 PM

I'm involved in planting a church in my area and would not have gotten as involved if it hadn't in an area I felt comfortable in. We currently hold services in a recreation center gym, so we have to set up and tear down everything (stage, backdrop, lighting, sound, etc) every Sunday. When people ask me what my position is in the church, I tell them I'm kind of the "roadie". When approached about helping to plant a church I was leary, not having been involved in what I thought of as ministry much before, but when told they needed help with set construction, sound and lighting, I thought "I could do that".

Since then I've gotten more involved with outreach and witnessing, and my wife is invovled in the children's ministry. And we're both growing as a result. My brother has been a missionary most of his adult life, spending many years overseas, and he is thrilled that I have gotten more involved with Christ after a long time of being what he termed a lukewarm Christian.

Everyone has a purpose in God's plan, we just need to help men find a purpose they're comfortable with, and the rest will follow.

Posted by: DanielR | Mar 30, 2006 3:00:35 PM

We have a yearly "Men's Game Dinner" because everybody hunts here in Western PA. We had a speaker come who talked about his latest two hunts... One for a mountain lion in Canada (where he bagged a 150-lb Tom -male- cat) and the other where he took down a 850 pound GRIZZLY in Alaska. (both legal hunts, btw). I don't hunt, but what a FASCINATING talk the guy gave.

We had TONS of guys from in and out of the church! It was a GREAT outreach, and we didn't bang them over the head with the Gospel, we just told it like it is and invited them, gently, to join us in Church on Sunday.

And our dress code here is jeans and casual wear... I'm the only guy who doesn't wear shorts to work every day (even weekend services) when the weather gets warm. It makes it a little more inviting for men, I've noticed.

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Mar 30, 2006 3:30:36 PM

But here's another idea...

Two words...

"FREE BEER"

Enough said, I'm out!

Peter

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Mar 30, 2006 3:35:26 PM

We are preaching a series called Desperate Households...skylinechurch.org

Jim Garlow preached on this very thing last Sunday...and it hit a nerve with a lot of people...I would say it is true and I never truly thought about it...

We find that our women’s ministry can draw 1000 women on any given night...

While our men’s ministry is good to draw 150...

Most of the counseling ministry is around marriage...but no one shows up to marriage conferences...

I would like to hear if this is a real trend in your church?

http://pastorphill.typepad.com/phillip_longmire/


Posted by: phill | Mar 30, 2006 3:40:32 PM

Most men don't go to church much,even if they are fiercely programed to,because of a widespread disbelief based on sex.Don't kid yourself,real lust is widespread.Men have a secret world where they have deep sexwith themselves,and no mistry can change that.

Posted by: Jim Cash | Mar 30, 2006 3:48:31 PM

Jim,

Good point! And I think the internet is fueling that to pandemic proportions!

Peter

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Mar 30, 2006 4:00:03 PM

Men don’t like to surrender? It seems they will surrender to something. Why not surrender to the One who can make them something. People took note that the disciples had been with Jesus. Men who surrender to the Lord become powerful in word and deed. There is a long line from Noah, Moses, David all the way through to the New Testament. The sex thing is reducing men to a loaf of bread: “26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread,” (Proverbs 6).

Posted by: Linda | Mar 30, 2006 6:14:14 PM

The guys my husband’s golf group invites are slow to respond. Most are very unwilling to acknowledge to themselves or others that they have needs. Our culture of independence and self-authored success stories doesn’t look very admirably on that kind of vulnerably. That’s why I think it’s important to men in settings where they can rub shoulders with other men who are willing to talk about their needs, for God and one another, and model vulnerability. Women are just wired differently and are more able (or quick to consider) their need for God. Activities like the hunting event Peter mentioned or my husband’s golf ministry I think offer some good examples. But we have to be aware that it takes lots of golfing and hunting to crack open doors even slightly.

Jeff posted first on this thread and offered similar ideas in the work groups and projects where fringe men are rubbing shoulders with “real men” from the church. Great ideas too. However, I want to register a disagreement with their 2nd adaptation to address this issue: all classes for mixed gender adults taught by men only.

This church may have a conservative theological position regarding women in leadership and teaching roles. If that is why this policy was established, great. However, I think it is a mistake to make the connection between women in such roles and men staying away from church. Although I’ve not done such a study, I feel sure I could find plenty of examples of churches with very conservative positions on women in ministry that also have a very low percentage of male members. Likewise, I personally know of churches with completely egalitarian views on this issue, churches with women as board members and teaching pastors, and nearly equal number of male and female members. I’m not wanting to open any kind of discussion on the theology of women in ministry (I won't respond, that would be hijacking Todd's thread). I’m simply wondering, in response to Jeff’s post, what data was obtained which led them to decide that if they used only male teachers more men will begin attending church. My hunch, is that men who are already attenders might have complained about women teachers, but that is not (as I understand Jeff’s post) the reason for establishing the policy (to get more church men to attend adult classes). Rather, I think the goal was to get more unchurched men attending and engaging in church. Right?

For me, it is perfectly acceptable (and right) for a church to “land” somewhere on this issue based on how leadership interprets scripture, and to establish policies based on where they land. However, I think it would be sad for a church to arbitrarily make such a policy because they hope that excluding gifted women from teaching will bring more men in the front doors. Plus, I don’t think such a policy would accomplish the desired goal anyway.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 30, 2006 7:35:07 PM

Todd, Remember that HOOTERS article you had a while back... WELL, add that to what Peter said and they will bring down the house. Just kidding everyone.

Men love sports, cars, trucks, hunting, etc... What about starting the following programs for Men...

1. Baseball club.. They could meet and watch games together on t.v. trade cards, etc...

2. Football club.. Same as above.

3. Hockey club

4. Nascar Club.

5. Start a car/truck show. Or go to a Carl Casper's Auto Show.

6. Start a mens hunting league where they can swap hunting stories and maybe even pair up to hunt together. Oh yea,,

DICK CHENEY will be excluded. He is a high risk...Ha,ha... I say that with tongue in cheek all...It's almost Friday and I am starting to get delirious...

Posted by: Clairvoyent 1 | Mar 30, 2006 8:07:34 PM

Just got this newsletter with a good article called “Rules of Engagement for Men.” Thought some might find it valuable and applicable to the things discussed on this thread.

http://shop.grouppublishing.com/cvc/inside_track/2006_04/Men.asp

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 31, 2006 10:24:18 AM

Wendi -

You clearly disagree with male leadership of mixed-gender groups... OK, You could have e-mailed me and asked why we did it, so I'll explain here...

Question-
"What does a man think when he walks into church for the first time and sees women leading all of the discussions while men sit quietly?"
Question-
"Do women and men think and approach issue from the same perspective?"
Question-
"If you are trying to target "men" would it not make sense to make your church a place where they SEE other men?"

There are also some theological issues, but since you have issue with our "assumed" Scriptural interpretations... I'll just comment from the practical.

WE BELIEVE that more men will come to a "Superbowl" party organized by men with wild-game cooking and friendly competition than will attend a "tea" party with knitting." That is not meant to be a stereo-type, it is just knowing who we are trying to reach and what they will be looking for when they arrive.
When the farmer down the road get's his nerve up to attend on a Sunday morning, he will be welcomed by a small group leader who "lives in his world."
I know this is not popular psychology but men and women ARE different. We are trying to reach more men (yes, we still care about women!)

Posted by: Jeff | Mar 31, 2006 10:49:03 AM

In the mid 80's I was a soldier stationed in Germany. I loved to shoot skeet, trap and sporting clays. This was done on Sunday afternoons. We attended an British Army chapel due to our location. If you think American men are scarce in church...the Brits really are absent. Yet, I was able to get most of the skeet club to come to church. Men want to see authentic faith. I had a ball busting clays, I spoke well of our congregation and chaplain, and I quietly peppered my talk when appropriate with biblical principles that worked for me. I challenged my skeet shooting friends with "It works for me...how about you." What was amazing that within six months we would meet at church, go to lunch, and then shoot skeet as a group. The men who shot skeet with me brought their families to church. When some would [and they did...] openly admit that Jesus did not appear "manly" I asked if they got that impression from the movies or from the Bible. Now that caused many to stop and think. I hate how Hollywood depicts Christ. Christ loved the outdoors, He told stories, He laughed a lot, He worked hard, and He enjoyed the company of male friends. He was firm when He had to be firm. He was angry when it was right and He responded to injustice as a man. He was tender as a man when needed with women and children. He had courage. He stood for His convictions. These traits sell to men. As pastors, we have to paint His picture so men can see Jesus to follow Him.

Posted by: Dan Moore | Mar 31, 2006 11:01:49 AM

Teach them how to be men and take authority in their household.

Teach them about God's Authority and Sovereignty and God's Structure for the Family (Roles of the Family).

Men don't come to church because they either don't want responsability or abuse their responsability.

Posted by: BeHim | Mar 31, 2006 11:25:25 AM

Jeff –

I’m sorry if my disagreeing post sounded in any way condescending. I did not intend it. I posted instead of e-mailing because I felt (feel) this is worthy of discussion.

I fully understand that some have carefully studied scripture and “landed” on a position of women being completely excluded from any kind of leadership or teaching in mixed gender groups, making this the official theological position. This may be the case in your church.

However, many churches never really wrestle with the issue and can’t answer the “why” questions (biblically, theologically, practically) about programming practices in regard to gender.

Lest I hijack this post, let me comment further on getting men to come to church.

Of course men would rather come to a super bowl party than a tea party. I don’t think my comments suggested otherwise. Nor did I suggest that women [lead ALL (emphasis mine) of the discussions while men sit quietly]. I was advocating balance with both men and women in teaching and leadership. Of course there are gender differences. I think I affirmed that in my post.

Having said that, a case could be made that for the current generation of completely unchurched men and women – gender is completely irrelevant. Thus, when young unchurched men (and women) enter churches where women appear to be invisible (in regard to teaching or leadership), it will be noticeable and I’d submit – offensive and irrelevant. I have two sons (25 and 27). Once we visited a church very conservative on this issue. During the service six or eight men had roles on the platform, from making announcements to reading scripture. Men were ushers. Men distributed communion. The staff listed in the bulletin were men. The MOMENT we walked out, my boys said “What is this place, an old boys club? Do they hate women?” This was the perception of CHURCHED kids (and men).

The current and next generation of unchurched interact with women as business executives, university presidents, public servants at every level, Secretary’s of State. Many men report to women in the workplace. I’d submit that, when we finally do get these young people (men and women) in our doors and they find women completely excluded, we’ll lose them. Even the men (like my boys) will find such practices irrelevant at the least and quite possibly archaic and offensive.

Now if a church is unable to embrace women in leadership and teaching roles because of their theology, then this is not an issue for discussion. But . . . I responded to your post because I actually believe that completely excluding women can be counter productive to the issue addressed in this thread, and if a church has not taken an official position, they should think twice before adopting a “men only” teaching policy assuming such a practice will automatically bring more men in the doors.

I hope my response sounds respectful of complimentarians. I do get it that we interpret scripture differently in non-essential issues, and I think I’ve said as much in other posts. This is one of those about which we can agree to disagree and still love one another. I can love and serve with Christians who think I should “be silent in church” except with other women or children, I just disagree with them.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 31, 2006 11:34:28 AM

Wendi,
Please don’t be silent we all appreciate your intelligence. And I agree this is an important conversation.

Someone said as the church goes so goes society. There must be some truth to that. There has been a feminization in the church. I’m all for woman using their gifts to teach but if we reach the men we get the whole family. Try telling your teenagers they have to go to church but dad doesn’t. A fatherless generation needs strong godly male role models. Single women want men in church and so do the wives. Everyone benefits when men lead.

Recently a Harvard professor wrote a book called Manliness. Gender neutral is the first experiment in history he said. Men used to win woman with being provider and protector. Not anymore. The thing that distinguishes men is confidence in situation of risk. Christianity is all about risk and God is the ultimate in infusing confidence. In the book he said that men want deference. Nobodies trying to undo the strides woman have made but it is time to let men advance.

Isaiah 3:12 Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them…..

Posted by: Linda | Mar 31, 2006 12:16:00 PM

The church I spoke of earlier, where men were scarce, therefore so were the teenage boys, was led by mostly women. The Pastor said he knew that the reason he was losing the boys was because the men were not leading. Our men need to come back and lead, and our women need to give them the freedom, submission and encouragement to do so, both in the church, and much of time it just needs to start in the home.

I praise God that I have a Godly wife that encourages men to lead at home as well as at church. Many times when a discussion turns to women leading men, even if among a group of women, my wife will speak out as a lone voice.

Linda, I very much appreciated your comments.

Posted by: Kent | Mar 31, 2006 1:06:39 PM

Linda – I agree that much of the church has been feminized. I also agree that if we can reach the men, we can better reach the family (even families with no man in the household). What I don’t agree with is that women must be completely restricted from all (please not all) leadership and teaching roles in order to effectively address these issues.

Once someone suggested to my husband that they’d attend a class I was teaching if he was teaching with me. Though I cannot recall his exact words, the spirit of them is forever embedded in my heart. It went something like this:

“Wendi has leadership and teaching gifts, mine are music and shepherding. You would love being on a team that Wendi leads, as she is an effective and affirming leader. You would hate being on one I lead . . . we’d get nothing done. You would learn much from a class Wendi teaches, but be bored to tears if I tried to teach. The fact that we both serve according to our gifts in the church in no way compromises our marriage or my leadership in our home. Your suggestion that I must stand next to my wife in order for her to use her gifts is an affront and insult to both of us and how we’ve been created as new creatures in Christ.”

What woman wouldn’t want to submit to someone who loves and affirms who they are in Christ in such a manner?

BTW – although I am an egalitarian, I am not a feminist (though some might believe these are one and the same). Also, although I believe scripture supports complete gender equality in ministry, I do not believe insisting upon this in our churches is in the best interest of the gospel. The furtherance of the gospel is always the trump card. Women as Sr. Pastors, women dominating (note please dominating not “participating in”) church leadership would hinder the gospel and as is the subject of this thread, keep the men away. Women (and men) who insist on pushing this envelope too far or too fast comprise the work of the gospel and are divisive to the church. It is an abuse of freedom in Christ which the Apostle Paul frequently admonishes us to have caution about.

I've said enough on this issue, at least in this thread. I'm in danger of being a hijacker.

Wendi

Posted by: Wendi | Mar 31, 2006 2:21:54 PM

Wendi, I'd probably be more interested in what you had to say if your husband had posted it instead.

;-) JUST KIDDING!!!!

No seriously... very balanced response. And mature, too...

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Mar 31, 2006 3:56:32 PM

I have a sister-n-law who is discipling a young lady who's husband will not go to church, which understandably is very frustrating for this wife. She however wants to handle things as God would have her to, and not turn him even farther away from being the follower of Christ she desparately desires him to be. My sister-n-law has given her sound biblical counciling and a wonderful book on dealing with this situation, as well as just being the helper God created for a husband. It's called "Created to be his help meet". My wife has read it also and loved it. It has been a surprise hit selling thousands. Here's a link to it, if anyone is interested. http://shop.nogreaterjoy.org/product_info.php/cPath/2_18/products_id/84

Posted by: Kent | Mar 31, 2006 4:19:19 PM

I'm all over the women being involved in church, playing an active role and such. I do believe, based upon my understanding of scripture, that women can't be pastors. However, many of the pastors in this country are men, so that alone can't be a reason men avoid church.

The faith has been totally feminized.
Church is a club where we pay a large sum of money to attend, told that about everything we do is a sin (or leads to a sin or even thinking about it is a sin), everything we want to do for enjoyment either is a sin or takes away from the family or is money better spent elsewhere and our natural response to stressful situations is 100% opposite of what we want to do.

I commented to my wife the other day, talking about the afgan Christian threatened to be killed, that Islam has a major plus over Christianity. Men have the opportunity to wreck vengance on the 'wicked' (which is us Christians & Jews) and the heretics (ditto) and it is a plus in the faith. For Christians, we are to submit to God who will be the hand of vengance. Great and all, but abortionist still murder little babies and I can't do a thing to stop an abortionist from working today - where is God's hand of vengance? Homosexuals run rampant in the school system and infect the church with their perversion of scripture and where is God's hand of vengance? Muslims slaughter Christians enmass in Africa, where is God's hand of vengance? Benny Hinn still breathes, Phelps still breathes, etc.

Now the typical response is we're not judge and executioner, we're supposed to pray, turn the other cheek, they can change, love covers a multitude of sins, that isn't loving, let those who haven't sinned cast the first stone, etc - none of which are satisfactory answers to a guy who wants to see results. I want to see some divine fire from heaven smite the wicked.

If what I said offends you because you're a Christian, then you're also part of the reason men don't like church. Can't even speak your mind without being castigated for it. If it offends you because of your politics, then you're one of the people I want to see smited, so - don't care.

(which is the other issue, caring, I'm supposed to care about other people. See them like Jesus sees them and love them accordingly - very difficult to do when your first thoughts involve fire from heaven coming down on their heads)

This is my point of view right now, Friday at the end of my work day. Don't hold it against me and don't count on me to defend it. I'm apathetic right now. Monday it will probably change. But that is how I see the church in regards to men not wanting to attend...

Posted by: Paul Davis | Mar 31, 2006 4:57:00 PM

Wendi...I don't believe you are in danger of hijacking the thread. I've had lots of experiences with different church groups. I will say this...my present work was nicknamed "Amazon Baptist Church" by the other pastors in our association because except for the pastor, women ran everything (female deacons, too). One pastor was called after one retired in 1990 and he served two weeks. The church struggled with reaching people because some visitors observed no men serving. My two primary tasks after I accepted the call was to lead the church in growing and get the men more involved. You mentioned your sons commenting about traditional churches being "old boys' clubs" well I have had women (ages 20-30) who have visited who criticized me for allowing women to teach Sunday School classes of mixed adults (at the moment we have 50-50 mix in Sunday School teachers).

I have observed something in our association concerning men and growing churches. Those who have "men on the platform" and male deacons are growing. One set of principles that help me is:

Reach a child and you have a 25% chance of reaching the family.

Reach the wife/mother, and you have a 50% chance of reaching the family.

Reach the father/husband and you have 100% chance of reaching the family.

I don't know why but it has worked for me in the past.

Posted by: Dan Moore | Mar 31, 2006 5:04:54 PM

Peter Hamm, how about putting beer in the communion cups?! ;-)

Seriously, though, I offer this personal observation: I'm worn out. I work 40-50 hours a week, with a 40-minute commute twice a day. I get home and help my wife with supper, help the kids with their homework, and pay the bills. On Monday nights my wife has a ladies group. On Tuesday nights we have a couples' group and the kids are at church (we leave shortly after I get home and get back an hour after the kids' bed time). On Thursday mornings I get up at 5 to have breakfast with two buddies. Thursday night I take a seminary class until 10. Saturdays are filled with house and yard work and end with baths all around. Sundays - the day of rest - begin with trying to get three kids ready for church, rushing around the house trying to make it on time, even if we go to the late service. Used to be we'd go for both a service and Sunday School, so we'd rush to church early and rush home for lunch afterwards.

On top of all the things I really do, add the list of things I should be doing: exercising regularly, dating my wife weekly, dating my kids. And don't forget the things that my family has already substantially cut out; right now our kids aren't in sports or music lessons, which has "saved" us as much as 10 hours a week. Oh, I shouldn't forget the twice-a-month church committee and board meetings for three years.

This is all from a guy who grew up in the church, loves the church, is committed to the church...and, quite frankly, is tired out by the church. Hey, I know discipleship is a call to hardship, but in my experience, being involved in church hasn't been a "my yoke is easy" sort of experience.

As I prepare to enter into full-time church ministry, these are dilemmas I am pondering; not just how to get men to church, but how to involve them in a real, world-changing, testosterone-bending, storm-the-gates-of-hell relationship with the Almighty Creator...without frying them to a crisp.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Mar 31, 2006 6:47:05 PM

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