Last weekend the Chronicle Herald (Halifax’s daily newspaper) had a brief story on men and the church. It was an interview with David Murrow about his book Why Men Hate Going To Church. (update: the article is no longer available online)
I also believe he has many good points.
Here is a brief quote from the article.
For him, the answer is simple: Churches today are designed for women.
“Christianity’s primary delivery system, the local church, is perfectly designed to reach women,” he says of the warm colours, robes, candles, flowers, sharing, tapestries, long sermons and soft, romantic worship music that are the hallmarks of many churches today.
“This church system offers little to stir the masculine heart, so men find it dull and irrelevant,” he states, adding that men who do go to church seem passive and bored.
I often wonder where the men are in the church too. Sure there are some, but many of the women in the church confess to me that their husbands just have no interest in going.
It gets me thinking about what it was that brought me into the church 10 years ago. It started with an invitation to use my gifts in the church. They needed a webmaster, I was willing to help. They needed someone to work in the sound booth. I was willing to help. They needed someone to help with the youth group. Again, sign me up!
I was seeing realtime results for my actions in the church, and I could see how they made a difference.
It also helped that I was being taught be an excellent preacher each and every Sunday morning who was willing to challenge social norms and call us into lives of faith, and from there into action.
This is a struggle for many of our churches because we have become so focused on finances and maintaining our existence we miss opportunities to serve. There are very few men I know, when called upon to help, will turn you down.
So yes, our Sunday morning rituals are heavily feminized, but that’s not the whole problem. Men who grew up in the church are used to this and are comfortable with it. The challenge is engaging them.
For men new to the church though, this is a different story. We need to find ways to engage them in worship. We need to review our delivery methods, the music we play, and how worship branches out into the wider call to serve in our communities.
My friend Joe summed it up well, when he said,
maybe the the men in the church should do some back country camping to connect with God, maybe the men in church should take more leadership in justice roles in the community like mentoring youth instead of just complaining about them being trouble makers, or serving the homeless or standing up to the drug dealers in our neighbourhoods. or the church could stop pretending that we need to be spit shined and polished before were able to go to church and men wouldn’t feel so inadequate and fearful inside while they try to act like they measure up to some false standard the church created, Jesus came and hung out with the drunks and prostitutes and sick and hurting, maybe we should tell men it’s ok to go and share Jesus with people who are broken so Jesus can put us all back together in Him. As soon as the church realizes church isn’t about what we do on Sunday morning, not about our clothes or our buildings or our rules and regulations the churches will be full of men once again. how ’bout we bring Jesus back to the church since it supposed to be about Him anyway, see what that does… just sayin’
This warrants more thought and discussion. I may have to revisit this again soon.