Friday, November 03, 2006


"Men don't go to church because they've been"
-anonymous Texan

A common and valid complaint about the Christian Church in far too many places is that it is almost designed to attract and appeal to women at the expense of men. From hyper-emotional songs pitched at a tone men find uncomfortable to sing, to music that men associate more with chick flicks and romance than worship, to sermons about relationships, men find many churches to be like stepping into a sewing bee.

David Morrow wrote a book called Why Men Hate Going to Church and he has a host of statistics he uses, on the website for this book:

  • The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.
  • On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.
  • This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
  • Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.
  • The majority of church employees are women (except for ordained clergy, who are overwhelmingly male).
  • As many as 90 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it by their 20th birthday. Many of these boys will never return.
  • More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.
In this book, he quotes a business manager and analyst who notes that churches are excellent at selling their product to a specific audience and demographic: women. The book goes into excellent detail and I recommend it highly to everyone to read, Christian or not, for it's insights into being a guy and facing modern culture.

So in response to this very real observation of too many churches, some have begun a different approach, trying to man up the place and make it more masculine. Stand to Reason blog has one such story:
Last Saturday morning, 200 Christian men gathered in a downtown warehouse in Nashville for a daylong spiritual extravaganza. Inside, strobe lights flashed, and tracks by the Killers thumped from speakers stacked on either side of a stage. Four large video screens showed clips of karate fights, car chases and "Jackass"-style stunts. Then the music lowered and Christian comedian Brad Stine appeared. With his rat-a-tat delivery and aggressive style, Stine quickly whipped the crowd into a chorus of “Amens!” “A lot of guys out there wouldn’t have the balls to be here,” he shouted. “Are you ready to be a man? Are you ready to kick ass? Are you ready to grab your sword and say, ‘OK family, I’m going to lead you?’ Buckle up. This is GodMen!”

The event was the first of what Stine and other organizers hope will be a series of testosterone-fueled Christian men’s gatherings across the country. Their purpose: to reassert masculinity within a church structure that they say has been weakened by feminization.
Personally I prefer the term "emasculization" to feminization, because being feminine is good, but not at the expense of being masculine. Is this really the kind of worship service Morrow thinks we should have more of, is it more masculine? Stand to Reason responded:
vI don't think so. The organizers say this is an experment. Fair enough. Try something different.
And Commenters responded:
Just goes to show how complete was the feminization of this generation. A silly caricature of masculinity has now become the defining norm for it.
When will this insanity stop?
-by Chuck

This is too far. Manly does not have to be dirty or purile. But they're understandably reacting against the all too common notion that a good Christian man must be a doormat.
-by Chris

As someone who's never fit into certain male stereotypes, I hate these caricatures of masculinity. Yes, I do believe that feminization of the church has occurred and that the lack of authentic masculinity is a problem -- key word authentic. I don't think stunts like this will help anything, though.

When I read the article, what I hated to see was their attributing their actions to Dave Murrow's book "Why Men Hate Going to Church." I've read it, and it's an awesome book. IMO it's even better than Wild at Heart. I hate to see this stunt attributed to his work and drag his name through the mud.

This is sad on so many levels.
-by Derek Caldwell

I saw men get interested in our church when we moved from talk to action. The handy types liked the mission construction projects, others liked gathering and handing out food, some liked praying for and with others in front of porn shops, I liked teaching. Bottom line, I think men need action. This "new" thing sounds like activity, not action. They will need a quick transition from activity to action or the men will quickly lose interest.
-by Steve Kuethe
We need to step away from a church so saturated by and influenced by it's culture that it buys into the notion that masculinity is either a caricature of body building and grunting, scratching cave men, or the accusation that it is brutal, thuggish, and childish. If organizations like churches can find the right tone and approach, they can be the salt and light that they were called to be by Jesus and influence our world for the better.

But not like this.
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Jetgirl said...

I agree with the previous commenters. Most mature men that I know (regardless of age) would be embarassed to participate in a meeting as described in the article. It seems a modern-day tent revival without the class (as it were).

As far as the church becoming feminized, I really don't think it is the church that's changed, but the perceptions of males duties as the head of the household. From what I've learned from my Grandparents' experience it would have not so long ago seemed unmanly and a shirking of responsibility to not accompany your family to weekly worship.

I'm not sure what caused the changed, I theorize that through the "Sexual Revolution" when young men realized that they could get out of doing the traditional male duties (which are typically not easy or fun) by ascribing to a popular emerging ideology, they jumped at the chance. And we haven't quite recovered from it.

Serious George said...

I can imagine an emasculated church, but thankfully have to, since I haven't been in one in quite some time. And no, we don't do the sports bar sanctuary. I can't help but think the difference starts with men taking ownership and leadership of their spiritual lives at home and within their families; the results spill out into the church. Abdicate these roles at home and church follows.

President Friedman said...

The only tension I remember my grandparents having when I was a kid was over my grandfather's refusal to go to church more than once a month. They fought about that all the time. It always ended with my grandfather telling my grandmother, "That's not a church you go to, it's Christ's knitting circle." Then he would retire to the den with his Bible, a cup of coffee, and a Luke The Drifter album... where he would remain until she got back from church. About once every month or so she would convince him to go, and the experience was always bad enough to send him back to the den for the proceeding 3 or 4 Sundays.

The thing is, if you did something stupid, or something you knew was wrong, my grandfather was always the one who wanted to know how you were going to square that kind of behavior with God, while my grandmother pretty much just worried about what the neighbors were going to think if they found out about it.