We’ve all seen Hollywood caricature religious men as pasty-faced, effeminate, and hypocritical. Some artists even picture a testosterone-challenged Jesus. How has a Gospel begun by the Carpenter and spread by fishermen and other workingmen turn into a something for women and children?
Survey numbers differ a few ticks, but the results are the same: The average churchgoer in America is female by a large (about 12 percent) margin. Author and television producer David Murrow says that 90 percent of American men believe in God and five out of six call themselves Christian, only two out of six attend church. They accept the reality of Jesus but see no value for themselves in attending church.
In his book Why Men Hate Going to Church Murrow said, “I’m not calling men back to church,” said Murrow. “I’m calling the church back to men.
“It’s not about male dominance: it’s about male resurgence. If we don’t turn things around, we’re going to lose a generation of boys. This is going to be a disaster for society and eventually result in the death of the church,” said Murrow.
“Churches target every conceivable minority yet men are the largest unreached people group. They are the largest minority in Christendom today yet we do absolutely nothing to make church attractive to them.”
Although many may argue that the church is already male dominated, Murrow sees it differently. Quoting Dr. Leon Podles, “Modern churches are women’s clubs with a few male officers,” Murrow observed that while the church looks patriarchal on the surface, it is actually feminine. “If you’re talking about the senior pastorate in Protestant churches, then yes, you’ve got ‘way more men than women. If you’re talking about the spirituality, participation, or lay leadership, it is feminine in every way.
“Every church needs both the feminine and masculine spirit. You see this balance in growing churches: a masculine concern for quality, effectiveness, and achievement yet a feminine supportiveness, nurturing, and tenderness. It’s not about roles. It is about restoring a healthy, life-giving spirit to the church.”
Murrow believes that one reason the church marginalizes men is because of teaching focused on a relationship instead of a mission. “We’ve moved away from the concept that Christianity is something we do to something we become,” said Murrow.
“Few churches model men’s values—risk, reward, accomplishment, heroic sacrifice, action, and adventure. Men find church boring because their values are not modeled and no one reflects their masculine heart. They has no desire to fall in love with a wonderful man, even one named Jesus.”
Worse yet, Murrow says he has been exhorted to have a love affair with Jesus. “Conservative churches oppose homosexuality, but their imagery sends an entirely different message. The more we describe Christianity in bedroom vocabulary, the more nervous men become.”
Murrow counsels ministers and teachers to use terms that sound right on a construction site. “Having an ‘intimate relationship with Jesus’ appeals to a woman’s deepest desire. For men, having an intimate relationship with another man is just plain gross. When a man loves another man, he uses terms like admire or respect.”
Murrow offers this advice to women in leadership position:
- Consider men’s needs when making decisions regarding church progras..
- Don’t be too quick to take leadership away from men. Once a ministry area is female dominated, it’s hard to get men involved.
- Don’t focus only on the needs of women. Make developing men a priority.
- Lead courageously. You can’t lead without angering people. Jesus made men mad all the time.
- Be willing to be tougher. Men need to be softer and more nurturing, but women may need to be more goal-oriented.
© Rebekah Binkley Montgomery 2005
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