Monday, March 10, 2008

Real Men Love Jesus?

I came across another "Get the men back in church" article.

I wonder, is that a problem you've faced? Have you taken deliberate steps to solve it?

Check out Tim Bayly on Pastoral Strategies to Bring Men Back to God's Household.

I tend to do instinctively act on some of these things, but others have convinced me I could be more intentional in training up men who will impact their families.

Sadly, it's been my experience that women tend to be more spiritually astute, but teaching them is less likely to reach their husbands than vice versa.

Some selections from the article to motivate thinking and further discussion ...

"The absence of men during deer season may be troubling, but it's usually just one Sunday out of the year. Far worse is the chronic absence of men from many of our churches."

1. The first initiative is personal; male pastors must make their personal identity appealing to men by emphasizing their own masculinity.

"Pastors often seem "sissified" to the average guy; we tend to be more verbally oriented than the average man, we work at a desk with books and paper, we have soft hands."

2. Some programs should be specifically aimed to appeal to men.

a. Men like to be away from women at times.

b. Men like to eat.

c. Men like to get physical.

d. Men want to be challenged.


3. Resist efforts to emasculate the Bible, the great traditional hymns of the faith, or the content of our sermons and teaching. 4. Make the men of the congregation a top priority in the work of discipleship.

9 comments:

Matthew Bradley said...

Gun,

I gotta say, I'm not feelin' ya here. I hear a lot of noise about this, but I'm just not convinced. I'm not convinced there is a problem. And if there is, I'm not yet convinced of the solution I often hear. "Be more of a man as a pastor...go do manly things with your men...perhaps avoid the "sissy stuff"..." I don't know. It just doesn't ring true. And so help me, if someone mentions Barna in responding to me, I will lose all of the little sanctification I've so far experienced.

Can you/anyone make a well-reasoned argument for this particular bandwagon? Or help me see what it is I'm missing? Because I seem to be one of the only ones willing to call bull on this right now.

Lance said...

And if anyone mentions Eldredge, I'll join Bradley in losing my sanctification.

Timothy said...

There might be a problem... my solution: Golf, golf, breakfast, golf, and more golf!

OK, I guess there should be some prayer in all that too! :)
Good post and thoughts on the subject.

GUNNY said...

Well, I'm not a fan of a FEBA masculinity to entertain the troops.

Perhaps that's because my testosterone just oozes naturally, but is there anything more pathetic than a nerd trying to be hip or a spare trying to be a jock?

Honestly, I think this is more of a problem in broader "evangelicalism" (whatever that means anymore). In particular, I think it's more of a problem in the "seeker sensitive/friendly" realms.

By the way, Lance, I finished with your limited edition, golden-edged, leather bound copy of Wild at Heart. I'm not sure why you love it so, however.

Lance said...

Don't get me started.

Todd & Nettie Groat Family said...

Hey Gunny,

Interesting conversations here.

I was able to hear David Murrow speak at a men's conference last year and he was very intriguing. I think this is a real issue in some parts of the country and it seems to me to be quite like the westernization missionary trends of the past. A lot of what is done at many churches doesn’t ring well with me because it is not much like me. I can understand churches in more suburban or urban settings being geared more toward the young professional types but in rural America we are not much like the young professional types.
While I don't think the answer is doing church specifically geared toward men I do know that I want my preferences and styles to be reflected at church and that includes how the place is decorated. Our agreed upon rule at home is that it has to look like I (Todd) live here as well as my wife and girls. I feel the same way about church.

On a side note, I think there is a lot to learn from a lot of sources, including some of the ones that seem to not be in favor here.

GUNNY said...

Todd,

Welcome to the conversation, brother, and thanks for checking in.

"On a side note, I think there is a lot to learn from a lot of sources, including some of the ones that seem to not be in favor here."

If God can use a donkey (Num 22) or a spare like me to communicate truth, I'm never surprised from whence I might mine a nugget of great value.

Matthew Bradley said...

Todd,

Thanks for jumping in. If I may offer a mild counterpoint...I think your comment raises precisely the problem I have with the argument. We should be setting ourselves and our preferences aside when we come together in worship. My contention is that this feminization of worship is no such thing. It is not that churches all over the place are too sissified. It's that they lack the overpowering masculinity that men supposedly desire in their church. But that brings me to my second objection. The only men I know that claim this is why they stay away, are men looking for an excuse not to come. And if we bend ourselves to become more masculine, the result is that they will still not come. And we will have tried to become something we are not in order to appease a group of people that will show no appreciation anyway.

In the end, my point is this: In community we all share one thing in common: We are in Christ. Our worship shares one object in common: The Triune God. Where does "making it more masculine" fit into this framework?

I would be equally opposed to making it more feminine. We should be seeking the common ground we have in Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The basis for the original argument, if extend to absurdity, would leave us with no argument against boutique churches. If men must feel like it is their house, then why not cowboys? Why not paralegals? Why not circus clowns (I'm so not going to type ANY of the jokes that come to mind with this one!!)? Why not the poor? Why not the rich? It is contrary to the message of the gospel to come to church and highlight our differences and individualization in contrast to our common ground in Christ.

Of course, every church finds a niche somewhere in all this. But that niche is a reality against we should all be working, not an end which we should be embracing.

Thanks for the conversation all.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Ugh, I like 3 & 4. Be faithful to preach the Word and obey the Word by training faithful men who are able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). The reason this isn't happening is because it is hard work.

Pastors would rather focus on this fluff entertainment to attract men, rather than that which feeds their souls. What they don't get is that what you attract them with is what you keep them with. You always have to be changing your angle to keep them entertained. Preach the Word!