Where Did all the Men Go?
I’ve shared before that I think many churches do a very poor job of reaching men. Women attend church over men by a 61-39 margin. Why is this? No, it’s not because women are just more spiritual—though there are certainly some amazing women of God out there.
I think it could be in large part because the church seems to have only 2 things to say to men: 1) don’t do porn and 2) be a better husband and father than you are. I think some men might even say the church is maternalistic rather than challenging and blaming rather than welcoming to them. In essence, the church lacks a serious vision of biblical manhood they can communicate with relevance. This is such a shame, because men have so much to offer the Church and can do so much to further the Kingdom.
This of course isn’t to knock on the Sisters. I could (and will eventually) write on the importance of women in the church. However, the ugly reality of male disappearance from our churches should give us all pause and give us the opportunity to examine the subject. We need to come to terms with the fact that many men not only hate going to church…they view Christianity itself is suspect. They don’t feel like they can be a "man" and a Christian at the same time. Such men feel like being a Christian somehow makes you more feminine…and, truthfully, the church sends messages unintentionally that ratifies that fact.
I heard someone (a minister actually) say of Jesus last week, “I can’t worship a guy I can beat up.” It's an absurd comment on a number of levels. First of all, you couldn’t beat up Jesus. Secondly, why would you want to? Third, what difference does it make? However, to be fair, what does it say about the way Jesus has been portrayed that a mortal human would make such a statement? It isn't just the church, it's sometimes Jesus that some men fear following because are afraid they would have to turn in their man-card to do so. At one level, we all turn in all our cards when we follow Jesus. At another level, Jesus doesn't call men to stop being men in order to follow him. He created them as men and calls them to follow Him as men.
Again, statistically, women outnumber men 61% to 39% in America’s churches. It’s time for us to consider why, and what we plant to do about it. Churches without men are churches that are missing something.
There are a number of churches (e.g., Mars Hill in Seattle and CCV in Peoria, AZ) that really take this seriously. At NCCC, we work really hard on this, and, thanks be to God, we beat the national average of female-male by a ways. I'm sure there are churches doing a much better job, but here are a few things we’ve done to try to call men to be all God wants them to be:
- Our men’s ministry, ManPowerTeam, is…well…manly. I know some will say, “Well, Tim, define manly.” I don’t need to. Most of us know when something is masculine, and when it’s feminine. Less pink, more black. More meat and adventure, less quiche and conversation (not that there's anything wrong with that, ladies :). True, men do come in different types (golf-type, Starbucks type, grease-monkey type, desert-rat type, sports-nut type, hunter/fishing guy, accountant/business guy, and artistic/creative guy), however, they are threads that runs through most/all men. We try to help men become Christ-following men.
- The foundation of the ministry is the ManPowerTeam breakfast. It's every 3rd Saturday of the month at 7:01am. About 150 men come every time. It's a melting pot in every way, but everyone wears their gear. It's branded like the logo above. The homeless guys wear it, the corporate guys wear it. We have hoodies, t-shirts, water bottles, cups, flags, decals…you name it. It's like a jersey in sports–group identity. Notice the 2 Timothy 1:7 imprint under the eagle. "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline." Boom.
- We keep it fun. Guys like challenges and they like to laugh. We do things like Man vs. Breakfast … an eating competition involving 4-pound Carne Asada breakfast burritos or 2-foot stacks of pancakes. It's outstanding! Video is also a big part of what we do. We have a ball making videos that make fun of something…or satire something like the A-Team, 24, or such shows.
- After breakfast, we spend about 45 minutes in devotional and some encouraging things I'll lay out tomorrow.
- I can't even cover the breakfast in one post. So, I'll pick some of that up tomorrow. But, MPT (ManPower Team) is much more than a breakfast. We are involved in a ton of ministry as well.
- This week, Thabit Jubran, our Men's Ministry leader will join me for a podcast talking about ministry to men.
What does your church do to reach men and develop them spiritually?
What do you wish your church would do to reach men more effectively?
Why do you think women outnumber men 61%-39% in American churches?