I'm off to do church business, eat banquet food and listen to a speaker or two. Yes, I am packing to leave for our denominations district council in the a.m. A highlight will be the ordination service. But I can't resist just one post before I am gone for a few days. First, just a little snippet of news...
Florida 'Church for Men' Features Rock Band, One-Hour In-and-Out Guarantee
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — No hymnals. No pews. No steeple. No stained glass windows. And no women...Organizers say that guys are "bored stiff" in many churches today... The service features a rock band, a shot clock to time the preacher's message and a one-hour in-and-out guarantee. The church is part of a national movement to reverse what many Christian pastors and ministers are calling a troubling trend. Studies show that men are less likely than women to show up on Sunday mornings, and the reaction has been an emerging testosterone theology of sorts. Churches nationwide are now reaching out to men.
Testosterone theology?! I'm all for reaching out to men. I'm all for any kind of music in church that works for the particular attenders. I'm all for church that is not boring. But there is so much wrong with this particular approach that I don't know where to start.
Let me tell you a little about church this morning. My sermon was not very eloquent; actually I struggled and fumbled a bit. But I spoke about Jesus and his women followers. We considered the stories of just a few of them, noting how Jesus treated them, and contemplating the radical shock that he must have sometimes caused by his actions.
There was a variety of men in church, aged about 16 to 65. Lots of young guys, which made me smile. The church is not dying where we are.
At the close of the service I asked the guys to form a double-sided line in the center aisle. The women walked down the line and the men prayed for each one. It took some time. Somewhat to my surprise, it was very quiet. I asked the men to think about being "Jesus" to us, touching us with respect and honor and speaking words of affirmation. This took some trust for the women to do this, and I (of course) do not know what was prayed over anyone except me.
Things I remember:
The 20-something guy with piercings, t-shirt, jeans--taking my hand and praying with quiet intensity. Opposite him, a big man put one hand on my shoulder, raised the other hand and quietly prayed for me to speak the words God would have me preach. Others prayed for courage, for strength and wisdom, many of the men thanked God for bringing me into their lives and their church (that made me get teary-eyed). Another man prayed that I would never feel alone in the battles that come, and yet another young husband and father wept openly. I hugged him, and he said, "For some reason, every time I pray with you I get so moved!" (He is a manly man, rest assured.)
About halfway down the aisle I was filled with such an awareness of God's peace. I don't know what happened to anyone else, but judging by some faces I saw, the Holy Spirit was in the house.
Men-only church indeed! Harrumppph!