Sunday, April 15, 2007

Church for Men Only?

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!


Iris said...

I was just reading about this kind of thing in the latest Christian Century. They say that the church has become too feminine, so they get together for "manly worship" and sing songs about "getting some balls." How does this glorify God?

I love your service!

Anonymous said...

I think it is funny that when the services where "manly" according to them, they never worried about offending the women. I think it shows a lack of "self awareness" in the men if they think the services are to girly and they can't go. Sounds like a movement in the South. Here in the north more and more men are going to church services that are different. Maybe they are just bored with the way the services have always been. I know I am. in Luke, Jesus says that something new is happening and that those who have tasted the old wine will reject the new wine.
Well God is constantly making new wine. We should be open to new and changing things. Of course we must use discernment and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in to the new, but sheesh... a little common sense people! One-hour guarantee... because God LOVES being put into a box.

Dr Laura Marie Grimes said...

Your service sounds so powerful, and a blessing for both the men and the women present. Wish I could have been there.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but it's been two days and you still haven't mentioned more on this 'banquet food'.

As for the manly man church...

How exactly does one meet women in a church like that?

Guess you could get away with a smaller offering since you'd only need one restroom and no toilet seats.

If there were an earthquake during service, who would the men protect, since obviously we need to be manly in the face of danger.

and what about air freshener? We KNOW what happens when four guys are crammed in a car, imagine 400 in a small church!


Anonymous said...

ok, just re read your post and see you said you'd be gone a few days, so I understand why you haven't updated that portion. I do still expect a menu report when you return though.


Anonymous said...

What a powerful service that must have been. What a compliment to your pastoral talents it could happen with such ease and acceptability.