I am wondering about men and church. No, it is not the first time, but I would like your thoughts. Let me share a little background.
"Why Men Hate Going to Church" is the title of a best-selling book by David Murrow. At least it is a best-seller among certain church circles. I read most of it about two years ago when I was investigating the issue of men in church--or more precisely the lack thereof. I did some other reading as well, and I wrote an article for "Mutuality" which is a magazine that is published by Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE).
The article is called "Is My Church Feminized?" and if you like you can read it here.
Anyway, I printed some copies of the article to take along for an information booth at our Assemblies of God district council. A long-time pastor acquaintance stopped at the table to see what I was up to. I'll call him Tom, which is not his real name. An interesting conversation resulted.
One end of the table--me and a lot of CBE Material
Looking down at the table, he saw my article and took a closer look. Then he sort of backed up with an odd expression on his face--not exactly a positive look. (And on the slim chance, friend "Tom," that you are reading this post, I'm just writing it like I saw it, and I still like you.) I said, smiling, "Have a copy, Tom. I'm published!" He didn't take one, just looked at me. "Go ahead. I'd love to hear what you think, whether or not you agree or disagree with me."
"Well," he said a little hesitantly, "It is a subject I'm very interested in." "Perfect," I said. "So please do take one and give me your honest feed back." Poor guy. How could he say no?
A few hours later Tom was back. "I liked your article very much," he said, "and I tried but I couldn't really find anything I could disagree with." (An honest man!)
I admitted that I had expected him to disagree with the article. We talked some more and then he asked, "So, do you agree that the church has a problem?" I said yes, but that to blame it on women or the so-called "feminizing" of the church is a straw man (straw woman?) argument that is demeaning and insulting as well as misguided.
He mentioned the book, "Why Men Hate Going to Church." I told him I thought the book was poorly researched, simplistic, and had so many sweeping generalizations in it that I could not take it seriously. He looked thoughtful. Then (to my surprise) he said, "I think this article is really good. I think that what you are saying needs to be heard. Why don't you send it to Leadership or our AG ministers magazine, Enrichment? After a moment said I would. And I will, even though I will be extremely surprised if it sees the light of day at either of those magazines. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I was quite gratified and happy that my friend had made such a quick change in opinion (and thanked God).
However, ever since our conversation I have been thinking. IS there a problem? According to some surveys, about 60% of the American church is female. Is that true where you are? If so, what do you think is the cause of that? If women and "feminization" is not the reason for less men in church these days, what is? What can we do? I'll do a follow-up post with some further thoughts after I give some time for others to comment.