Why Men Hate Going to Church – David Murrow (2005) (see also web site www.churchformen.com)
A synopsis of the book by Greg Hand
For years we’ve called men back to the church. It’s time to call the church back to men. Church can be a place where men of all kinds can connect with God.
The modern church is having trouble reaching men. Women comprise more than 60% of the typical adult congregation on any given Sunday. At least one fifth of married women regularly worship without their husbands.
You cannot have a thinking church without a core of men who are true followers of Christ. If the men are dead, the church is dead.
Too often it’s not what the leadership imposes but what the laity demands that causes the church to repel men. But the answer is definitely not a male dominated church.
Studies show that men and young adults tend to be challenge orientated. Some of their key values are adventure, risk, daring, independence, change, conflict, variety, pleasure and reward.
On the other hand, studies demonstrate that women and older adults tend to be security orientated. Some of their key values are safety, stability, harmony, co-operation, predictability, protection, comfort, responsibility, support and tradition.
Rick Warren estimates 80% of America’s congregations have their thermostat set on “comfort”. Men have a hard time in comforting churches because they feel smothered. Nothing great is asked of men, so that is what they give – nothing.
Men are charged by what they experience, not necessarily by what they are told.
Men are expansionist – they make things happen. Men’s orientation toward risk promotes church health. Men’s focus on the outside world promotes church health. Men’s concern with the rules promotes church health. Men’s pragmatism brings innovation to the church. Men bring strength to the church. Godly men attract women. Men bring their families to church.
A passive church will value tradition and stability over innovation and growth. A lack of bold, visionary leadership is driving men away from churches. Prov. 29:18 “where there is no vision, the people perish”.
A growing church is a risk taking church.
The lecture style sermon is not the best way to teach people about Jesus. According to many studies, a long, uninterrupted monologue is the least effective way to teach people anything. We have the most important message in the world, but we use the least effective method to spread it.
Men find sermons boring, not so much because of their content, but because of their format. Men’s brains are not suited to highly verbal teaching styles. Jesus favoured the visual, hands-on style.
A church that wants to involve men will offer more project-based ministry opportunities. These are one-time or short term events such as foreign mission trips or a community service day. Projects need to have a clear objective and an exit point. They are exciting to men and they involve the 4 elements of male engagement: plan, work, celebrate and rest.
If you want to reach men, move as much of your church’s ministry as possible outdoors.
The majority of unchurched people resent being referred to as “lost”.
Men aren’t keen on sharing – it sounds too much like kindergarten.
Challenge men to “follow” God or “walk” with Christ. See the difference it makes. No where does scripture invite us to have a “relationship” with God or Jesus – this frames the in terms of a woman’s deepest desire. Challenge men to “build the Kingdom of God”.
Songs should speak of battle, strength and victory. It’s time to balance Christ the lover with Christ the warrior again. We need more masculine praise songs.
If a church welcomes feminine displays of emotion such as crying, hugging and hand holding, it’s time to welcome masculine displays such as applause, shouts, fist pumping and high-fives. Men should be allowed to express their love for God in truly masculine ways as long as it is done in good order.
Men like to dress comfortably, so let them. Men seem to relate better to informally dressed pastors.
Many congregations lack vision, focus and purpose. Without these things men fall away. Churches with dynamic, gutsy leadership are growing and attracting men.
A church that wants to reach men will have an intentional system for identifying and training leaders within the congregation.
With a vision, even menial tasks can become meaningful.
Try to make church mission statements short and specific. They are often so bland and general, nobody could get excited about them. The mission statement must be short enough to be easily memorised by every congregational member.
Repeat the mission statement to the church body at least once a month. Always stress their purpose when announcing events.
When starting small groups for men be sure they have a purpose to focus on. Cancel purposeless meetings.
People do not resent being asked for a great commitment if there is a great purpose behind it.
Productivity can be measured by:
· Church growth
· Life-change (people becoming more like Jesus)
Strong pastoral leadership is not dictatorship. Strong leadership always involves change, which bruises egos and feelings.
A pastor who speaks openly of his struggles, failings and challenges will win points with men. Men need a pastor with a shepherd’s heart and the spirit of a warrior.
You should never teach men without at least one object lesson, unless you’re content to have your words forgotten. Men have an attention span of 6-8 minutes, yet the average sermon is more than 30 minutes in length.
Rick Warren preaches in 5-8 minute segments with a song, video or drama between each segment. If you really want to attract unchurched men, paint this on your sign:
Home of the 10 minute sermon.
The more frank and hard hitting the teaching, the more men like it. If you want to attract men, you must provide a quality worship experience.
Men love to laugh. A church that is full of laughter and fun will soon find itself full of men, and young people too.
Men like robust, fast-paced music with a driving beat. When church music is vigorous and energetic, it helps men connect with God.
Men need a ministry of their own, away from women.
Men are sometimes changed through service instead of sermons. Men need something more than the Sunday morning worship if they are to be truly nourished.
Men follow men – the Christian faith is the world’s biggest game of follow-the-leader.
Men form relationships while doing something else – going fishing, painting a wall etc.