Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Where are the men in the church?

By Diane M. Hoffmann

In a church service some time ago, the pastor invited all the volunteers who were involved in Sunday School teaching to stand up in order to recognize them before the congregation and thank them for their service and dedication. 

As the folks responded to the call and made their way to the front, it became clear in view that all of them were women. It always hits hard in the core of the church when we see how so few men get involved in church. Yet, looking around, often there are many men sitting in the pews.

In another church, where a similar call was made to honor the volunteer workers involved in Sunday School, twenty people came forward of which only two were men (10 percent). 

You might say, yes but this is Sunday School; that’s not for men. Actually, men have more impact on children in their lives than women. Women bring a fundamental nurture and love, but men bring the other side of life’s equation—the inner strength and logic (logic as opposed to emotion). 

Men’s deeper and firmer voice alone commands strength in establishing authority to an audience of all ages. A friend of mine qualified in these issues said that the male has been given the deeper voice that inherently carries authority. 

How important is the men’s presence in a Church? A study from Hartford Seminary found that the presence of involved men was statistically correlated with church growth, health, and harmony. And a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline. 

A Barna’s research study shows that the typical American congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61 percent female and 39 percent male. On any given Sunday, almost 25 percent of married, church-going women will worship without their husbands. Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.

On the male side, only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. Yet the majority of American men believe in God and call themselves Christians. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ but fails to see any value in going to church—particularly when weak pastors don’t deal with the hard issues. Why is this? 

Church for Men Ministry feels that many churches do not make church relevant to men. It is said that fewer than 10 percent of US churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry. In Canada, the numbers are relative. Some studies say that if a church has a shortage of men and do nothing about it, that church will be dead in thirty years.

But why are many men not interested in church? 

That’s because too many churches are operated in such a manner as to appeal to women, rather than from both a men and women right- and left-brain edge that appeals to both gender. You don’t want a church that is all masculine but also not all feminine. For example, in a lot of churches, because women look after the d├ęcor, or the programs’ communication materials, logos, and so forth, it ends up too feminine and not appealing to men.

From the Church for Men website, it is said that men like to feel a more masculine environment. They like a manly pastor—not macho or power-hungry—but one who is a strong leader but humble. Men see the church through the pastor, just like in business where a bank is as good as the banker, or a restaurant as good as the restauranteur.

A man sees a church being as good as the church leader. If a man finds the pastor worthy of following, he will find the church worthy of attending and participating. Many believe there is a profound respect commanded by the deep base voiced pastor whether he be singing, reading Scriptures or delivering a sermon, as opposed to a woman’s high pitched voice. In some churches, there are more women who sing and read scriptures, etc.

In “24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today”, I go into a lot of  narrative about what churches are often lacking to attract and keep men in the church. For example, men appreciate excellence. They are a lot more critical of anything that is mediocre. Men appreciate logic, a no-nonsense approach to leadership and efficient and effective use of time. Men are competitive by nature and the church often does not offer organization concepts to fulfill this innate yearning. /dmh



Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.

Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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