March 13, 2012 by Chris French
I’m sure you’ve noticed a decline in the male population in our churches. Why are men fleeing from the church like a fat kid from gym class? Murrow thinks that we’ve feminized the church. We’ve focused on the Lamb of God to the exclusion of the Lion of Judah. He may have a valid point. Today’s church identifies more with the love, helping and relationships than with success, achievement and power, which is interesting because the first grouping comes from the women’s values in the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. The second grouping comes from the same book, but it’s the values men cherish the most. While we as a church have been focusing on relationship and love, our men, the driving force behind our growth, have been slipping out the back door looking for some place where they fit in. They’re looking for a place where their talents and hobbies won’t make them outcasts.
How do we fix this problem? Murrow offers a couple of solutions in the framework of an entire mindset change. We need to think of the church as the Kingdom instead of a family. In a family relationships rule the day, not so in a kingdom. We need to show a more balanced view of Jesus. Yes He loved children, but He was also driven, very skilled, highly successful and very powerful. We need to play to our boys strengths in Bible class. Girls learn to read faster and read better than boys their age. When we ask a boy to read out loud in class we’re setting him up to leave the church one day. Our format for Sunday School is also counter-productive for our active boys. We ask them to sit still and listen for 30-45 minutes and when they can’t meet that expectations we embarrass them by punishing them. The answer is to get men in the classroom for our young children. Walk down that wing of your church building this Sunday and see how many male teachers you’ve got down there. Any? We don’t have a single one. That’s the first step. Next, get the boys up and moving. Let them act out the Bible story. Go all out maybe one Sunday morning a month, call that Sunday something other than Sunday School to bring added interest. Have props set up and involve the class in the story. Recreate it for them and let them be a part of it. I guarantee they’ll remember that class!
Let’s make the church man friendly. You can do that by having a pulpit minister that is bold, a risk taker. He needs to be a visionary and a gifted communicator. If he were to use male oriented illustrations and props (golf club, boxing gloves etc) in his sermon it wouldn’t hurt either. The church needs to be free to innovate and do so quickly. Find the need, figure out what you can do about it, and start meeting that need. If that idea doesn’t work kill it and come up with something that will work. Do EVERYTHING superbly! The building, worship and the sermon all need to be done very well to attract men. Men will not invite their friends to a church they’re embarrassed to be a part of. Speak the language of men. Talk about risk, productivity and growth. Measure effectiveness, celebrate achievement and launch new programs. Have men serving EVERYWHERE! Get rid of the man repellent stuff. No more photo collages, quilts, or bulletin boards. No forced mingling. It makes visiting men uncomfortable.
Before you teach you need to be prepared! Be a storyteller. Bring object lessons into class. Use pictures and videos. Make your lessons short. Use humor, especially at the beginning. Make the lesson practical. Do something unexpected like breaking something or shouting. Challenge them. Empathize strength instead of weakness. Use male language like sports analogies, battles and sacrifice.
When you’re ministering to men you should remember a few things. First give them a chance to use their talents and gifts. Start a Chainsaw Ministry to help clean up trees after storms or a Mechanic Ministry that operates once a month to change oil in people’s cars. Find a place for men to use their talents! Give them a path to follow. Show them the way. Give men an external focus. Let them make a difference in the community. Dream HUGE dreams. Give men adventure. Deploy men for evangelism. Tell everyone. Charge men money, it’ll make them commit. Offer personal invitations. Give men entry and exit points for ministry. No one should have to stay in any single ministry for years on end. Give them a definite starting point and a definite ending point, then find somewhere else for them to serve. Make them disciples!
I loved this book! There’s so much practical wisdom here that we need to hear. I had never thought about making the church feminine before, but I think we have. I’m also sold on his ideas to effect the change and bring our men back to faith. The church needs men’s ideas, abilities and leadership. Let’s go after them.