“Why are all the baptisms for women?”
“Where are the good Christian men for my single friends to date?”
“How come none of our volunteers are men?”
If you spend any time in church at all you might notice that there’s an imbalance between men and women. According to David Murrow at Church for Men, the split for an average church is about 60% women 40% men. This is for the average, stable church.
On its face, that doesn’t seem like a problem. In fact, it feels kind of normal. However, that figure is not representative of the actual population of men and women in America. Based on the latest census data, the American gender distribution is roughly 50/50 with a very slight favor going to the women. Since the church has no stated bias towards women and Christianity is in favor of both genders, it makes sense that the church gender distribution should reflect the national population more closely.
Some would argue that religion in general is more of a feminine construct and that men simply don’t feel the need for it. However, looking way back into history, especially at religions born out of the middle east, men are the dominant figures. The arguers and perpetuators of the major three (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) have nearly always been men, and often the manliest of men. Even today, a vast majority of clergy are men.
So, what’s the deal? Why don’t men just go to church?
1. Church is too girly:
In his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow makes the claim that men don’t go to church because it isn’t really built for them. If churches would “man up” their services by getting rid of all the doilies and stop singing “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, then men would go to church. This is an interesting point, but I don’t think that it really strikes at the heart of why men don’t go to church.
2. Church is boring:
Murrow moves on to make a much stronger claim that cuts even more closely to the core of the issue. Men don’t go to church because there simply isn’t anything for them to do there. Since I am a man, I can bear witness to this. In my early days as a Christian, I wanted to help out in any way that I could. Unfortunately, the only places for me to volunteer were the kitchen, the nursery, or as an usher. I very quickly realized the kitchen was too small for me to be of use and the nursery was a place where men simply were not welcome. That left ushering. In a church of 150 people, you don’t need very many ushers so if you wanted to get one of the available slots you had to be one of the first 4 people to volunteer that week. Fortunately for me, I got to learn how to play drums and promptly monopolized that position on the newly formed worship team.
3. Men are disobedient:
Murrow doesn’t make this claim but I think it applies. There is a really small piece of scripture in the New Testament that seems to indicate that there might have been a similar attendance problem in the earliest days of the Christian church.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) say: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
The Bible is not short on commands, but this is one is especially relevant. The author of Hebrews intended his letter as an exhortation (corrective encouragement) for the church. The letter encourages believers persevere in their faith and provides many lessons and proofs for that encouragement.
Church might sometimes be boring and it can be girly, but God told you to be there for regular encouragement and to prepare yourself for the day of His return.
Going to church is better than it sounds:
Church is good for men. You might think of it like eating vegetables at dinner. Men, when you were boys, you didn’t want to do it but your mom made you anyway. Why? Because it’s good for you. When you grew up, you decided you were old enough to choose your own path and eat as little vegetables as possible. Then you got married and what did your wife do? She made you eat your vegetables… because it’s good for you.
According to David Murrow’s research the benefits are as follows:
- Churchgoers are more likely to be married and express a higher level of satisfaction with life. Church involvement is one of the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
- Church involvement helps move people out of poverty. Its also correlated with less depression, more self-esteem and greater family and marital happiness.
- Religious participation leads men to become more engaged husbands and fathers.
- Teens with religious fathers are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with dad and that they admire him.
Church for Men cites several sources for this information here.
Men are good for church too. Any church that finds itself with a willing male volunteer has found a treasure. If the church has the capacity to employ men in current volunteer positions, they of course fill a felt need. However, if a church has the creativity to empower men to activity when no open volunteer positions exist, the church grows. Men are makers and doers. Men like to carry heavy things, repair homes, plant gardens, and interact with people outside of sitting in the pew. The church needs to be a strong operations center with its hands out in he community seeking and serving the lost, sick, and broken.
David Murrow’s research indicates that the felt absence of men leads to the actual decline in church growth over all. Churches that are able to reduce the gender gap and encourage male participation actually grow. If the Great Commission is to be realized, then church must be for men.