Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scaring men away?

“Tony went to a men’s small group at a church—once. First, the men sat in a circle and sang songs for about ten minutes. Tony was then suddenly asked to introduce himself and “share” about his personal life. Next, he was paired with another man he had never met and asked to “share” one of his deepest fears. Then, everyone was asked to share a prayer request and a praise report. Then men read out loud from the Bible taking turns around the circle. Finally, the men stood in the circle and held hands for what seemed like hours, while one by one they publicly bared their souls to God. One man was quietly weeping. The man next to Tony prayed for ten minutes straight, and his palms were sweaty. Once the meeting was over, Tony didn’t stay for cookies. He hasn’t been back.” (Excerpt from “Why Men Hate Going To Church”)

As a pastor, I can see this happening and can feel Tony’s anxiety for him. I am not saying that the things Tony experienced are necessarily bad, I am just saying that the typical male does not readily connect with this kind of environment-the typical female does. The irony is this: Men who were created to be strong, brave, protectors are actually intimidated by feminine environments. We could be scaring men away!

As I began to say in our last blog, “Where are all the men?” our churches are unconsciously designed to connect more with the female. This has contributed to a decline in men in our churches.

Our music tends to be more feminine than masculine. Songs are more likely to emphasize intimacy, tenderness, love, etc. rather than victory, mission, etc.

Our message is also more likely to be cleansed of themes like God’s awesome power, wrath, and swift justice or even fighting for the oppressed. The modern church’s message is largely about God’s “softer” attributes such as mercy, compassion, and grace.

Our male models and metaphors need to be brought out of the church’s closet, dusted off and REpresented if we want to be “fishers of men” in American culture.

The Old Testament is filled with men who are kings, warriors, fathers, priests, prophets, teachers, farmers, and the like. Additionally, Jesus came from the Father as a man who was the Son of God and is coming again, according to Revelation, as a dragon slaying warrior with eyes of blazing fire and a sword coming out of His mouth to mete out justice against the enemies of God and their leader, the Dragon Satan.

Throughout the pages of the New Testament there are repeated metaphors to the church as an offensive force storming the gates of hell, an army battling evil, a team disciplining itself for competition, etc.

As a man, this is the church that I can more truly connect with, and I believe that many absent men will too. I am not saying that we ignore the things that are currently more likely to be emphasized, I am suggesting that we give much more consideration to the masculine life-giving spirit that God has intended for His church to have. The feminine qualities of the church are just that-qualities. They are firmly established and are not going anywhere-nor do they need to. We need only to balance them and complete them with God-given male strengths as well. Then and only then will the church truly advance victoriously the way God has intended.


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