Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Men Hate Going to Church

My plan was to begin writing about the meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) this week. The meeting starts on Thursday and not much is going to happen between now and then. Others (as well as myself) have written at length about the issues facing this Assembly. So, instead of rehashing the issues I will use this week’s blog to look at another book. The book is called, “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” by David Murrow. Is it a great book? No. Is it a good read? Maybe. Then why would I waste your time writing about this book? The book deals with an important issue. MEN HATE GOING TO CHURCH!

Let’s set some ground rules before proceeding. First, the book is not talking about the men who go to your church (or my church, for that matter.). It is referring to the “average” male in the USA. Second, remember the first rule. Third, you may disagree with some of the author’s points (as do I), but remember he is not talking about you and me! Let’s look at some of the ideas in the book and see if there might be something we can do at our churches to become more “man-friendly.”

Church statistics don’t lie. The majority of people who attend church are women. National statistics of church attendance (across all Christian churches) show that 60% of the people attending church are women and 40% are men. After reading those numbers I immediately thought, “That’s not true for my church!” So, off to our church attendance and membership records I went. I was right; those numbers do not represent our church. Our church’s attendance is 60.1% female and 39.9% male. I was shocked! Take a few minutes and look at the stats for your church—its membership and attendance. Some guys join the church to “please” their spouse and are conspicuously absent most weekends. What do the numbers for your church show? If your church is close to a 50 – 50 balance please comment this week to help us know what you are doing to reach out to men!

I preached a multiple week sermon series on “Why Men Hate Going to Church.” The response was shocking. The women of our church really wanted to know why men don’t like going to church. They were/are more than willing to change things if it will encourage more men to attend church. The response from men was even more shocking. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not the typical PCUSA “pastor type.” I don’t wear a robe (or even a suit about half of the time). Stop by the office in the summer and you will probably find me in shorts. And, I do not stand at the back of the sanctuary following worship to shake hands with people as they leave. I use to do this, but that is a different story. Typically, I “hang out” at the front of the sanctuary so that people can come and talk with me. During the “men series” I would have men who would never seek me out after church make a b-line to shake my hand. Not a word would be said! One particular day a guy came up to me. I was speaking with someone else so this man just patiently stood there and waited. When I was free he shook my hand, folded his arms across his chest and just stood there. This man’s wife had attended the church for years. He began attending a couple of years ago. They would immediately leave church following the service—never once going to the fellowship hall for coffee and food. That day he just stood there beside me with his arms folded in silence. He finally said, “Good message.” He unfolded his arms and walked away. In those moments of silence he “spoke” volumes. He had recently retired after working as an electrician for 30 years. He was use to working with men. He wasn’t use to sharing his feelings. His standing there “communicated” more than his words ever could.

A little over a month following the “men” series his wife had knee-replacement surgery. I visited her in the hospital the day following the service. We laugh, joked and prayed. She told me how thankful she was about the church and how she and her husband really enjoyed the church. That afternoon she died of a heart attack while in her hospital bed. I spend many hours with her husband over the next week. We had a special connection because of the “men” series.

Please follow the blog this week as we look at this topic. If you are a female reader please invite your husband to follow the blog and comment—especially if he isn’t in church every week.

We can’t leave our men behind.


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