Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where are the manly men?



Although males have not completely abandoned the church, manly men have all but disappeared. Tough, earthy, working guys rarely come to church. High achievers, alpha males, risk takers, and visionaries are in short supply. Fun-lovers and adventurers are also underrepresented in church. These rough-and-tumble men don’t fit in with the quiet, introspective gentlemen who populate the church today. The truth is, most men in the pews grew up in church. Many of these lifers come not because they desire to be transformed by Christ but because they enjoy participating in comforting rituals that have changed little since their childhood. There are also millions of men who attend services under duress, dragged by a mother, wife, or girlfriend. Today’s churchgoing man is humble, tidy, dutiful, and above all, nice.

What a contrast to the men of the Bible! Think of Moses and Elijah, David and Daniel, Peter and Paul. They were lions, not lambs—take charge men who risked everything in service to God. They fought valiantly and spilled blood. They spoke their minds and stepped on the toes of religious people. They were true leaders, tough guys who were feared and respected by the community. All of these men had two things in common: they had an intense commitment to God, and they weren’t what you’d call saintly.

Such men seldom go to church today.

Furthermore, of the men who do attend church, most decline to invest themselves in the Christian life as their wives and mothers do. The majority of men attend services and nothing more. Jay is such a man. He’s in church most Sundays, but he’s not very excited about it. “I go mainly for my kids and my wife,” he says. “Church is okay, but it really doesn’t enthrall me like it does her.”

Who is being touched by the gospel today? Women. Women’s ministries, women’s conferences, women’s Bible studies, and women’s retreats are ubiquitous in the modern church. Men’s ministry, if it even exists, might consist of an occasional pancake breakfast and an annual retreat.

How did a faith founded by a Man and His twelve male disciples become so popular with women, but anathema to men? The church of the first century was a magnet to males. Jesus’ strong leadership, blunt honesty, and bold action mesmerized men. A five-minute sermon by Peter resulted in the conversions of three thousand men.

Today’s church does not mesmerize men; it repels them. Just 35 percent of the men in the United States say they attend church weekly. In Europe male participation rates are much worse, in the neighborhood of 5 percent. This hardly sounds like a male-dominated, patriarchal institution to me.

What’s worse, nobody seems to care about the absence of men. Have you ever heard a sermon on the church’s gender gap? I’ve never heard a pastor or church leader bring it up. Heck, I’ve never heard anybody bring it up. It’s just one of those things Christians don’t talk about.


For decades those few people who noticed the gender gap have assumed that men are to blame for it. Sometimes they are. Many men intentionally reject the Christian faith. Some men are proud and want to be their own God. Men hate to admit weakness or neediness. Millions are captive to sin, unbelief, and other religions that preclude commitment to Christ. Men get distracted by the concerns of this world and lose interest in spiritual matters. Men suffer abuse at the hands of church people and fall away.

But let’s be honest—women grapple with these same issues. Women are just as susceptible to sin, atheism, other religions, and pride. There’s nothing in the Bible to suggest that women are more virtuous or less sinful than men. Women are just as likely to have father issues or be victims of abuse. So why do women seem drawn to the church when men are not? What’s the difference?

Let me be blunt: today’s church has developed a culture that is driving men away. Almost every man in America has tried church, but two-thirds find it unworthy of a couple of hours once a week. A wise Texan once told me, “Men don’t go to church ’cuz they’ve been.”

When men need spiritual sustenance, they go to the wilderness, the workplace, the garage, or the corner bar. They watch their heroes in the stadium or on the racetrack. They plunge into a novel or sneak off to a movie. Church is one of the last places men look for God.

More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.

Men’s disinterest in Christianity is so consistent around the world, it can’t be explained by pride, father issues, sin, or distraction. Neither can we say, “Well, men are just less religious,” because this is untrue. Male and female participation are roughly equal in Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. In the Islamic world men are publicly and unashamedly religious—often more so than women. Of the world’s great religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners. What is it about modern Christianity that is driving men away? That’s the question I hope to answer with this book [Why Men Hate Going to Church].



As you read the dire statistics on male participation, don’t panic! This low ebb may be part of the church’s natural cycle. Over time the church tends to get out of balance and lose its masculine spirit. Then God raises a lion—a Martin Luther, John Wesley, Charles Finney, or Billy Sunday—to drag the church back into balance. The men return. The great revivals of the past three centuries always transformed large numbers of men.

God has balanced His church many times before. He will do so again. Our job is to confront the current gender gap for what it is: a strategy of the evil one to weaken the church. We need to understand what causes the gap and have the courage to remove the barriers that discourage and demoralize men. God will call men back to Himself. Will the church be ready?

Dream for a moment. What would church be like if the majority of the worshippers were men? Not just males taking up pew space, but strong, earthy men who were truly alive in Christ. Men who were there not just to please their wives, to fulfill religious tradition, or to go on a power trip, but men who were there to rock their world. Can you even imagine what that would feel like? Imagine what such a church could accomplish for the kingdom of God!

Impossible you say? Just read the book of Acts. The church was like this once; it can be so again."

Taken from:
Murrow, David. "Why Men Hate Church." CBN.com Spiritual Life. 2005. Web. 12 Jan 2010. "www.cbn.com/spirituallife/ChurchAndMinistry/menhatingchurch.aspx"


  1. Yes, I agree. I am one of those who, while holding a belief in God, see no value in going to church. I am one who believes that God has done nothing for me, so why bother? Have a nice day...

  2. thank you for including me in your blog list. Gof bless :)

  3. I featured this article on my blog :)



Thanks for your thoughts!