Where Have All the Men Gone?

Shane Raynor has an excellent post over at his site, Faith Experience, called The End of Chick Flick Christianity. In it he points out the growing gender gap in modern American Christianity. I think he is on to something.

As a fairly young pastor in the United Methodist Church, I’ve noticed that there are typically twice as many women in church every Sunday as there are men. In essence, you’re lucky if even one third (1/3) of a congregation is male on any given Sunday.

What’s more, women tend to make up the majority of local church leadership. I have a Baptist friend who argues with me about this. She ardently claims that this is not so in the church she grew up in. Perhaps, but it is true of every UM church I’ve ever pastored.

The pattern is simply undeniable. Men have checked out of church, at least in the UM tradition. And the few who remain tend to be considerably older.

All of this raises a couple of questions. First, why have men dropped out of church? And, second, what do we do need to do to bring them back?

I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to answer that. However, this much I think I do know:

  1. Most churches are clearly decorated by women, not men. They look like the parlor or sitting room in most houses. With all the accompanying rules about what you can touch, what you can move, what you can sit on. Clearly, this is woman’s domain.
  2. Often we tend to make Christian faith too touchy-feely. Faith becomes a nebulous matter of emotions and feelings that we then need to talk about and explore with prolonged conversations. And we all know how much men love talking about their feelings, right?
  3. Church is often too passive and boring. Men lose interest because there is nothing to do. The sermon is nebulous. Get to the point already. The music often is slow and tedious, like listening to a funeral dirge. And there is no clear action to take that resonates within. Just sit, listen, endure, then go home to watch football.
  4. Men have a hard time admitting they need God. Most men hate to admit weakness. We like to think we can handle most things by ourselves. For many men, it is a real struggle to concede that I really do need God to do something for me that I cannot do for myself. Consequently, Christian men always come off looking like they’re weak to those outside the church.

Those are my few observations, at least. What are yours? What do you see? What has been your experience?

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