The real reason most men don’t go to church in America is that they are already practicing the religion called masculinity. Everything a man does is designed to prove to the world that he is a man. The religion of masculinity demands that a man avoids anything that might call his manhood into question. Men believe deep in their heart that church is something for women and children, not for me.
“Rough-and-tumble” men can be categorized as tough, earthy, risk-takers, visionary, and high achievers. These guys just don’t seem to fit in with the quiet, introspective gentlemen who tend to populate the church today. Many of these men don’t come because they desire to be transformed by Christ, but because they enjoy participating in comforting rituals that have changed little since their childhood. The culture of today’s churches values safety over risk, stability over change, preservation over expansion, and predictability over adventure.
For instance, what movies do men and women like to watch? Men enjoy adventure films, women like romances. Men fantasize about saving the world against impossible odds and women fantasize about having a relationship with a wonderful man. What does the church today emphasize? Relationships — a personal relationship with Jesus and healthy relationships with others. By focusing on relationships, churches partners with women to fulfill their deepest longings. Very few churches model men’s values which include risk and reward, accomplishment, heroic sacrifice, action, and adventure.
A man finds churches dull for the same reasons why he finds chick-flicks dull. A man has no desire to fall in love with a wonderful man, even one named Jesus. Is the purpose of the Christian life to find a happy relationship with a wonderful man, or is it to save the world against impossible odds?
Men want to succeed in everything they do. Competence is very important to us. This is why men don’t stop and ask for directions. When it comes to doing church, men feel incompetent. We don’t possess the natural gifts that make a good churchgoer. We are not expressive, verbal, or sensitive. We are not very good teachers, nor do we like to sing expressions of love and devotion. We are uncomfortable praying aloud or holding hands with strangers.
Women, on the other hand, are great at doing church. They have caring hearts, relationship skills, and emotional sensitivity. They are great at relating, emoting, nurturing and offering verbal expression. Since women are so much better at doing church, men don’t even try to compete.
Men need to be needed. If only Christianity required risk taking, boldness, aggression, and heroic sacrifice – competitive environments that allow men to reach for greatness — maybe men can start to find our place in church.
Today’s churches have great difficulty convincing men to drop their remote controls for a couple of hours a week. The good news is that Jesus is alive today. God wants to speak to men, if only the church will let Him.
[Taken from a very interesting book entitled, “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow (pgs. 3-17). To learn more about David and his ministry, please visit www.churchformen.com.]