Churches everywhere are in decline. In the Churches of Christ, my heritage, another church closes their doors every week and that number is accelerating. We need to figure out how to keep people committed to the faith. David Murrow has an idea of why this is happening. Men have abdicated their responsibility of leadership and become sideline viewers…and more men lose interest and stay home.
Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow was released in 2005 and since then Murrow has gathered more information and rewritten and in 2011 updated his book. His statistical analysis has brought him to the conclusion that if you get men involved in the church, it will grow.
You might be saying to yourself, “Men lead all the churches I know about.” They might have the title, but women, by and large, run the church. Women’s ministries, children’s ministries, sewing ministries, the decorations, the songs are feminine, the Jesus we preach is meek and mild…and men see and hear all of this and think, I’d rather stay home and watch football. And let us be honest, our seminaries are growing in future female pastors…in some places the women outnumber the men there too.
Murrow begins with a survey he gives people to describe a “good Christian” and it looks like this: Choose a column for the characteristics of a “good Christian”.
SET A: Competence, Power, Efficiency, Achievement, Skills, Proving oneself, results, accomplishment, objects, goal oriented, self-sufficiency, success, competition.
SET B: Love, communication, beauty, relationships, support, helping, nurturing, feelings, sharing, relating, community, loving cooperation, personal expression.
90+% of the time, people choose Set B as the best representation of Christ and his values. You probably did too. These 2 sets are taken directly from the best-selling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray. He identifies Set A as the values of Mars, common among men. Set B represents the values common among women. The startling truth is most people think of Christ as having the values that come naturally to women and our churches reflect this every day and this is why men don’t find anything relatable about the church.
Men don’t hate Jesus. They don’t hate the church itself. They just don’t find it relevant to them and they don’t go. The system makes men feel unneeded so they feel inadequate to lead their families in faith and they drop out.
Murrow gives a lot of statistics on the gender gap in the church. Women overwhelmingly outnumber men. In churches that have female pastors and leaders, the gap is even more astronomical and it’s growing. In churches that have been ordaining women to the pastorate, the gap is even bigger.
It goes even beyond this at our churches. In all of Contemporary Christian culture, women are the demographic that is heavily marketed to and men are left in the lurch. Listen to Christian radio and hear how “safe for the family” your station is while the artists croon in a high falsetto about this Jesus dude that they are “in love with”. Yes, we should be in love with our Savior, but the way it sounds, we should be IN LOVE with him and men aren’t interested in that. They like women. Go to a Christian bookstore and see the rows and rows of books with lacy pink covers that are marketed to women. Fiction books with Amish women seeking a man to love. Christian living books that seek to teach us how to Love God more and by the time you find the tiny Men’s section, you have nearly read all the books there because there aren’t any new ones.
Murrow is calling the church back to men. Not men to the church, but the other way around. We need to reach men. If we do, they will return along with gaining the confidence and admiration of their families including the women! Let’s sing songs that speak of the power, King, Lion of Judah, and Holy reverence. The messages preached should be about a carpenter, a man who stood up to authority, a Savior that was crushed for our iniquities and conquered death; did you see the masculine language? It is the real Jesus but described with power. Use illustrations that draw in men, object lessons that catch their attention, videos that inspire leadership and create challenges to overcome. Redecorate your buildings (sorry, but this means no more bulletin boards with lace and fabric, doilies hung over chairs, and put up some large screen televisions with professional looking graphics). Start a men’s day that is full of opportunities to eat meat and talk about sports.
One review cannot capture everything he wrote and I cannot share all the graphs and statistics here, but if you read, you’ll get the idea that when we made Jesus our heavenly boyfriends, the church declined. When church became irrelevant for every day life, our men left. If we reach out to our men and make some small changes, we can see them return.
Murrow ends his book with a story of a female pastor who took all this to heart. She wasn’t ready to step down from her role, but she started doing everything in the previous book and men started coming back. She admitted they haven’t stopped holding hands at the end of the service, but she said they’ve done a lot. And the men returned.
Murrow’s book is full of great information I know you’ll appreciate once you read. It is one of my all time favorite books. I see myself in the examples he gives. I want the kind of church he talks about. I won’t always see these things come to fruition but I am seeing a resurgence of these principles in our eldership as they work to help our church to grow and it is working. Please give this book a read.
So much of what you said resonates with me and my church experience. I came to Christ when I was 28 years old in a church of Christ where they sang the old hymns of bold Jesus and bold believers. I do want to now read this book and maybe gift a copy to my pastor. Thanks for your thoughts, Mike.