Today I joined a group of Christian men, mostly preachers and other church leaders, for lunch, conversation, and some spiritual encouragement. Lunch was good. (just kidding Jake and Mike.)
Anyway, my friend and techno-neanderthal Jake King had some thoughts to share with the group about men and spirituality. He had been reading a book called “Why Men Hate Going to Church.” Jake shared some information about the disparity between male and female church attendance (there are 13 million more women in American churches than men). He discussed the trend in church life to have more women-oriented events than men-oriented events: ladies’ Bible classes, ladies’ brunches, ladies’ days, women’s retreats versus the occasional men’s retreat or men’s breakfast. He also shared some thoughts from the book about why this might be the case and what we, as Christians and/or church leaders, might be able to do to help the problem.
After sharing his information Jake asked for comments. Others agreed that there was a disparity, and still others reminded us that in various mission fields it is common for women to highly outnumber men in conversions and church attendance. In other words, this is not just an American church problem (or is it a problem our American missionaries have carried to the mission field? I don’t think so, but I have to at least admit it is possible).
So, what’s the deal? Are women more spiritually-minded than men? Well, Jesus was a man, and He chose and trained twelve very spiritual men to carry on His spiritual mission. I don’t believe that answers the question.
Is it because women are more emotional and empathetic than men? Perhaps. But then, maybe, we should see this as a failure on our part in communicating the obviously biblically-prominent “manly” attributes of Christianity and spirituality (such as hard work, sacrifice, risk, and danger). Maybe we have presented a picture of Christianity and Jesus that is too meek and feminine for many men to digest. (Please understand that I do not see women as weak and unwilling to work or sacrifice. I am simply speaking about popular gender perceptions. There is much truth in the term “chick flick,” and much masculine appeal in Chuck Norris movies…_________ insert Chuck Norris joke.)
Or, might it be because we just haven’t made a concerted effort to reach men (generally speaking)? Do we have a deficiency of men-oriented activities, classes, etc.?
One more statistic that Jake shared that I found very interesting (you’ll have to ask Jake where all these numbers came from): if a woman is converted to Christianity there is about a 17% chance that the rest of her family will follow; if a man is converted, that chance increases to 93%. Obviously we cannot neglect women in evangelism and encouragement, but perhaps we should make more of an effort with the men of our churches and communities.
What do you think? Is there a problem? Why? What can we do about it?