Do Men Hate Church?

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?

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10 thoughts on “Do Men Hate Church?

  1. I am reading wild at heart again ( for the third time) and John eldredge speaks of this. And I tend to agree that the church is tame and quiet and too much so for a mans heart. God made man and women in his image and he gave man a longing for a fight for an adventure. This is in church as well. Jesus was strong, he was “wild”! He “camped” out everywhere, he lived from what God gave him, he traveled in the wild and confronted men face to face, even drove them from the temple! THAT is my strong man’s man Lord of lords! When don’t we show all men that and teach that to our young men? They need to know that they need to fight for their soul, fight for the heart and reputation of the women around them, fight for the church, and fight for his brothers soul!

    So I agree…. We need to teach young men and show other men that this is not a weakness but a fight for strength and to be what God calls us to be! We are worriers in the Lord’s service!

    I also think this is going to be a cultural battle. One to show men and young men responsibility and work ethic. We have a culture of “I deserve” everything kind of people. We need to teach men , young men and girls that it takes work to have anything. That includes food, money, a home, a great merriage, and a relationship with our amazing God!

    Ok I’m done for now…. I think

    • I have Wild at Heart, and I started reading it at one point several years back, but I got side-tracked and a little bored with it at the time. I probably need to try reading it again.

      I think there may be some cultural aspects to this. I think that’s about the best way to explain it since, as far as I can tell, there is no indication of this problem in the early churches in scripture. There seemed to have been plenty of strong, spiritual male leadership. So, maybe culture has changed.

      But it could also be that the church’s focus and emphasis has changed. The early church was facing persecution and hardship and all the danger that goes with that. The church today is not so dangerous, and maybe not so appealing to thrill-seeking men. So, maybe we need to be more “adventurous” and radical in how we serve and reach out in our world.

  2. I think, for the most part, men in most cultures are raised to be self sufficient, sole providers for themselves and their families. Women are raised to be caregivers of the family and appreciative of the sustenance provided by the men in the family (first fathers, then husbands). Consequently, it’s hard for the man to admit that all good things are from God. That He provides for man’s needs and those of his family. It’s hard for man to develop his faith in God give up the control.
    The role of women has changed in society over the past 100 years. They have become more a part of the workforce and less reliant upon the men of the family to support them. I think that younger women are now finding it more difficult to stay in the church as well as in the home because they, too, are developing an attitude of self-reliance, much like men have had for generations.
    I’m not sure what the answer is other than getting into the word of God on a regular basis and strengthening our prayer life. We all need to work on having a humble attitude before God and toward others. Look for ways to serve and allow others to serve us.

    • I wonder, too, if it is a pride thing for many men. Not only do we feel self-sufficient, but if we have our views and opinions, whether it be about politics, religion, or football, we often feel like our ego is being pummeled if someone questions what we believe or what we do. And a major aspect of Jesus and Christianity is repentance: questioning our actions and beliefs, recognizing our faults, and committing to change.

      I think just about the only ways around that are for a man to face failure so he begins to question what he has done or believes, or for close friends or relatives to influence him by example or conversation. And the second one is what we Christians can and should provide. I think we need to find ways to build relationships with the men in our communities.

  3. The discussion of the difference between Men & Women always interests me. Particularly when the discussion revolves around “feelings” & how the sexes deal with them in different ways.

    Well here are some of my “feelings”:

    1. I “feel” that most of the gatherings for men are a waste of time. After working two full time jobs; taking care of the farm; calling on people as an elder; being a husband, father, friend; teaching two bible classes; etc…… I find myself sitting in these events thinking of all the other things that I could be doing that would be a better use of my time.

    2. I “feel” that most of the gatherings for men are griping or whining sessions. I find myself sitting in these events thinking MAN UP PEOPLE!!! If you spent half as much time actually doing something, instead of griping about what is not being done by someone else or why you are a victim, the world would be turned upside down.

    3. I “feel” that most of the gatherings for men are wasted on the basic information that we have heard our entire lives. How many times have you heard the plan of salvation!!! Come on, let’s get to the meat!!!

    Just a few thoughts on my “feelings”.

    But here is what I do!

    1. I go to as many of these gatherings as I can. Not for me, but for the other men. There is comfort in numbers. The more of us that attend, the better we “feel”. The example to my son, other members, younger men is far more important that what I feel. If they see that I am willing to spend my time & effort, then they are encouraged to follow that example.

    2. While there, I do my best to listen to the griping & whining. Most of the time these men are as frustrated as I am that nothing is getting done. However, the only thing they have been tauught is griping & whining. Listening to their complaints helps me re-direct my efforts. It also help direct them into productive activities. Someone actually working to solve a problem has a lot less time to gripe.

    3. I endure with a smile the teaching of the basics. I am not the only one there. Many men are not schooled in the basics & need this information. It also leads to better discussions during breaks, the journey home, etc… b/c you have a starting point for deeper discussions & meatier topics.

    BOTTOM LINE–at a minimum go to worship, men’s breakfasts, retreats, hunting or fishing trips, or any other excuse to be with your brothers in Christ. You will not regret it in the long run!

    LM

  4. Pingback: The Perfect Solution « Everyday Mountains

  5. The church we have built is primarily suitable for women not men.

    All teaching seems to major on men becoming soft and feminine because this is the false picture of a “gentle” Jesus that we have been taught.

    Wild at heart hits the nail on the head. -What young boy if asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” would reply, “I want to be a nice man.”

    However that is the sort of Christian which the church is trying to build.
    I want to vomit when I meet these mamby pamby saints. They have no ability to make decisions in case it offends anyone. They are taught to defer to the Pastor for all permission. They have never used what they have learned away from the safe confines of the sacred building or gathering. Get a life! Go and practice it at work

    I believe that the unbiblical hierarchical structure of the church has built idolatry in the saints towards those who are further up the chain.
    I believe such structure removes the authority that God ordained for the men of the house.
    I believe that God has created a kingdom of priests but church structures override and negate this.
    I believe that experiential faith in life outside of church is far more important that what we see in church.
    I believe that listening to the pastor constantly preaching causes men’s hearing to become calloused when it comes to personally hearing God.

    I for one, have seen far more of the life and power of God manifest in the workplace than ever I saw in church.

    The tragedy is that the church seems to believe that the Gospel was given purely to get people to heaven when they are dead. Yet the scripture itself makes it plain that it was written to bring salvation (direction deliverance healing) in this life to those who are God’s own.

    • I agree with everything you have said here…except I hesitate on the point of devaluing preaching. That’s probably because I am a preacher. But, it is also because God has used preaching throughout history to speak to the people. Jesus was a preacher…and much more, obviously…but He was a preacher.

      The underlying problem, I think, is not really understanding that “church” is not just what happens Sunday morning, and is not primarily what happens Sunday morning. Church is serving and sacrificing like Christ every day.

      • In general, church makes the same mistake that schools make, (at least they do here in the UK). Education just does not make better people!

        This comment is based on knowing the Lord for about 50 years, and attending Church for a bit over half of that. (And also being sometimes on the fringe of Leadership, and of being thrown out of several churches for lack of submission! (They did me a favour))
        I then realised that God was calling my wife and I out of the system, so we went.

        Since then we continue to have a little fellowship with a few other believers who also loath the control of church.

        The Church’s real deep mistake is thinking that men actually need to be “educated” into the Kingdom. Such “Christian education” is given in talks after talks from the man at the front, (Preaching).
        The more of this education, the more bible studies you attend, the closer to heaven you get, the better person you become.

        I know that this notion will generate a strong rebuff, but from this side of the pulpit, IT IS EVIDENTLY TRUE.

        The credibility of a member of the church is measured by his attendance. Firstly this is at the Sunday service, and if in the right sort of church then at all the prayer meetings and bible studies.

        Deny it if you dare!

        There doesn’t have to be an attendance register or a score sheet, but that is still how the eldership think, and also all the good camp followers think. ie. if you are a loyal attendee, you compare yourself against those who are slack in their attendance. “They must be backsliding, etc. Perhaps there is SIN in their lives”. Church loyalty is frequently just built on guilt even in “loving” churches.

        Most preaching is, sadly, a yawn to a busy man, being completely out of touch with the real world. How does it help me at work? Even if the preaching is a thrill, it still falls into Paul’s “words of mans’ wisdom” (intellect) rather than demonstration of the Holy Ghost with power.

        Although I had a good start as a Christian in a good teaching fellowship with an anointed teacher. I soon realised the totally abstract nature of the stuff which was taught. It rarely connected with my life.

        I can remember over 25 years ago asking the bible teacher that maybe we could have some time after bible studies to discuss how, what we had heard and learned, might impact us in our lives, and he refused. That was not what he was called to do.

        I watched as more and more members accumulated knowledge after knowledge about God Jesus Israel sin, etc. Yet nothing seemed to change in how they lived. They were good loving church members, and most were trying to live even better as Christians. The problem was and still is that church just created a breeding ground for good works, and church obedience. More and more attendance just created more and more clones of the church.

        These saints had no real idea how to be individual before God. They were born again from above, but lived their lives a children of the church. They just developed the character of that church or its leader. I have observed the same in many churches in the UK and the USA. Few knew how to discern what God was saying to them personally, the pastor’s voice is always far more coherent and easy to follow.

        EACH CHURCH HAS ITS HIDDEN RULE BOOK. Every new member gradually learns what is expected of them to be well accepted as a member. THIS IS TRUE IN EVERY CHURCH I HAVE BEEN IN THROUGH MY LIFE.
        Each new church we pass through, brings a probation period whilst we learn the new patterns. This is why Christians seek out a similar denomination when they move town. Its a whole lot easier because they already know the ropes!

        Unfortunately I was a poor learner, (regarding the hidden agenda), and offended too many leaders and those who loved proximity to the leaders. I never could be bothered to learn the rules. I just wanted to get close to the Lord AND TO ME, THE RULES WERE NOTHING BUT PHARISAICAL NONSENSE.

        Jesus said that the Pharisee’s doctrine shut up heaven and the same is true regarding the church’s hidden agenda and rule books

        When christians depend on preachers, leaders, pastors, vicars to feed them, then they cease to feed off Christ. These front men have become a substitute for Christ.

        They, and the church institutions produce what Jesus warned against, and actually shut up heaven. Church becomes a substitute for God and his kingdom. The saints seek the kingdom of church and its righteousness, all the time thinking they are seeking God.

        Most of these saints cannot manage without their weekly fix of church.
        Those that can manage without it, and that hate being hooked, depart wounded, sometimes searching for a better church.

        Finally they will realise that the problem is church itself, which is not built on the ROCK, not built on Jesus. They will realise that the church they have trusted in is built on the sand of the denomination, or the sand of the preacher’s doctorate in divinity, or the sand minister’s personal charisma.

        Long ago I realised that I had to prove what I had learned from scripture, and that I had to prove it in life and work away from church.
        Consequently I have seen more of the reality of God in my working life than ever I did in Church. I also have accumulated an amazing experience of God’s loving hand of guidance in what I do. This is something far beyond any experience in church.

        I have proved what the writers meant when they wrote many of those verses. I have seen things change in my workplace because of what I have believed and claimed in the heavens. God has revealed secrets that have had direct financial consequences for my business.

        The verses were never meant to be theology, they have become powerfully alive and true. They are not things I will find out when I get to heaven, I have taken the words away from church and walked with them, and learned practically from them. I have learned how to walk with God and hear his direction.

        Sadly, being a free and “disobedient” christian who listened to God for himself only gave local church a headache because they could not control me. They decided I was an enemy to be denounced as dangerous.
        Yup, that’s me!
        I just want to get on with God, and I shall continue.

        Thank God I escaped with my freedom. I love walking with God as my Father. I love what Jesus gave me. I am not going to give my freedom to a church to manipulate ever again.

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