When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. (Psalms 118:5)
Men’s Ministry expert Dan Schaffer says, “Women equate closeness with safety. Men equate personal space with safety.” It’s true. You see this whenever men gather in an auditorium. They spread out like marbles dropped on a kitchen floor. But women sit in tight little knots, with hardly a seat between them.
In church we often force men to become physically close and touch each other in a way that’s uncomfortable for them. Many of these rituals are unbiblical and unnecessary. But we do them anyway, even if it drives men away.
Handholding. I’ve been in too many church services where everyone held hands across the isles while singing a unity hymn. I hate it. Most men do. Especially when we have to hold hands with another guy! We don’t like doing it in small groups either. I’ll shake your hand, but don’t ask me to hold your hand. Holding hands with another guy is a serious manhood violation.
Hugging. If people want to enfold one another, that’s their business. Hugs are absolutely appropriate among close friends or in counseling situations. But it’s tough on men to hug other men. I mean, where else in our society do male strangers lock up in an embrace except church? Men are quite capable of being friendly without being so personal. In fact, they prefer it that way.
Prayer mushrooms. When we gather around a man and lay hands on him for prayer, we may unknowingly violate his need for space. You know what I’m talking about: Brother Joe mentions his back is sore, and before he knows what hit him a prayer mushroom has sprouted. A crowd gathers around him in the form of a circle, heads bowed and eyes closed. He’s in the center. Not only does he have unfamiliar hands all over him, but he must remain frozen for 10 minutes or more while everyone has their say, or does some kind of chant.
Other men see what happened to Brother Joe, so they keep their prayer needs to themselves, scared to death that they might end up underneath a prayer mushroom too! But most women love prayer mushrooms because closeness is comforting for them. Men need space.
Men’s meetings. Incredibly, men’s meetings are the worst offenders. We hug men when they arrive. Then we place them in tight circles, asking them to read aloud, to share, and then to top it off by holding hands and praying for 10 minutes. Finally, everybody gets a hug and it’s time for cookies. No wonder fewer than 10% of US churches can’t maintain a men’s ministry – it’s actually a women’s ministry for men.
Men need space. Plain and simple.
.........he brought me into a spacious place. (Psalms 118:5)