Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Missing Fathers and Young Men of the Church

Why are there so few men in churches?  Why do wives sit in the pew disappointed because their husbands do not attend with them?  And why do single women bemoan the lack of godly, single, churchgoing men to choose from?

Most people assume that men are just less religious or less spiritual than women, but this is untrue.  For instance, other religions don’t have trouble attracting males.  And Jesus was a magnet to men.  But today, few men are living for Christ at a time when other men are dying for their religion.  Why do other religions inspire make allegiance while Christianity breeds male indifference?

Christianity has become too feminized for men.  That’s why. 

Consider.  There’s a lot of emphasis on emotional satisfaction in Christian churches.  Think of sitting in a circle, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, and comforting members.  Men are not going to do it.  Think of the worship songs that portray Jesus as a lover whose beauty and tenderness is to be praised.  It’s very difficult for a man to sing love songs about being intimate and passionate with another man – even if it is Jesus.  Men would rather sing about His justice or strength, or refer to Him as Sovereign Lord of righteousness who vanquishes His enemies. 

Listen to the terminology commonly used today to define the Christian life.  You hear words like comfort, nurture, share, embrace, sensitivity, and feelings.  Men gag on this kind of religion.  It’s like angel food cake – soft, spongy, and unsatisfying.

Even though these words are Biblical terms, the list is incomplete.  Missing are words like risk, challenge, sacrifice, action, count the cost, lay down your life, pick up your cross, die daily, change, conflict, dangerous, reward, conquer, shield, sword, battle, fight the good fight, and be a good soldier.  These are Biblical words too, and they are the language of men!

Disciplines such as apologetics, theology, ethics, and study are de-emphasized in favor of relationships, understanding, and sensitivity.  There is little room for rationality, moral judgments, boundaries, disagreements, confrontation, and debate, or many other masculine activities, in an environment where feelings rule supreme.

Another turn-off for men is the touchy-feely sermon.  These sermons, delivered by touchy-feely pastors, stress feelings and inner spiritual experiences while neglecting the intellectual side of the Christian faith.  Men want to see the relevance of Christianity to the real world they live in.  As long as churches continue to appeal only to the emotional, therapeutic, and relational aspects of the faith, it is going to appeal more to women than men.

Men love apologetics.  They love theology, philosophy, ethics, science, and history.  Men love competition.  Men love anything that can be debated – anything where there is a winner and a loser!

Churches tend to emphasize Jesus’ softer side like His love, desire to save, and holding children, while ignoring the doctrines of sin and hell.  Men detest liberal Christianity – a mild religion that leads to “personal enlightenment.”  Men want to expend their lives on a great cause and follow a great leader.  This guy with soft skin, a white robe, and a blue ribbon tied around his waist doesn’t appeal to them.  The Man who cleansed the temple with a braided whip does.

To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ – including the Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

Although males have not completely abandoned the church, manly men are in short supply.  Tough, earthy, working guys rarely come to church.  High achievers, alpha males, risk takers, and aggressive visionaries are noticeably absent too.  These rough-and-tumble men don’t fit in with the quiet, introspective, genteel types who populate churches.  Today’s churchgoing man is humble, tidy, dutiful, and above all, refined.

What a contrast to the men of the Bible!  Think of Moses and Elijah, David and Daniel, Peter and Paul.  They were lions, not lambs – men who took charge and risked everything to serve God.  They fought and spilled blood.  They were true leaders, tough guys who were feared and respected by the community.  All of these men had two things in common:  they had an intense commitment to God, and they were not what you’d call saintly.

Such men seldom go to church today.

How did Christianity that was founded by a Man and His twelve male disciples become so disliked by men today?  The church of the first century was a magnet to males, manly men.  Jesus’ strong leadership, blunt honesty, sharp words, and bold action (like cleansing the temple) mesmerized men.

Maybe we are not speaking mens language.

1 comment:

Rob Hadding said...

Amen! And Amen!