Tuesday, October 17, 2006

from Why Men Hate Going To Church

I read Why Men Hate Going To Church yesterday. And since I have to give it back the United Methodist Research Center, I wanted to pull out the stuff that stood out to me. Here are the summary statements, and below are quotes to go with them.

1) Men follow men, not programs.
2) Men may not come to worship because they don't want to sing.
3) Educated men don't want the preacher to pit the Bible against science.
4) Much of our religious language appeals to women but repulses men.
5) Men want leaders, not facilitators.
6) Men need shorter sermons.
7) No one should serve in a ministry they aren't called to.
8) Pastors are not ministers but coaches.



1) Men follow men, not programs.
"Men don't follow programs; they follow men. A woman may choose a church because of the programs it offers, but a man is looking for another man to follow. Throughout their lives, men are transformed through encounters with inspiring men. Every successful man will tell you of a father, an uncle, a teacher, a coach, or a sergeant who made the difference in his life. The movies men love often feature an inspirational coach, commander, or teacher. Men are dying for a leader. Every man, regardless of age, needs another man to look up to and say in his heart, I want to be like him." (59)

2) Men may not come to worship because they don't want to sing.
"Robert Lewis has noticed a curious trend in his Arkansas megachurch: praise skippers. These people (mostly men) consistently arrive half an hour late to the worship service. Lewis suspects these fellows are tardy on purpose to miss the singing. There are also a number of men who sneak out as soon as the sermon is over, perhaps for the same reason... I'm convinced that there a million unchurched men who would attend a worship service this weekend if they just didn't have to sing. Pastor Lewis dropped singing from his Men's Fraternity gatherings and attendance leaped. Some church planter is going to figure this out and reap a rich harvest of men." (116-117)

3) Educated men don't want the preacher to pit the Bible against science.
"Well-educated men want a church where God is real, but not one that treats science as the enemy. They want a church where they can ask questions and challenge the party line. Mainline churches take note: this is one area where you can really make inroads with men. The balancing act is to allow for differences in interpretation without slipping into outright heresy. Proclaim the truth with boldness, but do not make people feel evil or dumb for disagreeing. Conservative churches: let men ask uncomfortable questions, and resist the urge to promote a science versus God sideshow." (119)

4) Much of our religious language appeals to women but repulses men.
"[M]any churches have replaced the masculine term kingdom of God with the more feminine family of God. Jesus never uttered the phrase. It never appears in the Bible. But we prefer family of God because it resonates with the feminine heart.

"The term relationship gets a workout in the church today. Evangelical churches frequently invite people to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Does that phrase appear in the Bible? Nope. Nowhere does the Scipture invite us into a personal relationship with God or Jesus. Yet it has become the most popular way to describe the Christian walk! Why? Because it frames the gospel in terms of a woman's deepest desire - a personal relationship with a man who loves her unconditionally.

"Nowadays it's not enough to have a personal relationship with Jesus; many of today's top speakers encourage men to have a passionate relationship with Him. These teachers have chosen a very uncomfortable metaphor to describe discipleship! Speaking as a man, the idea of having a passionate relationship with another man is just plain gross. Then we have the ever-popular intimacy with God. When men hear of the word intimacy, the first thing that comes to mind is sex. Those dirty-minded guys! But guess what? Whenever the words passionate and intimacy appear in the Bible, they always refer to sex of lust.

"When a man loves another man, he uses terms such as admire, look up to, and respect. Men do not speak of passionate, intimate, or even personal relationships with their leaders or male friends... Here's my rule of thumb: when describing the things of God, use terms that would sound right on a construction site. Try words such as friendship and partnership. Challenge men to follow God or walk with Christ. See the difference it makes!" (136-137)

5) Men want leaders, not facilitators.
"Banish the word facilitator from your vocabulary. Men follow leaders, not facilitators. Jesus led, and so must we." (156)

6) Men need shorter sermons.

"Men have an attention span of six to eight minutes, yet the average Protestant sermon is more than thirty minutes in length... If you really want to attract unchurched men, paint this on your sign: HOME OF THE TEN-MINUTE SERMON. Break your message into a five-minute Scripture lesson, a five-minute object lesson, and a ten-minute sermon, with other elements in between. Make the point using three different approaches. You still get your twenty minutes, but you honor men's shorter attention span. End your message with concrete action items or an optional discussion for those who want to stick around. See if that doesn't liven things up for men." (178-179)

7) No one should serve in a ministry they aren't called to.
"I'll say it again: don't serve in a ministry to which you are not called, no matter how urgent the need. If a particular ministry is chronically understaffed, it may be a sign from God that He is leading elsewhere. Believe me, if men lose a ministry that is important to them, they'll step forward." (198)

8) Pastors are not ministers but coaches.
"Pastors, I know you've heard it a million times, but here it is again: you are not the minister. Your people are. You are a coach. God made men to be active, and are often passive because they feel unauthorized or unqualified to minister." (205)

13 comments:

Nick Draper said...

Umm...Amen. I don't think I could restate any of that better or clearer. Several of those summary statements have been resonating with me in a major way since I started college, and it's nice to see I'm not alone.

Brett said...

I think these are excuses. Many men today leave the "spiritual stuff" to the wife, especially when it concerns their children. This should not be so.
I believe it is an issue with pride more than with what songs are sung, or how wording is used.

Jason Woolever said...

Brett, Murrow says in the book that he is not writing this book to say how men should be, but to describe how they are.

Jason Woolever said...

nick, i agree with you. I expecially resonate with what he said about language. I agree we need a relationship with God. But I know this one song we sing called "What a friend I've found", and one line says, "I have felt your touch, more intimate than lovers."

I have to agree that a lot of time because of this language, I have actually unconsciously imagined myself as a woman in my relationship with God. I know that sounds weird. It actually is a relief for someone to point out that these metaphors are not necessary the most biblical ones.

Oloryn said...

I have to agree that a lot of time because of this language, I have actually unconsciously imagined myself as a woman in my relationship with God. I know that sounds weird. It actually is a relief for someone to point out that these metaphors are not necessary the most biblical ones.

Um, I'm not saying you're completely wrong on this, but how does that not fit in with the church being described as the 'bride of Christ'? Do we have to drop this quite biblical image to draw men?

Anonymous said...

Jason,

I will discuss these point with my Men's Bible Fellowship on Monday.

I'll let you know what we come up with.

John Flores
Frisco, Texas

Jason Woolever said...

sounds great, John. I'll be very interested to see how it goes.

Jason Woolever said...

oloryn,
Murrow would say that in the Bible the Church is described as the Bride of Christ, but that this doesn't make each individual a bride in him/herself. In other words, I'm not the bride of Christ. We are the Bride of Christ. He would say this describes a relationship between Christ and us as a body.

I really don't think we're all going to be women in eternity, or even more feminine for that matter.

Dana said...

Re #1: Men do NOT follow men. If this was the case, the church wouldn't've got in the state it was in. He's right; men don't follow programs. But men don't follow other men (in general) either.

Men follow leaders.

I liked the book, though, and Murrow brings up great points. I think his focus is quite narrow, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Eight Iron said...

I'm with you, Dana. Our mid-high youth group is capably led by a female youth pastor. As far as I can tell, there is a good male/female balance among those who turn out for events.

- Greg

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with understanding what men are and where they are -- although I'm suspicious of such broad generalizations about half the population of the planet.

But does Murrow talk about what men are called to be as followers of Christ? That is our point, yes? Getting them from where they are on the road to where God wants them to be?

larry said...

I read the book this summer and didn't care for alot of it - too much "Wild at Heart" type of assumptions overall; kind of pop-psychology Christianity in my opinion.

Still, the book did get me thinking about men and the church more in depth, so I guess it was good in that respect.

This is a tough nut to crack, getting men to be active in the spiritual life of the church, but one that will be vital to the long-term health of the Church.

BruceA said...

Numbers 3, 4 and 6 really resonate with me. What I find interesting about #2 is that, as a songleader at my church's contemporary service, I don't relate -- yet there's something about it I can relate to.

The thing I don't like about contemporary worship is that it is often reduced to singing and a sermon. There's no place for members to participate except in the singing. When I go to church, I want to worship, not just listen to the pastor talk. I want to be involved. Contemporary worship services take away the opportunities for the congregation to be involved, and I think that's a shame.