On the Biola University site, I found a book review of a new book by David Murrow called “Why Men Hate Going to Church”.
Here’s the problem:
There are generally more women than men in every type of church, in every part of the world, according to church growth experts like Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World. A traditional explanation is that women are more spiritual than men. But the leaders of this new movement suggest that the church’s music, messages and ministries cater to women.
…In America, among evangelical churches, 57 percent of members are women and, among mainline Protestant churches, 66 percent are women, according to a 1998 book American Evangelicalism (University of Chicago Press).
The problem is that the church has become feminized, and men don’t like that, and so, they leave.
To describe many women, Murrow lists traits like “relational,” “nurturing” and “peace-making.” He describes many men as “goal-driven,” “competitive” and “adventurous.” These differences show up in the types of movies many women and many men like: romantic vs. adventure films, Murrow said. In sum, women thrive when secure, and men thrive when challenged, he said.
As Christianity became more feminized, it began to focus more on producing emotional satisfaction. But men want something different.
The article goes on to quote one of my favorite Christian writers, Nancy Pearcey, an expert in apologetics and theology.
…many people think of church only as a nurturing place that addresses personal needs, Pearcey said. Think: sitting in circles, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, comforting members. An example of the feminization of the church is its music. Typical praise songs refer to Jesus as a Christian’s lover and praise his beauty and tenderness. Rarely do they praise his justice or strength, or refer to him as the head of an army leading his church into spiritual battle, like “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
All of the outward facing disciplines within Christianity, such as apologetics, theology, ethics, etc. are de-emphasized, censored or resisted in feminized churches. There is no place for rationality, moral judgments and boundaries, debates and disagreement, confrontations and persuasion, or other manly Christian practices.
Christianity is evangelical, and evangelism takes study and preparation, which culminates in confrontations and discussions. The object of these discussions is not to win the argument. It is to win the person over to your side. So facts and arguments play a huge role in evangelism, but there has to be gentleness too, if you actually want to win. And this is what Christian men are supposed to do. But does the church support it?
Another turn-off for men is touchy-feely sermons. Pearcey said the modern church stresses emotions and inner spiritual experiences while neglecting the intellectual side of the faith.
“The more traditionally masculine side of Christianity enjoys crossing swords with hostile secular worldviews. So, as long as Christianity appeals to the emotional, therapeutic, interpersonal, relational areas, it’s not going to appeal to men as much as to women,” Pearcey said.
Churches should engage men’s intellects to help them see the relevance of Christianity to the “real” world of politics, industry and business, Pearcey said.
“We have to recover the notion that Christianity is true on all levels, not just for your emotional life or repairing relationships, as important as those things are,” she said.
Christian men love apologetics and they also love theology, philosophy, ethics, science and history. We love competition. Anything testable that can be debated! Anything where there is a clear winner and loser.
Many churches emphasize Jesus’ softer teachings, like his love and his desire to save, and they ignore the doctrines of sin and hell, according to Podles. But men dislike liberal Christianity — “a mild religion of progress and enlightenment” as opposed to a battle between good and evil, Podles said.
Men want to expend their lives for a great cause, even if it involves risk, according to Murrow. He said that’s why the U.S. military’s “Army of One” campaign was effective. But American churches rarely teach about Christian suffering and martyrdom, Murrow said. Instead, today’s Christianity is presented as an antidote to these things, he said.
And men thrive on risk, adventure and achievement:
“Men are more attracted to religion if it presented as a quest, an adventure, a heroic exploit,” Pearcey said. “They want something challenging, bracing, demanding.”
To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ — including Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, according to Podles.
Yet, men should be reminded that the sacrifice won’t always be a “huge, glorious display like William Wallace stepping out on a battlefield,” Erre said. Many times it will be staying in a troubled marriage, raising a handicapped child, or working a hated job to provide for a family, he said.
Many women believe that the purpose of Christianity is to be happy and to make others happy by not discussing controversial things like religion. They do not attach the same importance as men do to the duty to be an informed ambassador for Christ, trained in apologetics, and able to persuade others about God’s existence and character. They do not believe that the Lord’s reputation needs to be defended in public in the same way that men do.
Many women also don’t want to be confronted about their beliefs by informed men, because their beliefs are based more on intuition and emotion. They would rather be accepted and affirmed – and so they favor men who don’t know much about the details of Christianity. So manly Christian skills; theology, apologetics, ethics, philosophy, history, science, etc. are not valued in the feminized church.
Touchy-feely sermons come from touchy-feely pastors. A feminized church tends to attract more “gentle, sensitive, nurturing” leadership,” according to Pearcey.
“If religion is defined primarily in terms of emotional experience and is therapeutic, then who is it going to attract as ministers?” she said.
Pearcey said to consider a typical youth pastor.
“He’s really into relationships, very motivating, but is he teaching good apologetics? Is he teaching youth to use their minds and to understand deeper theological truths? At least the ones I’ve known haven’t,” she said. “Today, the common trajectory is for youth pastors to become senior pastors,” she added.
Maybe women should be more sensitive to male needs and character, and more concerned about what the Bible teaches about the the role of apologetics in the Kingdom of God.
If you want to know what Christian men look like, check out this profile of Christian philosopher and apologist Paul Copan on Truthbomb Apologetics. If you want to see one tough and effective Christian lady, visit Denyse O’Leary’s blogs: Post-Darwinist, Mindful Hack and Colliding Universes.
UPDATE 1: Here is an essay I saw on Truthbomb about the need for apologetics, by Norman Geisler.
UPDATE 2: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks for the link. Forgive me if this post was a bit mean, but consider it a cry for reconciliation between men and women in the church. I recommend that everyone make the Anchoress a daily read, as she integrates her faith very well with the issues of the day!
UPDATE 3: I noticed this post linked over on the Anchoress. It talks about what men like and don’t like in the church. But keep in mind that this is a poll of men ALREADY in the church, so these ones are more accepting of the feminization of church already. The men outside the church would be less likely to put up with the feminization of church.
Just one quote:
Sixty per cent said they did not like flowers and embroidered banners in church, while 52 per cent did not like dancing in church…Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon.
There’s a list of hymns that men do like, as well.