William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

Church sucks, that's why men are bored there
Church sucks, that’s why men are bored there

I saw that Triablogue quoted an interesting passage from William Lane Craig’s newsletter.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive. And yet those are the things that men like to talk about most: right and wrong, public policy, evidential apologetics.

8 thoughts on “William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men”

  1. Churches should focus on apologetics in order to teach critical thinking and discernment, in order to equip members for good works and reasoning with others about the truth. Many other reasons besides.

    But your picture here is one of men hungering for intellectual nourishment, and women hungering for emotional stroking. In my experience, men are no more wired for intellectual challenge than women and both seek ear-tickling instruction. Instead the problem as you have cited by your experience is the seeking after low-challenge teaching across the board. What we have is a Christian culture which marginalizes itself and which is characterized by laziness.

    Why was the apologetic experience often shut down by women? Because women outnumber men at church. More women have taken the initiative to obey the Word by being there.


  2. Whoa, whoa, whoa… I’m with you in the fight against feminism — or at least modern day “third wave” feminism — but what’s wrong with egalitarianism, and how is it infecting church doctrine?


    1. Egalitarianism is the first step in the denial of God’s authority structure for the family and church and undermines the leadership of men, leading them to withdraw from the family and the church. Men are designed by God to be leaders, and when their leadership is denied and undermined in the home and church, these institutions stagnate as the men do not fulfill their God’s given roles.


  3. Another point which illustrated the false paradigm being presented by Craig…If there are men out there who are hungering for intellectual challenge and apologetics teaching, where are they? At home twiddling their thumbs until the church is ready to give them what they want?
    If there are such men, they ought to join in the work, go to church and ask for what they need, work together with their brothers and sisters to promote such an environment. Or maybe teach a class themselves.

    This illustrates the real problem: a fat, complacent Christian culture that has been trained to take and take, be entertained, be comforted. Not a men vs. women problem. We need to grow up and obey.


    1. I think you missed the point of the post…

      //At home twiddling their thumbs until the church is ready to give them what they want?…Or maybe teach a class themselves.//

      A student in search of a good teacher may know enough to know a teacher isn’t going to teach them what they need to know and yet, still not know enough about the subject to be the very teacher they need. The assumption that someone can join an organization with the intent of changing it… will probably work out as well are marrying someone with the intent of changing them; which is to say poorly. Ppl spend their time on things they value or think likely to be successful and lead to things they value.


  4. Craig might be right but I feel women could be equally strong in apologetics as men..it might be the hard wired thing but in other areas i.E .politics there are some very strong minded women out there .Im a Brit and we have just elected another female prime minister with quite a few women in her cabinet. God could use more women in apologetics they just need to step up to the plate. .Surely working for our Lord is more important than working for the government


    1. Amen.

      Our church is pretty strong on apologetics, though it can certainly improve. And we have had people leave because the pastor was peraching over their heads. We have cultivated a culture of challenge and truth-seeking. We have consequently attracted both men and women who are comfortable with challenge and ready to learn.

      However, we also have a good lot of people, again both men and women, who are more comfy with sitting in front of the media by so-and-so Christian celebrity and gleaning his/her tiny little message.

      It’s a constant struggle to keep the level high. The problem is dedication and obedience to living our lives according to the Lord’s commands; all of them, not just the top of the pops.This includes iron sharpening iron, all of the “one-another’s”, and all of us getting into each other’s lives and building one another up according to instructions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s