Why Sitting In Church Is Bad For Men
We Have A Crisis
Look around your church on any given service and the odds are you’ll see more women and kids than you will men. Why? Because men have left the building.
And therein lies the problem. Church has become about the building, not the body. Although today’s mega-churches are pulling in thousands of people every week, fewer and fewer of them are men. The building as a holy place where holy people gather to act holy once a week isn’t keeping men in the seats.
Honestly, acting holy one day a week isn’t really benefiting anyone but those who build the holy houses. While attendance at some buildings are increasing, the overall gathering is on the decline. This is directly linked to the masses of absent men.
Thank God for faithful moms and grandmothers who fight for family. But when mom comes to Christ, her family joins her in church only 17% of the time. When God’s designed plan of action has the spiritual head of the household come to Christ, the family joins dad there 93% of the time.
Missing The Target
Instead of focusing on what drives men to Christ, most churches put on bigger and better entertainment spectacles each week in hopes of keeping their interest. But the reality is, without feeding the soul of men through the conviction of God’s Word, those bright lights and motivational speeches fall flat.
Not surprising, but only 31% of men surveyed attend service once a week, while 35% never attend. Prayer among men shows over 56% do so seldom or never, while 79% of men rarely or never participate in bible study or group prayer. What I find ironic is that 53% of men experience feeling spiritual peace and wellbeing.
Without the foundation or relational connection to God, the number of men feeling spiritual with Christ points to a misidentification of what a masculine relationship with God should reflect.
I’ll confess that in my darker days of self-reliance, I feigned being okay in public although I was suffering in private. Why? Because asking for help was a sign of weakness. Being a manly-man meant sucking it up and silently bearing my burden. It’s what my dad did, and how he shut me down when I tried to share how I felt as a child.
We do the same thing when (if) we show up to the holy house on Sunday. There’s a general feeling that it’s no ones business how we feel. When it’s just you and thousands of your non-connected “friends,” a warm greeting and “How are you?” isn’t going to break through the rock wall suffocating your heart.
When men do go to church, it’s an in and out occasion with a few handshakes and “I’m fine, thanks.” The inner pain may try to seep through like a weed out of a rock, but it won’t bloom into outreach for help.
Men seek peer bonding. This is why we’re drawn to law enforcement, firefighting, military, fraternities, private clubs, country clubs, strip clubs, sports teams, our neighborhood bar and basically anywhere that a sense of unity, homogeneity, and camaraderie helps us feel special about being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Then why not a big, box-store style mega-church? Because the relationship with Christ is an intimate connection where we’re individually led into a posture of self-reflection. We’re moved to confront who it is we see ourselves as, and then guided to begin seeing ourselves as God sees us. Which by the way is the only identity that has a truthful and eternal foundation.
This dynamic is completely opposite of peer-group membership because the value of being one among many is that we get to remain anonymous as we adopt the identity of the whole. So it would seem like there is the answer to bringing men together beneath the banner of Christ.
Knowing it and doing it are two very different things in the business of getting people to visit your weekend religious building to act holy. Fewer than 10% of churches are able to maintain a vibrant men’s ministry because less than 1% of men who do attend church participate in men’s ministry.
By and large, popularity-prone preachers have become PC by avoiding controversial topics. They play it safe by discussing social issues and impassioned speeches. Research shows that “a vast majority of theologically conservative pastors believe the Bible speaks to societal issues, but fewer than 10 percent of these pastors are teaching people what the Bible says on these topics.”
Another study shares that “even though these pastors know what God’s Word teaches, they don’t want to touch on topics like homosexual behavior, abortion, politics, adultery, and pornography” because they feel the topics are too controversial.
Men need to hear what’s causing them to constantly screw up their life. Men are committing suicide; addicted to pornography; struggling with addictions; debt; divorce; past pain and finding footholds in the crumbling foundations based on the failed legacy of toxic masculinity.
When’s the last time you heard a sermon on pornography? Did you know that in the last year, on average, about 70% of men have actively sought out pornography? Think that’s a shocker? Here’s an excerpt from an earlier article I wrote that talks about not just the flock suffering, but the shepherds falling to sexual sin as well:
Not only is the flock suffering from sin, but the shepherds also struggle. Fifty-one percent of surveyed pastors say pornography is a temptation, and 54% said they’d watched porn within the last year, and 30% of those within the last 30 days. Not only are pastors struggling with lust of the eye, but lust of the flesh is an issue for 63% of surveyed pastors fighting sexual addiction.
Instead of neutering the weekly message to satisfy the money-giving masses, the body of the church could start serving one another as Christ commanded. Stop sitting back in the holy house waiting for the hurting to crawl through your doors, and start going out to meet them where they collapse.
Begin staffing men’s ministries with actual men who’ve messed up more in life than leaving a dog-eared copy of the latest beard grooming magazine on the counter.
– Stop worrying about how many men actually show up and instead invest in the one that does.
– Keep the groups small and very private.
– Spare them the pious, holiness of judgment.
– Show sincere compassion. Men on the edge of whether or not they’ll survive another hour don’t need to know that they’ve fallen short of God’s glory. Trust me, we know!
– Listen to every word that each man speaks because those words do not come easily, nor are they offered without respect given.
– Always tell men the truth without comparing tragedies. We shouldn’t witness to win worst story. When hurting men detect an inflated testimony, you’ll never see them again.
– Be a humbled man among hurting men.
– Don’t panic if sitting in the holy building one day a week isn’t their thing. Meet men where they are, and they’ll come when they feel as though there is something to grow by.
What Do You Think
Why don’t men attend church?
Are we better off not trying to force men to get involved?
Should churches cater to men just to get them to participate?
What should we be doing differently to draw men back to church?
Any other thoughts about this?
Your Mission Assignment
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