Years ago I came across a book by David Murrow titled: “Why Men Hate Going to Church.“ Until earlier this week when I had the chance to hear him on the podcast of Family Talk radio with James and Ryan Dobson I’d almost forgot that I had the book. Thanks to my friend Karen I not only had the chance to hear the podcast (she discovered it and e-mailed me the link), but it gave me a chance to dig through some boxes and look for the book. Considering I recently approached my pastor to volunteer my time and effort to start a men’s ministry at the church I attend, it’s probably a good book with a good bit of information to consider when trying to serve men in a biblical context.
As a single guy I’m an endangered species in the church. My single-women friends will readily admit this. While I may not qualify for ESA protection from the government because of it, being single again does give me a perspective from which to serve the guys in my church.
I hope to record some thoughts on this topic as I go through and read Mr. Murrow’s book (the bookmark in it was on chapter 2, so that ought to give you an idea of how far my ADD brain allowed me to get the first time I tried to read it). As Murrow writes in his introduction, this is a topic that had apparently not been explored prior to him considering the idea.
According to Albert Einstein, the height of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So why is it that our churches haven’t done what is necessary to attract more men? Certainly most pastors are men and most church leaders are men, but beyond that the pews are filled with women and children.
A single man’s perspective
Consider what Murrow writes in chapter 1: “Step into any church parking lot, and you’re likely to see an attractive young mother and her brightly scrubbed children scurrying to Sunday school. Mom may be wearing an impressive diamond ring on her left hand, but the man who gave it to her is nowhere to be seen.”
I want to speak directly to those of you who’s wife and family this describes. You are setting up your wife for an affair, your children for confusion and your marriage for failure.
How so, you ask? It’s easy. Your wife is a relational being and is wired to communicate with others. Church is a place where people have an opportunity to communicate on a deeper level than they do when gathered around the water fountain at work. As your wife opens up with others she begins to develop friendships with those around her in church. Given that guys are wired as visual creatures, that attractive wife of yours has likely attracted the attention of the few guys who do attend church and sit in the same Sunday school class with her. For some it’s not going to matter a whit that she is wearing a wedding ring. If she chooses not to wear that ring then the ambiguity factor just rose exponentially. Now the guy who does care whether she’s married thinks he’s free to open up a conversation with her and maybe even ask her to lunch because he’s already done the “ring check” and determined (albeit incorrectly) that she’s not married.
This is more common than you’d think: married women going to church without a wedding ring on and striking up a conversation with a guy. I’ve seen it happen.
So where do we start? Where does someone like myself begin in trying to challenge men to step up to the plate and accept their God-ordained role as leaders in the home and the church? How do we get men to even attend church then become active leaders in the church? Does it require a whole new set of thinking and acting on the part of the church? How difficult is that going to be given that churches are filled with women who, like us guys, are sinners and are therefore selfish and controlling creatures? Consider the truth in Genesis 3:16b “…And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”
Pray for me! And, pray for the church as we try to take back territory that God intended men to lead. There… I said it!