Saturday, August 02, 2008

Where Are All the Men?

The bloggosphere has been buzzing about this little article for over a week now. The article highlights how churches are starting to target men in the way they structure worship services. Here's the problem they are trying to address:
Women outnumber men in attendance in every major Christian denomination, and they are 20% to 25% more likely to attend worship at least weekly.
Several years ago a producer in the music industry from Southern California told me that Christian radio and churches market themselves to 35 year-old women. When we consider Christian radio I can see why this would be strategic. After all, if you get the mom, you get the family, especially in that stage of family life.

All this to say that churches who try and make their churches a "man-church" in order to reach men are taking this issue too far. The reminder for all of us is to have balance in how we program artistically. As long as we are maintaining diversity in our programming decisions, we can rest assured that we are creating points of engagement for men in our services. The danger is, if we get too obsessed about reaching only one demographic or one gender, we will be catering too strongly to our consumer culture. Breaking consumer mindsets won't come from giving one demographic whatever will make them comfortable.

My wife and I counsel a lot of young married couples and have been around the block with a lot of seasoned married couples. The reality is, since "the fall" men have had an inclination to be passive, particularly in areas of spiritual leadership. I know because I struggle with this daily in my own marriage and family. Men are happy to build a career or hobby, but are hesitant to lead family devotionals or pray with their spouse. This problem goes far deeper than a feminized church service and it has nothing to do with women submitting at home. It has everything to do with men stepping up to the plate to be servant leaders. From my experience, this is what most women want and, no matter how you slice it, stepping up will require men to go against consumerism in how they live. This will require men...

  • To not think, "How can my needs be met?", but to think "How can I love others as Christ loved the church?"
  • To not think, "What will make me comfortable?", but to think "What risks can I take to be a man after God's own heart?"
  • To not think, "I'm too manly to sing out to the Lord with passion and conviction!", but to think "How can I model for my family what it means to give God more affection and enthusiasm than football and hunting?"

I'll close with this reminder from Ephesians 5:25-30 that clearly shows us how it is the husbands responsibility to sanctify or "make more holy" his wife. How does he do this? He does it by doing all he can to create a home environment that will draw his wife and children more closely in their relationship to Christ. This is what it means when Paul says a husband, like Christ for the church, must sanctify his wife, washing her with His Holy Word.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

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