Preaching Articles

Most churches today, as has been true for the last few decades, are made up of more women and children than men. Yet in most churches, it is still the men who lead and make decisions.

When we started Revolution Church, our goal was that the congregation would be made up of 20- to 40-year-old men. Last year when we did our yearly church survey, we were 49 percent men, 51 percent women, and the average age of our church was 28½.

Our church isn’t that unique. Most church plants are filled with younger people, but what we have learned over the years is how to reach men. This won’t surprise you:

  1. Reaching men is different than reaching women.
  2. Most churches are set up to reach women.

According to Focus on the Family:

  • If a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
  • If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
  • But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.

We know this to be true; we know the impact a father has on the life of a family. Many people have their view of God tied up with their view of their earthly father. We talk about the "father wound" and the impact a father has on us. Yet many churches have simply chosen not to reach men.

Companies have figured this out and largely market to 18- to 35-year-old men. Are they neglecting women? No. The reality is that most women like a lot of what men like when it comes to marketing, but the reverse is not true. Churches need to learn from this.

Having a Target

Every time I talk with pastors or Christians and say we have a target as a church, I get interesting questions. The reality is, your church has a target: the style of music, dress, what time church is, what kind of building you have, what ministries you have and don’t have.

How do you know if you are hitting your target?

  1. Who comes to your church?
  2. Who gets baptized?
  3. What comments or questions do you get?
  4. My favorite comment is one I hear from women all the time: "I wasn’t so sure about this church, but Revolution is the only church my husband would come back to, so here we are."

Here are nine things you can do to start reaching men and see impact in the lives of people, families and your city:

  1. Think about men when it comes to the atmosphere, name of your church, structure and songs. Most churches are filled with pastel colors and flowers everywhere. Why? Women design them. It's not a bad thing, but it won’t appeal to men. Think through the lens of men. Also, preach once a year on relationships, marriage and what it means to be a man or a woman. Our culture has so many questions, and so many things are unclear on these topics that people are wondering.
  1. Preach to men. For most churches, the win for men is to get them to stop looking at porn. While porn is destructive and pervasive, every man is not looking at it every day. There are more things a man struggles with or has questions about. In a sermon, men tend to want logic, clarity and action steps. Women tend to want more stories, feelings and emotions. While a sermon should strive for both, most pastors end up on one end of the spectrum or the other, and their church reflects that. I often think about men I know when I preach on a passage and try to discern questions they would have. When men leave a church, they tend to talk about if they were challenged to think in a new way, while women tend to talk about how they felt after a service. Not all are like this, but I’ve found this to be typical. With a sermon, what do you want people to do? How clear is the main idea?
  1. Have a clear win for your church. If your church doesn’t have a clear win, a clear vision, men will not sign up for it. Men want to know what is on the line, what impact something will make, why they need to show up. This especially matters to businessmen. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but learn the language of the men you are trying to reach. How do they talk? What books do they read? What is important to them?
  1. Show them how actions affect their legacy. Men are concerned with legacy, how things will end up, how they will be remembered. When you minister to a man, keep this in mind. Date night with his wife is not just something for today, but has an enormous affect on the marriages of his kids. Purity in his life will be passed on to his kids and grandkids. Whenever possible, show a man how what he is doing right now, good or bad, will effect his legacy. Men think about the future in a way women do not.
  1. Give them clear examples worth following. One of the reasons I didn’t want to become a pastor when I was 18 was I had never met a pastor I wanted to be like. Most men look at church leaders and see people they don’t want to be like. Or, they don’t see men they would want to become. This doesn’t mean every pastor needs to drink beer or have a tattoo, but when men follow another man, they are following someone they want to emulate. Put leaders in your church, in visible places, whom men would want to emulate. This will sound sexist but I’ll just say it: Men follow men. If you want to reach men, have strong male leaders in your church who exemplify Ephesians 5. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have women leaders (if you are a true complementarian church, you will have strong women leaders in your church), but many men who are pastors aren’t actually leading; they are just shepherding. And men know the difference. Few men can articulate this, but I’ve found this to be true: Men want a pastor who is working hard on his marriage, is honest about his marriage and has a marriage they want to emulate. Is this pressure on the pastor? Yes, but so is everything else about his life and ministry. Too many pastors do not have a passion-filled marriage, and the men who walk into their churches know it.
  1. Expect men to succeed. It is amazing to me what happens in someone’s life when we expect them to succeed or reach a goal. People pick up on that, and they have a way of reaching our expectations. If you expect men to lead family devotions, tell them. Tell them you believe they can do it and give them resources. If you expect men to reach for something, tell them and help them get there. Too many churches seem to say, “We’re content if men just show up.” Or, “You should do ___” and then never give them any tools to accomplish it. Men won't do something if they are afraid they won’t succeed. This is why men don’t lead at home or don’t pray with their families; they are afraid of failing.
  1. Give men something to do. What do most men’s ministries tend to be? A male version of a women’s ministry. They are discussion focused, a large event with men listening or trying to get men to share. While women will share before they serve, men want to serve first. Give them something to do. Help them see how their actions can make an impact. Which leads to the next one…
  1. Help them see how their job is a mission field. This is something churches have failed in. Give them a missional theology of work. Not everyone should be a pastor at a church, yet most of the time when a pastor meets a businessman, he makes him feel guilty for not being a pastor.
  1. Ultimately: The reality for reaching men is they have a habit of becoming what we expect them to be. Whatever bar you set for men, they will reach it. Men are able to do impossible things in life, but the church has by and large held up a broomstick they can jump over and wondered why men didn’t come back.

Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, which is trying to live out the rhythms of Jesus. The church's dream is to "help people find their way back to God."

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Joshua Boateng

commented on May 29, 2015

Thanks for sharing this. Challenging, thought provoking and inspired me as a man, pastor, father, husband and professional at work. The one about work as mission really blessed me.,

John D. Wild

commented on May 29, 2015

Early on it seems that the only people worth saving are men who are old enough to be fathers but young enough to not be grandfathers. Statistics. That is no way to run a church. If Jesus led according to statistics, He never would have died for us.

Doug Knox

commented on May 29, 2015

John, I don't think Josh is saying that post-adolescent men are the only ones worth reaching. Rather, they're strategic. Think about Jesus' twelve disciples, We do not know their ages, but I suspect they were old enough to be fathers but not old enough to be grandfathers. Men who are old enough to catch a vision and young enough to carry it out will reach fill in the gaps.

John D. Wild

commented on May 29, 2015

Okay, Doug, I understand what you're saying. But it sounds like prejudgement to me, that you're saying only young men can catch a vision (whatever that is) and also carry it out. Old men cannot do either?

David Henderson

commented on May 29, 2015

I love this article. Well written and very thought provoking. It is certainly a truth that you will reach people who are alike. Our church has reached far more women perhpas partly because of the preaching style I have. I do tell stories and I do preach to help people with their feelings and emotions many times. than men and more singles than married couples. Some of that is a sign of our day but some of it can be helped I think through your ideas. Do you have any ideas for pastors to help us to transition to reaching more men through our preaching? In other words how can I make some transitions in my preaching without losing the female population at the same time?

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on May 29, 2015

So, for at least the past 20 years the preaching "experts" have been telling us we need to be engaging in narrative preaching -- telling compelling stories -- rather than in expository preaching. But apparently this appeals to women, not men. Yet we're told that narrative is what appeals to the "post-moderns." The fact of the matter is, men LOVE stories, too -- just a different kinds of stories. The BEST storytellers in my congregation are men -- and I'm not one of them! The strength of this article, though, is the call to "think like a man," which really is a rather sad statement on our American culture: boys are being reared without a clear idea of what it means to be men and without permission to be a real men. Thanks for the thought-provoking article, bro.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on May 29, 2015

BTW: Why does the interface keep putting commas at the beginning of each post?

John Sears

commented on Jun 2, 2015

I appreciate your civil tone in addressing this article. I do want to say that story telling and expository preaching do not have to be mutually exclusive. God bless.

Lascelles James

commented on Jun 1, 2015

God loves the truth, men are not taking their place of spiritual leadership in homes. There is hope. Great advice!

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