Summary: A sermon inspired by the book "Why Men Hate Going To Church" by David Murrow.
"WHY MOST MEN HATE GOING TO CHURCH"
This week I read two books that deal with a major and troubling issue with Christianity as a whole, even affecting the church, and that issue is that Christianity is pretty much the only major religion where there are more women worshippers than men. So today I will be doing a lot of reading so bear with me. The title of the book is “Why Men Hate going to Church” by David Murrow.
Seldom men go to church today. Furthermore, of the men who do attend church, most decline to invest themselves in the Christian life as their wives and mothers do. The majority of men attend services and nothing more. One man said, “I go mainly for my kids and my wife. Church is okay but it really doesn’t enthrall me like it does her.” Who is being touched by the gospel today? Women. Women’s ministries, women’s conferences, women’s Bible studies and women’s retreats are ubiquitous in the modern church. Men’s ministry, if it even exists, might consist of an occasional pancake breakfast and an annual retreat. How did a faith founded by a man and his twelve male disciples become so popular with women but detested by men? The church of the first century was a magnet to males. Jesus’ strong leadership, blunt honesty and bold action mesmerized men. A five minute sermon by Peter resulted in the conversion of 3000 men.
Today’s church does not mesmerize men; it repels them. Just 35 percent of the men in the united States say they attend church weekly. In Europe male participation rates are much worse, in the neighborhood of 5 percent. This hardly sounds like a male-dominated, patriarchal institution to me.
Let me be blunt: today’s church has developed a culture that is driving men away. Almost every man in America has tried church, but two-thirds find it unworthy of a couple of hours once a week. When men need spiritual sustenance, they go to the wilderness, the workplace, the garage, the corner bar, the stadium, the racetrack, a novel or a movie.
Men’s disinterest in Christianity is so consistent around the world, it cannot be explained by pride, father issues, sin, or distraction. Neither can we say that men are just less religious because this is untrue. Male and female participation are roughly equal in Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. In the Islamic world men are publicly and unashamedly religious—more so than women. Of the world’s greatest religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners. So what is driving men away from Christianity? We’ll get to that.
WHERE ARE MEN GOING?
Christianity is still growing worldwide, but it is losing ground to two aggressive competitors: secularism and Islam.
Secularism is the de facto religion in much of Europe today. Rationalism, materialism, anarchy and radical environmentalism are a few of its common guises. It’s on the rise in America as well. One study found that the number of adults who subscribe to no religion doubled during the 1990’s. The number of unchurched Americans who don’t attend services except for holidays or weddings nearly doubled between 1991 and 2004.
Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion and it also enormously popular with men. Since 1950 the number of Christians in the world has doubled but the number of Muslims has more than tripled.
Islam is growing worldwide and it has made its strongest inroads in the African American community. More than 90 percent of the converts to Islam in the united states are African-American men, one of whom who grew up in a Baptist church but converted said, “In Islam I found a stronger ideal of brotherhood and moral discipline and of manhood.” Why are secularism and Islam on the rise? I believe it is their ability to capture the hearts of men.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT TREND IN THE CHURCH?
The Gap of Presence - The typical churchgoer is a woman. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey pegged her as a fifty-year-old, married, well educated, employed female. The weekly gender gap is about 13 million. (Adult women = 480,000,000; Adult men = 35,000,000)
There are more women (61%) in the pews than men (39%). Today 20-25% of America’s married churchgoing women regularly attend without their husbands. Younger churches seem somewhat more successful in attracting and retaining men. This suggests that as a church ages, it loses its men and is unable to attract more. What causes this? Think of the need of a young church. Startup congregations need men’s gifts. Risks must be taken. Plans must be made. Building must be built. Men love this stuff. They have a lot to offer a young church. But as a congregation ages, it begins to value feminine gifts such as nurturing, stability, and close-knit community. Not that these are bad but they stifle the masculine gifts. (Now we’re getting somewhere.