Wednesday, August 09, 2006

David Murrow 'Why Men Hate Going to Church'

This book makes only one point - but it is a good point and needs to be heard. Men find going to church hard (I've nuanced his title there) because, although the majority of church leadership is male (he is writing in the American context) the style of most church gatherings and activity programmes has a feminine bias. To make church man-friendly therefore needs a bit of thought, self-examination, and willingness on the behalf of congregations, and especially the women within them, to give up some of the stuff they love.

Not sure how that sounds to you, but I think he makes his case. Just think about our songs: how many celebrate the following of an inspiring leader, and how many express heartfelt love? Now which of these is aimed more at the men or women in the congregation? 'We can run into the arms of God' but don't ever seem to 'Stand up, stand up for Jesus, soldiers of the cross'. Why?

Obviously there are loads of nuances to be made at this point:
  • not all men / women are the same - true
  • what makes someone tick should not necessarily be pandered to at church - true
  • both are biblical emphases - true
  • this man / woman thing is unhelpful - possibly
  • this point is very simplistic - possibly
But leave all those aside, and admit them all if that makes you feel better: I think he has a good point to make, and some real practical challenges for the men and women in any church. In general, men and women learn differently, relate differently, express themselves differently, and so on... As an aside: this book is one of the reasons that I love the new song 'O Church Arise' - it is good and manly, and I long for a manly, battling, church!

It is possible that I'm more sympathetic to this than many, given my background in education, where it was very common to examine teaching and testing styles as to being male- or female-friendly. [For example, there is a school of thought that sees the upturn in female achievement at GCSE-, A- and Degree-level in the past 20 yrs as directly related to the changing of teaching and testing procedures to be more feminine.]

Frustrated? Unconvinced? Angry? Sad? Have a read - it is a pretty quick book to get through. He makes his point much better than I do, although the book is frustrating at times.

Want a challenge? What's the major reason men don't go to church? Have a think before you read the Top Ten Excuses in reverse order (p.114):
  • 10 - lack of time
  • 9 - doesn't work for me
  • 8 - boring
  • 7 - irrelevant
  • 6 - don't like pastor
  • 5 - don't want to talk about it
  • 4 - too long
  • 3 - too much asking for money
  • 2 - it's for wimps
  • 1 - too many hypocrites there
It is sobering. This book is a great and timely challenge to all the men and women in churches who long to see more men in church - and I guess that should be all of us!


Blogger Pete said...

sounds like we need to ditch those 'notting hill' sermon illustrations and use Lord of the Rings instead...wonder what Ros thinks?

4:38 pm, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Marc Lloyd said...

Great to see you back in cyber space, Mr T. Any more tips for manly church?

12:09 pm, August 11, 2006  
Blogger Andrew said...

Pete has obviously read p. 40 of this book!

4:33 pm, August 11, 2006  
Blogger Andrew said...

I've put more on this book on another post dated Aug 11th. Let's co-ordinate our comments under that one, so we can find each-other's wisdom more easily.

10:15 am, August 12, 2006  
Blogger Ros said...

Ros thinks that you should use lots of LOTR illustrations if you want to evangelise 13-yr-old boys and computer nerds.

8:33 pm, August 12, 2006  

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