Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Men Who Hate Going to Church . . .

Last week I sang on our worship team - a rare occurrence for me. I face the church each week and deliver a sermon, but it is not often that I can see our folks singing. I noticed something. I noticed that there were far fewer men singing than women. Many of the ladies worshipped with passion - eyes closed, hands raised, some with tears even. The men . . . well, many of them sat stoically with folded arms. Others sang listlessly. A few participated, but very few, I suspect, worshipped.

Why is that? I suppose there are several possible reasons. Some men just grew up in a culture that devalued singing. Not me. There was always music on in our home. I was encouraged to sing and did so. My dad, who is no Pavoratti, sang the great hymns of the faith with gusto. Maybe men don't sing because they don't know the words. Admittedly, we sing a lot of newer songs in our church, but even when we sang a couple "oldies-but-goodies," I noticed a disconnect.

I happened to pick up a new book this week as I've pondered this mystery. It is Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. Check out what he writes:

Church involvement is good for men. But since when do men do what's good for them? Men regard churchgoing like a prostate exam; it's something that can save their lives, but it's so unpleasant and invasive, they put it off. Others see the worship service as their weekly dose of religion, a bitter elixir one must swallow to remain healthy, but not something to look forward to.
I suspect Murrow is right. Sunday was evidence enough for me. I'm eager to read his diagnosis and prescription for the problem. Check back for details.


Soren said...

Amen Frank.

Steve Farrar has some great thoughts about this in his book "King Me." He describes seeing that famous picture of Jesus (you know, His "Senior Picture") -- when he was just a boy. His first thought was, "Jesus is a Breck Girl" (like the ones in from a popular ad campaign at the time). Many churches look like they were decorated by women (very feminine) -- "this isn't a church, it's a spa." We need to work extra hard to develop that "Wild at Heart" spirit in our congregations. Years ago, I heard Goerge Faull say, "We're not gonna win men with a bunch of sissies." I think he's right.

Soren said...

Something else: We tend to sing a lot of touchy-feely songs in worship. Keith Drury calls these the Jesus-is-my-Girlfriend songs. You know the ones that talk about how beautiful, lovely, gracious, and kind He is, rather than those which emphasize that He is a King, Warrior, Victor, etc.

This "disconnnect with men" is one of the reasons why I think women worship leaders are bad choice. Churches wonder why they aren't reaching men, but they have some chick up front leading things (or worse yet, they have a guy who is even more feminine than the women!).

Frank Weller said...

You can get a real window into the feminization of the "clergy" by checking out the pastoral greeting card section at the local Christian bookstore. Flowers, baby animals, enough garden scenes to choke a goat. Once in a while they'll set out a box of Max Lucado or Rick Warren cards. They are on the shelf for about fifteen seconds until some hairy-knuckled preacher grabs them up. Some time soon, I hope, the folks at Dayspring will wise up to this and print something that a man isn't embarrassed to mail to someone from our church.