This week I have looked at a few other blogs to see what others are saying about this issue. Below are a couple of interesting comments.
In reviewing the involvement of men in the church in the USA, David Murrow (http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/ChurchAndMinistry/menhatingchurch.aspx) said:
More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only two out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church. Men's disinterest in Christianity is so consistent around the world, it can't be explained by pride, father issues, sin, or distraction. Neither can we say, "Well, 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—often more so than women. Of the world's great religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners. What is it about modern Christianity that is driving men away?
After completing a large study into the perceptions of men and women of the church in the UK, Christopher Ducker (http://www.theduckers.org/media/disbanded%20brothers%20-%20summary.pdf) concluded:
"These and other data suggest that gender differences, created by God as described in Genesis, are both real and significant, yet are ignored or underplayed by the Church in the UK. The result of not acknowledging differences between men and women will inevitably be a form of gender confusion. Specifically, a Church that fails to recognise gender differences may become repressive, failing to affirm people in their specific maleness and femaleness. It may stifle the richness of life and the glory of God's creation. It may lead to a poor model of Church since it reduces our diversity as a body. And it will almost certainly lead to an ineffective Church: its preaching, evangelism and pastoral care will all be less effective than if men and women's God-given identities were acknowledged and worked with. This is a lesson in contextualisation: effective witnessing will recognise and respond to differences in male and female "cultures." Failure to appreciate what it means to be male and female in Christ will make it less likely that the Church is able to speak to people at the core of their being, since in essence they are ultimately male or female."
I was thinking about the church services from when I was a kid – it was pretty boring, more like a meeting than a concert perhaps! Actually, I don't remember them very fondly, but I do remember that at least half the people there were men. The services had a range of activities including a few hymns (maybe 3), prayers, communion, Bible readings, notices, and a fairly dryly presented sermon. Then, the charismatic/pentecostal movement come along, and most church services, whether they went 'pente' or not, seemed to take on a more emotional tone. The songs changed from hymns to choruses and more pop-style music and increased in number; the sermon was presented in a more engaging, motivational style; communion was reduced to once a month; and, we spend less time in prayer and Bible reading. Now I am not suggesting that the good old days were any better or worse than what we have now, but the services sort of had a culture all of their own – a church sort of culture. First, church is now more emotional, and that is not necessarily bad, but it is less welcoming for many blokes. Second, services now reflect a section of popular culture, mostly through the music that seems to occupy over 50% of the time, and that is a sort of music that is more appealing to women with its Celine Dionish genre. I am not suggesting that the music in church be AC-DC and Bruce Springsteen, but I do think the single flavour of church music is very appealing to some (mostly women), and annoying and unpleasant to others.
Again, I have not offered any solutions here, and I am certainly not advocating that we go back to the types of church services we had in the 60s and the 70s. Maybe we just need a bit more variety in our services. Personally, I'd like to see more Bible reading – let God's Word speak directly into people's lives. I'd also like to see sermons that aren't so much a motivational speech, but rather clear exposition of the Word. Also, can we just have a few moments of silence when we are partaking of communion – please don't play some background music – it is good for us to be left with our thoughts in quietness sometimes! Finally, for me, I'd be happy to have less singing.
Then again, it's not about me. I do want to see church services that are invitational and welcoming for a range of people, including all those people who really love it just as it is now, AND, all those guys who have bailed because they have felt alienated and disenfranchised.