Churches Need a Shot of Testosterone

Sam Rainer

July 24, 2008

Our church staff has a running joke. Whenever we hold Bible studies, we typically ask someone to read the Scripture that pertains to the subject at hand. Inevitably, the awkward pause follows our request for someone to read. Everyone looks down; some take deep breaths as if they are about to start reading. The spiritual tension builds. Then, like always, one of the women in the group takes the plunge and reads.

It’s a silly dynamic, and I don’t think too much of it. But one of our pastors likes to make the point that it’s a microcosm of a more serious issue: men aren’t leading as much as they should in our churches.

A recent article in USA Today expounds upon what pastors observe anecdotally – there are more women in church than men.

This excerpt from Cathy Lynn Grossman’s piece:

Women outnumber men in attendance in every major Christian denomination, and they are 20% to 25% more likely to attend worship at least weekly.

The men are few in the pews, indeed. But what should churches do about this problem? Should they cater their worship services to men? Should we preachers consider our primary sermon audience to be men and preach directly to them? Clearly, the major problem with these strategies is that they could potentially neglect ministry to other groups (particularly women). And we need both solid male and female leaders in the church. But is there a better way to attract more men to church?

8 comments on “Churches Need a Shot of Testosterone”

  1. I think part of it is educating, encouraging and enlightening men that it’s “okay” to be spiritual. It’s okay to open up and share. It’s okay to sing and lift your hands in worship. It’s okay to pray in public. We have to leave the junior high “I’m too cool to do that”- mindset behind.

  2. Gabe says:

    I think the best way to attract men would be for the men that are already in the church to start leading. I doubt that any unchurched man wants to walk into a church where the men are dominated by the women – and I don’t mean in numbers; I mean in attitude, and involvement, and leadership.

    And fundamentally, this isn’t even a matter of “attracting men” – it’s a matter of our spiritual responsibility as men. I think you’ve hit on a very important point…

  3. Susan says:

    I think churches are boring to most men. Church programs and structure are generally built on things that appeal more to women: sitting in a circle sharing feelings and experiences in Bible study time, primary worship in the form of singing, the most needed and asked for service opportunities being in nursery or teaching children. Personally, I don’t think the answer is…What program can our church start or change to attract more men? That’s not God-centered. My husband has gotten more spiritual growth out of his one-on-one relationships with other Christian men (usually outside of church) than anything. It all comes back to discipleship–stop creating programs and start growing relationships.

  4. jontrek says:

    Susan, you are so right on!!! It’s not an institutional or organizational issue to tackle… it’s a heart issue at it’s core and programs and events do not speak to the heart. A problem I see, is that many of the pastor’s leading large ministries are speaking and organizing around the wants and desires of the women. They are not aware that they are doing it, but they do it. As a man, I do not identify with them in a leadership role; who I do identify with is the men that I sit with each Sunday, desiring for someone to speak our language and partner with our desires, and support our life investments, even if it means not touting the name of the church we attend. We men, we are doing ministry, although it need be realized that we no longer wait for the organizational stamp of approval. Our disinterest in organized ecclesiology is drawing us towards other men who share the same passion and willingness to invest in one another as we long to live out Christ in our families and in our neighborhoods.

  5. Wade Meyer says:

    I went through the height of the Promise Keepers movement in the 90’s. This was meant to strengthen families and churches starting with the men, working out in ever widening circles of influence to effectively change the world. It all culminated in Washington DC, as you all may remember.

    The startling results are that it didn’t do any good on a nation-wide basis and the next generation is not standing on the shoulders of the generation before it in being men that are seizing their God-given roles.

    Southwest Radio Church Ministries may have the answer to that question I don’t know- search for ‘Promise Keepers’. All I know is that men need to repent, be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then they need to make a transition to a learning mode of steady Bible knowledge, growth and application.

    The second major step is to turn off all the noise in their lives including cancelling their subscriptions to magazines about sports, cars, women, and biggest of all, cable TV. That way they can hear the still small voice that can guide each step. This is what I did and it worked. I get compliments about my children and my wife all the time. Put self away. The dumbing down of the male, the feminization of the male will slowly subside and decisive leadership will grow.

    No, you won’t be able to participate in conversations about the latest episode of some TV series but Christians are supposed to be a peculiar people. No, you won’t be able to spout stats about any given football team but you will be able to match up biblical scripture and biblical thoughts that soothe and solve real problems in other peoples lives. Lives you care about.

    My hackles raised silently the other day when my church had a branding meeting to redefine our goals in thought, media, and deed. A couple of women were more vocal and opinionated than the men and their suggestions seemed, for lack of words, non apostolic and more leftward in ideology.

    The End

  6. ellenharoutunian says:

    Perhaps the problem is the fact that men are not being given a genuine sense of what a healthy male personhood looks like. In church it is grabbing ahold of their “God given role” which has nothing to with a state of being (why must we be defined by what we can and can’t do?) and outside the church it’s sexuality (nudge nudge, wink wink) which reduces women to objects, or it’s the lovable goofball guy who can’t do nothin’ right (most sitcoms).
    But when you look at the Hebrew word zakar for male – it carries the idea of advocacy and sacrifice not unlike Jesus in Philippians 2. God himself demonstrates the way to find your life is to lay it down. To help men become more like Christ by listening to the Spirit who invokes passion for social injustices, the poor, the oppressed, etc., we may be able to foster a sense of manhood that has much more to do with his being and design as the image of God, rather than merely existing as the stereotypical nice guy or one who defines his sense of self as one who “rules over” another. It’s not about grabbing power and shutting down other voices, guys. It’s about picking up your cross.

  7. The style of writing is quite familiar to me. Did you write guest posts for other blogs?

  8. John Marsten says:

    Here is my experience…. “The” male leaders of today are consumed by an effeminate spirit that has consumed the church….. Pastors find it much easier to pacify effeminate boys and men while they are controlled by a Jezebel spirit. Anytime you see a Jezebel…. look around for effeminate males.

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