You’re not just imagining it: Christianity is short on men. Here are the facts:
- The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.
- On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.
- This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
- Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.
- The majority of church employees are women (except for ordained clergy, who are overwhelmingly male).
- As many as 90 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it by their 20th birthday. Many of these boys will never return.
- 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.
It’s not just a lack of presence; most of the men who do attend our worship services just aren’t “getting it.” Every week the gospel bounces off their souls like bullets off Superman’s chest. Here are the facts:
- A significant number of churchgoing men attend out of habit, unaffected by what they hear.
- Quite a few men go to church simply to keep their wives/mothers/girlfriends happy.
- The majority of men who attend church do nothing during the week to grow their faith.
- Relatively few churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.
This gender gap is not just a U.S. phenomenon; churches around the world are short on men. No other major religion suffers such a large, chronic shortage of males. 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.
Jesus had no trouble captivating men. Fishermen dropped nets full of fish to follow Him, but today’s church can’t convince men to drop their TV remote controls for a couple of hours a week.
The big questions:
- What is it about modern Christianity that is driving men away?
- Jesus was a magnet to men, but our churches repel them. What’s changed?
- Why do rival faiths inspire male allegiance, while ours breeds male indifference? (Source: www.churchformen.com/allmen.php)
So the question remains, where are the men? We want to take a look at that question this morning. From the statistics I just gave you, you’ll see that Preston Wesleyan is no different than the rest of Christian kingdom. How can we reverse the trend? How can we pull men into the Kingdom? Are men not called by God to be participators in the Kingdom? Let’s take a look at 2 Timothy 1:3-14.
3Timothy, I thank God for you. He is the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.
5I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois. 6This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 8So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Christ. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the proclamation of the Good News.
9It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began–to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus. 10And now he has made all of this plain to us by the coming of Christ Jesus, our Savior, who broke the power of death and showed us the way to everlasting life through the Good News. 11And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.
12And that is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
13Hold on to the pattern of right teaching you learned from me. And remember to live in the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you.
Some of you are going to ask, what does this have to do with subject? This is part of a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy. Timothy was a young man of faith. Paul considered Timothy to be his son in the faith. Paul challenges Timothy in several areas. As your pastor, I want you know that as Paul prayed and thanked God for Timothy, I pray for the men of this church and thank God for you. I pray that the men of our church would want to get involved. I pray that we can be the church that men would want to get involved.
One of the things that we see in this passage is typical in Christianity today. We notice that Timothy received his godly heritage from his mother and grandmother. Here is another interesting statistic.
· If both your parents worshipped with you as a child, there is an eighty percent chance you will worship God as an adult.
· If only your mother worshiped regularly with you, there’s only a 30 percent chance that you will worship God as an adult.
· If only your father worshiped regularly with you, the percentage jumps back to 70 percent.
I don’t want to discount the tremendous responsibility mothers and grandmothers have in passing down a spiritual heritage, but it is so important that fathers and grandfathers pass it down as well. Timothy had a wonderful mother and grandmother who passed the faith along. Fathers have a tremendous impact on their children. That is why I have such a great concern about the lack of men in our church.
As I researched this I came across an author who wrote a book titled, Why Men Don’t Like Church. The summary of the book was interesting to read and we will take a look at some of the reasons men don’t like church. One of those reasons is found in verse 7. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Many men think that they have to change and become a different kind of man to come to church. When our friend Gordon was here last fall he shared with us this statement about men and the church. They need a hero’s send-off. Christianity has emphasized the feminine virtues (patience, meekness, compassion, mercy, and gentleness). Gone are the challenges to do the tuff stuff like take up your cross and to storm the gates of hell.
Think about where you got your Christian training. Usually it was you mom or grandmother or some other “mom” type figure. Our earliest recollections of church include many feminine figures. Who was your first Sunday School teacher? How many men were ever your Sunday School teacher. Think about this, except for the pastor, how many men are involved in any sort of teaching ministry in the church, not just Preston but other churches you know? Sunday School, Youth, KICS, Wesleyan Kids for Missions, Vacation Bible School, Junior Church, Nursery…these are all ministries usually staffed by women. No wonder men think Christianity is for women and children.
The church is producing men with no “fight” in them…a suntanned lot whose primary moral achievement is to be “nice.” Where is the wildness of spirit seen in Jesus? The confrontation with religious leaders; the command of peace; where is courage, strength, boldness, sacrifice, and heroism. Challenge your men…Ministries should challenge men to wrestle with a lack of devotional life; battle temptation; overcome compromise; reach the lost and poor; and sacrifice themselves for the family…
As I think about this, men would prefer that church would be more like Tool Time (MORE POWER!) and less like Dr. Phil. The verse we looked at said that God has not given us a spirit of timidity or fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. A church with more power is my kind of church.
Paul continues in his letter, 9It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life… this plan is not just for women, it is for men as well. One of the inspiring things that came from Gordon and Lasana’s visit to us was our men’s breakfast. Yesterday, we had a smaller than usual crowd, but the food was great as usual and the camaraderie around the table was great as well. This men’s breakfast was started after Gordon gave us some suggestions to build our men’s group. One of the important things for men is that they like less structure. Our breakfast lacks structure. There is no agenda except for prayer and eating. The conversation centers on whatever we come up for that day. This is a place were we can come and relax with other men. C. S. Lewis observed that men in England didn’t visit the pub regularly to drink, they want to be with other men. Men like to be with other men, not like women like to be with women, because men don’t have that herding mentality. Men are more vulnerable with each other. Stick a woman in with men and the atmosphere changes. I’m really not picking on the ladies today. Men are intimidated by women’s ability to articulate their faith and their knowledge of the Bible.
Several weeks ago, I came across an article by Keith Drury titled, “Do Women Sin.” In a class, Drury asked his students to name sins. The sins that came up were lust, anger, and others. When he took a longer look at the list, it appeared that the sins listed primarily belonged to men. There were both men and women in this class. It begged him to ask the question, what about women’s sins…what are they? One of the reasons men don’t like going to church is that they are intimidated by women, who appear to have their act more together. Think of how many times it appears the preacher is preaching to the men because the BIG sins are “men’s” sins. ARE women more spiritual, or do men struggle more than women? As we read the Bible this morning, it doesn’t appear that God is more concerned with women than with men, but in our churches it would appear so.
Let’s take a look at one more challenge from Paul to his son in the faith. 13Hold on to the pattern of right teaching you learned from me. And remember to live in the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. 14With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you. This is great stuff. Another thing I learned while Gordon was here was… “Real men don’t eat ‘baloney.’” Men want the fellowship the church provides, but they want it without sounding churchy or artificial. Men don’t like religious jargon-they want things explained in terms they understand. Men are more earthy…they like to hear about real situations…Jesus did that when he spoke in parables. We can have all the right teaching we want, but if there’s no one to hear it or we can’t understand it, it doesn’t make any difference. I have received compliments from this assembly that my teaching is down to earth and practical. That is a good thing. I do that because Jesus taught in simple, earthy terms and the common people understood him.
Where are the men? What can we do to bring them in? Men appreciate time together (men with men). They also enjoy one on one time, like fishing and hunting trips. They want church to be practical. They prefer less structure and authenticity. I can’t disagree there. The church needs to be a place where we can find real people dealing with real problems in a real way. As we leave this morning, I want us to leave with an old hymn sung in a new way. It was introduced to me through Promise Keepers. It should be the prayer of our church and of the men in our church. Let’s make this an uplifting prayer for what God wants to do through the men of our church.