Glen James - Blog

Why Do Men Choose Not to Attend ChurchA number of sources in order a compile the information below. Most of the sources have been personal interviews, media, current events, and the public square related sources. Very little came from literary resources simply because of the need to understand the current state and behaviors. I am convinced trends lend little help because of the absence of such issues as social media and new forms of communication (texting) impacting in the trend itself.

Communications due to technology has put all men in a fish bowl required to operate in a state of readiness in terms of communication / action. Regardless of the day or time, men are expected in the marketplace to respond 24/7. If they don’t – someone else will and that translates into loss revenue and loss wages. This constant state of readiness takes a toll on men as they attempt to manage both work and family using a blackberry on the soccer field watching Johnny play.

This condition of “stand by 24/7” has torn down the wall that partitioned work from home. The two are intertwined and the greater control man desires, the more he is required to be on stand by. This has also led to a passivity in other areas outside of the family and work – most notably Church. If the man chooses to attend church, the disregard for separation is brought into the sanctuary and thus impacting worship. But, in most cases – he is simply in need of an escape – and if church has cannot be relevant or purposeful, he takes his escape on Sunday morning. He knows full well the emails will begin to fly Sunday afternoon as they did all day Saturday – and this 3 hours is his only downtime. Does it have to be this way? Does he have to be in a state of readiness to succeed? These are core questions that will transitions into our next paper / program – “Getting Men Back into the Church”.

How did a faith founded by a Man and His twelve male disciples become so popular with women, and a disregarded “pastime” to men? The church of the first century was a magnet to males. Jesus’ strong leadership, blunt honesty, and bold action mesmerized men. A five-minute sermon by Peter resulted in the conversions of three thousand men. 

 Today’s church does not mesmerize men; it repels them. Only 35 percent of the men in America say they attend church weekly. In Europe male participation rates are much worse, in the neighborhood of 5 percent. This hardly sounds like a male-dominated, patriarchal institution to me. However, 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. As the absence of men has increased over the years, the presence of females has increased – all the way to the PULPIT. As such, the tone of most churches is soft and flowerily – repelling to the nature of man. Masculinity has left the church and without it we wonder why men continue to be absent? We must engage men in a way that insures them they will be lead and travel their journey with other masculine men. But, at this point we stand surrounded by daisies as we teach and preach the word from a blue collar worker who was beaten and put to death by crucifixion. The disconnect is the imbalance of feminism in the church.

 What’s worse, nobody seems to care about the absence of men. Have you ever heard a sermon on the church’s gender gap? I’ve never heard a pastor or church leader bring it up. Heck, I’ve never heard anybody bring it up. It’s just one of those things Christians don’t talk about. David Murrow states in his book (Why men don't go to church) – “you cannot have a thriving church without a core of men who are true followers of Christ”. If the men are dead, the church is dead. This is a premise in all organizations, if you pull out the leader a void is created and is filled with whoever is willing to fill the gap regardless of qualifications or long term The following reasons are a summary of what was said / expressed by men who for the most part do not attend church. Our goal is to reduce the list to areas we can address – for example “purpose” can be addressed with opportunities; however, cynical atheism is outside our bounds of impact. It brings to point – should our “our-reach” to men involve Christians and / or non-Christians? Personally, it seems the picking is very good just in terms of Christians – at least they have the Holy Spirit guiding them as to what they need to do.

I. Connection - Although males have not completely abandoned the church, manly men like have all but disappeared. Tough, earthy, working guys rarely come to church. High achievers, alpha males, risk takers, and visionaries are in short supply. Fun-lovers and adventurers are also underrepresented in church. These rough-and-tumble men don’t fit in with the quiet, introspective gentlemen who populate the church today. The truth is, most men in the pews grew up in church. Many of these lifers come not because they desire to be transformed by Christ but because they enjoy participating in comforting rituals that have changed little since their childhood. There are also millions of men who attend services under duress, dragged by a mother, wife, or girlfriend. Today’s churchgoing man is humble, tidy, dutiful, and above all, nice. Men simply do not relate or connect to boring music and long, extended sermons that are usually built around relationship issues. Many churches today have developed a culture that is driving men away. Almost every man in America has tried church, but two-thirds find it unworthy of a couple of hours once a week. 

 II. Purpose – men are driven daily to follow a vision and meet objectives that they become identified. Living in such a paradigm and scorecard way of thinking, they are likely to find church to be without purpose on two levels. One being, they don't know the score and often cannot “see” results. And secondly, there is no role or function that calls for their talents within the body. Blue-collar workers are the most apparent in terms of being at a loss when it comes to engagement. While everyone is sitting comfortably in the pews with a starch shirt and discussing issues in Sunday school – there is literally know viable means for this man to engage in any way similar to the way he behaves during the week – day in and day out.

 III. Criticism – men have a need to be respected. They find church to be a place of condensing discussions about things they know little about. Many of our Sunday school rooms are full of mini-theologians. Once a discussion cranks up and a guy who is successful in business is spoken to condescendingly or been made to look dumb – they will usually not return.

IV. Negative Experience – prior experiences vary greatly.

V. Church is not relative to their goals and aspirations. 

VI. Church is too feminine - The pastorate is a men’s club. But, women dominate almost every other area of church life. Whenever large numbers of Christians gather, men are never in the majority. Not at revivals. Not at crusades. Not at conferences. Not at retreats. Not at concerts. With the exception of men’s events and pastoral conferences, can you think of any large gathering of Christians that attracts more men than women? With so much female presence and participation, the church has gained a reputation as a ladies’ club in the minds of men. Cliff does not attend church for the same reason he does not wear pink: neither is proper to his gender. Does Cliff know why he hates going to church? No. Can he offer a detailed explanation of his feelings? Of course not. He’s a guy, remember? Cliff knows one thing: he hates going to church.

VII. Limited Attendance / Minimal Engagement: this is a result of lack of connection and purpose noted above. However, in both cases passivity sets in and the time on Sunday mornings becomes part of the “escape”.

VIII. Better alternatives – sports / hobbies – church does not provide the adrenalin rush that sporting events do in addition the time span of service is far too long.

IX. No belief – this is the most easily identifiable reason men will not go to church. They simply see the bible as a book of myths and fantasies that is often followed by weak, desperate people. Many men intentionally reject the Christian faith. Some men are proud and want to be their own God. Men hate to admit weakness or neediness. Millions are captive to sin, unbelief, and other religions that preclude commitment to Christ. Men get distracted by the concerns of this world and lose interest in spiritual matters.

Men, we need to roll up some of these issues for clarity and in order to set meaningful objective steps. Whether the next step is a set of executable tasks or a program that is specific to Men’s Ministry within church – the tasks can lose intensity if our target is far and wide. Do we attempt to overcome / address fewer issues or do we develop a program that is generic enough to address all of them?

Looking forward to our next discussion...