Thursday, January 31, 2008

Real Men Don't Go To Church

I just read this column by Tristan Emmanuel where he talks about how churches across the United States are emasculating men and pushing the squishy man image. As such, many men do go to church and a lot more women then men show up to services in all age groups. He goes on to point the image of the modern Christian man in churches these days and how it is either a Reverend Lovejoy type or a metrosexual man who isn't afraid to cry in public.

I happen to disagree with his assessment of the church emasculating men. I don't think they are. Churches in the United States are just not providing men with a good enough image of the true masculine man. This does not mean they are emasculating men, they are simply denying them the true image that God has intended.

I don't think there is anyone to blame but the church in general on this one. While the rest of society can be feminized, the churches should have been a haven for masculine attitudes. They have seriously dropped the ball in this regard. I think I can come up with a brief list that would probably fix this and generally include all men:

1. Don't cry. If you are a pastor, don't cry, no matter how overwhelmed with emotion you are. The fact that you become overwhelmed with emotion merely demonstrates that you aren't much of a man in the first place and this is big turn off. If you are a female pastor, then it's OK, but understand you have a much larger problem to win men over. Men tend to see females in authority as a reflection of their moms. This is why they tend to not succumb to female authority because it's just another battle to escape the umbilical cord. So you female pastors have your work cut out for you.

2. Set up a men's "ministry." I use that last word loosely because the program would involve planning things like Superbowl parties, outings like camping or lodging, fishing or hunting trips, and maybe even hanging out in places where men in your community like to be. I would also involve the annual retreat, but for the most part, just a bunch of guys hanging out and being guys.

3. Be more assertive in what is right and what is wrong. Don't sugarcoat Jesus' message. He didn't. Tell people that fornication is wrong. Tell them that the only way into Heaven is through the Son. Make a stand against moral wrongs. You are not trying to win people over. That's what outreach is for. You are trying to solidify them in their faith. If they are at church, they've already taken the first step. If they don't show up again, you didn't turn them off, they just have spiritual issues to work out.

4. Don't just bitch about sins and how everyone is sinful. Talk about the solutions and workarounds. Men are keenly interested in solving the problems they face, not whining about them. Women whine about their problems all the time and don't expect solutions. When men complain, they are usually asking for a solution.

5. Don't get all uptight about cussing. Men cuss. I don't think that is damaging to their spiritual walk, especially if used in the appropriate context (such as the previous point). Remember, God judges your heart and if your heart is in the right place, it will show. It will also show if it is in the wrong place. Don't attack the symptom. Cancer patients don't just have the tumors removed, they have to go through extensive radiation and chemo-therapy. This is because the tumor was merely the effect of a cause that must be addressed. If you have a man who cusses incessantly, maybe you should be praying for his heart instead of berating him for swearing all the time.

6. Don't encourage teetotalism among men. Men need to drink. While getting drunk is foolish, don't ever deny them beer or wine or whatever else on a male outing. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and other such activities bring men together. If you don't like it, too bad.

7. Don't force them to sing. If they don't want to sing, don't make them. In fact, when you plan retreats for them, don't plan on forced worship. Men want to be able to just sit around and discuss their lives. You can still include a good message to reflect on, but singing is something that most men are not naturally inclined to. Besides, true worship comes from the heart, not from the action. Why do you think Cain's sacrifice was rejected and Abel's wasn't?

That's the short list. I'm sure if you talked with other men in church, you'll get some better ideas for getting other men to show up with their wives. Put together a focus group if you have to, but listen to them. They don't speak up much because, for one thing, men tend to use words sparingly and because women tend to have a bigger megaphone. But understand that if there is nothing your church offers for men, they won't be interested in showing up.