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Why do men stay away?
Christian Century ^ | October 20, 2011 | Thomas G. Long

Posted on 10/23/2011 6:23:05 PM PDT by hiho hiho

Gathered around the coffeepot in a church fellowship hall on a fall Sunday, a gaggle of men are talking with animation and passion, joking and bragging in the way of males. The topic? Football, of course. "How 'bout them Devils! D'ya see that pick six in the third quarter? Amazing! Hey, Joe, sorry about your Dawgs! Maybe you'll get 'em next week, if they don't fire your coach first!" In a few minutes, many will wander into worship, the married ones joining their wives. As the first hymn begins, some of them will stand and keep silent guard, staring mutely into space as the women beside them sing.

What is it with men and church? We men are famously outnumbered, to be sure. According to a recent survey, we make up only 39 percent of the worshipers in a typical congregation. This is not just because we die earlier and leave the pews filled with the sturdier gender. The percentages hold across the board, for every age category.

Even when we do show up for worship, we're often not particularly happy about it. This is not breaking news, of course. Study after study has shown that many men who name themselves as Christian feel bored, alienated and disengaged from church. When we drag ourselves to church, researchers say, it is not for ourselves but to fulfill the obligations of our roles as son, husband, father or pastor.

Why are men and the church often at odds? Sadly, many of the answers are as insulting as they are misguided. Some researchers are persuaded that the antipathy of men to church resides at the hormonal level. They argue that men, loaded as they are with testosterone, have a proclivity to impulsive, risk-taking, occasionally violent action—exactly the behavior disallowed in the soft world of worship. Given this theory, what enticements can the wimpy church possibly offer us men when we compare it to the joys of hiding away in a man cave, stuffing our maws with pizza and beer as we watch Da Bears and heading out after sundown to rip off a few wheel covers and rumble in the Wal-Mart parking lot?

Others propose a more political and historical explanation, namely that centuries of male control of the church have yielded to an ineluctable force of feminization. Pastel worship, passive and sentimental images of the Christian life, handholding around the communion table and hymns that coo about lover-boy Jesus who "walks with me and talks with me" have replaced stronger, more masculine themes. One man reported that the first thing he does when he walks into a church is to look at the curtains. One glance tells him all he needs to know about who's making the decisions.

Really? The feminine erosion of the church? As David Foster Wallace said in a different context, this is an idea "so stupid it practically drools." Even sillier are the proposed masculine remedies. One website suggests "Ten Ways to Man Up Your Church," beginning with obtaining "a manly pastor" who projects "a healthy masculinity." This patently ignores strong women clergy, of course, but it also denigrates the capacity of men to recognize and respond to able leadership regardless of gender or stereotypes. I recently visited a church with a chest-thumping manly pastor. After worship, one man in the congregation confided, "I feel like I'm on the set of a Tarzan movie." As for "manning up" worship, I know that if my church begins handing out NASCAR jackets with the bulletins, I'm going to look for a different church—maybe one with lace curtains.

Still, the numbers don't lie. Men are staying away from church. The reasons are undoubtedly complex, but perhaps a clue can be found in a Christian group that attracts men and women in roughly equal numbers: Eastern Orthodoxy. A cynic might say that men are attracted to Orthodoxy because it is conservative, with an all-male clergy, many of them sporting beards. The finding of religion journalist Frederica Mathewes-Green, however, is closer to the truth. She surveyed male adult converts and discovered that Orthodoxy's main appeal is that it's "challenging." One convert said, "Orthodoxy is serious. It is difficult. It is demanding. It is about mercy, but it is also about overcoming myself." Another said that he was sick of "bourgeois, feel-good American Christianity."

Yes, some churchgoers are satisfied with feel-good Christianity, but I think many Christians—women and men—yearn for a more costly, demanding, life-changing discipleship. Perhaps women are more patient when they don't find it, or more discerning of the deeper cross-bearing opportunities that lie beneath the candied surface. Men take a walk or hang around the church coffeepot talking in jargon about football: another disciplined and costly arena of life in which people sacrifice their bodies and their individual desires for a larger cause that matters to them, at least for the moment. Near transcendence is preferable to no transcendence at all.


TOPICS: Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture; Worship
KEYWORDS: divorceindustry; fatherless; feminism; men; menandthechurch; romanticism
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"Pastel worship, passive and sentimental images of the Christian life, handholding around the communion table and hymns that coo about lover-boy Jesus who "walks with me and talks with me" have replaced stronger, more masculine themes"
1 posted on 10/23/2011 6:23:09 PM PDT by hiho hiho
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To: hiho hiho
Really? The feminine erosion of the church? As David Foster Wallace said in a different context, this is an idea "so stupid it practically drools."

I notice the author doesn't try to refute the idea with facts or reasoning but with a typical leftist's response of "ur stoopid".

2 posted on 10/23/2011 6:30:29 PM PDT by jtal (Runnin' a World in Need with White Folks' Greed - since 1492)
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To: hiho hiho
In the American Catholic Church it started with Folk Masses.

Even when I was a kid I said ughh and complained...a lot...as an altar boy when I was assigned to serve at them.

3 posted on 10/23/2011 6:32:15 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: buccaneer81

Same here. They changed from the Latin Mass when I was 7, and then we got the sign of peace and guitar mass and it touchy feely Jesus showed up and bored us all to death.


4 posted on 10/23/2011 6:35:56 PM PDT by magritte
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To: hiho hiho
What is it with men and church? We men are famously outnumbered, to be sure. According to a recent survey, we make up only 39 percent of the worshipers in a typical congregation.

What a bunch of dribble---according to a recent survey is where one should stop reading...

5 posted on 10/23/2011 6:39:23 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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To: hiho hiho
...perhaps a clue can be found in a Christian group that attracts men and women in roughly equal numbers: Eastern Orthodoxy. A cynic might say that men are attracted to Orthodoxy because it is conservative, with an all-male clergy...

The feminizing of Christianity is part of the problem - the other part is the 'liberalization' of Christianity... Some churches feel like they're extensions of the democrat party...

6 posted on 10/23/2011 6:39:42 PM PDT by GOPJ (OWS - a scam to shift blame for unemployment and misery away from Obama..)
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To: hiho hiho

There is also sitting around listen to a pastor beggar the point. Forty minutes is plenty of time to deliver an effective sermon.

Singing “He walks with me” just ain’t the same as “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “The Olde Rugged Cross”.

Then listening to a preacher pretty much deliver a eulogy and say the deceased is going to hell because he didn’t attend that church.


7 posted on 10/23/2011 6:39:49 PM PDT by Hawk1976 (It is better to die in battle than it is to live as a slave.)
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To: hiho hiho
What is it with men and church? We men are famously outnumbered, to be sure. According to a recent survey, we make up only 39 percent of the worshipers in a typical congregation.

What a bunch of dribble---according to a recent survey is where one should stop reading...

8 posted on 10/23/2011 6:40:08 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
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To: hiho hiho

Secularism, Agnosticism. Priest’s and Bishops have had an effect as well.
There were more practicing people 100 years ago in the USof A and Europe than today.

The Church grew almost 7000 % in Africa and the South Pacific in the same period of time.


9 posted on 10/23/2011 6:42:17 PM PDT by reefdiver ("Let His day's be few And another takes His office")
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To: hiho hiho

Personally, the church the author describes is an unbiblical new age church and will never prosper under the hand of almighty God. The church as it should be is laid out in the Epistles of Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and a female clergy is anathema and is antichrist.
I stick to the independent bible believing churchs and away from the dying and dead mainline cults and denominations.


10 posted on 10/23/2011 6:42:24 PM PDT by kindred ( Third party conservatism is on the rise, God bless the conservative tea party.)
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To: magritte
Yes, I attended a Catholic High School and the first year in March they have an annual week long retreat at the school where you don't talk during the school day and attend Jesuit lectures between meditative periods and reading.

I found that interesting, but then in the 2nd year Vatican II took hold and it became guitars and poems and folk singing and I thought I was in a Saturday night Episcopal coffee shop.

11 posted on 10/23/2011 6:43:03 PM PDT by AU72
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To: hiho hiho

I’ve never missed a single weekend mass since I was baptized. I’m just programmed to show up for mass but to be honest, when I was younger all i did was scan the congregation for hot chicks until my Mom told me to knock it off.


12 posted on 10/23/2011 6:44:20 PM PDT by max americana
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To: magritte

Then they took away the altar rail, then civilians dispensed communion...it was a huge mistake to be ‘trendy.’


13 posted on 10/23/2011 6:45:04 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: magritte

I stopped going to mass when we had two priests in a row who were molesting little boys.

That doesn’t make me hate God. I just don’t like the church.


14 posted on 10/23/2011 6:45:35 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (I just don't like anything about the President. And I don't think he's a nice guy.)
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To: Hawk1976
Forty minutes is plenty of time to deliver an effective sermon.

I'm glad I grew up Catholic. 40 minutes could cover our pastor's entire Mass. I was home less than an hour after I left the house for Mass in the first place.

15 posted on 10/23/2011 6:48:16 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: Hawk1976
Forty minutes is plenty of time to deliver an effective sermon.

I'm glad I grew up Catholic. 40 minutes could cover our pastor's entire Mass. I was home less than an hour after I left the house for Mass in the first place.

16 posted on 10/23/2011 6:48:35 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: GOPJ

A lot of why men stay away is that the church is compromised. We teach accomodation, instead of protection.

If the church would quit compromising with the world and would work to protect doctrine, men would return.

We need to have church warriors if we want men to be in the church.


17 posted on 10/23/2011 6:49:20 PM PDT by Jonty30
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To: hiho hiho
Why do men stay away?

'cuz.

18 posted on 10/23/2011 6:49:39 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (...then they came for the guitars, and we kicked their sorry faggot asses into the dust)
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To: buccaneer81

I’ll tell you, as a child, the altar rail, the priest, the songs, the text, is seemed so ... serious.

Then my friend’s mom was giving me communion. She liked porcelain cats. Unserious.


19 posted on 10/23/2011 6:50:18 PM PDT by magritte
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To: Vermont Lt

As a youth, it was quite the opposite. My priest liked the ladies and eventually became too “popular”. He was replaced by another priest that sure had “that look” though.


20 posted on 10/23/2011 6:51:51 PM PDT by magritte
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To: buccaneer81

Our congregation made sure watches were set to 11:40 during football season. He made sure the sermon was wrapped up so everyone could get home for the game.

He said getting the men to service was a decent trade off for that.


21 posted on 10/23/2011 6:54:18 PM PDT by Hawk1976 (It is better to die in battle than it is to live as a slave.)
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To: hiho hiho
Really? The feminine erosion of the church? As David Foster Wallace said in a different context, this is an idea "so stupid it practically drools."

No refutation, just invective. I don't know if I'd point fingers at women in particular, but the concept is sound. Until I got off my butt and actually read the Bible, I bought the lie of the touchy-feely Jesus as described in this article. When you read the Gospels, he's anything but touchy-feely. He's an extremely intelligent, very judgmental, argumentative guy who also happens to always be right (which really pisses off the Powers-That-Be).

That hippy, Bee-Gees look-alike is deathly dull. I like the guy I read about.

22 posted on 10/23/2011 6:58:34 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater (Don't stop. Keep moving!)
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To: hiho hiho
sick of "bourgeois, feel-good American Christianity

That about sums it up.

btw, what I find insulting is the notion that all men want to talk about is football.

23 posted on 10/23/2011 6:58:43 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Nuts; A house divided against itself cannot stand.)
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To: magritte

Vatican II and the feminization and egalitarianism of the Marxist “Gender hierarchy”....the stupid idea that there is no difference between men and women and they need to be treated exactly the same.

The idea of “girl” altar boys-—to make boys feel they are the same as girls. I could go on and on....it is Marxist ideology (progressive/feminism) that is destroying the patriarchy and family unit with the idea that men and women are the same design.....a scientific and stupid notion that is destroying Christianity...which is based on the patriarchy—and God the Father as strength and protector.

The nature of man is vastly different than the nature of women. The Christian churches are in denial and have tried to make men’s nature evil and obsolete and undermine the difference in women’s nature and the need for women to nurture and educate the next generation. All for marxist political correctness and to be “hip” and popular. Homosexual movement culminates in making men and women interchangeable—exactly as the Communist Manifesto wants.....The church adopted vulgar music and language and faddish kumbaya—feminism/earth worship/gaia cr*p. Return to traditional Latin and put some awe, respect, and mystery back into the church and elevate the position of the men and altar boys....no altar girls....it is ridiculous.


24 posted on 10/23/2011 7:00:32 PM PDT by savagesusie
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To: buccaneer81
In the American Catholic Church it started with Folk Masses.

Too funny! I was thinking the same thing before I read your post.

As a young child in the 1970's, I remember the hippies with their guitars and tamborines doing all the refrains at the Folk Mass. Even at the age of six, I remember disliking it and thinking to myself "there is something wrong here..."

25 posted on 10/23/2011 7:03:46 PM PDT by PGR88 (I'm so open-minded my brains fell out)
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To: Vermont Lt

You still need fellow believers for edification and correction.

Maybe you can form a fellowship with like-minded believers.


26 posted on 10/23/2011 7:04:19 PM PDT by Jonty30
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To: hiho hiho

Paragraphs 5 and 6 told me everything I need to know about this author, and this author’s agenda.

Game, set, match, trophy.

In 2 paragraphs.


27 posted on 10/23/2011 7:05:58 PM PDT by Don W (You can forget what you do for a living when your knees are in the breeze.)
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To: magritte

There are more and more Latin Masses in the Catholic Church these days. I have my choice of three churches in the Chicago area that offer the Latin Mass each Sunday, and one of these Churches actually offers nothing but Latin Masses. At these Masses they only have altar boys, not girls, and the parishioners do not freely stroll around the altar. We don’t hold hands at the Our Father, and we don’t walk around greeting people for five minutes. We kneel at the altar to receive communion on the tongue, which is handled only by the priest or deacon, and we hear Gregorian Chants at every Mass.


28 posted on 10/23/2011 7:07:44 PM PDT by MondoQueen
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To: PGR88

How the bishops were so clueless is beyond me. I have yet to find anyone from that era who actually liked those Masses.


29 posted on 10/23/2011 7:07:44 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: Future Snake Eater

Here is a point in reasoning.

If Jesus is our Creator and he created men to be men, it would seem Jesus Himself is not into wussy-touchy-feely men.


30 posted on 10/23/2011 7:08:10 PM PDT by Jonty30
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To: hiho hiho

The social justice message is driving us away.

Pray for America


31 posted on 10/23/2011 7:08:36 PM PDT by bray (Join the Cain Mutiny, tell the IRS 9-9-9!)
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To: magritte

LOL! Excellent description!


32 posted on 10/23/2011 7:09:15 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: Hawk1976

Smart, realistic pastor.


33 posted on 10/23/2011 7:11:15 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: reefdiver; kindred
Secularism, Agnosticism. Priest’s and Bishops have had an effect as well. There were more practicing people 100 years ago in the USof A and Europe than today. The Church grew almost 7000 % in Africa and the South Pacific in the same period of time.

Its just my observation but I seem to think as people in Western societies become more wealthy, or disposable income, they've grown away from God. My church has just come back from Africa and the people the visited lived in literally mud huts but their faith in God was strong.

34 posted on 10/23/2011 7:12:51 PM PDT by dragonblustar (Allah Ain't So Akbar!)
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To: ichabod1

I think the point about football is not football, but that men are going to focus on things that interest them when the things of church don’t interest them.


35 posted on 10/23/2011 7:12:51 PM PDT by Jonty30
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To: hiho hiho
Study after study has shown that many men who name themselves as Christian feel bored, alienated and disengaged from church. When we drag ourselves to church, researchers say, it is not for ourselves but to fulfill the obligations of our roles as son, husband, father or pastor.

The author has the answer, right in front of him, if he had the sense to read his own writing.

With the usual disclaimer of there being many exceptions: Men tend to be active. Women tend to be passive. Sitting in a pew listening to someone else talk, letting themselves be led by some arbitrarily appointed 'pastor', is perfectly suited to women. Not so much to men. Men seek purpose. In the real world and the world of work. Women seek nurturance. That's why so many develop crushes on their oh so unctuous and empathic pastors.

Men see their role as working hard in this world to support and take care of their families-- vocations for which the church has no respect. Any effort made to recognize the contributions of men boils down to lip service. Just be sure to make your pledge.

Bottom line, men don't go where they are not wanted, and let's be honest--churches don't really want men around. They lean toward women because they find women more malleable, less demanding of accountability, and more persuasible.

My former pastor, who had a ten person board of ministers, used to have about half and half men and women. By the time he retired, the Board was all women--except for the guy who pulled maintenance on the building. And the pastor seemed to like it that way just fine.

36 posted on 10/23/2011 7:13:32 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: hiho hiho

Fredrica Mathewes-Green may think that the appeal of the Orthodox church is that it’s challenging, but she’s also written that that challenge is what appeals to men; they make the move and haul their wives with them.

Really, who has curtains in church? (Not us Catholics.)


37 posted on 10/23/2011 7:13:38 PM PDT by heartwood
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To: MondoQueen

No sign of peace, I hope. (I despise that phoniness.)


38 posted on 10/23/2011 7:14:02 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: bray
The social justice message is driving us away.

Yep. I haven't attended any service, not one, by any denomination since the desecration of Jean Jean the preaching machine in 2003.

I'm still a believer, just refuse to put up with the watered down nonsense called "religion" these days.

39 posted on 10/23/2011 7:16:16 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (Never Again! Except for the next time.)
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To: jtal

He did do the typical leftists trick of leaving out the part where he supports his assertion and goes strate to the name-callign.


40 posted on 10/23/2011 7:16:32 PM PDT by ichabod1 (Nuts; A house divided against itself cannot stand.)
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To: buccaneer81

No. No sign of peace, no guitars, either. Just an organ at most masses, except when they do a mass by Mozart or another composer. Then mostly it’s strings.


41 posted on 10/23/2011 7:23:30 PM PDT by MondoQueen
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To: Professional Engineer

You have to look but there are churches that preach the Word. I am one that exposes the cult of liberalism and simply goes from one end of the Bible to the other. Speaks the truth and is stuffed to the rafters.

Pray for America


42 posted on 10/23/2011 7:25:26 PM PDT by bray (Join the Cain Mutiny, tell the IRS 9-9-9!)
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To: ichabod1

:)
I’m not one to talk about football either but I’d prefer that to a lazy, uncreative, emotive Bush bash at every staff meeting as I experienced in the last office I worked in.


43 posted on 10/23/2011 7:28:08 PM PDT by posterchild (I'm old enough to remember when journalists bothered to look things up on wikipedia.)
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To: max americana

You need to be more surreptitious... well, at least I though I was:)


44 posted on 10/23/2011 7:29:38 PM PDT by posterchild (I'm old enough to remember when journalists bothered to look things up on wikipedia.)
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To: MondoQueen

I’m glad there are more choices available. I live in a small city (~90K) and we have 3 Catholic churches. The most conservative one is actually on the local University campus. It has a latin mass once in a great while but I’ve been away each time. Hope to experience it one day.


45 posted on 10/23/2011 7:33:53 PM PDT by posterchild (I'm old enough to remember when journalists bothered to look things up on wikipedia.)
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To: hiho hiho

Personally, I quit going to church because 2 out of 3 sermons in almost every church I’ve ever been were variations on a theme: Why God wants you to write me a check. Why you’ll be bless if you tithe. Why you’ll be blessed if you write me a check above your tithe. Why tithing isn’t enough. God needs your dollars to spread his word, give more. Since I saw almost no change from church to church, I gave before I found a preacher who just said, “Stick’m up” on Sundays.

Wit aside, I’ve never attended a church who’s predominate theme wasn’t money money money.


46 posted on 10/23/2011 7:40:34 PM PDT by Melas (u)
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To: hiho hiho

If I may my Pastor Steve Smothermon of Legacy Church here in Albuquerque just did and excellent Sermon on why men don’t go and how the church has failed in reaching out to men and what God really expects of men who serve. The sermon which is part 9 (10/16/11) in a series called ‘We Are’ can be watched here in the Sermon Archives:

http://www.legacychurchnm.com/index.cfm/PageID/1589/index.html


47 posted on 10/23/2011 7:41:10 PM PDT by Kartographer (".. we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.")
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To: MondoQueen

Does the priest face the congregation while saying the Mass or is his back to the people as it used to be?

The worst horrors for me were the folk masses in the 70’s. I despised them.


48 posted on 10/23/2011 7:42:40 PM PDT by Mears (I can't take anymore of this.)
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To: hiho hiho; All
I've got to be honest, some of the replies here, are kinda spooky.

When did Christianity become Muslim, ‘cause I'm reading alot of “everything wrong with the Church is women's fault”

Which leads me to ask do you really feel this way about your Mother? Your Wife? Your Daughter?

Does any man here actually consider that the feminizing of the Church began because women know that the Lord isn't against them?

Women were made as helpmate to Man. Not property, not Servants...Helpmates.

Men need to grow a pair, and actually start acting like Men, and not d#cks.

49 posted on 10/23/2011 7:43:33 PM PDT by Shadowstrike (Be polite, Be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: posterchild

You will love the Latin Mass! My granddaughter sings in the Latin Mass Church downtown in Chicago, and they sing in Latin, of course. The Church is crowded at every Mass.


50 posted on 10/23/2011 7:43:33 PM PDT by MondoQueen
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