What happened to all of the men in church? Where have they gone?
This may be a game changer to those visiting the site. In fact, I may loose a few people over this post, but it is something that has been weighing on me for some time. However, I can’t ignore it, and when we ask for direction in life, sometimes it slaps us right in the face. We need more men in church.
For almost 13 years, I have helped a couple of months a year with assembly management. In short, I count how many people are in class and worship. I know on the surface it seems trivial, but there are disturbing trends that I first thought might be pertaining to my congregation. I have since found out that most churches are having the same issues.
In 2004, we were having around 500 people at Sunday morning worship. Bible class numbers were around 350-375. Today, we have around 420 people at worship, but the class numbers are down around 220-240 on a good day.
There are obviously two disturbing trends. The first is the down attendance for worship. Not as many people are placing importance on services in general. If a congregation were to take look at all of the members they had on “roll,” it is safe to say it would be alarmingly higher than those that are actually attending.
The more disturbing trend to me however is the ratio of those who go to class as it compares to those who attend the assembly. If you were keeping score, we have gone from losing at most 30 percent from worship to class to 48 percent, today.
Now, I have heard people say there is nothing scriptural about going to class, but a good deal of instruction comes from class. Interaction comes from class. Leadership training is reinforced in class. It is not something we have to do, but it should certainly be something we want to do.
Decline of Men in Church
This is the true point of this post, and quite honestly maybe the underlying problem in our churches, today. Men our not going to church like they did in the past, and it is having a dramatic effect on our group of believers and the nuclear family.
These numbers come from a U.S. Congregational Life Study from 2003, but it is my experience that at best it has remained the same. In 2003, the typical church had a ratio of 61 percent female versus 39 percent male. In the last census 50.8 percent of the United States was female and 49.2 percent were male.
When you break it down to what this actually means, it is real sad. There are 13 million more women in church than men on Sundays. Almost 25 percent of married women attend church without their spouse. The numbers increase even more when we talk about midweek services.
The problem is even worse overseas. In some areas of the world, the ration of women to men in church on Sundays is 9 to 1.
What is the Cause?
Church for Men put together an even more concise breakdown of the decline of men in church, and you it is in the article “Quick Facts on the Gender Gap.”
I would like to preface the rest of the article by saying that this is entirely my opinion. There is no scientific evidence to back up any of my findings. These are just my observations.
It is sad to say this, and I know this is going to irritate a lot of people. Unfortunately, our churches are becoming a microcosm of our society. We are mirroring what the world is doing.
Emphasis is no longer placed on men in society anymore. Fathers on television are very rarely shown as leaders in their household. Most of the time they are looked at as bumbling idiots. They are the comic relief. Gone are the days of Ward Cleaver.
Likewise, we have stopped challenging the men of our congregation to be leaders. We ask very little of them. They are not asked to lead singing. They are not asked to discuss their viewpoints in a congregational setting.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a call to get rid of preachers. My dad was a preacher for 40 years. We are in desperate need of people to share the gospel, but we want them many times to do all of the work.
Every Other Ministry Except a Men’s
In today’s churches, we have a ministry for everything. We have a youth ministry. We have a women’s ministry. We have ministries to people who are fighting addiction. There are people dedicated to those who are incarcerated, but very few actively seek out men.
Again, I am not saying that the others are not important. I applaud all of the ministries mentioned. Every single one is needed, and if not for them, I am afraid the numbers I previously mentioned would be worse than they are.
Why is all of this important?
Churches Are Good For Men, and Men are Good For Churches
The first half of the statement is obvious. Church is good for everyone. It does not matter gender, race, and about any other demographic you want to hear. We typically are better people the stronger our faith is.
However, the last half of that statement is also true. Remember when I talked about the microcosm theory a few paragraphs back. We talked about how society has not emphasized the male role model.
Have you been to a school lately? Students regardless of age are desperately searching for father figures. At the elementary school my children attended, we had the Watch D.O.G.S program.
The program was super simple. A dad of one of the students would spend a day in the school, but it would not be with just his child’s class. He would be there for that grade level. He performed activities like reading to the kids, or he might even help tutor a student who had fallen behind.
The real benefit was the interaction that a student other than my own child had with me. It was amazing to see boys and girls gravitate to you just itching to get a little attention. On more than one occasion, I was informed that many of these students didn’t have a father figure like that in their home.
Imagine how a Christian man put in that situation might have an effect on a child without a parent? What if that was part of a men’s ministry? Wouldn’t that strengthen the community and the church.
After careful consideration, the goal of this blog and newsletter is to put men in church. I have struggled my entire adult life in finding a ministry. Sadly, a lot of times it has been my own selfishness that has prevented me from taking the steps I need to take to be a worker for the Lord.
I would be remiss not to give a shout out to all of the wonderful women who have dedicated their lives to serving the Lord regardless of whether they had a faithful husband. I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for a widowed mom who took her family (including my dad) to church, who made sure he was plugged in, and found the men this world needs to guide him down the path he took in life.
I know several ladies at this very moment who are in this situation, and you are to be commended. It is my goal to help be the person and encourage the men I know to help these precious souls out. In fact, I would love to hear from men and women on what they think we as a body of Christ can do to help increase the number of godly me in church.