Church For Men

April 19, 2007 by

Most of you have heard the debate that church doesn’t speak the language of men, that the church with its tears and emotion doesn’t cater to men. There have been books written, and now there’s a church taking on the challenge. The goal of Church for Men is to “help churches create an environment where men can thrive in every aspect of church life. Instead of creating a little outpost of masculinity called men’s ministry, we help churches unleash the masculine spirit throughout the organization.”

I like a lot about this; they meet on Saturday evenings, so this isn’t about replacing the family church. It’s so relevant that even the press is taking notice. They’re doing more than talking about a problem in the church–they’re doing something!

What do you see in the church that maybe you could not just talk about but begin to take action on?

Post By:

Michael Buckingham

With the goal of making the church the most creative place on the planet, Michael founded Holy Cow Creative, the church’s creativity and design studio. He is the former creative director for the Center for Church Communication and Church Marketing Sucks, and is currently the experience pastor at Victory World Church in Atlanta.
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29 Responses to “Church For Men”

  • Mean Dean
    April 19, 2007

    Sounds great! …
    … I’ll ask my wife if it’d be okay to visit and bookmark such a site.

  • rick
    April 19, 2007

    1.) don’t try to force guys to hold hands
    2.) use music that guys can relate to
    3.) lead them with confidence and boldness into a vision that could only be God
    4.) remove any and all flowers/plants from the platform
    5.) don’t try to force accountability or friendships/relationships

  • indie
    April 19, 2007

    Why begrudge the little old ladies their flowers? How does it hurt men one iota to let other people have flowers if they want them? I’m getting tired of this whiny attitude from the men who have had control of the church for the last two thousand years. Give me a break.

  • Holy Cow!
    April 19, 2007

    I think that’s a very valid point indie, everyone should feel welcome…maybe we could hang some deer carcasses next to the flowers. Then everyone would be happy.

  • brad
    April 19, 2007

    There has been much made of the “meek, mild-mannered Christ”, the “sadly-smiling Christ”, and the “bestest-buddy Christ”. To me, this all seems to be concentrating on the alter-ego, and not the superhero.
    Perhaps we’re on the cusp of a rediscovery. If so, colour me grateful — I’ve been hoping for a resurgence of what’s masculine for years.
    But let’s not get too eager to say what masculine is and what it isn’t. Sensitivity to the issue is good — pandering to it isn’t. (I’m not a real man if I’m not a deer-hunting, pickup-driving, beer-swilling lout? Or if I think some plants on the platform are a-ok?) The feminist movement has blown itself apart over silly, tangential and radicalised issues. Surely we can learn something from that…? Or is learning something that ‘real men’ don’t do?
    This has the potential to be far more explosively divisive than anyone can imagine. Just look at the previous comments if you need proof.

  • mrben
    April 19, 2007

    Certainly David Murrow’s book ‘Why Men Hate Going To Church’ is, for me at least, one of the most challenging books for the church today. As a lifelong church-goer (and lifelong man) it even challenged my perceptions of church and Christ.
    A lot of the press does a poor job of expressing the concept behind Church for Men – grab a copy of the book!

  • Mean Dean
    April 19, 2007

    hmmm … … sounds great …
    … I’ll provide some feedbac, but first need to go ask my wife if it’s okay to visit and perhaps even bookmark it!

  • Holy Cow!
    April 19, 2007

    Brad, you make a great point. I’ve never found a book or course on marriage that I could get much out of because I am the communicator and the one that carries the emotions…not all men are created the same.
    Mean Dean, thanks for the laugh!

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • j a n
    April 19, 2007

    Men worrying over the supposed “feminization” of church is pretty ironic, considering the church is primarily comprised of exclusively male leadership. The real question is: why does a church led and directed by men turn men off?

  • mrben
    April 20, 2007

    You really believe that Jan? Sure, for the moment the majority of ordained leadership is male, but that is declining rapidly. It’ll only be a couple of years before the major denominations are ordaining a majority of women. And even the male clergy are, to quote Murrow, ‘generals over an army of women’.
    The 60/40 gender split is evident in most, if not all, of the churches I have attended. The feminisation of church and Christ is something that has happened over generations, and is not as obvious to those within the church because we have been (for want of a better word) ‘indoctrinated’.
    Ultimately, it is actually a matter of marketting. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s “right” for men to be put off church – the fact that it is happening and causing this divide (which doesn’t occur in any other major religion) is a cause for concern.
    As I said – read the book for a full picture ;)

  • indie
    April 20, 2007

    The reason for my frustration in my previous comment above is that this was around the fifth blog post that I’ve seen in one day regarding this subject and most of the commenters on the other blogs are blaming women instead of looking for real root causes and solutions that don’t require insulting or taking away the small gains that women have been able to make in leadership opportunities in the last few years. Or silly solutions are being put foward like taking away flowers (if you refuse to come to church solely because some old lady wants some flowers then frankly you’re an immature spoiled brat).
    Too many folks are reading these books and coming away with the idea that certain virtues are feminine and others are masculine. Balderdash! Virtues are for everyone. Also, too many people come away after reading these books thinking that wimpy church=feminine church. That’s an insult to women and simply not true. There is no doubt that the church has become overly domesticated and that it is often not following the radical call of Christ in the world, but that is not a problem that will be solved with raucous displays of testosterone and the re-subjugation of women. We need churches with less pandering and more prophetic speech and action for both men and women. The types of things that many men are calling for to lure them back to church are pandering.
    And the question still stands. Men throughout history and still today have control of the overwhelming majority of churches and the women who have entered leadership positions still face discrimination and the stained glass ceiling even in the most liberal denominations. Why, then, is an almost entirely male leadership unable to minister to men?
    I think that you will find that there are many women who do not feel comfortable with the so-called feminine stuff and many men who don’t feel comfortable with the so-called masculine stuff. We go to church to worship God, not to get our way, so lets learn to compromise.
    I’m also curious about the demographics of church goers. Since, in my experience, church goers tend to be older and women tend to live longer, we may find that many churches that are skewed by age are also skewed by gender as a result. In those cases, we need to examine that problem instead.

  • Casey
    April 20, 2007

    Reaching out to Men cool…sure…I’m glad that someone is breaking the norm but I think there is something else we are missing.
    What about kids growing up seeing their father worship God with the family. I know the statistics favor women when it comes to baptism and probably salvation rates.
    I think men need to step up as men and worship God with everyone else, but because this is a seperate service geared completely for men I say “Hurray”

  • Don Record
    April 20, 2007

    Interesting discussion. Speaking anecdotally, I have set in many “all male” leadership meetings where the primary focus of planning was how to please, or at least not alienate, a very vocal female majority.
    As a man I am attracted to a church with a big vision, (big battle to fight), one that doesn’t waste my time, and one that challenges me to become the man God created me to be…

  • st. Mars
    April 22, 2007

    “(big battle to fight)”
    If I am not challeged at church…I’d rather stay home & do yardwork while listening to worship! Men need a cause! Men also feel the need to work…even if they are visiting for the 2nd time….ask them to come & help with something!……..they will come!

  • Gloria
    April 23, 2007

    1. Don’t try to force men to hold hands.
    Well, why would you force anyone to do anything, first of all. Holding hands isn’t really all that comfortable for women either, you know. Holding someone’s sweaty hand isn’t really all that appealing to me—but it serves a purpose. What does that mean then? It means we need to be CLEAR about why we do what we do. We need to, like Deuteronomy says, teach the rules when we go out and when we come in, when we sit and eat and lie down. Make sure that people know that we know it’s uncomfortable. Make sure they also know that a bit of uncomfortability now is well worth the reward.
    2. Use Music guys can relate to
    If you can’t relate to the music- Write your own. Come on! Is this really even worth talking about? If you don’t like the worship songs being written, then write your own– If you don’t know how then learn how (I’m sure there are other people who would be inclined to sing them) but do not just complain that songs are biased towards women. I think that’s a rather childish and un-Christian view to think that all songs must conform to fit your “needs” as a man… or as a woman. Christ fits your needs- worship is for God—and the church is a vehicle for meeting the world’s needs. If, then, you notice that the way your cultural behavior is affecting the un-churched or newly-Christian, then address those needs.
    3. lead them with confidence and boldness into a vision that could only be God
    This is just fluff. It’s like so many non-committal statements. Who doesn’t want to be led with boldness and vision? And OF COURSE we want only what God wants. Sheesh.
    4. remove any and all flowers/plants from the platform
    What in the world does this have to do with ANYTHING? Plants are not feminine- they are natural. They are, I don’t know if everyone knows this, pretty symbolic (and no, not in the flowers=genitalia way). They symbolize new life—something they have done for thousands of years and even did in the male dominated church of centuries past. They have been used in art to communicate that idea for like… forever. Why would you suddenly have a problem with them now? Is it because you feel that something intrinsically male about you is threatened? I have some good news for you—Christ makes your complete. You are a man by virtue of being. You don’t need to prove it by killing things. That’s actually a product of the fall, not masculinity.
    5. don’t try to force accountability or friendships/relationships
    To this I have two things to say:
    ONE– Why shouldn’t we?
    Human beings need accountability. Those relationships of mentor to mentored must be established. Christ commanded it “Go, therefore, and make… disciples.” That means what? Teaching people how, mentoring, holding people accountable. It’s not a natural desire, it’s a need—even if it isn’t a felt one.
    TWO– Why should we?
    You shouldn’t need to force something like this. It should be a natural outgrowth of the discipleship process. You bring someone into the fold, they become a Christian, you teach them the ropes. That’s not forced on anyone. If they are a new Christian, then they must already have a relationship with a Christian, if they don’t, I’m sure they will want it and seek it on their own. The problem is that the people bringing people in haven’t been taught this, and the people that brought them in weren’t taught. So just start TEACHING and the rest will follow.
    More extensive comments can be found on my blog.

  • Mean Dean
    April 23, 2007

    More extensive comments can be found on my blog.

    … your kidding right?
    Look folks, it’s real simple, if we’re going to offer different denominations and/or styles based on other demographic factors … then what’s the problemo with doing the same based on gender?
    I mean it’s not like we’re teaching a secret hand shake or sumthin.

  • dave
    April 24, 2007

    My problem with this is that I am wary of anything that leads toward fragmentation.
    Galatians 3:28.
    I have been blessed by words and deeds of fellow churchgoers who do not fit in my demographic, and think it would be a loss to only experience God through people who are the same as me.
    And as long as I’m mentioning Galatians, what about Galatians 5:22-23?
    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
    Are we missing a verse that says that men shouldn’t have the “feminine” fruits of the spirit like peace, kindness, and gentleness?
    And what do you do about the beatitudes? Blessed are the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, they that mourn, etc.
    [sarcasm] Gosh, what a bunch of whiny sissy girly men. They should just “man up” and join a more masculine men’s ministry group. [/sarcasm]

  • brad
    April 25, 2007

    I’ve got a working theory that if you’re in a group where you all vociferously agree with each other, you’re all wrong. I want to ensure that I’m always in a group with diverse personalities and opinions.
    A denomination, or service, or whatever that is purely marketed to men will never appeal to me. I’d go as far as to say that it’s dangerous to harbour desire for homogeneity in any one of its guises. It’s a counter to unity.

  • Gloria
    April 26, 2007

    Dean- No, actually, I’m not kidding.
    I have no problem with looking at things that make people uncomfortable and trying to make accommodations, but I have a very real problem with the kind of polarizing effect that focusing on gender can have.
    I’m not actually sure what it is about my comments that you have a problem with, is it the fact that I have more of them and didn’t want to bog down this discussion thread with my treatise?
    Dave and Brad- I totally agree.
    In no way do I think that the “sexes” ought to become a homogeneity where we all look asexual and think and act the same way… but pulling apart because of it isn’t that answer either.
    Love your insightful comments!

  • Donna
    May 3, 2007

    As a woman, I personally would like a little more “adventuresome” church. Personally I find a church that has all sorts of “homey” touches, like hand crafted items in the restrooms, uncomfortable. I have nothing against plants and flowers, God made them, and He has taste. However, tacky crafts projects and “too cute” painted and wall papered walls, I find atrocious displays of “straight women decorating.” Yecch!!! While I am a straight woman, doesn’t mean I like most of my contemporaries decorating ability. Actually most men I know, straight and gay alike decorate much better than the average woman, period!
    When I heard the author of “Why Men Hate Church,” on the Sunday evening program on the Christian Station I listen to, I was fired up! As a Christian, my job is to be about the Great Commission. It doesn’t say women should just try to bring women to Christ. Or that men should just bring men. We are to be a witness, a disciple, a shining light to whomever we encounter. Until recently I would always get bored in church to some degree. To some degree I would feel pandered to. Now I belong to a church that is much more about being who Christ called us to be than the building in which we meet. We’re about spreading the Good News, not re-upholstering (spelling?) the pews. We want to be the church for those who have given up on church, and I love it!
    I have only been going there since mid-February. Already my talents have been requested. My input sought and heeded. My friendship has been sought. People have been hospitable to me. I’ve shared numerous meals, snacks, bible studies, Latin lessons (language not dancing), a Renaissance Faire, phone calls, e-mails and text messages. Sunday used to be my least favorite day of the week my entire life. Now it is my favorite. Before as a second shift worker it was always a battle trying to make an eleven a.m. service. Usually I would just go at night. Now I’m there every Sunday for the 10a.m. service. For four weeks I was there by 9 am for newcomer’s class! This is a church plant, and it feels like part of my family, you know your favorite family members you can’t get enough of. That is how I would characterize each member of this church family. Two I have become very close with. Others are getting there; we certainly have a great deal of love for one another already. This is what a church body should be. A body of Christ. A family of Christ.
    While I know I’m not a man, I normally see many things the same way as a lot of men. I too usually hate to shop. Don’t care for the “offering the hand of fellowship” to one another. Where I go to church now we don’t have to be asked to hug or shake hands. People do it because they want to during the fellowship break. It’s never mentioned. We believe in cheerful giving and instead of passing a plate have a “Joy Box.” Awful name perhaps but it does get the concept across. It seems to be working. While we are a small, but growing congregation all of our needs are met. Our pastor is provided for. Our bills are paid. There is no dire straits that we are encountering financially. There is enough left over to help us with our outreach ministries of feeding the homeless once a week. We also are planning as many outreach opportunities as possible.
    Right now our church is growing, we are beginning to implement a new Sunday school class for grade school age children, and we already have them for younger kids. We just started a youth group for our teens. We have several different connection groups that meet, that are as sometimes as well attended by men as women!
    So try doing things differently. Have a sense of joint adventure to unite and solidify you. Make both men and women, young and old, single and married welcome. We have Goths, pierced, tattooed, retired, middle aged singles, young marrieds, young singles, teens, and younger children. We are constantly striving for anyone, no matter whom, to feel welcome the minute they come through that door. And it’s working!
    By the way, we have no flowers or plants. No tacky arts or crafts. We have no “building.” We rent the auditorium of a middle school at this time. Right now our focus is on people, not property. I hope that will always be the case, although it would be nice to have our own church that we could use as needed. But that will come in time and I am patient. To me the church is wherever we meet, at a house, a coffee shop, or in an auditorium. It’s the people gathered together to worship; building one another up; loving each other; and helping one another. That’s what we are called to be.
    Anyway, that’s it for now. Feel free to read my blog at it is my outreach/discipleship effort via MySpace where so many souls are seeking.
    God bless you as you try to minister to men as well as women!
    Donna – ZudaToYou

  • Bill Finlay
    December 31, 2007

    This is one of the most important church issues to be raised in many years!
    The church in America and Europe have never been weaker than they are today and reading these posts I can see why.
    Some of the posts readily identify the need to obey God and be stong in His Word. Others obviously toss that aside in favor of political correctness and griping about male leadership (which is commanded by God so take it up with Him!)
    The world is a DANGEROUS place and the church needs DANGEROUS men to lead it into COURAGEOUS new missions. This will not happen in the politically correct feminist church of today.
    Political correctness is killing the church, wrecking our schools and destroying our country.
    The early disciples weren’t martyred because they were nice and didn’t offend anyone! They were killed because they were dangerous and the world feared them.
    It’ time for genuine churches to stand tall and leave the PC churches behind where they belong.

  • Dale Fincher
    September 29, 2008

    Just found this blog. What I find interesting is a large mis-diagnosis of the problem. The gender war has gone on for a looooong time. We have conferences on how different we are and spent little time on how same we are. Little differences are given the genders in Scripture, yet how many Christians buy into men from mars and women from venus?
    What is more, little is talked about today about how many women are annoyed with the church too. They are getting the blame for things they don’t like in churches largely run by men who don’t see much, much bigger issues.
    The larger issues involve so much pop-culture, quick-fix, syrupy views of the Kingdom of God. The church has become a bastion of sentimentalism which is neither masculine nor feminine.
    Yet when I turn to Amemrican culture and see what is ‘masculine,’ I see broken forms everywhere. And I see these forms smuggled into the church in the name of re-capturing our masculinity. Pastors talk about ultimate fighting as if its a “manly” thing. Or rescuing women as if the Bible even talks about this. We are told to be wild at heart, while I meet many women just as wild and much of scripture promoting peace, not war. We are pagans when it comes to gender and we baptize our views with Scripture (a lot borrowed from Joseph Campbell and Robert Bly).
    I think we as a church need to pause, stop slinging mud at the various genders we don’t like, stop blaming it on political correctness (that nonsensical phrase gets nauseating for anyone really plugged into the cultural discussion) and start remembering the point of the people of God in the first place. After all, in the Garden of Eden, God had an idea we’ve forgotten: that men and women are to work together.
    The world is too much with us… and we use it as a substitute for godliness. Yeck!

  • Tim
    December 3, 2009

    I’m going to offend some people here. Most of this misses the point. I spent the past 18 months at a non-denominational “mega” church in St Peters, Missouri. I came in with every bit of enthusiasm you could have, having recently converted, full of the wonder of what lies ahead. I left there last Sunday, not being able to bare another second there, feeling as if I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in the middle of the service, knock something over, and storm out the door of a den of vipers. I didn’t have the words that day to say the reasons why as clearly as I do now, , but even knowing it would alienate my spouse, I decided I would not be coming back, and told her so. The church made me feel alienated, and in turn, actually started to alienate me from God. I asked myself how did church become a place that actually alienates, and damages my relationship with God?
    St Peters, Missouri is a very prosperous suburban paradise, a mecca of shopping, manicured lawns, middle-upper class, comfortable, and free of much of the despair & blight that infects our cities. This church is not so much different from many others in the area. It has the flowery decor. Truthfully it reminds me of what happens when Kathy has complete control over the decoration of a room. That entire space becomes hers, and reflective of her wants. Its not enough in, and of itself to say “I don’t want to spend any time here”, but it doesn’t make me feel inclined to want to spend more time there, or that I have a space for myself there. Many husbands bend over backwards to please the women in their life, you can look at my so called “living room” and see that I’m no better or worse, and if you really think the leadership committee of mega-church in the burbs is any different, you need only look at the decor to see that it is. Its reflective of what they value. In medicine we would call this a “sign” when making a diagnosis. Signs are things that one can externally observe, symptoms are those that you “feel”. At home it states I clearly value my wife’s happiness, even above my own to a large degree. Some call it chivalry, but I know a part of that is some of the indoctrination I’ve had that essentially turns men into wish-making-machines for the women in their life. We are all soft about some things.
    While mega-church has a men’s ministry, you need only compare its web page to the one for the women’s ministry, and see that it is merely an afterthought, and treated as such. What isn’t spent there indoctrinating men to become wish-making machines for the women in the life, is spent chastising us, largely for being men, and a three hour long bible study group that honestly still doesn’t appeal much to me. About the only so called men’s program that goes out, and does anything in the world (other than the occasional mission trip — which men volunteer from easily to get *away* from the church, and go out and actually *do* something) is the “free oil change for single mothers” day. Okay, something men can use their skills for, but do you see a common thread here?
    The songs are indeed “Jesus is my boyfriend”. They are performed with remarkable music skills by a worship director named Dave — who is a hell of a nice guy, and would hard pressed to say anything bad about. He is doing exactly what is demanded of him in the culture there, and he does a very good job of it. If it wasn’t for him asking me directly to do something, my stay at mega-church would have been 3 months instead of 18.
    The sermons? The primary focus is on relationship to Christ. Not surprising after 40 minutes of Jesus is my boyfriend music. Relationship appears 4 times in the bible, and only one refers to God, in Romans, and about God’s laws being written on the heart. “Follow me” on the other hand appears 24 times, and almost all of those are Jesus saying directly to people “Follow me”, usually after a 30 word or less speech, “follow me”, get up and do something, here is how you do it, “follow” my example. Quite simply, being more Christ like is being more action oriented, it is being willing to leave those comfort zones and *go out into the world* to take on the evils, to deal with the worst, to fix the problem at hand directly in front of you, to *do something*. Its not that acceptance, and gentleness, and peace are not valued, its that other things are valued with it. They walked all kinds of places, they moved their “church” from place to place, it was wherever they were. It wasn’t a continual mission to expand the compound into a flowery, every growing, bigger complex that we don’t have to leave.
    The truth is, I love God, but I hate church. I hate what the churches I have been to have become. I hate what their *real* mission is, not what their stated mission is. I kept prodding, and waiting for the day when we would go out to do something to change the world, to take on the evils that are there, to … The culture there isn’t setup to do that. Its setup to be a comfortable, cushy place that women love, that has been molded in the kinds of things they love, much like my living room. I’m going to use my own parable. How far do you think I would get to come into the living room and say “The flowery wallpaper is going, the floral print couch is getting replaced with solid leather, all of the birdhouses, knickknacks, and other $@(& she has accumulated over the last 12 years are going bye bye so I can set up my man cave in the living room? Do you think I would get resistance? You think so, really? I had already long ago ceded this ground to her, and its “hers” now. Trying to take away that gift isn’t going to generate a lot of good things in my home, I’m certainly not going to have a whole lot of peace in the process. Do you think we have done anything different with the church? Now if I take over another room there, and turn it into my den, I might have a little space for myself, and I wont get much fight about that, but that is a small den in the home — that is what most churches I’ve been have for men if they have even gone that far. We have a tiny room to call our own cave. The truth is, if I want a bigger space, I’m going to have to build on another couple rooms, or take over the garage, or take over some other space elsewhere and create it. We long ago ceded these churches to women, and their wishes, wants.
    I’m not saying Kathy wouldn’t want to spend some time in the space I create, she loves me — floral prints and all — I’m not saying that she wouldn’t like the space I create, or find some things there that appeal to her. It is what it is.We either build new with a focus on what we need, or we create a whole mess of strife, and disharmony to try to take something back we ceded & gifted long ago.

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