Monday, July 02, 2007

Church For Men

Apparently the modern evangelical church is unfriendly to men.

I am not making this up. David Murrow has a website and is selling a book about it. According to him, there are seven "proven principles for creating a man-friendly church" today.

Rick Warren in his "Pastor's Toolbox" has included an article by the author to explain these principles. I won't quote the rationale here (it's copyrighted after all) but I would like to respond to them...

Principle one: Cultivate a healthy masculine spirit in your church.

Excuse me. How about a HUMAN spirit? Wait, no, that's not good theology. How about the HOLY Spirit? Too simplistic? Too touchy-feely? Does this mean we are going to get more of the football analogies and wrestling match metaphors?

Principle two: Make men feel needed and wanted.

Yes. And women too. And children. And the poor and ill. The refugee. The disenfranchised.

Principle three: Present Christ's masculine side.

It makes sense that Christ was made incarnate in a male gendered person for a male-dominated first-century world. We've come a long way, baby. Or maybe not.

Principle four: Avoid feminine terminology.

Apparently, according to Murrow, words such as "relationship" or "precious" are not words that a "typical man" would say. I am sure that the women they are married to would agree -- but perhaps it is time to change this??

Principle five: Preach shorter sermons.

The "ADD'ing of America" has hit both genders. I am not sure this is a "manly" problem. However, if Murrow means to stop preaching sermons that sound like you swallowed a Greek lexicon, or you have miscellaneous facts you learned in seminary and must squeeze them in or your brain will pop, I'm the first to yell AMEN!

Principle six: Become students of men.

Murrow feels that pastors spend their time making women volunteers "happy" and they don't "understand" men. I can see the collective head-scratching of my fellow female church members on that one.

Principle seven: Create a culture of person-to-person challenge.

Murrow suggests that it should not be a pulpit-only challenge to personal growth in Jesus, but a one-on-one, iron-sharpening-iron mode. And this only works for men???


Ugh. Now why is it that when books like this are published they are hailed as "ground-breaking" but if one were to be written from women's perspective it is often referred to as "divisive" and "strident"???

I really do try to not sound like a crazed feminist, but when I read stuff like this, I either want to hurl something at my computer, or just hurl.

Jesus came, lived and died for ALL people. Men. Women. Slave. Free. Jew. Greek. Or was Paul just joking in Galatians 3?

There are issues in the church today that have nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, to do with gender, and much more to do with real, painful, human needs.

Things like single-parent households. Divorce. Infidelity. Addictions. Lifestyle choices. Music and cultural icons that should be challenged for being ungodly and unhealthy.

OK, so I'm an idealist. I'll admit that. And I am "only" a student. Guilty again.

But somewhere, somehow, we in the Church need to stop pitting men and women against each other and start considering how to build up the Church together, and not compartmentalize it into special interest groups. It doesn't matter who gets more attention. Or where they sit. Or who is in charge. It really doesn't.

It does matter Who we are there to worship and serve. Somehow, I think we all tend to forget that. And books like Murrow's are part of this "me-serve" mentality.

Rant mode off...


Jesus said: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Mandy said...

I can't believe that someone would really write something that absurd. It's funny to see how a group that has been dominant is often pandered to after some moves are made toward *equality*.

I would hope that if people are making an effort to truly surrender themselves to Christ and his will, they would eventually get away from the "NO, IT'S MY SANDBOX!" mentality. And it appears as though that is not the case.

1-4 Grace said...

Ugh. This poor guy needs to spend time in church and have some real conversations with women and men.
I see soem of the "issues" plaging the church today not having so much to do with gender and more to do with authanticity, realationships, and concern for worldwide needs. The way he describes it, seemsthat we are back to the "let me entertain you" mindset that hit the youth and children's scene earlier.
Honestly, if I had wanted to be an entertainer, I would have gone to Las Vegas, not seminary.
When will folks learn, its not about me, its about God.
Just saying...

mompriest said...

Yes, I know, sadly, that the "decline in church attendance" is being blamed on the church being too "feminine." That despite the fact that women managed to keep the church going in their homes after the crucifixion for some 90 years or so before it moved into a more male oriented public domaine. (I mean, looked at that way, perhaps there'd be no church at all with out women). And, of course, we women clergy are also to blame for the "feminization" of the church because we are more relational. Which apparently is bad thing?

Oh. don't get me started on this issue.

If men want church to be worth while for men then they should come to church with their wives, girlfriends, spouses, and mothers. And they should thank their women counter parts for holdig the church together so that Christianity survives these days of sports and other worldly distractions, not to mention distractions from the past...

I'm not buying the argument. sorry.

RevDrKate said...

Oh. My. Goodness. It makes me sad and yes want to rant (and hurl) that when there is so much important stuff to be concerned with and be about, we have these sidetrackers that want to distract us. Gender, who is loving whom....while people are sense in it at all, at all!

Lorna (see through faith) said...

Keep ranting I LOVE what you wrote. This is one book I won't be buying :)

Sally said...

well said Deb- some things deserve a rant response- this is one of them!

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with #5, and I think it's unrelated to gender. As for the rest of them, sounds like this was written for a Promise Keepers' rally.

Bring on the hunting and fishing!


Dan said...

Now Deb, and Mandy both know take this for what's it's worth, I'm not trying to play devil's advocate or anything, but I do agree with some of the things he's saying on the website. That being said, I don't think this is the best approach to 'change'. It seems much more re-actionary (and I think it's intended that way), than proactive (but they may think the intent is that).

Start the stoning.

Muthah+ said...

Years ago (35 or so)the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America was accused as being a remarkably feminine church. Part of the appeal of liberation theology there was that it seemed to give men a place in the church that they had not.

Faith has always appealed to the feminine side of humanity. The soul has always been referred to in feminine terms, so it should not surprise us that there is a fear of emasculating the church. And perhaps that is why the church hierarchy often has to posture in the more outrageous masculine terms.

The whole point of women's ordination was to help all people to recognize both their masculine and feminine aspects. Too bad that has been lost.

The Vicar of Hogsmeade said...

What about creating a rack to hold tool belts too?

Diane said...

yes Deb, and there was also a good article by Lilian Daniel not long ago in the Christian Century. I agree with him that there is something wrong in that men are ALMOST absent in the church. But I don't agree with most of his prescriptions.

Also it devalues the men who are there (if you read, he considers them sissy men). I'd like to ask the men in church why..., and go from there.

Mrs. M said...

Dear heavens. I think this is exactly why I have a croquet mallet hanging on my wall.

What's funny is that your response to Principle 2 is exactly why I try to stay away from the term feminist. I want to find and popularize a term that means celebrating the wholeness of each person, regardless of gender. ("Wholist" doesn't work, definitely. "Shalomist"? Still working on this.)

Sarah said...

Those poor man babies.

Louie, Frank and Mike: The Church for Men Dudes said...

Over 60% of church attendees are women. Let's put our heads in the sand and continue doing what we've been doing.

Anonymous said...

Wait. Wait. Wait. I am NOT getting this.

The majority of pastors are MEN.

The majority of Christian books on "feeding and leading" churches are written by MEN.

The majority of seminary professors at Christian divinity schools are MEN.


If MEN are the ones in control of the thoughts, writings and leading of the church, HOW IN THE HELL are they getting it so "wrong"?????

Or are their wives doing the ghost-writing of their sermons.

I'm not laughing. This is sick.