Friday, February 18, 2011

Men in the Church: Living Proof of Living Faith?

A hot topic over the past few years has been the feminization of the Church, or the feminization of Christianity in general. Many books have been written addressing the topic (like Leon Podles' book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity).

Many other books have been written about Christian men and for Christian men to stir them to become more actively involved in their faith and their church. One of the most popular a couple years ago was John Eldridge's book, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul. (We did used this book in one of our men's groups a couple years ago.) Like anything popular, the book has come under some criticism, in this case for supposedly being based more on our culture's ideas of manhood than on a scriptural understanding of manhood (aka, based on looking at "what would Jesus do?"). See here for an example of some valid (I think) criticism of Eldridge's ideas.

That kind of criticism does raise an important question: What is "Christian masculinity"? Is it having a cigar and/or drinking a beer while you're at your men's Bible study?  Should Christian men "watch their language," or is that just a sissified idea, and 'real men' express themselves? Should all men be 'tough' - matching our culture's image of masculine, or are there other important qualities that a man should have? Are you more 'manly' if you're interested in sports or fishing than if you're interested in art or music?

How do men differ from women in the ways they relate to God in their spiritual lives? Should men get emotional, or should they "buck up" and contain their emotions? Should men balk at singing "love songs to Jesus" in worship, songs with lyrics such as these:

Draw me close to you, never let me go
I lay it all down again, to hear you say that I'm your friend,
You are my desire, no one else will do
No one else can take your place,
to feel the warmth of your embrace
Help me find a way, bring me back to you.

You're all I want, you're all I've ever needed,
You're all I want, help me know you are near.

Are men avoiding worship because churches have feminized the music and removed everything that would challenge men's thinking and acting? Some critics, like David Murrow of Church for Men ( say 'Yes' - the church has lost it's ability to reach men because of some of these factors. Others would say Murrow and his crowd go to far - even revising worship style and elements (like the music, sermons, baptism and communion) just so they will appeal more to men. (And which men?) 

Obviously the church is struggling with this issue: western Christian churches have the lowest percentage of male participation of the Church around the world, and lower levels of participation than other faiths (particularly Judaism and Islam) in western nations. 

Are the men active in leadership in your church? Do some things need to change to get the men involved? Does the church need to be more 'masculine'? Or do men just need to take more responsibility for their own (and their families') spiritual lives?

What do you think?

I look forward to your comments.

Stay connnected,

Pastor Mike