If there’s been a clarion call in churches the last few years, it’s the alarm of people decrying the feminization of the Church in America. We hear over and over how there’s no place for men in the local church anymore.
But the more I think about this, the more I wonder if it’s the presence of too much femininity that is driving out the masculinity, or have men traded-in genuine Christianity for a macho fake?
Your church decides to start two new “ministries” that meet on different nights: an intercessory prayer group and a fantasy football group primarily for church attendees.
Here’s my bet: In the vast majority of cases, men who claim they have very little extra time outside of work and home will flock to the fantasy football group and shun the prayer group. Well, that’s obvious, you say. Let me fine tune it, then: If you remove the fantasy football group from the mix and start just the intercessory prayer group, in most churches the attendance for that prayer group will still be 75 percent women and 25 percent men. And in some cases, it will be even more lopsided in favor of the women.
Is this the result of a feminized Church, or a Church where men dropped the ball on genuine Christian masculinity?
Men are typically hopelessly outnumbered by women in many churches in the following areas:
Visiting the sick & shut-ins
Visiting the elderly
Ministry to the disadvantaged
What gets me is that none of those ministries is intrinsically feminine.
But if the church sponsors a barbecue cook-off, you can bet that 80-90 percent of the cooks in that competition will be men. They’ll be in the church parking lot at dusk with their slow cookers, camping out all night, ready and eager to display their masterpieces in pulled pork by noon the next day.
In fact, it seems to me that men come out in droves for stuff like church-sponsored softball games, fishing trips, men’s retreats, and all the stuff that smacks of being the caricature of manliness. Meanwhile, in actual ministry-related work that supposedly favors neither male nor female, it’s the women doing most of the heavy lifting.
And don’t say it’s because of the 3:2 numerical advantage women have over men in the American Church. I don’t buy that cop-out.
Case in point…
I was part of a church at one time that had about 3,500 attendees. That church had a fairly level ratio of men and women. At that time, the church had groups for motorcycle-riding, gun-shooting, and many others with a “just for the fellowship” emphasis that would appeal to men. Fine by me—I’m all for fellowship groups. The only problem was that this same church had one men’s Bible study and about a dozen women’s Bible studies. I was painfully aware of that inexplicably lopsided ratio too. Why? Because I was the men’s Bible study leader. When I asked why there was only one men’s Bible study group, the answer I usually got was that they’d not been able to maintain more than one or two for any length of time. (What made it even nuttier was about half of the ten or so men that filtered through my group on a regular basis didn’t even attend the church.)
It seems to me that men will show up for church stuff when they have a chance to show off their machismo, but flex some spiritual muscles? Not so much.
So I don’t think it’s as much of a case of the Church being feminized as it is a case of men surrendering their God-appointed roles as spiritual leaders within the Church. They’d rather watch March Madness than bow their knees at a 24-hour prayer meeting for the soul of the nation. Meanwhile, elderly grannies are keeping the devils at bay.
So the next time I hear some guy whimpering about how women are taking over the church, maybe a swift kick to the ‘nads will get him to wise up.
Or some spiritual equivalent. 😉