Why are there less men in church?

This subject comes up from time to time. In the last thread, I commented in passing that there were significantly more single women in my ex-church than single men, probably contributing to the difficulty some women found in meeting a future husband from people attending that church. Since then I came across this article from the Washington Post in 2005, about a book which postulates reasons for why ‘men hate church’. Obviously many men who frequent this site don’t hate church or you wouldn’t bother attending (I assume), but still, its worth looking at the topic I think.

The book, ‘Why Men Hate Church’ by David Murrow, apparently postulates that most church activities focus around sharing, caring, routine and ritual (my words, not his) which alienates risk takers, who are more often male than female. In other words, church activities are primarily female. It also postulates that many churches have taken the ‘testosterone’ out of Christianity; and that men want objective lessons, harder talk – a more ‘masculine’ approach. (Maybe this explains part of Mark Driscoll’s success – he seems quite aggressive in his presentation at time and is more than capable of hard talk – is that his appeal?)

I actually attended a church where the ratio of men to women was at least the same, and possibly there were slightly more men than women for a while. Ironically, it grew out of a group started by a woman, though it was now led by a man, and the senior pastor was nothing like Mark Driscoll in style. But you couldn’t have accused him of a ‘touchy feely’ approach either. Men seemed to find it intellectually appealing, and weren’t expected to take on the leader’s views in order to be ‘good Christians’ though those views were always worth consideration.

In the previous thread, we’ve been talking about how the church can express itself as family, and about caring and sharing amongst other things. Yet the ‘sharing’ is something that according to that book, can alienate men. How can a church express itself as family to men – is there an issue here? (Being female, I haven’t perceived one, but you never know.) Most early church leaders where men; the appeal to men wasn’t a problem around Jesus time. Is there an issue now?

Possibly the fact that less men attend church doesn’t mean that there are less men who are Christian; it could just be that out of Christians, less men than women choose to attend church. I’m not sure if there are any statistics looking at that question.

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RavingPente


49 thoughts on “Why are there less men in church?

  1. I heard a christian singer ( Matt Redman of “Blessed Be Your Name” fame) say the the church is over-mothered and under-fathered. Food for thought, don’t you think?

    The interview was about why men hate singing the songs in church today – the claim being they’re too romantic and men are uncomfortable with “Jesus is my boyfriend” lyrics (so am I!). Matt regrets some of his lyrics from the past for that reason. Interesting.

    Considering worship is such an integral part of church in helping us draw near, the music can turn guys off. I know 2 of my sons-in-law would always come late just to avoid the singing, perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to ask them why today (Fathers Day)?

  2. I also wondered whether solo-minded alpha males in leadership might put some types of men off, while not really bothering the women to the same extent. By ‘solo-minded’ I mean wanting to run the show on their own without much influence from others.

  3. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Men-Hate-Going-Church/product-reviews/0785260382/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&coliid=&showViewpoints=1&colid=&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

    The link above points to reviews of the book on Amazon, with people commenting on the points it raises.

    His theories may not be the same as our theories, of course.

    One person wondered how church had become ‘feminised’ in the way the book complains of, when it’s been led mainly by men. Good question, if the feminisation point is true.

  4. Too many churches don’t sing hymns anymore – real music.

    Too much of the new stuff is vacuuous crap.

    As for alpha males, I am as competitive as any one, but I grew out of pissing competititions, or mine is bigger than yours along time ago – I simply don’t have either the time or the inclination for that stuff anymore.

    As a man what I am really interested in is being able to talk honestly to another man, and vice versa, but not in a way that diminishes or trivialises via blokey humour.

    I am very interested in Jesus as a man who is God – rather than this person who seems removed from me – who lived a life of integrity and courage, and who ultimately sacrificed His life for me and those who He loved.

    I am interested in men who are prepared to give it a go, rather than men who sit on the sidelines waiting to be impressed.

  5. As a man I am interested in loving my family well.

    Given the fact that I really don’t have any immediate family this can be difficult to work through, and I am not naturally very good at meeting and dealing with new people – it is like putting myself in the breech everytime.

    I think an issue for men re God and by extension church, is unless we are broken or perceive ourselves as such why would we bother?

  6. MN – do you think that sometimes women go out of a sense of duty, despite the ‘vacuuous crap’, whereas men can’t be bothered if it’s vacuuous, just for the sake of ‘duty’?

    The church I went to that had 50% men had pretty good preaching – not vacuuous. Lots of honest talking men, too. It was great at the time.

    There was a respect for what people did during the rest of the week as well – I wondered if perhaps one problem might be the leadership seeing men’s (and women’s) careers/occupations as a bit irrelevant except for earning money to give or witness. Whereas the leadership of that congregation definitely respected and valued people’s occupations for their own sake in society; there wasn’t a sense that you were wasting your time unless you worked for the church. So it affirmed people’s everyday life when they weren’t at church. Maybe that was one of the ways in which they found it worthwhile, rather than demeaning.

  7. I tend to agree with MN.

    Also I find church boring in the same sense that I found school boring. I used to love going to school to catch up with friends but had to endure lessons for that to happen. Until I was old enought to scive down town.

    Now I like church for the relationships, but I scive the Sunday service.

    As a generalisation, I think some women get a fair bit of their sense of identity from church. They can help out because they like the relationships that result from helping.

    Men tend to look more a the task itself, which by and large is a waste of time.

    Perhaps I’m being sexist and self-centred. But I would rather relate to other men after a game of football or at a BBQ. I’ve had some great times going away with christian male friends where you can talk for real in a safe environment – I generally struggle to make it passed the weekly anouncements at most church services.

  8. I was concerned about this issue some time back, and read some interesting books re the subject. All were interesting but not too many answers evident.

    I would suspect that the feminisation of the church (or at least the laity) would spring from three sources.

    Firstly the engagement of the average person in a ‘church’ organisation or meeting is mostly passive. Despite an individual perhaps being involved in a ‘ministry’ or two, such as set-up, Sunday School or worship leading etc, the majority of our interaction is passive eg. responding to the leading of worship ‘leaders’, listening passively to a sermon or announcements etc. Most males are not particularly attracted to passive involvement in anything. Of course, the on-the-stage leadership is attractive to males because they are constantly and actively involved and making decisions.

    Church life (not Christ-Life) is generally incredibly repetative (boring?). I would suggest men would be less likely to put up with this long-term – They tend to be explorers, seeking new horizons (more so than women).

    Women are more likely to put up with cognititve dissonance (their reality is not meeting their expectations/ideals) in order to preserve group/social harmony. ie If men percieve the ‘church’ experience is not real, effective, authentic, worthwhile etc they will get the hell out, calling a spade a spade. Women will tend to try to paper over their misgivings to preserve group unity/cohesiveness/social interation.

    In my previous incarnations as a church leader I thought much about trying to make the ‘church’ experience more attractive to men – Make men’s ministry bigger and better, with more chest-thumping and sports-watching etc. It did not work. Church as a religious service will always (eventually) be a passive, boring and false – three things men (generally) will not put up with for long.

    I came to realise that the whole paradym of church involvement can only ever be attractive to those men who seek and rise to prominant ‘paid’ leadership. We can’t tweak the way we ‘do’ church. The whole thing is dead and needs to be buried.

    Men will only ever be energised in the core of their being when they meet and walk with Jesus. When that Life is modelled and mentored by other men and is experienced dynamically in everyday life (not just an hour long service once a week). Ask the twelve men who walked with him for over three years whether ‘church’ was boring. Even after his death their life together was incredibly enriching, exciting, dynamic, creative etc – Because He lived in and through them. Most men who have sat in a pew have never even seen that life, or know it exists.

  9. “MN – do you think that sometimes women go out of a sense of duty, despite the ‘vacuuous crap’, whereas men can’t be bothered if it’s vacuuous, just for the sake of ‘duty’?”

    Don’t mind O80’s response to that – “Women are more likely to put up with cognititve dissonance”

    But I think that encmpassess more than preserving group harmony.

    Perhaps the imbalance in attendance is because for women it is much more of an expression of hope in Christ, and maintaining that hope in the face of their own circumstances elsewhere.

    I find it difficult to comment from a pente background because that is not mine.

    I think in all things men as a generalisation are collectively avoidant.

    I don’t know that I recognise a lot of O80’s comments above as a man, but in his final para there is a ring truth.

    Men – if called out – want to walk with someone they respect and can work together with.

  10. Or got to war.

    Otherwise we hide in our caves and avoid as much as possible.

    But I think being part of a group, and accepted for men is a real part of being able to go forward and do other things.

    And yet Christ went forward alone.

  11. This explains to me the reason for existence of most sporting clubs who ultimately have nothing on walking with Christ.

    Perhaps back to RP’s comment – women are better at duty and keeping up appearances maybe

  12. And in the context of that last comment we are busier and busier so it is either the teev to watch the sport or ferry the kids around for their sport – the latter of which is a duty that from what I see men will do- but less so church.

    Perhaps that comes from the perceived duty or relevance – for one there is a real duty and with the other it is not so relevant.

    I know that on my evangelical side of the fence I can only remember a couple of instances where the men came to church rather than the woman, and in once of those instances infidelity and divorce followed soon after.

    Normally the roles have been reversed.

  13. “I think an issue for men re God and by extension church, is unless we are broken or perceive ourselves as such why would we bother?” – MN

    Do you mean that many men have an image of church as only for weak or broken people – for fixing people or supporting them if they can’t do it themselves?

    Muppet said:
    “Now I like church for the relationships, but I scive the Sunday service”

    We did consider grabbing a coffee instead of attending the service and just getting back in time for the post church fellowship, before we left our recent church. We were just too out of synch with the content to want to sit through it… that action was a little too cheeky for us though.

    “I generally struggle to make it passed the weekly anouncements at most church services.”…

    Weekly announcements aren’t a problem if they only last 5 minutes, but they do get out of hand in some places – half an hour, about people many of the congregation don’t even know as a church gets bigger. It can sometimes become a bit self indulgent for the leaders, and limits the time for the main content. It’s a pretty practical thing to fix and keep under control, you would think. Don’t know why they don’t bother in some places.

    I also think you are right that most women find the relationships that can come with helping out valuable. But also, many women have been trained as helpers with simple repetitive tasks 🙂 since pretty early on in life – church is just an extension of that. Is that different for men?

    There does seem to be a common thread in what Muppet, Od80 and MN are saying in that men are looking for something that achieves something, that is more than just a duty, and typical church doesn’t appear to achieve very much. Just attend, then live your week, then attend again… but no achievement.

    Some churches do try to engage men in achieving things though.

    Some churches do try to meet the need for men to talk with other men honestly by using men’s groups, men’s breakfasts etc.

    Are these things ever effective at creating an environment where that kind of thing can happen?

    (As a female, I always found women’s events a bit hit and miss. Some were pretty good, others seemed to be trying to encourage the occasional gender stereotype. Usually if there was a speaker, there wasn’t much time left to chat with the other women, so in terms of honest talk, not much opportunity at those events. Women tend to make their own opportunities though at other times.)

  14. If I might intervene …

    The Men’s things that church does tend to be a sticking plaster. It’s not anyone’s fault … it just is.

    It probably needs to happen dynamically rather than imposed.

    Anyway … church is too feminine for most men. We want to be manly men doing manly things … hunting, fishing, going to war … rather than look like we need God as an emotional crutch.

    The bottom line for most men though is that they don’t want God telling them what to do.

  15. I simply think that it is because men don’t like being told what todo, whether they are married or courting.

    The church does attract single men generally. (I find)

    However, men aren’t encouraged to take a stand for truth. If they do, it is frowned upon as ‘making commotion’. If they are encouraged to stand for truth, you can imagine the confusion they face when they are rebuked.

    It is seen as well in ministries that it is important not to make mistakes. Men can only really grow up when they make mistakes. Being a sensitive man is the way to go and that often repels other men.

    I think the main benefactor to why men are absent is because of the absence of older spiritual mentors or church Fathers, so many go at their faith alone outside the church.

    I look back in my walk, and I wanted to be Luther and Luther Kings Jr, Wesley or Spurgeon, Wigglesworth or C.S.Lewis. I also wanted to be as controversial as Jesus and wanted to imitate Paul… But I didn’t know how I could be like them. How could I get there?

    One thing was for sure: I didn’t have an older man/father/mentor above me to teach me how to grow and move ahead.

    In the end, I found that I had to ‘imitate Paul’, and to do so get a revelation of the gospel He preached.

    I am now in the church as I zealously imitate my life like Paul’s ways, practically, spiritually, healthily, reasonably and theologically.

    He’s all I had. But I like his ‘to-do’ add and controversiality.

    I think that is what guys want and what they all need But I am enjoying all the ponderings…

  16. “The bottom line for most men though is that they don’t want God telling them what to do.”

    In God we really have the freedom to do anything (even stuff up), except that we don’t want to sin, or we struggle with sin.

    So do you mean men don’t like God telling them what to do therefore they don’t want to be Christian, or therefore they don’t go to church where a pastor delivers a preach that tells them what to do? Or is it a matter of having to listen to a pastor’s instructions or conform to religious expectations instead of relying on the immediacy of their own walk with God?

    (Sorry to be so confusing.)

  17. Greg – that sounds good.

    I’ve come across that approach by some leaders – all the better if there’s depth to their training/teaching.

    Are preaching, leading groups and praying etc the way a church can support or appeal to men though?

    There are a lot of men involved in their occupations outside church who may not have the time or desire to lead groups within the church. Can a church organisation appeal to more of these men consistently, who may have no ambition within the organisation except to support in small ways while they do other things elsewhere in the main?

  18. Maybe one issue might be that many churches are led by men whose sole career has been church leadership. For example, Anglican churches where the young men go to Moor College then start their church career, or Pente churches where they go into the Bible College then a church career becomes their main focus, despite having other part time jobs or less demanding jobs to support that. Perhaps its hard for men whose occupation outside the church organisation to be ‘told what to do’ by those with church careers but no external one.

    However, I can still see the appeal that good quality teaching would have regardless of background. I’m just thinking about those leaders that give directions or rally their congregation about a central ‘vision’ set by the pastor (“God’s goal”) rather than exhort and encourage people wherever they are. Maybe I’m off target here.

  19. The other observation I’d make at this stage – no one has yet disagreed that ‘men hate church’ – or at least that they generally find it unappealing. 🙂

  20. Church can be an unecessary 4th space. We struggle to maintain 3 – family, work and leisure. Church doesn’t always add much to the other 3, infact often retracts from them.

    For me, its not a matter of not liking to be told what to do. God, my wife, close friends, colleagues all do that, and we are accountable for our relationships to each other under Christ. Its just that church can try and mimic / impose its own frame work over that.

    I might have a fantastic time going fishing with christian friends I’ve known for many years, and its something that we choose to organise ourselves.

    But if I’m encouraged to go fishing on a church retreat for men’s ministries – it doesn’t seem good use of my time, a bit fake, and a bit wishy washy. It might not be, but I wouldn’t be there to find out!

  21. “Men hate church – or at least they generally find it unappealing”

    No I dont agree with this, or with the premise of the book ‘Why Men Hate Church’ – that men find “sharing, caring, routine and ritual” alienating.

    At my work we have a coffee break every morning. We all go the coffee-shop and talk for about half an hour. Usually we do the quiz in the morning paper. This is all a ritual and a routine – primarily for the purpose of creating a small community. Some of us dont even like coffee very much but will have one just to be sociable. Answering the inane questions in the newspaper quiz is not an end in itself, but merely a springboard for conversation and a way of focussing everyones attention.

    I think men like ritual, routine and community… but they think they dont. We all think we are hell-raising risk takers but really we are not. We thunder down the road listening to AC/DC, but when we get out of the car we are just a sheep in a grey-wool suit going to our accountancy job.

    But this is OK, because Christianity is after all about a central relationship, and a community. Jesus said to love God and others, He didnt say anything about Monster Trucks and shooting deer.

    The problem comes about when people try to tell you its not Ok. That you should be going out and either build something or tear something down, otherwise you are not a man. No the centre of life is relationship, all the other stuff may need to be done but it is peripheral.

  22. Well, that’s all really interesting.

    I am actually pretty glad to hear that ‘hate’ is too strong a word. Perhaps there are those who ‘hate church’ but maybe they’d be those who have bad experiences or those who go somewhere especially tedious or domineering, with good reason to strongly dislike it.

    Sound to me now that perhaps traditional church is actually not relational enough for some men. Men want real relationships, which means putting enough time into them for them to work, and men typically have very limited time, as they usually work all week. Church activities might just take up that precious time, with the result that instead of achieving a good relational outcome, they actually detract from the relational outcome.

    This could be one reason why we see more women at church, too. Many women also work full time, but those of us with children often work part time, or from home, or not at all (I’m not saying looking after house and kids isn’t work, since I do it, but it is somewhat flexible at times.) Perhaps as a result women have the opportunity to fit in relationship building activities during the week (churches often have bible studies and mum’s groups during the week), and the time put into church on Sunday doesn’t impede this. So maybe married women or women with kids are more likely to attend church than busy men, particularly men with kids who have a time issue. If they are going to put time into something, their time is precious, so it has to achieve something – which could be those good relationships. If it doesn’t, why bother?

    Of course, single men and women with no kids are all in the same boat, so it wouldn’t explain discrepancies there.

  23. Wazza, I actually find what you say very refreshing. I do know men who are very achievement oriented, who want to go out and ‘do something’. But absolutely, most people in order to survive, have to participate in the ordinary course of life. Some have extraordinary lives, and some don’t (to an outside observer). My son wants to be a hero when he grows up. He probably wont be; we’ll give him every chance we can to discover and pursue his interests; but hopefully he will have a decent life.

    I don’t think it encourages people in their daily lives to only value building something amazing, or tearing something down. Isn’t what we learn and who we become ‘as we go’ important, and isn’t that achieved just through the daily business of living?

    Doing and building things is wonderful but there is a time for everything, and it doesn’t make you a less valuable person if you don’t do that. To aspire for those things all the time could negate the other work God is doing in your life, and we will never learn contentment.

  24. For some reason, more men seem to prefer to participate in this blogging community than women, and in some other similar blogs. I wonder if the reason for that (whatever it is) has anything to do with why the opposite happens in many churches.

    (Or when on the internet, is it just that there are more men in IT – because there are a lot of IT men on this blog, though not exclusively of course.)

  25. I’m in IT – thats an interesting topic for discussion. I wonder if it entails a particular way of thinking that perhaps is incompatible with the way some church leadership think.

    Regarding achievement orientation and your son wanting to be a hero RP, I think every boy in his teens and into his twenties wants to prove himself a man by doing something extraordinary. Some young men can achieve incredible things during this time especially if mentored well. But this impulse can also be taken advantage of.

    Almost every revolution has been started by young men with time on their hands. Most of the Islamic extremists are young men who have been radicalised by teachings in certain Mosques and other groups. There is a strong desire in these men to do something big and change the world.

    But less dramatically, I think business often takes advantage of this desire in the young men that it hires. Business recognises the strong desire of these men to prove themselves and often asks them to work long hours or make other sacrifices. Its often a shock to these guys to find out that they havent proven themselves with all of this effort but can be disposed of during the next downturn.

    Does a similar thing happen in the contemporary church? I think it probably does. All of the emphasis on Gen-Y is because they are the people you can get to do most of the work. They have the time and the strong inclination to prove themselves and this is fine if you are building up a true community. But if you are just using people up for their work capacity and then throwing them away it is a huge human cost. All those prophecies about being a generation that will change the world etc. seem to me to be aimed at encouraging heroism fantasies in Gen-Y males.

    At a certain age boys need good mentoring, from a strong and mature figure who knows how to handle their agression and energy. Its a matter of finding the right people for this, and avoiding getting them caught up in building someone else’s empire.

  26. I liked what you said Muppet, that church is a fourth space, well where i was i felt it was. Anyways I have Catholic friends from the past and find they are more down to earth, I have friends who were “once penties” too and its just a mix of people who believe in God but are in the world too, they don’t think they are something “special”

  27. OK.

    lots of good stuff there. I want to pick up on the IT angle.

    I am a graduate physicist with a Masters in Computer Science.

    =======================================================
    This is the deal. In the church, the people who are very good at building friendships are women. Time poor working men come home and find that their women-folk are tired and looking for their husbands to help them with the kids etc when all the man wants to do is have a kip on the sofa with the paper over his face.

    The poor chap is knackered and tiredly bathes his children while his equally tired wife loads the dish-washer … (he would have had to wash the dishes by hand after the kids went to bed of course!)

    Eventually, the kids are asleep and they can veg out on the sofa watching the trance inducing God Channel with re-runs of Todd Bentley’s best bits (body slamming paraplegics while others run offering talks next to the mobile ATM’s at the back of the big-tent)

    If he suggests to his wife that he go to a men-only event at church and she asks “How much will it cost?” followed by “that’s a pair of childrens shoes …”

    He suggests that he go to a weekly bible study and she wonders how she will cope with the kids that night … especially since he’ll probably come home feeling a bit frisky and she will say she’s feeling very tired … more bizarre rubbish on Hell TV … everyone is really tired the following morning and start shouting at the toaster when it breaks down.

    Eventually he ends up leading his little bible study and she likes the change in him while still being really annoyed that he is taking time away from her and not helping with the kids as much.

    Church starts loading more expectations on him as he is apparently quite gifted at leading bible studies … he starts getting preaching slots in the evening services and in small fellowships in his town. He spends more time in the bible, she spends more time being annoyed.

    Relationship becomes strained … even though she has her own study group with other mums during the day. She gets to go on her things with a feeling of relief, while he gets to go on his things with a feeling of guilt.
    ====================================================
    Speaking for myself now … I don’t like being half-hearted about things. Either you are all the way in, or you simply don’t bother.

    More guys are into IT, as they use it in their daily work.

  28. Well … it was slightly autobiographical but I don’t watch Hell TV and she doesn’t get annoyed when I am heading off to Bible study.

    much.

    😉

  29. Time is the big limiting factor.

    There is also a big disregard for people in ‘proper’ jobs. They are seen to be not as committed as those who are paid church workers.

    There is also an over-emphasis on church work as opposed to ‘secular’ work. As if only church work counts for God.

    Men have only dropped away from church since the first world war. Men saw things we shouldn’t see … and stopped believing in God. More fell away after world war 2. Since then the Church has been in serious decline.

    Sermons don’t challenge men, the comfort women. (I am not trying to be sexist or offensive … it’s just a distinction between what women tend to like and what men tend to like.)

    Tough talks that pull no punches, even if you disagree with them, tend to get the juices flowing and lead to great doctrinal arguments!

    (Another reason why this medium is getting popular with men.)

  30. Bull said “The bottom line for most men though is that they don’t want God telling them what to do.”

    What has this got to do with Church!?

  31. Heretic,

    Everything … !!!

    I am talking about people’s preconceptions. The recieved information about what church is like comes primarily from programmes like “Songs of Praise” or from TV drama that produces some kind of stereotype about churches that always have a hypocrite Pastor or a Gay Vicar or some sort of pentecostal cult.

    Very often, the only times most punters see the inside of their local church is for a wedding or a funeral (and occasional infant baptism). What this means is that people’s idea of church is decades old at best, or totally wrong at worst.

    The preacher is the authority figure. Men don’t want God, through the preacher, to tell them that checking out the neighbours sexy new wife when she’s sunbathing is adultery that will send them to hell.

    The protest “Hang on, I never touched her” will not satisfy Jesus.

    So … the original point is, we don’t want anyone to tell us we are up to no good. We pretend we are top blokes but we actually know that we are uncharitable in our thoughts, we are resentful, we keep a long record of wrongs both real and imagined and in short, we are proud, self-righteous, lecherous, religious bigots.

    The bottom line is, we don’t want to give all that away. We quite like ourselves, and because we are good at compartmentalising our lives as men we just think about the good bits in this box, while ignoring the bad bits in that box.

    Men can quite easily fall in love with more than one woman. They can even put sex in one box and love in another. “She means nothing to me” is a frequent refrain to cheated wives.

    Men don’t put up with rubbish from a pulpit, perhaps but there is plenty of cognitive dissonance regarding themselves.

    “I’ve put on a few pounds but I’m not fat!”

    … “You’re 25 stone! You are wearing a tent and you can’t get up off the sofa without a forklift truck!”

    Does this ring any bells? The fundamental problem with men is they don’t want to face up to reality about themselves. Going to church and encountering God kinda challenges that too much.

    Women, on the other hand, can be ignored by men …
    “Yes love, I am just like that. (laala laala laalala!)”
    … but men cannot ignore God when He speaks. So they spend all their time trying not to listen to Him.

    That’s my tuppence worth anyway.

  32. Ah Bull – I felt tired just reading that description of family involvement vs church involvement. I suppose it wasn’t meant to read as ‘vs’, but it kind of did to me.

    One of the benefits of not going to an organised church at the moment for my family is that we can gather with fellow Christians and bring the kids, and no one misses out or has to be home looking after them on our own on a regular basis; we get lots of good quality fellowship time, whereas before it was 10 or 15 minutes after a service. Some people don’t mind of course. Depends on the ages and stages of the kids, and the demands upon each parent I guess. I could sympathise with both parents.

    “There is also a big disregard for people in ‘proper’ jobs. They are seen to be not as committed as those who are paid church workers.

    There is also an over-emphasis on church work as opposed to ’secular’ work. As if only church work counts for God.”

    – Bull

    I alluded to this earlier. I think its a big issue. I also think its wrong. I don’t see the sacred/secular divide in life. The Holy Spirit is with us all the time, wherever we are. (Apparently that identifies me with ’emergent’ thinking according to the tongue in cheek survey Teddy linked us to a while ago).

    If any kind of church gathering can encourage people in their daily walk wherever they are, including their work, then that’s going to be pretty good.

    I think it demeans people to regard these things as of little value and unimportant because they are designated ‘secular’. Our work is one of God’s gifts to us, and vital in our lives; we aren’t meant to just achieve within a church organisation, but to be salt and light in society, amongst it and through it, not isolated in some building regarding the rest as irrelevant. When a church gathering can support people in this, then I think it can be enormously encouraging to their walks.

  33. Totally agree RP.

    There are 2 conflicting agendas of course. Getting people into the church, and then enabling them to get out of the church!

    Stage 1: Church becomes the hub of the fellowship family. People don’t just go there for Sunday services or members meetings. They go there to chill out on Saturday lunchtimes with the kids. It’s more of a community center where people can meet up and do things with each other ‘on the cheap’.

    Stage 2: Church has brought believers together. Now they encouraged and built up in faith, hope and love. They can now go and do their daily work with the backing of a large supportive family. They can stand in their work with integrity and honesty.

    Wishful thinking?

    I am groping towards how we can get the sense of belonging and ownership and investment in the church while still being empowered to go out into the real world and still be an effective witness.

    There is a role for organised church. Church doesn’t know what that role is yet … that’s all.

  34. My theory as to why not as many men attend pente churches as women – which I aired before at the old signposts possibly under a different screen name.

    Church (especialy the mega pentes) is where you all sit/stand around passively while the big alpha male is active and full of energy and struts his stuff.

    This sits well with the women but not the more (how to put it) masculine men, who prefer to be the alpha male, in charge and getting all the action (or rather performing all the action).

    Mega church pente preachers tend to be more domineering and that repels rather than attract the men (who don’t like to tolerate more bosses than absolutely necesary such as the ones at work you have to put up with to earn your money).

    At mega churches others even sing for you (you can sing if you like but no one will notive because no one can here you).

  35. I agree phoenix, my (ex husband), we were at a pente church, always longed to be a leader, he had a great job in government but desired that “leadership” role that that church particularly encouraged.

    The thing is I think, and I have many Christian friends and family members, is the focus should be on their “own” lives, their families. Dr Phil on tv is so popular because he just tells it as it is and how to be a man, how to treat their wife and children, in a basic way.

    I think if a man has not got a good idea of his own role in life, maybe had a bad role model growing up, they are seeking an identity/role and these churchs often don’t really tell them how, specifics etc.

    Interesting topic btw

  36. Pheonix,

    the mega pente churches are not unique in turning the congregation into a passive Audience.

    All modern churches today have real problem with the band being just too loud. I love to sing, but if I can’t even hear myself singing, I just stop.

    I can’t remember the last time I really enjoyed singing in Church.

    What I long to do, is turn the congregation into active worshipers during the Sunday service. I would also emphasise that their spiritual act of worship is how they live their lives daily.

    I am becoming more interested in Liturgy as a result.

    I used to find Liturgy in the Anglican sense to be pretty dead … as I now find a lot of singing to be.

    You can sing songs all day long, but what if the songs don’t actually say anything … or at least anything that you can understand?

    Jubilee. This word comes up occasionally in songs. However, how many in the congregation actually know it’s significance?

    Anyone?

    I’ll tell you later if no one else knows.

  37. I must say I am over that type of rock/pop worship too, although the songs get into your head, like Kylie Minogue’s.

    I prefer straight talk about God’s word, know what Im sposed to do/how to live, love reading C S Lewis for that reason

  38. Jubilee – originally debts that were supposed to be forgiven every 50 years, though it apparently never happened.

    Jubilee is a shadow of what we have in Christ, who has fulfilled Jubilee forever cancelling our debts for all time.

    But I’m sure you have more to elaborate on here, Bull!

    ************

    I’m putting up a post soon which mentions Jubilee.

  39. “…their spiritual act of worship is how they live their lives daily…” – absolutely. So important.

    Re loudness – my child cried because of the noise. We were worried it might not be a safe level for the kids.

  40. I like loud music … but occasionally even my ears were ringing after the worship time … it might be that it could contribute to slight deafness later in life.

    If your ears ring after listening to sounds … it means that the follicles inside the ear that are tickled by the particular frequencies are damaged and are never repaired by the body.

    So, attending worship has damaged my hearing. Albeit ever so slightly.

  41. Jubilee.

    All debts cancelled every 50 years. All property would be restored to the original owners and everyone gets a fresh start.

    This didn’t include money so the wealthy could start buying up property again. Leases on property would get smaller and smaller as well as the Jubilee year approached.

    Of course, lots of things went by the wayside after Israel was established. The land was supposed to have it’s seventh (year) rest. But because they kept growing on every spare plot of land, the prophets knew how long exile would last. They had been growing for hundreds of years without the land getting it’s seventh/Sabbath rest so God took them out of the land for the amount of time needed for the land to get it’s allocated rest.

    Jesus recovered the Jubilee. We need to recover it again.

  42. Bull: “What I long to do, is turn the congregation into active worshipers during the Sunday service. I would also emphasise that their spiritual act of worship is how they live their lives daily.”

    That’s what our church does. It is enspiring to hear the congregation sing together for the majority of the songs and then encouraged to live a life IN God, IN worship and IN love and obedience to HIM! Both in prayer when a song finishes and after the songs where people get up and share what God said to them in worship or what he did in their week.

    What is then said by people, the teaching often falls in line with what people were sharing! Tightly knitted I say!

  43. “Of course, lots of things went by the wayside after Israel was established. The land was supposed to have it’s seventh (year) rest. But because they kept growing on every spare plot of land, the prophets knew how long exile would last. They had been growing for hundreds of years without the land getting it’s seventh/Sabbath rest so God took them out of the land for the amount of time needed for the land to get it’s allocated rest.

    Jesus recovered the Jubilee. We need to recover it again.”

    I’d love you to expand on this Bull. Sounds intriguing!

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