I just read Why Men Hate Church by David Murrow. The book came out a few years ago, but I just picked it up and read it on a plane. Honestly, it isn’t the greatest book in the world – not meticulously researched or documented, but I still think his diagnosis of a serious church problem is basically correct. Murrow uses mounds of anecdotal evidence (sprinkled with a few references to actual research) to demonstrate that church worship, programs, vocabulary, and service opportunities are basically effeminate. I agree.
A few high points of the book:
1) Men don’t want to be safe –they want to be challenged.
2) Men want to be involved – they want to use their gifts and talents to do something that makes a difference.
3) Men don’t like “sharing.” It makes them feel weird. Men build relationships “side-to-side,” not “face-to-face.” That’s why a mission trip, service project, or special event is more likely to generate friendships between men than a retreat or ongoing Bible study.
4) Men are project-oriented – they like to finish stuff. Ongoing, never-ending commitments seem boring and pointless. We need to give men BIG projects and goals, and then celebrate when things get DONE.
5) Men are competitive. We need to encourage friendly competition to motivate them.
6) Many men don’t like to sing in front of women. They might sing at Promise Keepers, in the military, or in some other “locker-room” environment, but many refrain from doing it in church.
7) Men don’t like to sing songs with effeminate language and images directed towards God. Phrases like, “you are beautiful,” “draw me close,” and “I want to kiss your face,” do not seem appropriate for men to sing to another man (Jesus).
8) Men don’t want their sons to be effeminate. They are afraid that if their boys get too into church they will become “womanized.” And they might be right, since most of the people working with kids are women.
9) Female church leaders must figure out how to lead men while pumping up their masculinity. If men feel DE-manned they will not serve.
10) Men like quality. If things are done half-way men don’t want to be a part.
11) Our churches cannot succeed if we fail to reach manly men.
Murrow’s diagnosis is strong, but unfortunately his prescriptions are weak. Basically, he thinks churches should make things simpler, with less reading, and shorter sermons. Also, he acknowledges that most church leaders are women. But he never fleshes out what female leaders are supposed to DO to help the situation. He offers lots of critiques with few solutions.
Still, there is no doubt that he has put his finger on a major problem in our churches. I will tell you that I am absolutely committed to reaching men. They are the target group at First Baptist West Palm. We are currently reorganizing our approach to everything from kids worship to adult worship to small groups to mission trips to evangelistic events, all so that we can aggressively challenge men to be the husbands, fathers, and leaders that the gospel calls and compels them to be. We are working at this, but we certainly have a long way to go.