Some years ago, after reading David Murrow’s book, “Why Men Hate Going to Church”, I realized that most people assume that men are just less religious than women, but this is untrue. Other religions have little trouble attracting males and Jesus was a magnet to men. But today, few men are living for Christ, even as many are dying for Allah. Why do rival faiths inspire male allegiance, while ours breeds male indifference?”
Pastors of churches all over our country continue to ask the question,“Where are all the men”? Women comprise more than 60% of the adults in the typical worship service in America. Some overseas congregations report ten women for every man in attendance. Volunteer ranks are heavily female. No other religion suffers the enormous gender gaps that plague Christianity. It’s not just attendance where men trail women. Men are less likely to lead, volunteer, and give financially in the church. They pray less, share their faith less, and read the Bible less.
Why do American churches attract more women than men? I think it is because most churches offer a safe, nurturing community, an oasis of stability and predictability. Studies show that women and seniors are the groups most likely to seek these things. Our comforting congregations provide women with what they long for, so naturally they show up in larger numbers than men.
On the other hand, men and young adults are drawn to risk, challenge and daring. While the church’s official mission is one of a great adventure, the actual mission of most congregations is making people feel comfortable and safe – especially longtime members.
I remember teaching a message series on the subject of being ‘like’ Jesus. I did not teach the syrupy Sunday School version of “gentle Jesus meek and mild” but rather portrayed Jesus as he really was. A rebel, a radical, a man who was followed by men.
I made a habit of regularly challenging men to strive to become responsible husbands and fathers, to combat addictions like pornography and work-a-holism, to serve through ministry and missions and to fellowship through small men’s groups, and sports teams. Men need the church but, more importantly, the church needs men. The presence of enthusiastic men is one of the surest predictors of church health, growth, giving, and expansion. Meanwhile, a man shortage is a sure sign of congregational paralysis and decline.
I have found that Super Bowl Sunday presents a great opportunity to attract men to the church. I have heard of churches that host Super Bowl parties for their congregations and members of their community–providing food and of course the big game. Some even opt to share a brief message at halftime just before the musical extravaganza.
An outreach tool I have successfully used in the past is called ‘Football Sunday’ which offers to churches a video presentation uniquely designed around the Super Bowl. To promote ‘Football Sunday’ we would encourage unchurched people, especially men, to attend our services wearing their favorite team’s jersey or colors. As a part of my message on a topic like, “God’s Game Plan For Your Life”, I would show video testimonies from current NFL players who attest to their faith in Jesus and affirm the belief that “real men go to church”.
This year, (2022) the Super Bowl takes place on the second Sunday of February (13th) which also coincides with Valentines Day. You may think that Valentine’s Day would not attract men. Like Mother’s Day, I would ask the women in the congregation to encourage the men in their lives to give the gift of attending church with them. (This is an inexpensive gift request that is difficult for a man to refuse) During the Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day services, I would always include a segment that appealed specifically to men. One Mother’s Day I showed a three minute Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs music video , to the tune of Huey Lewis and the News, song “Workin’ for a Living”. I then made the connection to Mother’s having a dirty job as well. The men loved it.
With Valentine’s Day coming up there is another opportunity to invite men to church. It may be too late to make happen this year, but you could organize a Daddy/Daughter Date Night. Complete with dancing, a tea party, and a photobooth, this makes for a wonderful evening for all who attend. We encouraged men from the church to invite other men from the community to come with their daughters free of charge, (the Men’s ministry of the church picks up the tab).
Once men get introduced to a church that does not shy away from manly things they would look forward to coming to church. We would host yearly sport shooting breakfasts calling them Guns, God and Grub and encourage men to come to Men’s retreats and Promise Keeper events.
According to data collected by Promise Keepers and Baptist Press, if a father does not go to church, even if his wife does, only 1 child in 50 will become a regular worshiper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of what the mother does, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will attend church as adults. If a father attends church irregularly, between half and two-thirds of their kids will attend church with some regularity as adults. If a mother does not go to church, but a father does, a minimum of two-thirds of their children will end up attending church. In contrast, if a father does not go to church, but the mother does, on average two-thirds of their children will not attend church.
Another survey found that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will follow. If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17% probability everyone else in the household will follow. However, when the father is first, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the household will follow.