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.
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. 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?” 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 large numbers.
On the other hand, men and young adults are drawn to risk, challenge and daring. While our official mission is one of 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’s man.
I made a habit of regularly challenging men to strive to become better husbands and fathers, to combat addictions like pornography and work-a-holism, to serve through ministry and missions and to fellowship through small groups, and softball 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.
Super Bowl Sunday presents a great opportunity to attract men. I know of several churches that plan to host Super Bowl parties for their congregations and members of their community–providing food and of course the big game and then opting to share a brief message during halftime instead of watching the show.
Breakaway Outreach, a non-profit organization, provides videos for churches to show during the half-time show. All proceeds go back into the community to serve at-risk youth and underprivileged children. Some of the ministry tools they offer include: Power To Win–an outreach video that features testimonies from current NFL players, Perseverance in Pain: NFL coach Tony Dungy talks about losing his son and how hardships in the NFL prepared him for life’s struggles and Keep the Dream Alive: How former NFL player Abraham Wright discovered the importance of God’s plans for his life rather than his own.
Another outreach tool is Football Sunday which offers a church video presentation uniquely designed around the Super Bowl. Promoters say it can simply be treated as a guest speaker and added to your church service where the sermon would normally take place. Churches are encouraged to invite their community to come and get an inspiring inside look at faith in the NFL. Sports Spectrum puts together this high-quality Christ-centered program for Super Bowl Sunday. It’s both edifying and evangelistic and can be effectively used in church services, or in any home watching the game. You can show the whole thing or just choose one of the segments. This can be used as a positive alternative to the halftime show for both adults and kids to listen to and be inspired by the testimonies of players. Churches have not always been allowed to host Super Bowl parties. The NFL used to have a policy which stated that organizations showing public viewings of its games on televisions larger than 55 inches were violating the league’s copyright–sports bars were exempt but churches were targeted.
In 2008 the league dropped that policy after getting push back from lawmakers. There are still certain boundaries that churches must stick to in order to avoid possible copyright infringement:
1. Churches must show the game live on equipment that they own.
2. Churches cannot charge admission, however donations to cut the cost of the event may be taken up.
3. Churches are advised to call the event a “big game” party rather than promoting it as a “Super Bowl” party, as both the “NFL” and “Super Bowl” are trademarked and protected intellectual property.
Each Super Bowl Sunday I would also encourage men and women alike to wear their favorite team jersey or team colors.