The Church’s Male Exodus

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MenThe
men have decided. Church is not for them.

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Increasingly, men and boys are abandoning their
congregations. As we conducted the research for our recent book
Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church
Anymore
we noticed men were leading the exodus.
Statistics show that America’s pews are disproportionately
populated with 61 percent females and 39 percent males.

We wondered why. After digging deeper, we heard several
recurring themes:

Feminization. Many men say
the current church is designed for feminine tastes. Everything from
the decor to worship behavior seems just a bit too “girly” for many
guys. “It’s intimidating for a man to hold hands in a circle,” says
David Murrow, author of
Why Men Hate Going to Church
. “A male
visitor detects the feminine spirit the moment he walks in the
sanctuary door. He may feel like Tom Sawyer in Aunt Polly’s
parlor.”

One-way communication. Many
men no longer desire to sit at the feet of a preacher and passively
take in a lecture. This week popular Christian author Donald Miller
admitted in his
blog
that he rarely attends church
anymore. “I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon,” he wrote.
He said, like most men, he finds that the typical church service
“can be long and difficult to get through.” Other men told us that,
rather than sit passively through a church service, they want to
offer their thoughts, and join the conversation.

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Avoidance of tough questions.
Many men have serious questions about matters of faith. They
feel their questions are unwelcome. David, a college student, told
us how his difficult questions about the canonization of the Bible
were deflected and dismissed. Frustrated, he left the church. He
wasn’t looking for an easy answer from a clerical know-it-all. He
simply wanted a degree of honesty, authenticity, and
humility.

Lack of adventure. Church
happenings are too programmed and predictable for many men. They’re
looking for a little risk and challenge–just as the original
disciples encountered while living with Jesus. But, as David Murrow
says, “the actual mission of most congregations is making people
feel comfortable and safe–especially longtime members.”

Even the concept of discipleship has been stripped of its
original meaning. It’s been reduced to a sheltered academic
exercise in most churches. Their discipleship programs amount to no
more than a Bible study class. Murrow is looking to return to a
real biblical process to disciple men. He calls it Men’s
League
. It engages 12 men at a time in a
year-long series of “ordeals”–challenging experiences that build
healthy reliance on Christ.

Efforts such as these may help men get to know the real
Jesus. Not the fragile-looking Jesus they remember from the faded
portraits in the church hall. But the real, gritty carpenter who
camped with fishermen, stood up to his threatening critics,
withstood harrowing abuse, carried his own cross timbers, and
conquered death itself. That’s a man–and Lord–men today would
find magnetic.

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About Author

Thom Schultz

Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

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