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Plain and Simple for Nov. 14, 2013 / November 12, 2013
Where are the men in church? David Murrow wrote a controversial book, “Why Men Hate Going to Church,” back in 2005. He pointed out some alarming statistics and then proceeded to give his analysis of what was wrong with the Christian church. Murrow also provided some ideas on how we might attract more men to the church.

As might be expected, critics argued that Murrow comes dangerously close to the heresy of sexism in his analyses and proposals. They asserted that he did not take into consideration the fact that there is a large range of characteristics within each man and woman. Thus, it is over-generalizing to state that men think exclusively one way and expect the church to be accommodating to that particular point of view. For example, Murrow states that men tend to desire more challenges and value competence, power, and accomplishment. On the other hand, women want security and value love, communications, and feelings. If you look at what is stressed in church, you can easily see that women would feel more comfortable. According to his critics, though, Murrow fails to account for the fact that some men value love while some women value power.

Despite some of the shortcomings of the book, I believe that it performs a good service. There can be no doubt that the average church has a dearth of men in the pews. Consider these statistics. The typical congregation has an adult population that is 69% female and 31% male and that characteristic cuts across all age groups. On any given Sunday,13 million more women will worship than men. This Sunday 25 percent of married women will worship without their husbands. Over 70 percent of the boys raised in the church will abandon it after high school and many will never return.

As a pastor, I have talked to many women who agonize over having to come to church without their husbands. They struggle with having to bring the children without the support, or perhaps even with the opposition, of their husband. So what can we do about this? It does no good to argue whether it is sexist to even talk about these things. We have a problem and we must do something about it.

I certainly do not propose changing everything about the church to attract men. The core of the message of Christ must always be the same. Nonetheless, it is our duty to search for answers. If we are not meeting the needs of almost half of the population, what can we do about it? Obviously, prayer is a place to start. But careful consideration of how we present church must come next.

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