The next time you attend a church service in a small Southern Baptist congregation, just take a moment to look around and observe. You may be surprised at the demographics of the congregation. About 61% of regular church attendees are women. By age twenty, only about 3 % of men are still in church. Most of the men who do attend are long of tooth and short of days.
Now, observe the makeup of the clergy in the old mainline Protestant churches. You will find women in every level of the infrastructure of these churches. When I was growing up in eastern North Carolina, there was not a single women pastor in the United Methodist churches. Now you cannot sling a dead cat at a conference meeting without hitting one! The Presbyterian Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church show the same trend. One man who has made a recent study of the problem has observed that women are interested in harmony, but men are interested in competition. And men who find that the deck is stacked against them (making it impossible to win) will vote with their feet.
Very few alpha males are left in these congregations. Without their leadership, these denominatio,ns have slid from error into heresy. Someone has observed that Church is for women, weirdos, and wimps!
Now what can explain this observation? Well let us just take a look at the typical Protestant service. When you enter the church, there is a chatter due to women trading the latest gossip from the past week. And, what are the men doing? Sitting in silence and getting an occasional nod in every now and again. Men are not good at small take, men are doers, so they feel uncomfortable at small talk. And, what does the worship space look like? Well, we see all those quilted banners and flowers and there is the soft background music. Who is being made to feel at ease? Now the service starts, and we are told to all stand and greet each other. Hugging and kissing have their place in a man’s life, but that place is not in church. Men find kissing and hugging people outside the family very awkward and hypocritical. Now, we have the opening hymn. Oh no we don’t! We have the opening happy-clappy chorus. Gone are the masculine and doctrinally correct hymns of the church, like Onward Christian Soldier, or Rise Up Oh Men Of God. And in their place are the syrupy Jesus Is My Boyfriend choruses.
Men feel uncomfortable expressing their feelings like this, to say nothing about the swaying of bodies and closing of eyes. The truths of the faith are no longer sung, but have been replaced by little ditties gushing with personal feelings. And somewhere in the service may be a time for the expression of personal testimonies. What man feels like expressing his inward struggles in a public forum? Of course the men who do, often end up crying in public. Women, of course, eat this sort of thing up, but men feel out-of-place.
What do we observe about the public prayers? They seem to more directed at the audience than to the Heavenly Father. And, at some time in the service there will be hand holding. Most men will feel this is unnatural, unwanted and unnecessary.
Now that we have seen the problem, what can be done? The worship must return to the early liturgical service centered upon God, not man and his feelings. These older liturgy based services are full of movement. Many time the congregation is standing, then sitting, then standing again. Men need this movement. They get bored sitting around. Away with these girly banners and soft music. Let the congregants enter the house of God with silence and reverence. Away with those lovey-dovy choruses with their four words and fifteen verses. Away with special music directors and chorus leaders. Away with these overhead projectors.
Bring back those hymnals. Start including the singing of the Psalms, especially the imprecatory ones! Away with pastors who deliver long self-improvement lectures. Get a pastor who will preach directly through a book, never skipping over any passage that might offend someone. Make sure he preaches masculine corrective love, not indulgent hogwash. Develop some programs that will appeal to the masculine sense of adventure. What about a rifle shooting contest after church, or a camping trip.
We don’t need to continue here, just get off your duffs and do it.
-By Guy de Vries