What’s it mean to be a “Man-Friendly” Church?

Wanted-300x201I’ve been asked this question or one similar whenever I mention that we are a “man-friendly” church. What’s the deal with that, they say? Aren’t you a woman-friendly church?

Yes. There’s an assumption out there to be made that most churches are friendly to women, no question, but there is also an assumption out there that most men get the feeling that being at church is similar to being in the women’s section at Sears when he’s asked by his wife to hold her purse as she tries something on. It’s an awkward moment at best.

One guy said, “Most men treat church like a prostate exam; they know it will probably save their life but it’s so unpleasant they often just put it off.”

Being ‘man-friendly’ at CCLF just means the guy off the street can walk into church and not feel like he is in the women’s section of a store. There are no doilies, no flowers; there’s men and women on stage playing guitars and drums etc; songs are led mostly by men, prayers are said mostly by men; preaching is done by men. They can relate.

In many churches, if not most, the men are noticeably absent. In fact, stats show that only 10% of churches can actually sustain a vibrant men’s ministry. Guys have checked out. They don’t engage in worship; they don’t engage in midweek efforts; they are busy doing ‘men things’… and church is not one of them. So what happened? Why did guys disengage?

In the 1300s, “bridal mysticism” turned men off. A call to weakness, mildness, gentleness and passivity replaced the historical call to self-sacrifice and victorious struggle – the “follow me into battle!” cry was replaced with a “personal relationship” with the man Jesus. A lot of guys struggle with personal relationships as is… now it’s a personal relationship with the Almighty! It’s true but you know how guys are…

In the 1800s, a huge chasm developed between men and the Church generally and women composed a great majority of most congregations, according to Revival Preacher Charles Finney.

When the Industrial Revolution hit, men went off to work in factories and women, children and aged men were the only attenders at Church – unless there came what was known as a “revival of religion” now and then.

Clergymen recognized their congregations and responded accordingly, preaching relatable messages to the women, the children and the aged men. Thus the preachers were dubbed as a “special” kind of man, ones who could drink tea with the women and carry on conversations with them with grace. He was seen as a good listener with soft hands, and sometimes that got him into trouble.

One fiery preacher, Billy Sunday, prayed, “Lord save us from off-handed, weak-kneed, think-skinned, pliable, plastic, spineless sissified three-carat Christianity. Amen.”

When the World Wars hit, men went to fight. When they came back, there was a rebuilding era and men constructed, built things with their hands, rebuilt their world so to speak, and though for awhile, there was some influx of men into church, most men checked out with boredom once the building stopped.

In the 1960s the trend continued. The Clergy again spoke to the women, children and aged men. The Call shifted from “Follow Me” to again “having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as His Bride.” The Bride of Christ is both Biblical and necessary to understand. But emphasizing the Bride and relationship over the challenge of “Onward Christian Soliders”, was too much for some guys to handle, and once again, they disengaged.

This Sunday, some 25% of married women attending church in Canada will do so without their husbands.

Over 70% of boys raised in the Church… will bail as soon as they can, usually around high school or just after. They hear ‘when I was child I spoke as a child; when I became a man I threw away my childish things.’ And then as a result of not seeing many men engaged in Church, in Worship, in teaching them Sunday School, mentoring etc, they see all of their churchy upbringing as just another ‘childhood thing’ and so they throw it out with the rest of their ‘childhood things.’

We need men to step up for the sake of the kids, especially when we realize that even among Christians only 1 in 6 men will attend Church this Sunday. Usually in North America, there is a 9-1 ratio female to male in Church on any given Sunday morning and females mostly run the mid-week stuff too, not to mention teaching Sunday School. This despite the stats that show that men who attend Church and are active in it, are more likely to be married, find fulfillment and generally enjoy life. They are less depressed, have better esteem and are more engaged as husbands and fathers than those who don’t attend church regularly. Just a stat, but I’ve seen it played out.

On 07-07-07 my wife and I (mostly my wife) made a call at CCLF to the men of the Church, calling them forward to take their place as servant leaders in all areas they could. The men responded. Since then, men have risen up in prayer, in service, in worship and in taking care of the widows and single ladies among us. It’s a good thing! The last two men’s meetings had over 30 men participate.IMG_1465

“When a man obeys God, he maximizes his manhood,” said Edwin Louis Cole, a well-known men’s ministry leader and author. “Satan will steal your character; God will maximize it,” he said.

Pastor Matt Chandler said, “The more we become like Christ, the more of a man we will be.” That’s what I’m calling men to be at CCLF – more like Christ. Love their families by serving them, protect and love their wife by loving them as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV)

When Sir Earnest Shackleton was advertising for men to join the historic crew of the Endurance in 1911 for his Trans Antarctic Expedition, he made the call as hard as he could possibly make it, thinking that only a few would show up.

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour, recognition in event of success.”

Hundreds of men responded. In speaking of it afterward he said that so overwhelming was the response to his appeal that it seemed as though all the men of Great Britain were determined to accompany him.

So that’s why I talk about being man-friendly at CCLF. We are definitely women-friendly, no question. Our men’s ministry, the Band of Brothers, even spends many evenings in the Spring going out and looking after odd jobs and yard work for the single women and widows of the Church. They could be doing their own work at home, or even just relaxing, but they choose to assist the ladies, bless them and pray for them, letting them know ‘they are not alone.’ One single lady said, “I so appreciate the Band of Brothers here. They are good men and when they come around each Spring, and do what we can’t do, I so appreciate it.”

For the record, women’s ministry meets weekly at CCLF, while the men’s ministry is once every two weeks. Both the men’s and women’s ministry organize retreats in the fall. Moms are celebrated on Mother’s Day; Dads are celebrated on Father’s Day. But no question there is definitely a “ooh rah!” sounded by this pastor when men rise up and lead in the way they should.

Christianity is not spiritually pacifistic – our freedom was won by bloodshed and we are in an eternal spiritual war for the lives of our children, our families, and our society. The call is still one of “Follow Me into Battle!” and because the men of CCLF are rising up to meet that challenge, I’m saying I will stay the course with being intentionally and unapologetically “man-friendly.”