This is part two of a post that started last week: 5 Things that Make Men Love the Church.
Two weeks ago we discussed Why Men Hate Going to Church, and last week I offered some thoughts on the positive side of things that tend to make men love being a part of a local church. What follows is a continuation of that list:
1) Nixing the Guilt Trips
Want to run a man away faster than if a bear was chasing him? Try to guilt him into raising his hands during a worship song or into walking down an aisle.
We’ve all seen this. A well-meaning pastor or worship leader is all hyped up and calls out men in an emotionally charged way. He either insinuates (or verbally says) that men should respond by doing (INSERT WHATEVER HERE) and if you don’t then basically shame on you.
Now, he may have gotten a few men to raise their hands (or whatever else it was). But he may have also caused a few men to never come back to that church again.
Men hate feeling like they are doing things wrong. And when leaders make men feel like “if you don’t do this thing that you don’t understand then you’re doing it wrong,” that is such turn off.
I’m not talking about appropriate, Spirit-led, well-explained calls for men in the church to do a certain thing. That is a thing. It exists and can be helpful and totally fine. But I’ve seen this get awkward too many times that I think churches need to be careful with it.
Please, nix the guilt trips.
2) Effective Leadership Structures
Does any decision in your church have to go through 13 committees and that family who gives a lot? Shoot me.
Men are hardwired to lead and act. So when there are ineffective leadership structures that essentially require an act of Congress to make a simple decision, that’s going to turn away a lot of men (except for a select few who really enjoy playing the game).
Church leadership structure is a bigger conversation that we will have at a later date, but just know that the more simple and streamlined your leadership structure and decision-making processes can be the better. Complicated is the opposite of efficient, and my goodness a lot of decisions made in churches couldn’t be any more complicated.
When there is clearly defined leadership by trusted leaders and a lack of headaches, that is attractive to the masculine soul. It’s certainly not a bad thing to get input from a wider circle, but that often leads to having too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes time to make a decision, and it doesn’t have to.
3) Masculine-Friendly Music
Men and singing. Do those two things go together?
It depends on the man and on the singing, you might say, and you’d be right.
Do men have a problem singing their university’s fight song at a college football game? Certainly not. They will let that diaphragm go.
Do men tend to gather together to sing touchy-feely love songs? Not so much. As one commenter said last week, “It’s no wonder men get to church late and leave early.”
Now, hear me say this: hearing believing men come together to sing musical worship to God is a beautiful, biblical thing. Obviously King David led other men in musical worship and he was a warrior that your church’s burliest man wouldn’t want to challenge to a sword fight.
But the feel of those songs makes a huge difference in how men tend to react to them–especially for non-believing men who happen to show up to church gatherings or fringe nominal Christians.
If the music is masculine-friendly (this doesn’t imply any one particular style necessarily), you are helping those guys out a ton. You’re taking a potential stumbling block away.
But if the songs you sing might as well be saying “I want to curl up in your lap…and pet you like a lamb…dear Jesus…” then you might as well just install a trip wire at the door for those same guys.
4) Meaningful Leadership Opportunities
Like I said earlier, men are hardwired to lead and act. If a guy sees opportunities for meaningful leadership, he is more likely to stick around. If handing out a bulletin or passing an offering plate on Sunday is the ceiling, that’s a different story.
At our church, we put all of our eggs into what we call LifeGroups. Our process for people walking in in-depth community with one another? LifeGroups. Our process for someone being discipled by other believers? LifeGroups. Our process for members taking care of one another? LifeGroups. Our process for living on mission together as a community? LifeGroups.
So we call guys into this and say, “How would you like to take a group of guys (or a group of married couples) and lead them? You’ll be responsible for leading them to make disciples, leading them to care for one another, and leading them to press outwards to be on mission with those who are far from Jesus. You will be their first line of defense. If they have a theological question, they will come to you first. If they have marriage trouble, they will come to you first. Are you ready for that responsibility?”
Then if they excel at that, maybe they can become a coach who shepherds other LifeGroup leaders. And if they lead well in that, maybe it’s time to talk about working towards becoming a pastor in the future.
We try to put meaningful leadership opportunities like these (and others) in front of our guys regularly and challenge them to grow in the spiritual maturity it takes to be trusted with them. If they desire leadership opportunities like this but are not ready for them yet, we have an honest conversation with them and tell them so, then try to make a plan to get them there. Far from being angry about that, guys are grateful for it.
5) Not Overly Stereotyping Men
I once heard a pastor say, “Not all men are athletes–many are artists.” Obviously his point was that masculinity is much bigger (or deeper) than dominant cultural stereotypes.
So don’t assume that every man who will come into contact with your church loves football. Or hunting. Or power tools. Or grunting like Tim Allen. Or any other stereotype specific to your local culture.
There may be godly, proactive, leader-quality men around your church who do not fit the “mold” and that is a beautiful thing, because biblical masculinity is much too big for any one cultural mold.
I think it’s okay to theme certain things (it wouldn’t be wrong to have a men’s camping trip per say). We’ve started doing something we call “Man School” where we will pair teaching guys a practical life skill (like how to properly grill a steak) with teaching on biblical masculinity. We have found that especially young men can be drawn to something like this because so many are growing up without dads and don’t know how to do things like grilling a steak or changing a tire.
But as you do those types of things, be sensitive to the language and scope of how you communicate what is “manly” for the very godly and masculine men around your church who may not fit that description. Because biblical masculinity is not being macho, burping loud, or beating your chest. It is leading, engaging, pursuing and taking responsibility for what God has entrusted to you.
Okay, that’s my spiel. Feel free to chime in with further ideas if you’d like. This little series on men in the church has been fun and helpful for me to think through, so thanks for following along.