To date, more than 50 bloggers have written about the new version of Why Men Hate Going to Church. (Get your copy by clicking here).
Overall, it’s getting positive reviews, but I’m taking some heat for blaming the problem primarily on the church experience, rather than on the sinfulness of men themselves.
For example, ReformedCredoBaptist wrote on his blog:
There seems to be a tendency in the book to reduce the problems with low male participation to strictly external impediments like sanctuary environment and childhood religious baggage. It seems to me that the spiritual component of the equation was almost completely absent from the book. The fact that a husband only attends church services at Christmas and Easter with his family surely is not merely an issue of the husband not wanting to raise his hands during corporate singing or sit through a sermon longer than twenty-five minutes. The kind of apathy shown in such a man should at least raise a question as to a serious spiritual problem. In chapter ten, Murrow lays out 12 reasons that men don’t want to go to church. To that list I scribbled in at the end of the chapter: “#13 – Many Men are Simply Unregenerate.”
So is ReformedCredoBaptist right? Absolutely.
Many men are captive to sin in our world today. If a man does not know God, he will not find his happy place in church.
And yes, the spiritual always takes precedence over any “external impediments.” The most important thing about a church is not the paint color, but the presence and power of God. As I often say, “If a church is full of God, it doesn’t matter if the pastor wears a pink ballerina tutu – men will be drawn to that church.”
But let’s follow ReformedCredoBaptist’s argument to its logical conclusion. He and I would both agree that there are more “unregenerate” men than women in our country today. So, if this is the case, why is it happening?
This question has only two possible answers: 1) Modern men are inherently more sinful (or less virtuous) than modern women; or 2) There is some “external impediment” that is keeping large numbers of men from following Jesus. (If you can think of any other possible answer, add it to the comments section below)
So how about #1? Do you believe men more sinful than women? That women are more spiritually attuned than men? This viewpoint was common during the Victorian Era, and it still alive in many churches today. If you believe this, then you have your answer, and there’s no need to read my book.
But any student of the Bible would quickly reject this argument. Nothing in scripture suggests men are less godly than women. In fact, most of the heroes of scripture are men. The New Testament presupposes male participation and leadership. Eve fell just as far as Adam did.
Even the old saw, “Men are less religious than women,” is not true. Other religions see roughly equal numbers of male and female participants. Christianity is the only major world religion with a gender gap.
So if men and women are equally religious, and equally susceptible to sin, then the only other way to explain Christianity’s gender gap is to look to “external impediments.” That’s why I focus so much on these impediments in Why Men Hate Going to Church.
If we accept the proposition that men are more sinful than women, then we can excuse their departure as inevitable. We accept the gender gap as “just the way church is.” Blame the guys and move on.
We all know men’s sinfulness and unregenerate hearts play a role in their lack of church involvement. But the same is true of women.
And we all know that the spiritual trumps any “external impediments.” Yet externals do matter. Churches that remove the impediments see a higher percentage of men in church. They grow at a faster rate than traditional churches. And they tend to have more involved, committed men within them. Unregenerate men suddenly start regenerating – which should be the goal of every congregation.