English Vicar Battles Feminized Church

Church steepleRev. John Richardson is an Anglican priest who has spent most of his pastorate ministering in a village by the name of Ugley. (John tells me the town is home to The Ugley Women’s Institute. Really.)

John is daily steeped in the feminine teapot of modern Anglicanism. After he read my book he felt inspired to write a guest column for the Church for Men newsletter and Web site. I’ve reprinted it here. Enjoy:

When I arrived in 2000, the congregation was warm, faithful — and elderly. Obviously something would have to be done, and soon, if there was to be a worshipping community in ten years’ time. By the grace of God, and with a few changes, we managed to draw in some new faces, particularly families with children, so that despite the losses through deaths, our numbers went up. But here was the problem: although the mums and kids were attending regularly, the dads were not. I’d had contact with the dads. In one case the dad had been the reason why his family started coming to church. But we were not keeping the dads, hence David’s book.

What I got from it, however, was more than an insight on my problem. Rather, it was one of those ‘Oh my goodness!’ experiences, like noticing your fly has been open all the time you’ve been giving a public speech. As I read, I realized that the problem is not just with our congregation — it is with our entire denomination, and indeed with our culture.

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This Battle has been Fought Before

Muscular ChristianityApparently, the battle to re-engage men in the church has been fought — and won —  before. An earlier crusade to re-engage men reached churches, businesses — even the White House.

I’m reading a fascinating book titled Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880-1920. The book catalogs an earlier movement to restore the masculine spirit in mainline Protestant churches. The movement was large and widespread, and ushered in an unprecedented period of health and prosperity for the churches that participated.

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Why Men Watch 3-Hour Football Games, but Fall Asleep During a 45-Minute Sermon

Football GameAs I write this, the world is gripped with sports fever. Here in North America big-league hockey and basketball have just crowned new champions. The rest of the planet is focused on the World Cup, where the best soccer teams are battling it out for football supremacy.

Men are the primary audience for these sporting matches. So if men can sit through a 3 hour-long hockey game, why is it so hard for men to focus for a 45-minute sermon?

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The Men’s Huddle

Men's HuddleSecond Chance Church in Peoria, Illinois, a church that publicly and unashamedly targets men, is growing. Pastor Mark Doebler concludes his worship services with something he calls The Men’s Huddle. At the end every service, “Coach Mark” calls the men forward for that week’s game plan. Here’s what Coach Mark has to say about the huddle:

“I must be honest…there are times that you have an idea and you know immediately in your heart that you just have to run with it.  The huddle was not one of those ideas!  I had a strong suspicion that it might just come off as cheesy, or hokey….I don’t care for either.  But, in the spirit of an entrepreneur, I decided to give it a try.

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