Churches and universities are having trouble attracting men for the same reason: both are in the business of dispensing precious knowledge in a classroom setting. Today, fewer men are in the market for this type of experience, which they find boring and irrelevant to their lives.
Kyle and Bonnie have been married almost twenty years. Kyle hates going to church. Bonnie loves it. This has caused tension in their marriage, as she subtly prays, preaches and prods Kyle toward religion, and he steadfastly resists.?? But Kyle “does Bonnie a favor” and attends church three times a year: Christmas Eve, Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day. He’s one of millions of men who attend only on these holidays.
Bonnie looks forward to these occasions, and each time prays earnestly that God will touch his heart. But nothing ever happens. Kyle feels as out of place as a ham sandwich at a Bar Mitzvah.
Why are holiday services, which draw huge numbers of irreligious men, so ineffective at engaging them? I believe that holiday services are, by their very nature, poorly suited for men. They tend to hide the church’s greater mission under a mountain of religious tradition and ceremony. Holiday services also give men a skewed perspective on what the gospel is all about.
Lots of men perceive the church to be a women’s thing. So they avoid it. On the other hand, lots of women perceive the church to be a men’s thing. So they flock to it.