Hello Kitty on PolicemanThe Chief of Police in Bangkok, Thailand has discovered the ultimate punishment for wayward officers: they must wear a pink armband emblazoned with “Hello Kitty,” a cutesy favorite of under-10 girls.

Other punishments have not deterred tardiness, double parking and littering among officers, but acting chief Pongpat Chayaphan believes the armbands will do the trick. “After this policy came out, the police are scared,” he said. “It will be very embarrassing to walk around with Hello Kitty on your arm.”

What’s so bad about a pink armband? This seemingly benign corrective strikes a double-whammy at the heart of manhood. Every man fears being perceived as feminine (pink) and childish (hello Kitty).

Sadly, churchgoing has become a pink armband for many men. It’s a sign of weakness, childishness and femininity.

But churches can break this reputation by intentionally reaching out to men. Christ’s Church of the Valley is one of America’s fastest growing congregations. It sits on a sprawling campus in the northwest Phoenix suburb of Peoria, Arizona. CCV attracts some 12,000 worshippers every weekend to its state-of-the-art facility. It has planted 18 congregations around the world.

What’s it’s secret? Thirteen years ago the leadership of CCV made a policy shift that sent the congregation into growth overdrive. In 1994, CCV decided to target men, age 25-to-45. Since that decision, the church has grown by 20 to 25 percent a year.

A visit to the church’s web site finds men are always mentioned first. Guy pictures and sports images appear on just about every page. Men’s ministry tops the weekly bulletin announcements. This intentional emphasis on men makes guys feel like they’re wanted and needed.

Today, hundreds of athletes from the Phoenix area come to CCV to play on its well-maintained soccer and softball fields. And the church draws many unchurched visitors from its sports leagues. In fact, CCV is known as the “jock church” in Phoenix. Men feel accepted there because it has a reputation as a guy place.

Do women feel slighted with all this attention lavished on men? Apparently not. The Sunday I worshipped at CCV I counted slightly more women than men in the sanctuary. The women I talked to were delighted to attend a church where the men were alive. They felt hopeful that their boys would stay faithful through their teenage years, thanks to the masculine spirit of the congregation.

You don’t need to be a megachurch to reach men. New Life Center in Porterville, CA has been focusing on men by conducting Go for the Guys Sundays twice in the past year. The response from men has been enthusiastic. Pastor Dave Mast says that male visitors are starting to show up out of the blue because they’ve heard it’s a good place for guys. According to Mast, New Life Center’s worship services now attract more men than women.

So what are you waiting for? Declare war on pink armband Christianity. Start targeting men with your worship, classes and outreach. See what God does.