In September 2011 I released a revised version of my first book, Why Men Hate Going to Church. I boiled down some of the book’s main recommendations into a checklist.

FIFTY WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CHURCH MORE APPEALING TO MEN:

Front door experience:

  • Maintain your buildings and grounds
  • Put men in the parking lot to help park cars
  • One layer of greeters (don’t be too friendly)
  • Lots of signs so men don’t have to ask directions

Worship service:

  • Keep the focus on God – not the family
  • Minimize dead time between elements
  • Do something unexpected
  • Add humor or an element of fun
  • Good lighting and sound so people can easily see and hear

Décor:

  • Remove the “old lady” stuff: quilts, felt banners, needlepoint, etc.
  • Remove lace and flowers from communion table.
  • Remove bulletin boards and “kindergarten classroom” collages from interior walls
  • Decide if religious symbols in the sanctuary help or hinder
  • Decorate with guys in mind. Should look more like Cabela’s than Aunt Polly’s parlor.

Give men space:

  • Do not ask the congregation to hold hands
  • Do not ask everyone to hug everyone else
  • Discourage “prayer mushrooms”

Prayer:

  • Keep pastoral prayers short
  • Avoid showy “prayer-speak” when praying in church
  • Avoid “vain repetitions” in public prayers
  • Instead of taking live prayer requests, offer one-on-one prayer after the service

Music:

  • Quality is vital. Don’t attempt more than your musicians can deliver
  • Choose songs that convey respect to God
  • Avoid wimpy “love songs to Jesus”
  • Avoid more than 3 repeats of any chorus
  • Select a key the baritones can sing
  • Help the worship leader “man-up”

A pastor who relates well to men will:

  • Talk like a regular guy (avoid “preacher-speak”)
  • Do man stuff and talk about it during the message
  • Choose metaphors and stories men can relate to
  • Take firm but gracious stands on theology and moral issues
  • Be judicious about emotive displays

Teaching:

  • Shorter is almost always better. Say it and be done.
  • Share personal stories of your struggles as a man
  • Avoid feminine metaphors (such as “fall in love with Jesus”)
  • Preach one-point sermons
  • Issue a clear call to action at the end of the service (the pastor’s challenge)
  • Build sermon around great illustrations
  • Use video clips to illustrate
  • Bring a physical object into the pulpit and build sermon around it
  • Call men forward for a 3-minute “men’s huddle” at the end of the service

Honor men’s time:

  • Start and end the service on time
  • If something goes long, cut something else on the fly
  • For services more than 90 minutes, offer an intermission or an opportunity to “get-up-and-go” so men don’t feel trapped

Sunday school:

  • Bury the name “Sunday school”
  • Abandon the classroom method in favor of a more kinetic one
  • Place boys with male teachers
  • Don’t ask boys to read aloud
  • Use a boy-friendly curriculum with hands-on learning
  • Use professionally produced videos to help teach spiritual truths