For those of you who regularly read this blog, the answer should be obvious.
On Mothers Day, women get to choose what they want to do—and churchgoing is one of their top priorities. A lot of otherwise irreligious men (and adult children) get dragged to church by mom. This swells attendance.
On Fathers Day, men get to choose what they want to do—and churchgoing isn’t even on their top-10 list. Many men will choose outdoor recreation on Fathers Day, taking their families with them. Women and children who would normally be in church are out at the lake with Dad.
So why the difference?
Simple. Women enjoy churchgoing more than men. They see churchgoing as an expression of family togetherness. It’s a chance to see friends, and to participate in a meaningful group activity.
Also, women are lionized on Mothers Day, while men tend to get criticized. Nancy Wray Gegoire writes, “I’ve often noticed that sermons on Mothers Day tend to gush over moms, while on Fathers Day they tell dads to shape up.”No wonder men skulk away like dogs that have been kicked one time too many.
A few bold churches are beginning to realize that Mothers Day is an excellent opportunity to reach unchurched men. Bethel Church in Richland, WA has tried various guy-oriented themes on Mothers Day, including “Man-lift” Sunday (they brought an industrial man-lift device into the sanctuary to illustrate how a godly guy uplifts everyone around him).
I advise pastors to focus on God’s power in their Mothers Day sermons. Avoid overly sentimental or emotive elements. Take it easy on the flowers. And please, don’t trot out the children. Guys already think church is for kids, based on Christmas Eve and Easter, the other two days of “holy male obligation.”
If you’re a layperson who will be attending church on Mothers Day, be on the lookout for unfamiliar guys. There should be quite a few. Be friendly. Help them feel at home in God’s house.